During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.
I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.
The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]
Men of Rules
- Let no one steal your freedom (v. 16)
- Legalism = slavery/bondage à Christ accomplished the Law
- Spiritual elitism – believed if circumcised, watched diets, observed days – then elite
- Asceticism (self-denial and self-modification) – Christ does more than restrain—He puts new desire within a person
- Let no one disqualify or condemn you (v. 16)
- There is NO condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1)
- Your qualification is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5)
- Let no one beguile you of your reward (v. 18-19)
- Beguile = to declare unworthy of a prize à “Don’t be cheated”
- You do receive a different degree of glory (1 Corinthians 3:8)
TRADITION CANNOT BE EQUAL TO THE WORD OF GOD
Tradition of Man or Truth and Grace of Christ…
- Does is stress man made rules over grace?
- Is it condemning or discipline in love (truth in love)?
- Does it focus on knowledge and formulas or on the Word of God?
- Does it elevate rule keepers over Christ?
- Does it act like elite group?
Bible Study Questions:
1) In verse 16-17, we read not to let anyone say we must celebrate a list of items.
What are these items we should not be forced to celebrate?
Why are these items not mandatory?
What are we to celebrate? (see v. 17)
2) The message mentioned “asceticism” which is a life of self-discipline. It involves practicing strict punishment and restriction (self-denial) to one’s body to modify or change behavior. What are some examples? What is the difference between it being part of the Law or something more?
3) Read verses 20-23.
How does following the rules makes you appear? How is this not true?
The end of this passage says all of this doesn’t “have any power over our desires.” If this doesn’t have the power, where do we get this power over our desires?