God’s Law of Love
Saved From Sin Through Christ
(all typos are the original work of the author and for the entertainment of others)
In his letter to the church in Galatia–a town in modern Turkey, not a planet far, far away–the Apostle Paul writes, “Clearly no one is justified (not guilty of sin) before God by keeping his law.” 3:11. Which is to say, that God gave his people laws and commands but no one has ever been able to keep all God’s law. Some do better than others but all of us fall short–and not by a little, but by a lot.
When Paul confronts Peter and other Christian Jews of the “circumcision group” regarding the segregation of uncircumcised Christian Gentiles he writes, “You who (call yourselves saved in Christ) are trying to be found not guilty of sin by keeping the law. In doing so you have separated (segregated) yourself from Christ and fallen away from grace.” 5:4
By claiming that being saved from sin requires Christ PLUS–in this case keeping the law–Paul makes clear that if such faulty arithmetic is true then “Christ died for nothing.” 2:21
So what are we to do with God’s law? Ignore it? Jesus answers the question in this way. “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Clearly the earth remains, thus the law remains. But not to save us from sin, for Paul has already explained that no person can keep all the law. So the law remains, as does the Spirit of the law. Only now, in Christ and through his Spirit, we are able to keep the law. Not to be saved, but to produce fruit that comes from being saved. Fruit like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, and loyalty to God.
If you accept Christ will you still sin? Yes. Should you feel guilty about this? No. Guilt comes from the law and we are free from the law. Regret is fine. Wishing you could do better is okay. But never let guilt make you think you are “less-than” in God’s eyes. Never assume that when you sin God loves you less. He loves you the same when you sin and when you don’t, because when he sees you, he sees Christ in you, not your sins.
Think of it this way. Once you accept Christ you are on God’s team. Nothing you do can get you kicked off his team. If you have a batting average of zero, can’t catch, or throw the ball into the street, God will not boot you from his team. Your jersey and ball cap say Jesus and that lets God know with certainty that you are on his team.
And because God is a loving and patient general manager and owner, and because his Holy Spirit is your batting coach, bench coach, and pitching coach, you will, over time, get better. If you need an example, Christ is there to demonstrate how to play the game to perfection.
Now with all that going for you, why would you ever want to take off the uniform, quit the team, and go back to playing with the old gang you fled? Paul offers this warning. “Do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature.” 5:13. But you will. We all do. The key is to acknowledge you would prefer NOT to misbehave, cut up, and slack off during team practices and games. But there are some days when we will slip up. But God still loves that you’re on his team.
Paul says, “Live by the Spirit.” If you live/play by the Spirit’s leading, when the old gang comes around and asks you to skip out and do those things God says in his law are wrong, you will make the choice to stick with the team.
Sticking with the team won’t always be easy. “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit. The Spirit desires what is contrary to the sinful nature. You ARE NOT TO DO whatever you want.” 5:16-17
Bottom line? Keep in step with the Spirit. 5:25 But if you fall out of step, don’t beat yourself up. God still loves you. And after you apologize the Spirit of Christ will you draw you back to himself.