If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5: 18 

There is an order to the way that the entire world functions. The rules and the controlling principles were embedded into its genetic coding by God in order to prevent chaos from ruling. What matters most for people is where we align our hearts and our minds in order to receive the direction and guidance that we all need to successfully make it through this complex life that we live. Although we are all born with hearts that are broken and controlled by sin, God grants us the gift of a choice that will completely change all of that. Christ brings all who choose Him into restoration and into righteousness. 

Once we have decided to leave behind the controlling influence of evil and turn our hearts toward God, we still need to take one more very important step. God designed a rule of law into Creation, and it will get us through the day with minimal missteps and wrong turns; however, the law demands perfection from us, and we are very imperfect beings. Errors, mistakes, and wrong choices are inevitable when we choose to orient our moral compass toward the law. Under the rule of the law, we will spend our days trying unsuccessfully to pay off the constantly growing fines that we receive for our various sins. Unfortunately, we will never possess enough emotional or spiritual currency to pay these debts.  

Christ offers us another choice, for He paid that debt in full for us, and He sent His Spirit to live in, among, and with us. We can choose to seek out a deep, personal, and powerful relationship with the Spirit of God that will profoundly change the way that we view life. When we seek to stay filled with the Spirit, our view of life and the vantage point from which we view it are changed. We gain a Heavenly perspective on life that allows us to live boldly, confidently, and in a form of freedom that does not exist outside of this intimate relationship with God. As I know Christ, so, I am filled with Christ’s Spirit, and there is lightness and buoyancy to my life that is without compare. 

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10: 4

We live in a world where double meanings are commonplace. People say things and their real intent is hidden inside of our surface understanding of their words. In other instances, a bit of archeology is required to dig down to the next layer of understanding. Regardless of the circumstances or of the intent of the speaker, there are times when looking beyond our first impressions matters for the sake of thorough understanding. This short sentence is one of those pieces of text. For at first reading it would be easy to think that the Apostle is stating the obvious in saying that Christ brought about the termination of the old Law of Moses. In a way, this is true; however, there is more here.

The idea behind the word that is translated as end is one of fulfillment, of the arrival of a completed state. There is a strong sense of the passage of time and of a work or a process that was required to get to this point. This is similar to the complex ideas that flow naturally from the expression, “End of the journey”. This statement brings to mind the planning that preceded the travel, the adventures that were encountered along the way, the great joy and satisfaction that come when the goal is achieved, and finally, the treasures that are to be found there. To me this is a description of God’s plan for our redemption from sin and for the restoration of our relationship with Him.

God gave us His Law so that we would have a code to follow that, if adhered to completely, would lead us to live in true righteousness. That is, we would think and act in a manner that was consistent with the way that God created us to do before our rebellion. Since this would require us to make the choice to live in this way, and doing this demands a form off perfection that is founded upon our own strength; it never did and could not ever succeed. Yet, God’s holiness demands our righteousness. So, Christ became the final destination of God’s journey with humanity. At this time, anyone who believes in the full expression of who and of what God is; that is, who believes in the fullness of Christ; that is, born of a virgin, lived among us as a man, crucified and raised from the dead, and living again with the Father as God; will be transformed into a person who is righteous and who now lives in the world that is found at the end of that journey. We do live under the full expression and authority of God’s Law, but now, in Christ, this is possible, and through the power of His Spirit, it is our life experience.    

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?

Deuteronomy 4: 7

 

Moses was speaking about the way that things were in a time and a place long ago and far away. He was reminding everyone about the fact that God was as close to them as was their own breath and that the Lord was involved with His people and with their nation in all matters both great and small. This is the God that Moses had encountered and knew in a deeply personal manner, and this was the God who was truly and in all ways the Lord of and over the land. So much has changed from then until now. It seems that we think that we have become a people who know how to care for ourselves as we now govern our nations and rule over the people of our world with such great skill and success that there is no longer any need for submission and obedience to the ancient God of Moses and to the way of His Word and Law.

 

Actually, as we know from that same word that many of us want to set aside on the dusty shelves of antiquity, it didn’t take long for the people that Moses was addressing here to adopt the same attitude toward God and to attempt to go it on their own in the world. It did not work for them, and it does not work for us, either. We rule over our world with all of our sophistication and knowledge put to full use; yet, people are still starving and homeless, nations continue to settle their differences by waging war, the resources of our earth are squandered and destroyed to serve selfish desires, and life in all forms is treated as a disposable commodity instead of being viewed as God’s gift of Himself in this world. It seems that our attempt at going it on our own in governing and ruling over our world have not been very successful or productive after all.

 

Still, God is patient, and He is faithful to His promise of redemption. The Lord has not given up on us, and people who know the Lord should not give up hope either. I believe that our efforts will not save the world, for that is a work that Christ alone, in His final return, will accomplish. Yet, we are called upon by Him and given the task of bringing His grace, justice, mercy, peace, and their redemption into the world as we encounter and touch it. Our nations and their leaders may not embrace the truth and the counsel of God’s Word as their ongoing rule of law, but that doubt should not stop us or inhibit us from proclaiming its supremacy to them and from demanding that God’s ethical and moral principles be applied to the way that our lands are governed. Most of us have the right and the means to voice our understanding of what is righteous and proper in the way that our leaders guide the course of the nation. All of us have the ability to express these wishes and desires through prayer and as acts of worship to our one true and eternal King. People who know God, we can join with Moses and raise our voices in prayer to the Lord and in expressions of righteousness to the world. So, we should never be silent when it comes to God’s will and truth in our world.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8: 3, 4

 

There was nothing wrong with the law as God gave it to us. It was and it still is the word of God that He granted to us in order to provide people with clear and certain guidance in the way that we were to think, act, and order our lives. The problem and the challenge that comes with the law spring out of our sinful natures. People tend to go in two primary directions when it comes to adherence to these rules of life, we either dig in, muscle through and work harder while demanding that others live or die based upon the quantity, quality, and the intensity of their own efforts, or we blow it all off as foolishness and a sure sign that there is no God for any true and real god would not be so narrow and harsh.

 

The true, real, and sovereign God anticipated all of this. He stated from the beginning of the human need for a rule and a code of conduct to follow that He would provide a way and a means for people to actually succeed in living righteously in the eyes of our Lord. So, in Jesus we are granted the answer to the impossibility of the law, and through Christ that seeming distance between God and us is also reduced to nothing. For followers of Christ God is not only with us but He is present within us in the person of the Spirit of Christ who dwells within in that mystical union of spirit with our flesh that is at the center of God’s transformative work in the lives of His people.

 

It is the presence and the work of the Spirit that makes all of the difference in the conduct of life. The Spirit speaks to our hearts and our minds at a deep level where the processes of thought and response are formed. His work reshapes us, and His presence redirects us from the path that was natural to us from birth into one that is directed by the will of God. It is the Spirit within that makes living in accordance with the law a reality for God’s people. In Christ we are no longer bound to an impossible set of rules; instead, we are free to live as God intended for us to live as we are being conformed by the work of the Spirit into the image of our Creator.

 

 

 

 

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10: 4

 

We like the law. It is simple and direct. It gives us rules to follow and sets hard boundaries that hold our behaviors in check. However, no one succeeds in living according to the dictates of God’s Law. This last statement is true for me and for you. It is the reality for the most committed holy person that anyone can think of, too. The only person to ever walk upon this earth who did fully adhere to the righteous standard that God sets out as His benchmark for holiness was Jesus. So, that takes us to this revelation of truth that God granted to Paul.

 

If we desire to live as God would have us live, then we have one and only one path to follow. Following Christ is the singular option that God has provided for people to know Him and to function fully in the realization of that knowing. What makes this so hard to do, I think, is that Christ is not a clearly marked trail to follow, and He is not a template for holiness to fit into. Christ comes to us as Lord and Savior and this requires that we surrender to His lordship and accept His saving sacrifice without reservation or holdback of any portion of ourselves. Jesus gave all for us, and He requires all from us in return.

 

So, why do we struggle with following Christ while desiring the seeming simplicity of the Law? From my perspective and looking inward at myself, this is true because I am deluded and unwilling to fully surrender myself to the relational nature of God that is made known in Christ. I am deluded into believing that rules and works are the best way to enter into God’s favor and the favor of my fellow humans. Instead, Christ is the only way to enter into the Kingdom of God, and He works in me to transform my heart and my mind so that I act according to His will. Christ makes the true tenants of God’s law organic in my flesh as I yield my desire for rules to relationship with Him.