Barry Newman's Blog

August 18, 2009

Freedom (part IV)

Filed under: Freedom,Gospel,Law,Spirit — barrynewman @ 7:11 am

see part III here

The Spirit

The Law has run its course. The Lord Jesus Christ has rescued us.  However, if we are no longer under the Law, by what manner do we now live? There is a sense in which we still live under the principles of the Law, under the governorship of God, but they are the deep principles of the Law majestically brought to the surface in those two great Laws – to love God with everything we are and with all our strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Paul himself wrote, “He who has loved his neighbour has fulfilled the Law … Love is the fulfilment of the Law” (Rom 13: 8, 10) and again, “The entire Law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself” (Gal. 5:14).  Indeed living under the governorship of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God involves loving one another as he has loved us (John 13: 34, 15: 12). However, such living is under a new contractual arrangement with new possibilities.  In both his letter to the church at Rome and in his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul made it abundantly clear – that we now live under new circumstances (Rom. 8: 1 – 16; Gal. 5: 16 – 25).  These new circumstances were foretold by Jeremiah – God’s law in our minds, written on our hearts (Jer. 31: 33, 34) or as Ezekiel put it, having a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36: 26). Wonderfully, God has given us his own Spirit. We have been made a new creation.  We have a new life.  God enables us to live righteously by the work of his Spirit within us.  Thus Paul addresses the Christians at Galatia, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.”  With irony he states, “Against such things there is no law.”  He continues, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit let us walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5: 16 – 25).  I had a knee that made it painful to walk and difficult to walk properly. I was operated upon and given a new knee.  Now that I live with a new knee I need to learn to walk with that new knee.  We have been given a new heart, a new mind.  We now live by the Spirit of God.  We must learn to walk daily under the influence of that same Spirit.

If we attempt to live under the Law, but not the spirit of the Law and not under the influence of the Spirit of God, our lives will be a failure. Only rarely does Paul, James, Peter, or John speak of living the Christian life by direct reference to the Law. The same applies when they write of the transgressions of either believers or unbelievers. In none of his letters do we find Paul appealing to the Mosaic Law as that Law by which we must live, though when he finds it helpful, he will appeal to a specific part of the Mosaic Law (e.g. Eph. 6: 1 – 3). To the contrary we find him saying, “Once we were held prisoners by the law” … but now, for freedom “Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 3: 23, 5: 1).

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