The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.
When you think of it, that makes sense. When you did something wrong, you knew it because it was one of the ten commandments that you broke. You felt guilty and decided you'd try harder to not do it again. That's as deep as it went. You just tried to follow the rules. Or you rebelled against the rules and had a reason for it.
We're learning now, though, that is not how God wants us to live. Surprise! You mean God doesn't want us to follow the rules and try to be good?
Why should you have to try? That's not who God is.
God is grace. God is love. "He so loved the world that he sent his only son..."
The son made it possible for us to live in the "Spirit." As Paul says,
... instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
That sounds so foreign to how I grew up in a Christian home. It was all about rules and punishment from God. It was almost like God put us on this earth to watch us fail and get to unleash his anger on us. When I was a kid, I thought the only people who could follow all the rules were the Notre Dame nuns who taught me.
Looking back now, I wonder how many of them actually "embraced the Spirit." I know they could get real angry when they wanted to, and they had quite harsh forms of punishment.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them--living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.
A "spacious free life." Spacious.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines spacious as "generous or large in area or extent; roomy."
Imagine having a generous, large, roomy life.
If God provides generously for you, you will have enough, perhaps more than enough. If he provides a large life, I think of big and exciting. Roomy I love best of all. If one has a roomy life, he's able to move around and not be shackled by this world with all of its boundaries and agonies.
You might be thinking, "I can't live in God's Spirit. It would be easier for me to follow the rules. Keep on trying to do it myself." Or, "I want to be in control of my life." Once again, it doesn't work that way.
God only needs to hear that you want him to take charge of your life. He does the rest. You change.
... If God has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him.
Paul also says that if you've never welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, you won't know what we're talking about.
Even though you still experience all the limitations of sin--you yourself experience life on God's terms... He'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.
God calls out to us. You've felt the nudge before. We get busy with "stuff" and dismiss it and make fun of others who take the plunge. "Weak," we call them. "Unenlightened."
I've come to hate that term, "enlightened." It doesn't really mean anything. Some of the same people who say they've been enlightened still trash the planet and care nothing about natural resources. They don't grieve over racial and social injustice. They read a new book and say they've been "awakened."
How can someone have been awakened and still don't see the Truth?
It lasts for a little while. And then the "fad" ends.
I'm going for the gold. The only true solution.
God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! ...It's adventurously expectant.
And generous, large and roomy!