This podcast covers Lesson 6 of Healthy Living Bible Study by Melanie Newton.
Flee the Spiritual Substitutes Infection
What makes us susceptible to the Spiritual Substitutes infection?
- Whenever you believe that some person, religious system, or discipline can make you feel more spiritual, you’ve made a substitute for Christ in your life.
- We are called to a person—Jesus Christ—not to a system or to an organization. He is the head of the Church, which is composed of people who belong to Him.
- The treasure we have in the person and work of Jesus Christ is more powerful, more effective and more valuable than anything we could substitute for Him.
The Christ Substitute called Legalism
- Legalism is a works-based way of approaching the Christian life. It is taking your faith in Christ and adding other things you must do or not do to gain and maintain acceptance from God and even how to stay saved.
- Legalism does not refer to what is clearly taught in the New Testament about living a life that pleases God and what sin is.
- Legalism is those extra rules that some person or organization has decided you must follow to be a “good Christian” and for God to love you. Whenever God's acceptance of you has an "if you do this” attached to it (other than faith in Jesus Christ), you know you are in the vicinity of legalism.
- Legalism results in straying away from enjoying a love-based relationship with Jesus to practicing a works-based religion with associated bondage to insecurity, guilt, and fear of punishment for not doing it right.
- Jesus died to set you free from that. The Mosaic Law and every other system of works-based religion was nailed to the cross. The one and only way you are declared right and perfectly acceptable before a holy God is through your faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this justification. And, it is permanent. Jesus Christ took your sin; God gives you His righteousness instead. That’s called the Great Exchange.
God made the one who did not know sin [that’s Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him we [that’s you and me] would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- When God looks on you, He sees His Son’s righteousness taking the place of your sin—even your sin after you’ve been a believer for a long time.
- Legalism is a reliance on self, not Christ. No one can ever be good enough on her own merits to please God. Accept this gift of righteousness by faith. Thank God for it. Flee from any kind of works-based religion that substitutes for the treasure you already have in Jesus Christ.
The Christ Substitute of Mysticism
- Mysticism is not when Jesus chooses to reveal Himself unexpectedly to people in dreams or using His Spirit to illuminate your mind and help you understand His Word and give you direction when you ask for it.
- Mysticism is seeking visions, interactions with angels, or supernatural experiences to improve or validate your relationship with God. It is fed by dissatisfaction with what has already been given to us through Christ’s finished work on the cross and the complete Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us how to approach life God’s way.
- Mysticism is works-based. It is demanding God to put on a “good show” whenever you want it. It leads to spiritual elitism when you see yourself as being more spiritual than other Christians because God is giving personal messages to you.
- Mysticism also sets Christians up for disappointment and guilt. If God doesn’t speak special words to you whenever you ask, then you wonder what you have done wrong. Performance-based religion.
- The danger of mysticism is we have an enemy who always wants to distract us away from Christ. The “nudges,” “feelings,” intuitions, and random thoughts a person has while emptying one’s mind to hear a special word from God every day cannot be put on the same level as Scripture.
- Any teaching that is not centered on the sufficiency of Christ alone to make you acceptable to God is not from God. Any teaching that does not point you to the Bible as being sufficient for you to know God’s will and grow spiritually is not from God.
- Conclusion: Jesus Christ still speaks, because the Spirit has already spoken. We hold His words in our hands with every printed Bible and every Bible app on our phones and tablets. You can be confident that you are hearing the truth you need to hear. Flee the Christ substitute of mysticism.
Both legalism and mysticism are wrapped up in self—what self wants. Both depend on some kind of experience to validate your faith. Both lead to being puffed up about one’s religious life or experiences. Both are spiritual substitutes for Jesus Christ as being supreme in your life. Flee from the Spiritual Substitutes infection. This one will leave you empty.
The Spiritual Substitutes infection is bad. Know that the treasure you have in Jesus Christ is more powerful, effective, and valuable than anything you could substitute for Him. This truth gives you an immune system that overcomes any spiritual infection.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart needs with His truth and His love so you can get well and stay well.
Joyful Walk Bible Studies by Melanie Newton are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.