This post is a little long, though I think it’s enlightening, thought-provoking and well worth reading. However, for those who don’t have the desire or time to read it all, I’ve made a “TLDR” summary. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read on.
- Jesus’ primary purpose was to reclaim the Father’s Kingdom on earth, not to get us to heaven.
- Living by law will prevent one from following Jesus in sonship and should be avoided just as we should avoid following the flesh.
- Jesus didn’t just free us from Moses’ law, but from any and all forms of a law-based relationship to God, because…
- …a relationship of law creates servants, while love-empowered faith creates sons. God delights in sons and earth needs them.
- Sonship is the higher calling. Like on earth, sons are intimately involved with their Father in running His Kingdom, while servants just thanklessly tend to it.
- Love empowers faith and enables grace, which are elements of sonship. Law prevents them.
Ok. Here’s a big question, which someone I really respect posed recently: Which scenario honestly makes more sense and is more God-honoring?
- The son of God came to earth, lived a life of suffering, and died in agony in order to get us to heaven.
- The son of God came to earth to reclaim his Father’s Kingdom, which Adam lost.
Although almost all of Christianity is focused on scenario 1, I am convinced the answer is scenario 2, and scripture proves it. The thing is, the tendency toward self-focus in the heart of man is so strong that unless it’s displaced, all scripture or other testimony of God’s will which don’t involve self in some way will be pushed aside. The Father’s purpose in sending Christ was not for you or I personally, it was for His Kingdom. Everything else, including our salvation, is secondary and merely a part of that bigger purpose. Our primary value and honor lie in participating in the Kingdom of God as a son (or daughter – sonship in this sense is gender-neutral). For us to truly follow Christ (which is all he asked) as a son, inheriting and participating in their Father’s Kingdom, some radical changes must take place, transitioning the church from servanthood into sonship and darkness into light (one could also say Adam into Christ). One of these changes is coming to avoid law as much as or even more than avoiding the corrupt, sinful flesh. Maybe that sounds strange or flat wrong, but bear with me and it might be more convincing.
The issue of “law” is really interesting. Jesus mentioned it more than once and Paul wrote about it extensively, but I still don’t think we really understand it. Many times in scripture when “the law” is being discussed, the original text simply says “law.” This is actually a big point, because it demonstrates that we’re not just freed from THE law, as in the law of Moses which all of Israel was familiar with around Jesus’ time, but from law entirely – free from a law-based relationship with God – and freed to a relationship of sonship!
If you or I follow our flesh, we will be cut off from the Kingdom of God (though this doesn’t mean we burn for eternity). Likewise, if we embrace and follow law, we will be cut off from Christ and separated from grace. This essentially means believers who persist in a relationship of law, though their sins are atoned for, will never rise from the status of servants to sons and will thus never be able to intimately co-operate with God. I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid both of those outcomes. Law produces servants, not sons, because it only deals with flesh and external behavior. Faith and love deal with the spirit, affecting the heart and producing a relationship of sonship. Law and faith are forever opposed, just as flesh and spirit are opposed. I could probably give a dozen or more relevant scriptures supporting these statements, but don’t have room. Here are just a few:
- (Gal 5:19-21 MLV): “Now the works of the flesh are apparent, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, carnal indulgences, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, selfish ambitions, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings and things similar to these; which I told to you beforehand, also just-as I did say to you beforehand, that those who practice similar things– they will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
- (Gal 3:10-12a MLV): “For as many as are out of works of law (“out of” is the literal Greek translation, meaning works of law are the basis of relationship) are under a curse; for it has been written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ (If you break one commandment one time, you are irreversibly guilty as a law-breaker. See James 2:10). Now it is evident that no one is justified by law (not only “the” law, but law generally) before God; because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ And the law is not from faith…” There is no right relationship/standing with God from law, only from ongoing faith. Law is “do this, don’t do that, or else.” Faith is a moment-by-moment walk in the spirit by divine revelation.
- (Gal 5:2-6 WEB (R)): “Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law (a relationship of law is all or nothing). You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but (all that really matters or has importance in the spiritual realm is what comes from) faith working through love (literally: “faith which is energized by love”).
- (Php 3:9 WEB (R)): “…and be found in him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…”
- (Rom 10:3-8 ESV): For, (Israel) being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (righteousness in God’s eyes isn’t connected to law). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (In this sense, Christ as the word of God, isn’t “up there” or “down there.” The word is a spiritual reality within you. “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote).1 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)…”
Law is very familiar to our thinking, and it’s influence can be very subtle. The minute our walk with God becomes based on do’s and dont’s, we are relating by law and cut off from Christ. It’s not that doing bad or following the corrupt desires of the flesh is acceptable – I already mentioned that doing so will get you shut out of the Kingdom of God (which is as terrible as a burning hell for someone who loves Him). It’s that do’s and dont’s are the basis of law, and faith and love never enter the equation, thus grace is prevented and sonship is thwarted. For us to walk as a son, love, faith, and grace aren’t optional, they’re essential. Grace is God’s influence on our heart, and faith is a divinely-given sight and conviction, given to the spirit. Love empowers faith and enables grace, so above all, seek to love one-another with love that is generated from the divine presence within you and around you. Amen.
1. Colossians 1:27