What do you think about if I tell you NOT to think of a green donkey? No matter how hard you try, your mind will be filled with interesting images of a green donkey.
The same principle applies to sin-consciousness. Many churches (with the best of intentions) focus on eliminating the sin in the lives of Christians. The more these Christians are told NOT to do a specific thing, the more they will be inclined to focus on it and dwell on it daily. Before they know it, they will once again stumble into the trap that the Law sets. Paul preaches the same thing in Romans 7:
“But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing].” Romans 7:8
Once again I want to direct you to the verse that will set you free: Hebrews 12:2. Throwing aside every hindrance (in this case, an obsession with sin and what you are doing wrong) while looking to Jesus is what will lead you to a life of victory. The end-result of this singular focus will be natural, spirit-filled living as Christ finishes the work that HE started in you. This was they way God intended it to be. That is why JESUS came to fulfill the law – and why the onus is not on you any more.
We cannot do it – but Jesus already did it!
“Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus … For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], so that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us…” Rom 8:1-4
Romans 8 gives us irrefutable proof that justification does NOT come through the law. It clearly says there is something which the law cannot do – namely the abolishing and overcoming of sin. God, on the other hand, was able to accomplish this. He sent His son as an offering for sin, and in this way met every righteous and just requirement of the Law. In other words – there is nothing of the law that is left for us to complete. Every single requirement was met through Jesus’ sacrifice.
In other words, if we now believe in this sacrifice we are completely set free and justified. That is why there is now no more condemnation for us. No one can point a finger at us and tell us we are not righteous or acceptable before God. We can approach Him boldly and without fear. We have been forever freed from the law of sin and death (a strict list of rules which had to be followed in order to not experience wrath and condemnation) to walk in a law of the Spirit of life (which is Jesus and the life in abundance we now have in Him).
In the previous post I spoke about how hearing the true message of our salvation over and over again will change us from the inside out. A message that goes hand in hand with our true salvation is the message of grace. Jesus came to change a whole lot of things – one of which is the complete fulfillment of the law’s demands.
“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgement and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] Eph 2:8
How can anyone possible argue with this verse? How can any church still preach a message of striving or effort in order to please God? Before Jesus came to change everything, only the Jews who were part of God’s covenant could approach Him (and then only through keeping up with the law’s demands). After Jesus, all of the world (called ‘Gentiles’) previous excluded from this covenant could now approach God through faith.
“[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were [so] far away, through (by, in) the blood of Christ you have been brought near…By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law and its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled];” Eph 2:12-13, 15
It is very clear that in this new era no preference is given to any person, nation or church who upholds the law. The only deciding factor when it comes to salvation and a clear conscience before God is whether you have faith in His Son.
Jesus told us directly: “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
There is no freedom outside of the Gospel of Jesus. There is no liberty when you have to uphold traditions and adhere to a long list of laws. There is no honoring of God if all the emphasis is placed on your works, and how holy you live. True humbleness means admitting you are nothing without the grace and reconciling work of Christ. Proclaiming that Jesus has already accomplished everything necessary to make you holy before God places all the honor and glory in front of His throne, not our own throne.
You cannot experience the divine freedom which Christ came to give whilst living under the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law and adhere to it 100% – so that whomever believes in Him will be blameless before God (through grace).
“Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.” Matt 5:17
On the cross, breathing His last breath, Jesus said: “It is finished” (John 19:30). This statement convinces us that He has accomplished all that He came to fulfill and complete (see verse above). Therefore, a new testament was put in place (instead of the old covenant) – where only faith in this completed work can now lead to righteousness.
“By abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled]; that He from the two might create in Himself one new man [one new quality of humanity out of the two], so making peace. And [He designed] to reconcile to God both [Jew and Gentile, united] in a single body by means of His cross, thereby killing the mutual enmity and bringing the feud to an end.” Eph 2:15-16
I have mentioned before that law can creep back into your life so inconspicuously that you don’t notice it until your joy is gone and you are filled with condemnation. Our freedom in Christ is something we must cherish and protect like a precious jewel.
“In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].” Gal 5:1
Jesus also warned us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (by this He was referring to their teaching and what they believed). The Pharisees were meticulous about following the law, and they were quick to judge anyone who did not live according to the same (outward) standards as they did. They believed in future rewards and punishments based on works.
“Jesus said to them, Be careful and on your guard against the leaven (ferment) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matt 16:6
Only a little bit of leaven is necessary to infect a whole batch of dough (1 Cor 5:6). In the same way, just a little bit of law, and a little bit of relying on yourself to please God can infect your relationship with Him. The condemnation takes away your boldness, which ultimately causes you separate yourself from God (like Adam did when he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil).
Christ came to set us free (completely and liberally). Let us stand fast in this freedom – running away from any threatening yoke of slavery!
In Deuteronomy 28:1-12 we read about a myriad of blessings that was promised to the Israelites … IF they were obedient and followed the law at all times. However, if they did not obey the law, a myriad of curses would come their way (Deuteronomy 28:14-45). We have already established that we have been set free from the law and legalism through the complete sacrifice of Jesus. He came to fulfill the law, so that we do not have to submit to it in order to be righteous in God’s eyes.
Because we believe in the complete sacrifice of Jesus we are called sons of Abraham due to our faith, not sons of Moses due to our holy adherence to the law. That means we are heirs according to a promise, not according to a set of rules that is followed (as was the case with the Israelites in Deuteronomy).
“Know and understand that it is [really] the people [who live] by faith who are [the true] sons of Abraham.” Gal 3:7
To understand that we are now unconditionally blessed, we must look to God’s actions toward Abraham. He came to Abraham and told him He wants to bless him, without any conditions following this statement. We are now also unconditionally blessed because of our faith in Christ. So – how blessed you are does not depend on how holy you live, or how closely you follow the law – it is a free gift and an unconditional promise which is true in Christ.
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and [a]curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves].” Gen 12:2-3
In the beginning of Genesis we are told about a specific tree in the Garden of Eden which man should not have eaten from – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight or to be desired – good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of [the difference between] good and evil and blessing and calamity.” Gen 2:9
“…But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Gen 2:17
God did not want mankind to eat from this tree, because He knew that this constant awareness of good and evil would take away the life He intended for man. He intended man to live in a close relationship with Him – to be so captivated by His presence that no knowledge of good and evil would be necessary. The death He was referring to is separation from God, the most terrible fate imaginable. The moment man ate of this tree his eyes suddenly opened to the law (the knowledge of good and evil), and the condemnation that the law brought caused him to hide himself from God’s presence (Gen 3:8).
Thank goodness God removed man from the Garden before he ate of the Tree of Life (referring to Jesus) in that state! Otherwise we would’ve been doomed to an eternity of submitting to rules and regulations – an eternity without the close companionship of God. The truth is we have been set free and redeemed by Christ, and we can once again live in glorious fellowship with God.
“[It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive.” 2 Cor 3:6