“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)
There are times when God has moved upon the heart of people–whoever is willing to hear and receive the Good News–and everyone is rejoicing over God’s goodness and someone comes along–thinking they are superior to all and try to take them backwards.
Let me put this into the proper context. There was much discussion about what policies and what should be done in the early church regarding the non-Jewish (Gentiles) believers. Those who were content with preaching the Gospel were overjoyed at the reception by the Gentiles and wanted nothing more for them other than to live by the dictates of the Holy Spirit, whom they had received with gladness. But because there were divisions regarding the teachings, primarily because those who had lived “according to The Law” felt they were superior to those just coming into the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and they wanted to regulate the new converts–according to the old ways and were demanding circumcision.
Peter steps up to the plate and reminds them all that God had used him specifically to share the Good News with the Gentiles and since they had received the message and the Holy Spirit, they should have not be bound by traditions that the Jews had not been able to keep.
How like some church leaders today? They were once bound by the dictates of tradition and even though they have seen the works of God moving upon the people without “strict regulations” they make policies that make no sense and have nothing to do with living a holy life. What many have forgotten is that God is not a respecter of people. What He has for one, He has for all who are willing to receive.
Therefore, God is not concerned about a dress code in a place of worship; He is concerned about the heart of the people. God is not concerned about who carries the message; He is concerned about the message that is carried and that it is a message from Him, not them. When people feel the need to bind others by laws and policies, they arbitrarily restrict (or grieve) the Holy Spirit who Himself becomes limited by those who cannot let go of the “old ways.”
Let us assume for a moment–that every person having heard the Gospel message has received it, repented and received Holy Spirit as the guiding force in their lives. Is there any need for rules? Not if we truly believe that Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. The rules come into play because people–usually men–feel the need to be superior and they want to establish rules by which they are not willing to follow. This sounds like the parenting method of many–you know–“do as I say, not as I do” mentality. They are hypocrites and make a mockery out of parenting like some make a mockery of church leadership.
If we want to see the “new thing” that God has promised He will do in our lives, we must be willing to let go of the old ways that would inhibit Him from acting on our behalves. When the rules or policies have nothing to do with salvation or living a holy life–leave them where they belong–behind us, not in front of us.
Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to realize that we need to let go of the old in order to make room for the new that You have prepared for us. Thank You for the direction and guidance we receive from Holy Spirit and remind us to always to ready to hear from You through Him.