“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…” -Ephesians 1:17-18
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts…” -Ephesians 4:17-18
Most of still today relate to God through law, believing that it is primarily our behavior/obedience that determines our relationship with Him, although we don’t have much of an explanation for why He seems so inconsistent in when and who He punishes and seems to reward. I have elaborated on this issue before, but for this post, suffice it to say I believe we relate to God in this way because we don’t understand the radical change that took place in moving from the Old to the New Covenant – radical enough to change the definition of “obedience.” In the Old Covenant, obedience was about keeping laws, about doing and not doing the correct things. In the New Covenant, obedience is about having a renewed mind and walking in the light and Life of the Spirit within us – all of which are impossible when law is in focus, because law fuels self-awareness, fear, and sin. I’m not making this up by the way, it’s in your Bible!1
At the top, I quoted two passages from the writings of the apostle Paul, who wrote powerfully about the New Covenant. In Ephesians 1, notice what he says is the key to know the hope of the God’s invitation to us, and to experience the riches of His glorious inheritance: enlightenment of the heart. Notice also what he says in Ephesians 4 is the one thing that alienates men from the Life of God: darkness of the understanding. Both, as is obvious, are not outward behaviors, but inward perceptions and ways of seeing. I believe that if we humble ourselves and genuinely seek the Spirit of God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, being willing to let go of our precious doctrines and religious ways, it will happen. Scripture says whoever humbles themself will be given grace and sight. It is a renewal of the eyes/perception of the heart that constitutes “repentance,” which Jesus and the apostles said is the essential starting point to live within the kingdom (will, rule and reign) of God.
The law, which empowered sin, is fulfilled and gone. It was put away, nailed to the cross and ended in Christ. Therefore, sin, as we usually think of it, doesn’t exist.1 As I’ve said many times, the issue now isn’t to avoid bad behavior, but to receive an enlightened heart and understanding so that we may knowingly and willingly participate in the things of God. This is even more important when you realize that only what is Spiritual in origin will stand the purification of fire and the shaking which ALL people and things will undergo. I’m writing more about this right now. Again, this doesn’t mean we become better at stopping bad things and doing good things. This means we become new creations according to a new identity and Life, which are part of the nature/Spirit of God Himself that dwells within us. We walk in a different realm, with a whole new perception of things, so to speak.
The way of Christ is this: to abide in light/reality and overwhelm darkness/imagination, to walk in the spirit and deny the flesh, to receive grace and abandon self-righteousness, to see by faith and blind the eyes of flesh, to love and not to resist/demand/expect, to taste of death so that others might taste of Life. As I’ve said before, it’s a much, much higher way than simply avoiding bad behaviors. It’s actually MORE demanding and radical, but also much more life-giving!
I hope you’ll check back soon. Bless you all.
Colossians 2:11-15 ESV: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (All this already happened. Your circumcision in Spirit, your burial and resurrection. In Christ it’s all done, and you are in Christ). (13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Along these lines, you can see also Romans chapters 5-7. Specifically you could look at 5:13, 5:20, 6:14, 7:5-8, along with 1 Corinthians 15:56. Hebrews also says we were perfected forever (in God’s sight) by the one, single sacrifice of Christ, and that God remembers our sins and lawless deeds NO MORE. This is the solid foundation for us to walk without consciousness of sin. This is also in part because no law = no sin. Sin as in the old covenant sense of “don’t do this or that.” Just as sin was taken away, our “obedience” is different too now. Obedience in the Greek language means “conformity.” How can you conform/obey rules if there aren’t any? In the New Covenant, obedience/conformity isn’t about adhering to a set of rules, but to one’s identity as a son of God, full of love and light, one who is enlivened by the Spirit and not the fear-based flesh. It’s all too easy to follow rules with a wicked heart. The pharisees did it in Jesus’ day and many religious people still do the same today. God has no desire for that. He looks for those who walk as sons in love and in the light and power of His spirit, without worrying about their behavior at all.