Boundaries and Morality

“Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:7)

From the beginning God has established boundaries and written them into the fabric of His Creation. Birds know where to fly south for the winter, fish know where to migrate, the sea knows its boundaries, and boundaries have been written into the universe in the form of physics, scientific and mathematical laws and principles which men are continuing to discover. God has set boundaries in our lives for our protection and for our good, but how do we know the boundaries?

You are probably thinking, “Okay, another message telling me what I can and cannot do…” Well, not really, and in fact, this message should bring freedom. Under the Old Covenant, boundaries were set by the law and the letter, but under the New Covenant, they are established through grace and faith, and written into the heart and conscience by the Spirit. Jesus warned us about one of the biggest problem in the church today, and one reason why many people who are hungry for God and the truth are avoiding our churches and want little to do with Christianity. It is what Jesus referred to as the “leaven of the Pharisees,” for we preach “morality,” and yet we have very little power. The moralist is entangled in the web of his own pride and self-righteousness. He makes his boast of the law, and through dishonoring his own moral requirements, leaves people confused and disillusioned (Romans 2:23-24). Much of the persecution that we have experienced has not been for righteousness’ sake, but rather we have brought it on ourselves.

Approximately fifteen years ago, my family and I were living in Florida, and I was working a job on a construction crew driving a cement truck. The first two weeks on the job, some of the guys sabotaged my truck, let the air out of my tires, and even tried to get me fired. They had heard that I was a Christian, and had their own idea of what Christians were like. They were a rough bunch of guys, most of them from Mexico, Cuba, and Jamaica. They would drink and smoke marijuana on the job. Some of them were involved in the cartels, and one was a KKK associate. They were not very welcoming to me at first, but within a couple of months, all of that began to change. I presented the gospel in a different way than they had experienced before, or, rather, I allowed the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself through me.

The KKK guy, who was in his late thirties or early forties, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, but within one year he was seeking the Lord and miraculously healed. I never personally laid hands on him and prayed for his healing, but he got hungry for the Word of God, and in the process it happened. He went to the doctor one day for his treatments, and it was all gone. They called me the “Preacher man,” and I took them for airplane rides, teased them and made fun of them (in a good way), and they invited our family to the beach, and even to their parties. They would bring me home-cooked Mexican food that their wives had made at home, and one of the roughest ones was now blaring Christian music on his

truck radio. He was a six-foot four inch, sixty year-old white guy who looked like John Wayne, and had a vocabulary that would have embarrassed a sailor. He told me one day, “I’m not ashamed to be called a holy roller!” They treated me like a king, and wouldn’t let anyone mess with me. They began to see Jesus for who He really is, not how He has been portrayed many times. I also learned some things myself. One of the guys had just been released from prison. He was in his early thirties and had been heavily involved with drugs and the law in the past, but he was endeavoring to change his life. He gave his life to the Lord, but he also wanted a girlfriend, and badly. Within a couple of weeks, he ended up meeting a beautiful young woman, and they became serious. Within a month they had rented an apartment and moved in together, and he would come to work every day and tell me how the Lord was dealing with them in their relationship. He was teaching them about forgiveness and interacting with one another as a couple, and he would tell me how awesome their sex life was. I thought to myself, “I need to tell him that they need to stop this and not live together,” but as I got ready for work one morning, the Lord spoke to me clearly and unmistakably, “You’re not to say anything about it!” He meant it, and at the time I struggled with it, but I knew it was God talking to me. It seemed like God was dealing with them as He would a married couple. I said, but Lord, they’re…” He told me, “You’re not to say a word.”

What God calls pure, and what he cleanses, He does at His own discretion, and for His own purposes, and for His own reasons, whether it fits our tradition or not. You may say, “But that is against God’s Word!” But so was David eating the Showbread, or Rahab “telling a lie,” or Esther having sex with a Gentile king whom she was not yet married to (and as a Jew, was not even supposed to ever marry). As Creator and Lord, Jesus is greater than the law of commandments, for He is the source of all laws and commands, and the author of their original intent and purpose (Ephesians 2:15). He is High Priest and mediator regarding all things pertaining to men, and is Lord even of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). God never violates His Word, but He will violate the traditions of men, and man’s perception of what he thinks the Word says. The Word of God is alive, but the letter is dead. When a man says “It is written,” the Holy Spirit will, many times, reveal, through revelation, an area of scripture that you may never have known existed, and gently reply, “It is also written…,”as Jesus did in spirit and deed in His earthly ministry, when dealing with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and even the devil.

When the letter, rather than the Spirit, defines our boundaries as believers, it will always inevitably lead to bondage. The true Word of God is that which is revealed by the Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21). The letter destroys, but the Spirit gives life. Many believers are living their lives from the outside in and are miserable. The Christian life should be lived from the inside out. We should live and walk in the Spirit, with God’s divine life and power flowing out of us, rather than endeavoring to live up to a self-constructed “moral standard” in order to impress men, ourselves, and God. The only thing that impresses God is faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, and everything that He has accomplished, and now accomplishes in the hearts and lives of people today (Hebrews 11:6).
There are many who make their boast of the law. Their walk with the Lord is based on keeping a moral code established on tradition, rather than a revelation of grace and truth. Jesus told Peter that it would be upon this rock (revelation knowledge) that the church would be built, not on the opinions and intellectual surmisings of men (Matthew 16:17-18). However, instead of building upon this foundation, many are arguing about whether they should wear bikinis to the beach, or kiss their girlfriends or boyfriends. They establish their lives on ordinances, based on what they can or cannot touch, taste, or handle, rather than allowing their hearts to be established with grace (Colossians 2:20-23). I can tell you, God is not all that concerned about what you do with your girlfriend or boyfriend as long as your heart and motives are right, and that whatever you do, you can do in faith.

God chose a prostitute to help deliver Jericho and preserve the lineage of Jesus, and the first evangelist was a woman who had been with five husbands, and was currently living with someone who was not her husband (probably someone else’s husband). She went out preaching, and didn’t even kick her boyfriend out first. If you don’t want to wear a bikini because that is your personal preference, then that is alright, but when you bring “morality” into the issue, and make doctrine out of it, then you are stepping into a subtle form of error and could be headed for trouble. The gospel is not about morality, but rather the cross. The gospel is the announcement and revelation of God’s power available to men and women that leads to salvation (deliverance) in every area of life, in this life, and in the age to come (Romans 1:16). Morality will never raise a man from the dead, heal his body, nor will it set him free (Acts 3:12.16), and it is sure that it will never save his soul (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Many of the moralists in our churches are the same ones who will tell you that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today, and speaking in tongues, prophecy, and the working of miracles have passed away. They have a form of godliness, but no power. Jesus dealt with the issue of morality with a sharp rebuke of a very moral, well-to-do man, “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me ‘good?’ There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Though the man had been moral all of his life, he lacked the vital and most important thing. He trusted in his own riches and his own righteousness, and lacked a revelation of the righteousness of God. Boundaries are based on the conscience illuminated by God’s Word and His Spirit. The commandment is a lamp; and the law is light, not dead regulation (Proverbs 6:23). Sin is a violation of that light; a violation of faith and love. God determines what is clean and unclean in the life of an individual, and this can be different in certain areas for different people based on the way that they are put together, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally (Romans 14:14, 22-23).
In I Kings 20:35-36, a prophet found a man and commanded him to hit him in the face, but the man refused. He refused because he felt that it was wrong to hit a prophet of God, but the prophet said to him, “Because you have disobeyed, a lion will find you and kill you!” and that is what happened. The man had leaned unto his own understanding, and judged his action on his own interpretation and sense of morality, rather than what was right. He ignored the voice of the prophet because it made no sense to him, in much the same way that many ignore the Spirit today.

The Holy Spirit declared that Gentile believers should “abstain from meats offered unto idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication” (Acts 15:29), and yet in I Corinthians 8:4, the Apostle Paul, by the same Spirit, declares that an idol is nothing whatsoever, and then in chapter 10:25-30 he says that it is alright to eat meat sacrificed unto idols as long as nobody knows about it “Don’t ask, don’t tell, but if they do ask, then don’t do it!” (Paraphrased) It had become a matter of conscience, not law. Not everyone who eats meat sacrificed to idols has broken God’s law. Not everyone who kills is a murderer (Romans 13:4), not everyone who steals falls into the same category (Proverbs 6:30).

Legalism hates the true message of the gospel because those who embrace it lose control. It threatens their positions of pride and preeminence that are dependent on legalistic religion. In Galatians 1:6-9, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, stated that many would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ in departing from the message of grace unto another gospel (morality and works). God takes this very seriously, and in fact, for those who should know better, and who continue to preach and teach these errors, He had a strong warning, “let that man be accursed” (vs. 8-9). It is time to awake. We have expended most of our energy fighting for morality and social issues, to the extent that we have grieved the Spirit, left our foundation, and lost our power, authority, and place of influence. Paul later asked the Galatians, “Who hath bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1-5).

Many times God will humble us with His goodness. He is so good that we marvel, and know that there is nothing that we did to earn it. For thousands of years the Jews had made their boast of the law, and suddenly Peter receives a vision from God, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat!” (Acts 10:9-15) He told Peter to go enjoy a good meal, and partake of things that he had always been told that he could never have. Peter was stunned. He argued with God, “I have never eaten anything common or unclean!” But Jesus rebuked him once again, “Don’t call what God has cleansed, unclean.” Peter, no doubt, was humbled by the goodness of God to himself, and furthermore by the revelation of God’s mercy and grace extended to the Gentiles. When the grace of God abounds, it puts to death the pride of the flesh, as we realize that we have no more wherewith to boast (Romans 3:27).

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