When we start off in the Christian life we are concerned with the laws of God, of pleasing him and about what is right and wrong.
As we grow we find that things of God and of our lives are not so obvious as we once believed.
There are a lot of unknowns as we live our lives. And as we mature we find that God speaks to all of us in different ways about various things.
While there are many specifics about a lot of things, there is also a lot of room for a relationship with God that is unique to us.
The Law was given by God to create parameters from the outside in, over our lives. They showed the best way to life and godliness, to increase and to prosper in all areas of life.
The law though, couldn’t change what is in our hearts. That is why Jesus came, to change us from the inside out. Because of Jesus we are born to freedom, freedom to:
“Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
The law was not the final solution to our lives. Much like rules we give to children, law only works at us from the outside in. And God has made it very clear that it is not what is outside us that brings sin, but what is inside us.
“Why then was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed only until the coming of the child who was promised.” Galatians 3:19
So the law is ineffective for helping us from the inside out. The law was a hedge or protection of sorts, but law will never solve anything.
“This way of faith is very different from the way of law which says, ‘It is through obeying the law that a person has life. But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” Galatians 3:12-13
The real solution is Jesus Christ. When Jesus came he does away with the law, because he fulfilled the requirements of the law.
“Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” Galatians 3:24-25
The coming of Jesus Christ became the doing away of the law. Because of Christ we are now dead to the law and alive in Christ.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, I will be their God and they will be my people.” Hebrews 8:13
Alive to Christ, we come to live by the Spirit, from the inside out we have strength and ability to live holy lives, righteous and pleasing to our God.
The Bible is pretty clear that freedom from the laws and freedom to the Spirit is the Gospel message and is the Good News for our lives.
“But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.” Galatians 5:18
And yet we may find ourselves adding law back into our lives. We as human beings like rules, because rules tell us what to do and what not to do, as though we are children. But without rules, and in freedom to the Spirit, we are in relationship and we are no longer told what to do, and yet we are responsible.
Are we living for the Spirit?
God wants us to grow into maturity and into relationship with him.
He wants us to look to him and not to the rules. We do not live our Christian lives in relationship with rules or law, rather we walk in relationship with the person of God.
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
A living relationship where we live by the Spirit is in us, once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and as the one who covers over our sin. The Spirit convicts us and guides us. And in quite some number of areas, the Spirit guides each of us a bit differently.
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:25
And in this, because we like rules, we tend to take the convictions of the Holy Spirit over us and make them into law or rules for others.
“For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy.” 1 Timothy 1:9
Here we see that law is not for those living by the Spirit. But still within our churches and congregations we like to take our relationship with the Spirit, and turn it into law for others. Paul was very angry about this, calling it sin to add law once more to the gospel of Christ.
When we reinstate rule and law in our lives, or over the lives of others, we are putting Christ back onto the cross once more.
“For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.” Galatians 5:4
When we reinstate rules and law in our congregations, we deny the work of the cross.
“I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down.” Galatians 2:18
The cross came to give us freedom from law. But also freedom to live by the Spirit.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
Therefore we do not use our freedom to sin, but to live righteous and in a manner that pleases God.
And we leave room for others to build their own relationships with the Holy Spirit.
“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believe it’s all right to eat anything But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants?” Romans 14:1-4
As soon as we tell others how to live, adding rule to their life, we take away life in the Spirit. May we never be a people who do this. May we always be a people who give room for God to build relationships with others as he sees fit, and in accordance with each person’s faith.
“Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” Romans 14:22-23
We are not to be the Holy Spirit in each others lives, rather, we walk alongside each other in grace and room to grow our own convictions.
“You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, ‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are mere human teaching about things that deteriorate when we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong self devotion, pious self-denial, and sever bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” Colossians 2:20-23
“Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such nonsense. May God’s grace be with you all.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21
Rather, walk in a way that puts all law to shame.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Make allowance for each others faults, and forgive anyone who offends you… Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:12-15