The Freedom of the Spirit vs. Death by Law Keeping

This article is the result of a conversation that Susanne in Germany and I had in which the Spirit moved in a precious, life changing way. You can read her story here:

Paul wrote to the church at Galatia:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1, KJ2000)

What was he talking about? He was talking about the Jewish legal system that was being pressed upon these new believers by the Judaizers from Jerusalem. These Judaizers taught that Christ was not enough, and that converts had to keep the laws and traditions of the Jews. Most of Paul’s writing to the churches center around this very problem–how to walk in and keep our blood-bought freedom in Christ.

I have found that law keeping comes in many other forms as well. Our parents taught us that we had to do certain things and not do others if we wanted them to be happy with us. In most cases their love was very conditional. For many of us, seeking their approval became a law for us to keep that has carried over into our adulthood. When I was in my mid-thirties, my parents got divorced and I remember how guilty I felt that I was not a better son for them, thinking that if I had been there to stop it they would not have been fighting all the time. It seemed that I had to be the adult while growing up so they could fight like children. What a burden!

Then there is another type of law keeping and that which happens when we are wounded by someone. We say to ourselves, “I will never let that happen again.” Or, “I will never live with that kind of person again or let a person like that get close to me again.” Or we might put ourselves in slavery by becoming people pleasers, trying to make everyone happy with our words and actions. These are ALL laws and have absolutely nothing to do with the freedom that Christ bought for us with His precious blood. True freedom IN Christ is a very rare thing in Christendom, yet Jesus continues to call us into His loving arms with His unconditional love.

When I first married Dorothy almost 54 years ago, as soon as she did something that reminded me of what my mother did in her controlling ways, I would immediately react against it. Dorothy also had her triggers from her own childhood and would react to something I did or said. It took us many years and some marriage counseling to see this for what it was. It was not Dorothy that had the problem that I was reacting to. The problem was in me!

One day the Lord asked me, “Michael, is there a ‘Book of Reacts’ in the Bible?” I said, “No, Lord, there is only a ‘Book of Acts’ where the acts of the Holy Spirit in the early church are recorded.” To this He simply said, “Learn from it!” I learned that if we are truly walking by the Spirit of Christ, we do not react to the things done or words of others, but like Jesus, we only do the works that we see our Father doing and we only speak His words to others. Without His wisdom in dealing with others, we are lost. There is no place for reaction in the life of the Spirit and we tend to react by listening to those inner laws within us. We must be healed in our hearts as only Christ can heal us so that we can be free to follow His Spirit in each case. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2Cor 3:17, ESV2011)

The Letter of the Bible

Paul wrote,

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. (2Cor 3:5-6, KJ2000)

The New Testament as we know it is a record of the New Covenant that God made with man through Jesus Christ. We know Christ fulfilled the demands of the Old Testament law so we could be free to follow Him, but have you ever thought the writings found in the New Testament can become the letter of the law to us as well? Many of us have lived under the laws from Paul’s letters. Women especially have been bound by these laws in many churches where they are forbidden to teach men, must were long dresses, wear head coverings, sit with their legs crossed, not have short hair, never wear makeup or pants, et infa nasuiam. Then there is the laws of tithing, Sunday church attendance, not speaking during the Sunday service unless called upon, participating in the care of the church building and grounds, etc. Let’s not forget the law that covers everything else, “We must avoid the very appearance of evil!” This, dear saints, is what Paul was referring to in the above passage! The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Paul wrote, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16, KJ2000). If we are constantly focused on the things of the flesh for fear we might do them (or not do them by the works of the flesh) how can we say that we are walking after the Spirit? How can He direct us if we are constantly worried about what we must do or not do according to the letter of the law within us? How many time did Jesus in the gospels break the laws of the Scribe and the Pharisees? This was the reason they wanted to kill Him! No, Jesus did not walk according to the letter, but by the Spirit.

We who are born of the Spirit have a very precious promise from Him.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:13-14, KJ2000)

Do we believe Him? Do we dare to have such a relationship with the Spirit of God that we dare to walk by His leading even when carnal believers tell us we are breaking their laws according to how THEY read the Bible with their carnal minds? When it comes to seeking truth by reading the Bible, yes truth is to be found there, if we do not have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, our fleshly minds will not see what God is saying to us from its pages, and often twist its words to fit our carnal minds. The natural mind is our worst enemy. We need the mind of Christ working in us. The Spirit has been given us to guide us into ALL truth. We are lost without Him. Remember, Satan used scriptures to tempt Jesus to disobey the guidance of the Spirit in the wilderness. How much more will he try to do to us in forming doctrines that are pleasing to the flesh? We must have the Spirit guiding us if we are to continue to follow Christ.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17, ESV2011)

It is by His grace and truth working in us that makes Jesus’ yoke easy and His burden light. He not only shows us what to do, but give us His grace and strength to do it IF we walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Be free, dear saints, and let the cross of Christ deal with all the deeds of the flesh, even the religious ones.

…For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Gal 3:21-22, ESV2011)

Follow the Spirit and be free dear saints. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives us life.

23 comments on “The Freedom of the Spirit vs. Death by Law Keeping

  1. Excellent exposition on law vs. Spirit, death vs. (real/spiritual, even eternal) life, Michael! ⭐

    I appreciate the link to my blog. Thanks! 😇

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:


      Thank you so much. You are welcome about the link. It occurred to me as I read your comment that we can’t write about “real/spiritual, even eternal life” without all these things being REAL in our own lives. I think that our Father holds us to a higher measure (and thus the suffering and trials) because we have asked Him to manifest His Son in us. Like Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63, NKJV) God has been and IS doing something in us for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Judi says:

    Thank you Michael! Really Needed this encouragement. Outside of the exquisite way you are used to reveal the Spirit’s voice, IMO, in this post you explain what I call “FILTERS” & “TRIGGERS” (aka reactions). The filters are triggered and produce reactions that – often await a harvest of time gone by to reveal the death we do not believe is there. Bottom line is unbelief “ Did God say…?” Sometimes the feeling of helplessness grows so huge I must run away and then a voice cries out in the wilderness and voila’ – a post from you and/ or Susanne or another pilgrim on the journey appears and there is strength to go on…maybe just one step more but a step nonetheless 👣 so thank you, Michael, and ALL of you, for every post and comment that is Life that overcomes death. Thank you…🥰 in Christ, Judi

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Judi, thank you so much for your encouraging comment. It was good to hear about the way God uses us to give you courage and strength to go on. I tend to have a time of doubt after writing a post, wondering if the lack of response is a sign of me missing it. I think that all we can do is do our best to listen to His voice and pray. I never know whether I have obeyed Him in these matters until I start seeing His words bear fruit.

      The other thing is that God keeps a tight leash on me and there are enough screw-ups in my life to keep me seeking Him and asking His forgiveness and that of others I have haphazardly offended in my clumsy ways (just ask Susanne!). He allows no room for pride to take root, praise His Name! So, dear sister, I think I speak for Susanne and the other pilgrims on here that you are very welcome to all we write and share. You are a blessing and I am glad you found us.
      Your brother IN the Son,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael, I would not say anything since nobody of us is without sin but Jesus Christ. Haven’t I offended you myself several times? Yes, alas, I did, and it grieved me a lot, too, as we share in the same Holy Spirit Who has been grieved by these offenses as well. Some comfort we might draw out of Peter’s words when he said,

        “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pt 4:8 ESV)

        Lately when I start to doubt this or that, wondering whether Jesus really wants to set me free completely, God often reminds me of seeking FIRST the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, so that He can add ALL things to me I actually need without me having to care for them any longer.

        As for a lack of response on blog posts, I recall that those posts of which I knew and felt that God even urged me to write them, they, most of the times, got the least ‘visible’ reactions, aka comments. That made me wonder, too, indeed! 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:


        You shared Peter’s words, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” That really says it all.

        Love you and Christ in you, dearly,
        Michael ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love you IN Christ as well, my dear brother! ❤ Without His love we would be toast as you often say (toast, I mean). 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • dimple says:

        Dear Brother,
        How easy it is, and how human, to look to response from people as confirmation. Never fear! The word which goes out accomplishes the purpose for which it is sent, though we may never know.

        Thank you for your faithfulness to write as you are directed.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        How human? That’s me… the one who is still in the process of God’s remaking as only the Master Potter can. 🙂

        The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he worked a work on the wheels.And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? says the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jer 18:1-6, KJ2000)

        You are welcome my Idaho sister. Thanks for writing and your encouragement.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Judi.

      I believe you are right, the bottom line is unbelief and we cannot rid ourselves from it at all (tried hard, always failed). I guess you might have read T. Austin Sparks yesterday, too. But I dare to post a short excerpt of that devotional on here of which the part in italics really hit me.

      “We have no right to go to the unsaved and bid them come to Christ and find rest until and unless we ourselves know that rest. Our testimony and our ministry is jeopardized, weakened, limited and discredited if we are not ourselves in rest; and this is the object of the enemy’s activity in this matter – to discredit us by taking from us that very birthright of our union with Him Who is never perturbed, never anxious, never in doubt as to the issue, the One Who reigns. You see, rest is the practical outworking of our belief that He is Lord, and the very Lordship of Christ is struck at by the unrest of the people of God…. “

      In Christ,,
      Susanne ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        “You see, rest is the practical outworking of our belief that He is Lord, and the very Lordship of Christ is struck at by the unrest of the people of God…. “ This is SO true!

        “There remains therefore a rest to [for] the people of God.” (Heb 4:9, KJ2000)

        Where there is unbelief there is no rest. “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • I have a lot of unbelief, still, also. Ditto as to the prayer!

        Liked by 1 person

      • dimple says:

        Thanks Susanne, that quote hit the nail on the head.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You are very welcome, dear Louise. ❤ Glad it spoke to you, too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Judi says:

        Susanne, (one of my long comments – hope it’s ok🤭)
        I read your post after I read Michael’s and 😯 I am even more encouraged now. Yes, I read that TAS message on unbelief. I always need the reminder of it’s lurking – saves a lot of time confessing my sin and failures 😉to see that unbelief is behind everything!

        I hope it is ok that I quote here from your post that IMO really hit the nail on the head. IMO It so beautifully complements what Michael has written:


        “ One evening as I was trying to pray in the living room, I saw Jesus to my right side in the spirit. I could not clearly see His face, only his shape, so to say. The light around Him seemed to be rather dark, too. I felt no nudge to say anything as I was simply sitting there, awaiting nothing. So sad, so hopeless, having run out of all possible prayer requests as well. Suddenly He raised a question. Even as He began to speak, I felt it was truly God’s voice. So clear, so easy to discern, His words started to have an effect on me human words never have had. Jesus asked seriously, almost with a sad undertone,

        “Do you believe that I am the life?”

        I sensed that He did not expect an answer. Instead, this short and seemingly simple question has begun a work inside me as these words immediately started to reverberate in my whole being, triggering every dead spot they could reach. The first effect was that I kept weeping for one and a half hours without ceasing. But for the first time I felt relieved as I could let it all out, so to speak. All this frustration, all the pain, my helplessness to change anything, my utter inability to rejoice in the Lord always and so on and so on. For the first time I saw that Jesus had been really sad, too, as He felt compassion with me in a way I had never expected. From that evening on, things have begun to change for the better, even rather quickly.” (end quote)

        Another theme the Spirit uses TAS to point out over and over is LIFE OUT OF DEATH. You nailed it in your post as did Michael here in his post. Zeroing in on the
        “…Death by Law Keeping”

        And in that thought, adding one more quote from your post to tie these two posts together:
        “ Michael had shared several Scriptures with me, yet all of a sudden, I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me when Michael asked, “Paul knew the Law, but did He know the Lord?” Ha! 😊 Michael found out that I have had several laws inside me that kept me from closely following the Lord as to his moment-by-moment guidance. For instance, the law of being “a good daughter”, “a good daughter-in-law”, “a good neighbor”, “a state-law-fulfiller”, whatever. Day after day I sense as soon as I have been triggered by someone’s words or behavior that the reason for feeling this pain is another deeply rooted law inside me that bars me from real life and freedom in Christ. Indeed, this is bondage!”(end quote).


        I do not remember which message but TAS also said that it will take all we have to just STAND as the end draws near. Just to STAND! Personally – I believe that…

        So WHO do we suppose is behind this? 😂. So beautiful to recognize the anointing at work leading us into all truth and life. Truth and Life being a Person. Our compassionate Lord.
        We will not in this life find a safer place than in Him, our faces pressed against His chest, weeping in His arms…
        Thank you dear sister and I remain standing with you and Michael and all here in HIM 🥰 XO Judi

        One more thing comes to mind.
        Galatians 6:1- 5 AMPC
        I think this is what happens all the time here. We are observing and fulfilling “the LAW OF CHRIST.”🙂in spite of “our own little load of oppressive faults”

        “Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
        Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].
        For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.
        But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.
        For every person will have to bear (be equal to understanding and calmly receive) his own [little] load [of oppressive faults].”

        Liked by 2 people

      • Wow, that quote from Galatians truly hit the nail on its head, partly in an ‘ouchy” way, but it is so important to examine ourselves in the light of the spirit as the old self never sleeps and wants to raise its own ugly head. 😛

        Judi, as you mentioned life out of death, I remembered that I said something after Jesus’ question,

        “Do you believe that I am the life?”

        If I had not felt it was truly Him speaking, maybe, I would have thought this question was a joke. So I answered,

        “Theoretically I believe you are the life. And long ago I know I experienced it. But for such a long time, even 16 months, of which the last six were the worst, I have felt nothing but DEATH. No sense of life, no reason to get up in the morning, no earthly joy whatsoever. I know you alone could change my condition.”

        But I did not even ask Him to raise me from the dead, so to say. Lazarus once didn’t ask either, I guess. Jesus started this process without me having ANY faith He would do it. God is SOVEREIGN!!! 🕊️

        Thank you for standing with us and for your very encouraging comment, dear Judi!! 🤗🌹👌🏼♥️🕊️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Carina says:

    Dear Michael, this post is spot on!

    Though I have followed your blog and Susanne’s blog for years and have agreed with your insights since I found my experience was quite similar to yours, it is only in the last year and a half that I became aware of just how legalistic my mindset still was. This is part of the reason why me and my husband tended to join “churches” with a legalistic bent. You know the Scripture that says people seek teachers according to their own twisted passions. I saw that clearly with people joining the “prosperity gospel” churches, but wasn’t aware that if you have a legalist’s heart you will also tend to find a church with a pastor who is a despot with a judgmental, self-righteous heart.

    So now my focus is to identify these “laws” that are not Spirit-led, and then find true rest in Christ. To restore fellowship with Him. To believe even when it seems I have “nothing to show for it”. To be changed on the inside, to be more truthful and honest even if it really hurts. To open my heart to God for a total, inside out, marrow-bone transformation. To let go of any “securities” that are not truly foundational but are fig tree leaves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Carina, yes we heap to ourselves teachers who will itch our ears. The problem is, God doesn’t do that. We must grow up and believe that He is doing what is eternally right for us as He chastises us and open our ears to HIS heart and not our own. It is good to see the progress He is making in you, dear sister.

      Thank you Daddy for not spoiling your children, but rather raising us up into the image of your Son.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Carina, I am so happy for you!!! 😊 What an amazing process you have gone through in a comparable short time. Love you, my sister!!! ♥️🤗♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Lelión says:

    Esta palabra quebrantó mi corazón hoy Michael y me doy cuenta que todavía reacciono ante los demás cuando siento que me quieren controlar como lo hacía mi madre y el pastor de esa mega iglesia a la que asistí tantos años, aún soy esclava de mis reacciones, hoy el Señor me reveló esto mientras leía tu escrito.

    En una época solo quería complacer a los demás y esa área el Señor la trató, pero ahora reacciono ante el control de los demás, que el Señor me haga libre de todo esto, para escucharlo cuando los demás hacen demandas, cuando quieran controlar, manipular con versículos de la biblia y hacerme sentir mal, tergiversando los versículos y acomodándolos a su mente carnal, esto me pasó hace poco con un cristiano carnal.

    Hoy esta palabra trajo Su luz a mi oscuridad, por eso sé que mis articulaciones duelen, porque cada vez que alguien quiere controlarme y yo no quiero dejarme, mis articulaciones se vuelven rígidas. Gracias Michael por dejarte usar por el Señor. Qué haría sin Él, lo necesito tanto.

    Abrazos mi hermano, te amo en el Señor.


    Patricia wrote:

    This word broke my heart today Michael and I realize that I still react to others when I feel that they want to control me like my mother and the pastor of that mega church that I attended for so many years, I am still a slave to my reactions today. The Lord revealed this to me while I was reading your writing.

    At one time I only wanted to please others and that area the Lord dealt with, but now I react to the control of others, may the Lord make me free from all this, to listen to it when others make demands, when they want to control, manipulate with Bible verses and making me feel bad, twisting the verses and accommodating them to their carnal minds, this happened to me recently with a carnal Christian.

    Today this word brought His light to my darkness, that’s why I know that my joints hurt, because every time someone wants to control me and I don’t want to leave me, my joints become stiff. Thank you Michael for letting you be used by the Lord. What would I do without Him, I need it so bad.

    Hugs my brother, I love you in the Lord.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Patricia,
      It is good to hear that what I shared was a help for you. Yes, Satan and his minions still use scriptures to do their evil work just like he did when temping Jesus in the wilderness or through the mouth of a believer like he did through Peter when Jesus had to rebuke Satan who was speaking through that disciple’s mouth. How did He know? That voice desired the things of men and not the leading of God (see Mark 8:31-33). We truly need the Spirit of Truth and the discerning of spirits and a crucified flesh even the more so as we see the end approaching. Stay free, dear sister. Hugs back,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Years ago, my first blog post concerned Galatians 5:1, which the Lord linked at the time to Matthew 17:26 “…the sons are free”. Such a wonderful promise, but oh the benefits of freedom, and the life long battle to remain free. Not only from the law, but from men and traditions who take advantage of believers who are ignorant of freedom’s benefits.

    How many times had I sat through a sermon on “the sons are free” at the conclusion of which, the pastor took up an offering to pay for his building and religious services therein? That’s the context of Matthew 17:26 – we are free from having to pay for such things. How could I have been so dull as to hear that message, then turn right around and empty my wallet into the offering plate to pay for that which Jesus said I do not have to pay for?

    It’s been a few years since I last looked at your blog Michael, so coming across this your latest message today and the parallel it has with my first blog post, I take as a confirmation of a new leading from the Lord concerning a few of my writings. Specifically, to record a few of them like short podcasts and put them online where my music is hosted.

    I hope you are well Michael and glad to see you and Suzanne still writing. God bless, Jack


    • Michael says:

      Hi Jack, it has been a while since we communicated, for sure. Yes, the sons are free. He who is free IN Christ is free indeed. The whole caveat when it comes to our freedom is that we are abiding IN Christ and obeying the leading of His Spirit. We can get free of tithing, free of mandatory church attendance, free of abusive pastors, and the list goes on. But if our freedom is not found by walking IN Christ and His love, we can still be bound by all our disdain we have for those things that once held us captive physically. True freedom is found when we can pray for those who have abused us and love those who hate us and do good to those who do evil against us… that we might be children of our Father who is in heaven who causes the sun to shine on the evil as well as the good.

      You might have noticed that I have quit writing about all that is wrong with organized religion. The Lord told me that many of them are blind guides leading the blind and to leave them alone and let the ditches be their teachers. I know that following them into those spiritual ditches taught me a whole lot. 🙂

      “But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, ‘Teacher, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah:’ not knowing what he said. While he thus spoke, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON: HEAR HIM.” (Luke 9:32-35, KJ2000 – emphasis added)


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