Rom 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (ESVST)
The law cannot make anyone right with God. We need to understand that He is right with us period. All he wants is our love. All he wants is our relationship.
Doesn’t that sound really simple? I think it does. Still when I talk that way I often get the “what about all those miserable sinners who need to know they are bound for Hell, eternal pain and agony, burning lakes, eternal torment, and all that stuff?” First I must caution about judgment. That is God’s place and not mine. The real issue is the question itself. Final destinations should not be the focus. That would make the discussion about us. That is called religion. What Jesus brought was freedom to have a relationship with our amazing Father in Heaven. That is our focus. Jesus is our single eye. We need to see that God is right with us and it is right now. We need to see the Kingdom now. Our broken relationship with God, our hiding in the bushes, is our fallen human condition. It is the root of every problem and the fertile ground the enemy uses to deceive us. It is time for freedom.
Often Romans 3:9-18 is used as an argument for our “vile and evil nature” and our need for “self-loathing” since of course “we are all miserable piles of poop that deserve to be exterminated.” That language may surprise some of you but people actually write it in books and ask you to pay money to read it. It really hurts to hear people talk about God’s children that way. Do you want to know what was the root of the behavior described in that passage? It comes from Psalms 14 and 53 which both start with:
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalm 53: 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Enough said. If we don’t know God or are hiding from God or are afraid to approach God then He is our enemy. We can’t possibly come close, step into the Kingdom, live His life, be set free, be saved…if we are separate from God. It is time for freedom.
It isn’t the fear of God’s punishment we need. It is the knowledge of God’s kingdom. The self-righteous assume that people enjoy a life apart from God. The vile pile of poop preaching propagator will tell you that all those people are hopelessly lost. They are hopeless and lost yes, but not because God is against them. No no no. They are hopeless and lost because they don’t know God is for them! It is time for freedom.
Religion puts the focus on you and your efforts. The reason it doesn’t work is because you are human and will never get it perfect. The perfect law amplifies your shortfalls so you give up on your efforts and instead trust God’s nature. Trust in His nature is called righteousness by faith. It isn’t freedom to be stupid and make bad decisions. It is freedom from kicking yourself every day and living in hopelessness. You get to have faith in His faithfulness. Then you can surrender to His saving power to get rid of the stuff in your life. You need to know that Jesus has no power to save you from your stuff when you are trying to save yourself. It is time for freedom.
“Come on brother it says that the Spirit and flesh are at war with one another so don’t I have a dual nature, an evil nature to deal with?”
Selfishness that relies on self is destructive to self and everyone else. Self-reliance with no power for provision will get its way no matter what because there is no better option. Following a law deceptively suggests that there is a justification for self-sufficiency. When the law is contrary to self-satisfaction then loop holes and compromise dominate. Self-righteousness makes Grace a scapegoat. The vicious cycle spirals into an inferno of lies and self-justification and insistence on being right. Condemnation and judgment ensues, offenses are justified, defensiveness is normal. That is the flesh.
Selfishness in surrender to the care and provision of God is transformation. I get to be spoiled by the love of God. He gives me more and more of Him as originally intended. He actually makes His home in me and we are never apart. I get to run to Him and say “Daddy Daddy I need you” and He always picks me up. I have no more need for selfishness that relies on the power of self. Instead I am never away from Him. His shadow is always on me. I never fear rejection. I am never lonely. I am free of condemnation. I am pickled by His loving presence. Selfish born of self is gone, it is dead. Instead it is replaced by reliance and relationship with a perfect, infinitely good, powerful, loving, glory spreading Father who loves to take care of His kids. That is the Spirit.
You will never ever have that relationship through the law. Instead you will have more condemnation and more guilt and more selfish reliance on self…flesh.
When I finally surrendered in faith to a LOVING God I found freedom. A huge weight came off. At first my old way of thinking said “this is too good to be true” but I ignored that lie and just kept trusting God. When stuff didn’t go my way and I felt like stepping in and taking control by being self-reliant, I just took a deep breath and surrendered to trusting God. Some days old temptations and thoughts and images flooded my mind but instead of rebuking and fighting and declaring myself as “vile and loathsome,” I trusted God. When pressure came to perform or defend myself I trusted God instead of worrying about what others thought or giving in to performance anxiety.
Greater is He who is in me. In my weakness He makes me strong. Nothing is impossible with God. I am His righteousness. He loves me like Jesus. I am His son just like Jesus. I have access to Him as His son. I am sitting next to Jesus in Heaven. Jesus is interceding for me. I don’t know what to ask for but the Holy Spirit does. I have the authority of Jesus and the same Holy Spirit with resurrection power to back me.
Those are the kinds of things I would think about and still do. They are Kingdom things. The list of God’s goodness and provision and promises gets longer and longer the more I see His love for me. That is walking in the Spirit. That is surrender. That is letting your old man stay dead.
Today, honestly I don’t think about sinning. I may slip up and say something about someone out of habit or in an attempt to solicit approval. I may have an angry response for a situation that doesn’t go my way. We all act like dumb humans that forget who our Abba is. That happens. But I don’t want to sin. I don’t look for loopholes. I don’t argue with myself or other religious “lawyers” about the finer points of “is it a sin to….???” No, for the most part I live in love, joy, peace, certainly of my relationship with God and confidence in His love for me. That is what it looks like to be born again. That is what it looks like to be a child of God. That is what God intended when He went all the way to the cross at our hands to make it possible in our reality. Jesus sets us free so I say we be free indeed. It is time for freedom.