Old Beliefs Die Hard
Read Acts Chapter 15
Ac 15:5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
It was a difficult thing for the religious leaders to transition from a full-fledged belief in the Jewish traditions to a complete trust and faith in Jesus as their Savior. When a man or woman has a belief system that has been entrenched since early childhood, they have trouble throwing it all out and replacing it with a different belief system. In this passage, we can understand how and why the saved Pharisees would believe that Gentile Christians should have to submit to circumcision. After all, they had been taught from birth that it is required of all who believe in and follow God. And, wasn’t Jesus circumcised? Yes, He was; therefore, Gentiles must also be circumcised. Case closed? Not so.
As we have transitioned from our lives as gay men and women to full submission to our Lord and Savior, there have been many of our own beliefs that have been hard to overcome. For example, many of us had an ingrained belief that God would have nothing to do with us because we were same-sex tempted. We had built up in our minds a sense of hopelessness where God is concerned. That was my experience. It took a long, long time to realize that God wanted anything to do with me and that Christ really did die for my transgressions. The Holy Spirit had quite a task in penetrating that wall of disbelief and self-imposed fatalism.
What false ideas have you had difficulty overcoming, as you have placed your faith and belief in a God who does indeed redeem and save you? I imagine that you can think of more than one spiritual or eternal idea which has been hard to dismiss and replace with God’s truth.
We must be ever diligent to look to God’s word and His truth as the ultimate answer to any of our questions. Our mortal enemy loves to fill our minds with lies, making it difficult for us to accept the grace and mercy which Christ offers us. The Pharisees believed that circumcision was a necessary addition to faith. It wasn’t. Just as they falsely believed that, we falsely believe other things.
Verses 10 and 11 have a word for us. Why do we test God by ignoring His written word, which clearly shows that we are dearly cherished children of our King/Father? Why do we believe that we somehow must earn our way into His favor by becoming “good?” We cannot accomplish that feat and we don’t have to. We are saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus, just as is every Christian, heterosexual or homosexual. Nothing we “do” will save us. What we “do” is to show our thanksgiving for the grace which He has freely bestowed upon us.
Prayer: Okay, Lord. We admit that we have tried to add things to our faith, as a way of assuring ourselves that You love us. That’s just not so. We also have had great trouble ridding ourselves of our feelings of unworthiness. There are so many false beliefs that we have held for so long, and each one rears its ugly head at times. Give us a greater understanding of Your truth, so that we will no longer wrestle with those old ideas which haunt us. Thank You for being patient with us in these areas of our belief.