Bondage or Freedom, Which Will You Choose?

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Where have the Ten Commandments gone?

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

A new command, one that sums up all of the Old Testament commands.

Can we consider that there has been a misconception in the use of "the Law” in our churches? Would we then confess that it brought judgment and condemnation which brought much hurt causing many to leave the church? Did we fail to love as God called us to do? To love as Christ loved?

Let’s start with Eph 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.“ In Romans 1, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, was sent out to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. Paul did not preach the “law” to the Gentiles. On the contrary, he says in 1 Cor. 1:22, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles,” and again in 1 Cor. 2:2,  “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 

The Law was given to the Isrealite nation to show them their sin. Perhaps to break them of the pride of being a “chosen” people, a position that might have caused them to view themselves as being a cut above the rest. They also wanted to impose these “laws” on the gentiles because they didn’t understand that it was Christ alone (Christ crucified), not Christ plus something (law).  They responded and reacted to what they knew, and therefore, in ignorance, put the Gentiles under a yoke, under bondage, making it difficult for them to turn to Christ. 

Could it be possible that in the past, the use of the law in our services made it difficult for those seeking a love relationship with God? I will come back to this later.

Matt 5:17 , "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Definition of fulfill: to accomplish, to complete). 

The law could not pardon nor sanctify…it is the rule of righteousness and therefore must condemn unrighteousness.  James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  If we as Christians hold ourselves and others under the law, we not only stand condemned by putting ourselves under the wrath of God, but the law also causes us to focus on our sin, which leads to death, and we stifle the life of the Spirit! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2) The law gives sin it’s power...Rom 7:10 “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.”

Might that be why he calls us to die to sin, to die to the law, because we live in the “new way of the Spirit.” (Rom 7:6) “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  Let us hear God’s word to us. Heb 8:10, “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, (after Christ’s resurrection) declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  This is his gift to us as well. 

He has not left us to flounder on our own, (Acts 14:18) trying to be good Christians. He has given us his Spirit.  Will we trust him? Of course we need the law, but we are not under the law!  (Gal. 5:18) We are under the guidance and power of the Spirit, the life of Christ in us! Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Are we living our lives by the “law” or “by FAITH in Jesus Christ” who lives in me? Gal 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."  We want to read the law in our services again… why?  What is our motive? Do we need it as a guide for our lives?  Or… “how else are “they” going to know?” God’s Word says...They will know through the indwelling of my Spirit…  I contend that they need, rather,  to hear the gospel message, Paul’s message of  “Christ crucified.” They need to meet Jesus, and his UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. It is then that they will experience the transformational power of the Spirit convicting them of their wrong doing, but in a gentle, loving way. It will be His Spirit transforming them from the inside out,  writing the law on their heart and mind.

The law is external, working from the outside in. Jesus and his life giving Spirit work from the inside out. We cannot live the Christian life without Christ-in-us! We are either all in with the Spirit, or half in with the Spirit, and half in with the Law. What are we choosing?  

His Word clearly states that His Spirit is enough. It is understanding the power of the Holy Spirit within us!! He doesn’t need us to “put the law out there”… not when I read in 2 Cor. 3:14 “but their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord,  (repentance??)  the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  Freedom in Christ… not to sin with abandon, for that would be impossible, but to follow his laws and decrees as we are led by His Spirit. If we are believers, if we have Christ in us, his desires would become our desires, and sin would grieve our spirits. We can then trust Him with our sin.

It is understandable that the desire to have the law read is important, and valued, for all of Scripture is God breathed BUT, if we are more and more recognizing that we are called to be his witnesses, to reach out beyond our borders, do we need to rethink how we use and read the Ten Commandments?

We desire to reach out to our communities that have no idea what “the law” is. Does it even make sense that they need to hear the law to see their sin? Doesn’t it make more sense to meet Jesus, Christ crucified, and let him reveal their sin to them? Wouldn’t that take away the hypocrisy that people see in the Churches? Wouldn’t it take away the judgment, the shame, and the condemnation? Would it not be replaced, then, with compassion and empathy? Would the church then begin to see the heart, rather than the actions, because we are living in the spirit (Spirit), rather than in the flesh (Law)?  Would we not then, be feeding from the “tree of life”(Spirit) rather than the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”(Law)?

For further Scripture reference:

2 Cor. 3:18,  Rom 2:14, Gal. 3:2, Gal 5:4-6,  Rom 5:8, 2 Cor 3:6 

It is with Spirit revelation that we understand the simplicity of the Gospel, that which is a stumbling stone to Jews, and foolishness to Gentiles. They did not understand...may that not be our story.

Julie Berkel

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