Romans 7:6. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
As we’ve seen in our last two readings, Romans 6 ends with God having freed us out from under the law and given us a new heart that is heaven bent on loving God and obeying his will.
Admittedly, at first glance, this can look really risky, like God is leaving our sanctification up to us. Can I really trust this new heart? And if I’m not guided by law keeping, then what on earth would make us obey? How do I stay in God’s good graces? How do I earn his blessing?
This is exactly why so many Christians stay trapped under the burden of the law. They simply cannot see another way to live without a cause-effect system to guide them. They simply cannot fathom living without a linear system of doing A in order to achieve B. Making progress. Finding success. Do more to get more.
But this “law of linearity” desires a fruitful life from God without intimacy with God. It makes our present reality our ultimate reality, rather than causing us to long deeply for our ultimate reality in God’s presence one day. It fails to show us that what we most desperately need every day is God, not his blessing.
Sadly, many Christians apply this same linear system to their Christian life. Life is reduced down to following Christian practices in order to gain God’s “blessing.” Follow God’s principles for marriage and have a happy marriage. Follow God’s plans for your finances, tithe 10%, and God will bless your business. Train up a child in the way he should go and he’ll never walk away from God. Use accountability partners and you’ll overcome your addictions. But these are all just another form of law – the very thing we’ve been released from. This way of living is not the way of the Spirit. It is not faith in the life of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ.
In Christ we have been given a brand new operating system. Our old “Flesh Operating System” (F.O.S.), powered by the law, is now obsolete for us. We have been released from the law. Now, in its place, God has given us the “Spirit Operating System” (S.O.S.). We serve in the new way of the Spirit. When we are freed from the demands and the condemnation of the law, from our indebtedness to it, we are free to live by Gods own life itself. The Spirit. The Spirit of Christ. The indwelling life of Christ.
We might expect all this talk about being dead to the law and being released from the law to lead to a life of living free from God himself. “Live as you see fit.” “Make all your own rules.” Isn’t God taking a big risk by freeing us from the law? What if we all just go nuts and run around doing whatever we want?
Well, doing whatever we want is sort of the point. You see the S.O.S. both frees us and changes what we want to do. Now we WANT to serve God. We WANT to be instruments of righteousness. We WANT to be God’s slave. God doesn’t fear our freedom from the law, because he hasn’t freed us from his heart. His life and his love now control us. We obey from the heart. The new way of the Spirit makes knowing God intimately both our greatest good and our greatest desire in life.
And we can only fully know God in the cross of Jesus Christ. Only the cross can sanctify us. Only the cross can kill the deeds of the flesh. Only God’s grace can produce goodness in us. Only the new way of the Spirit can produce real change in our lives. Real love, real joy, real holiness. Real Christ-likeness. Not linearity. Not a points system. Not performing. Not earning. Not the law.
The law can reveal my holy God and my unholy self, but only the cross can crucify the flesh and only the resurrection can quicken the life of Christ in me (and it already has). This is the gospel. This is the new way of the Spirit. This is “to live is Christ.”
Can you recognize where you are still being controlled by the F.O.S.? Linearity?
You in Christ
How does our union with Christ free us from having to live within a life that we totally control?
Christ in you
Who can you SERVE in the new way of the Spirit today?
Playlist: The new way of the Spirit