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: https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/susanne-schuberths-spiritual-diary-part-6-on-how-to-resist-the-devil-in-difficult-cases/
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
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.