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Does an understanding of our freedom in Christ motivate us to sin? I don’t think so. I would argue that an understanding of our complete and total forgiveness motivates believers to receive something better: our true purpose and meaning.
Personally, although I know that I have total freedom in Christ, that freedom doesn’t provoke me to sin; instead it encourages me to live according to the New Covenant with its new law: the law of the Spirit of life.
The law of the Spirit of life! Have you heard of it? Paul mentions it in his letter to the Romans…
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1&2, NASB)
So what is the law of the Spirit of life? As Romans 8 makes clear, it is the complete opposite of the law of sin and death, the Mosaic Law. This means that believers should not be led by the commandments and laws of the Old Covenant (or any set of laws!) Just let the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, lead you.
You know? ‘Cause you are free! 😀
“It is for freedom that Christ Jesus has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)
Paul the apostle is constantly encouraging us to live a life of freedom. In his letter to the Colossians, he tells us that living a life according to a bunch of rules is not a REAL life. It’s a fake, false life; a life in the shadows.
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. (Colossians 2:17, NLT)
Interesting, huh!? 🤓 The religion of the Old Covenant was the shadow, “For these rules are only shadows of the reality.” They were a shadow of things yet to come. The life of faith in which we are governed by the law of the spirit of life is the reality that has come!
Paul says, “don’t let anyone condemn you.” A logical warning, because we can’t escape religious people. And for those Christians who still live in the shadow, condemning others is natural. Why? Because they themselves are governed by the law of sin and death.
You know what I am talking about, right!? We all have regularly experienced condemnation from the Christians with whom we interact.
It was common for me to come home from work feeling “beat up” by condemnation during the five years that I worked at a large Christian K-12 homeschool enrichment program. It was simply status quo for the ladies and teen girls that I interacted with; condemnation just sort of flows out of their mouths like a leaky faucet.
Why? Well there is a reason. It’s because they are still under “the law of sin and death.” They are still under the Old Covenant, which means that they mistakenly think that God still holds their sins against them. Living under this delusion makes them mean!
They do not intend to be mean . . . but they can’t help it. On one hand, they are sweet and kind and friendly and were fun to work with, but on the other hand, condemnation flows out of them nonetheless. (Usually during Staff Meetings when we are discussing “everyone else.”)
I am sharing this with you – not to bad-mouth homeschoolers — but to illustrate the point that most Christians are still under the law. They need to be set free!
So then, how shall we live? Well, we no longer live according to rules and regulations. We allow the law of the Spirit of Life to guide us. We no longer try to earn God’s favor by obeying the laws He gave to Moses. Instead we believe the truth that HE was obedient to the law on our behalf, and then died for the forgiveness of all sin.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17, NASB)
He fulfilled the Law, and then nailed it all to the cross. Obedience to the law has come to an end.
God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross. (Colossians 2:14, CEV)
The result of all of this is that we are SET FREE to live according to the Spirit! The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of Sin and death.
So when you feel that someone is condemning you for not obeying some rule; for not keeping the Sabbath; for not being good enough or holy enough . . . for whatever standard that they feel you are not living up to . . . just remember Paul’s word to the Colossian church: don’t let anyone condemn you. And remember his words to the church in Rome: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
My site is called Mom for Freedom, because I just so happen to be a Mom who is FOR freedom. I am pro-freedom. I desperately want my brothers and sisters to be set free – set free to live a life of peace and rest, growing in grace and getting to know Jesus better with each passing year.
November 23, 2019 8:46 PM
Forgive me, Father, I have sinned; it has been four months since my last blog post.
Just kidding! . . . About the asking for forgiveness part. Not kidding that it’s been four months since I’ve written anything here. My personal life has been overwhelming and consuming and causing much anxiety — a ‘down-cast heart.’ I have simply not had the energy to blog.
But God is active and living and He is ever-present, dwelling in my innermost being, as I live through the storms of life. Though the world may slay me, yet will I praise Him.
So, getting to the point, must faith be accompanied by works? . . . Of course not! We are saved by grace through faith, and we are sustained each and every day by His grace through our faith; through our trust in Him; our resting in the work He has already accomplished.
But what about the book of James?
But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20, NASB)
Gee, thanks for the encouragement, brother James.
No, sorry. He got that part wrong. Faith is IT. Sola fide. We are justified by faith alone.
The five chapters of the book of James are filled with things we must do. There is not one mention of the death or resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. No mention of the divinity of Jesus. No mention of our forgiveness or justification by faith. James believes we are justified by works.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24, NASB)
Did you know that the book of James was ABSENT from the first list of New Testament books known as the Muratorian Fragment. James’ epistle was not confirmed as a book of the Bible, included in the canon of the New Testament, until the fourth century A.D.! James was added to the Bible in AD 367, after the creation of Roman Catholicism!
Yet there is an excellent argument to be made concerning the fact that including the book of James in the Bible is important because it illustrates the differences between Paul and James, between a life of faith and a life of works. (Click here for a Bible Study by Living God Ministries on that topic.)
Sure James makes some good points, such as “if you stumble at one part of the Law of Moses, you are guilty of the entire thing.” But, mainly, when I read the book of James, I think, “Man, he’s a raging legalist!”
I’m thankful that I have been set free from a life of works. I am thankful to live a life of freedom in Christ Jesus; a life where I am free to walk in the Spirit, and live each day according to the Law of the Spirit of Life, and not according to the Law of Sin and death.
November 6, 2019 9:58 AM
This phrase, “in the midst of the messy,” has been going through my head for about a month now. I like it. Because I’m somewhat of a literature geek, I like the alliteration almost more than the meaning behind the words. Almost.
Our God loves us in the midst of the messiness of who we are. We are flawed and imperfect, and yet He is the potter who is at work on His clay, molding and shaping us into something a little less messy than we were yesterday.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NASB)
He is the One who began the work and He is the One who is continuing to work so hard to complete the work. He is the One who works! Hallelujah! All we can do is rest. Just be the lump of clay. Be the branch who abides in the vine. Be the guy lying down in green pastures, resting beside still waters.
What a glorious freedom we have in Christ Jesus! We who have turned to Him for His grace and mercy and have been adopted into His family, we who are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). We have freedom to live our lives, to be loved by Him, in the midst of the messiness that is US. 😀
Brothers and sisters, we need not work hard to please Him. He is already pleased with us (because we believed in Jesus Christ). We need not try to change ourselves (because He is the One who is working to perfect the work He began). And we need not attempt to clean up the messes in our lives, the ugliness that is our sinful flesh.
Don’t get me wrong, I delight in cleanliness and neatness and order (when it comes to earthly things). But when it comes to my relationship with the Lord God, my sanctification, my right-standing with Him, I live knowing that there is no work to do in that regard.
He loves me just where I am; just as I am . . . it makes me adore Him all the more!
I love Him because He first loved me.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19, KJV)
July 10, 2019 2:23 AM