Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dead to the Law

Is it love or is it the Law that guides us Christians in our day-to-day living?

I've been reading quite a bit from Martin Luther's writings lately and he would say salvation is of course by faith, but that the Law is still to be used as a guide for holy living. But, he says, when one feels the guilt from not being able to keep the Law, we should quickly remember the Gospel and discard, rather than entertain, any thoughts or feelings of condemnation. Luther also zealously argued the need for the Law in converting unbelievers, Jew or Gentile. He said it was necessary that people see their own sin before they could come to Christ for justification.

However, I do not see that in the scripture. I see Paul preaching only Christ and faith to the majority of his Gentile audience, who were unacquainted with the Law. I also see Paul, in his letter to Timothy, explain that it is Christ's love that restrains us from evil works. The scripture from Romans immediately comes to mind where Paul says "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."

In fact, Paul says the power of sin is in the Law, and that the Law can only serve to incite sin within the human race and thus show mankind's need for the Savior.

So, it seems right to me, that if we would be free from sin, we should continually renew our minds with the Gospel so as to stir up faith within our hearts, and our hearts being purified by faith, we receive the power to abstain from every kind of sin.

This is not, however, automatic. There is discipline to be had, but the motive for our discipline has changed entirely under the new paradigm the Gospel gives us. The motive for discipline now comes from our love of Christ, because, as the scripture says, he first loved us.

So then, the requirement for a Christian, if they are to remain free from sin, is the renewal of his or her mind that comes from hearing the Gospel afresh, daily. The only two remedies for sin that a Christian receives from God are these: the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. The Christian is not given the Law as a remedy for sin. The Law is for those outside the faith, holding them under the condemnation of God. It would make no sense for a Christian to continue to utilize the Law when the Law has already accomplished in him the work for which it was sent. That is, to lead them to Christ. Now that faith has come into a Christian's heart, there ends his partnership with the Law. He is entirely dead to the Law and it's requirements.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Only The Gospel Creates Right Living

In past few days I have felt the cloud of deadness and apathy begin to clear. I can see, though still somewhat bleakly, the joy that was mine before I fell into various sins and despondency. I now realize that my joy did not derive from striving to keep my mind renewed with how I ought to behave as a Christian, though I am not trying to devalue the value of good behavior.

It's apparent to me now that my joy and motivation always had it's source in the Gospel, I just was not aware of it. I thought those things came from my striving to please God under the Law, so much so that I strongly desired to be back under the Law and fear because my behavior had gotten so severely out of line in nearly every respect.

The mistake I made before was believing in the Gospel, but at times giving into the despair that the Law brings. I thought it was the terror of the Law that kept me in line, but in reality the Law was nothing but a hindrance to me in having joy and love for Christ. The truth is, it was my partial misunderstanding of doctrine that took advantage of my love for God, born from my belief in the Gospel, and tempted me to run to the Law because I so wanted to please Christ. I didn't know, even after coming to a sincere faith in Christ alone, that it was always the power of the Gospel that was holding me up! My zeal for the Law only gave me setbacks. I had moments of such a pure faith in the Gospel that enabled me to move mountains, but then I would allow the Law to resurface and be offered up to my conscience through whatever agent the devil could utilize, be it teachers or my own temptations to revert back to the Law.

In truth, the Gospel is the only thing I have been given to have power from sin, death, hell, fear and the devil. My fallen flesh is ceaselessly tempted to revert back to the Law, sin and unbelief.

True, I needed my mind renewed in times of temptation and weakness, but I wrongly judged that the mind needed to be renewed with the Law. The Law has no power in restraining my flesh, nor can I afford, by the flesh, to continue to have my mind renewed with it's requirements, no matter how much I try to muster up the consistency to keep my mind renewed with pure living and noble behavior. The only thing that softens my heart is the Gospel. The Gospel is the only thing I can eat of constantly and never grow full or nauseous.

It is so easy, even after having a revelation of grace, to revert back to the Law. Hence all the exhortations to "stay awake" and "be alert of mind" that are in the Scriptures.

The Law does not have the capacity within it to shake you out of apathy, despondency and sin; it can only worsen the problem.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Back to Basics

I have been reading quite a bit of Martin Luther's writings lately. I'm fascinated by him as he was clearly called by God, as is evidenced by his great revelation of grace, to reveal grace to a church that scarcely existed due to the false teachings of Catholicism.

His writings have stirred my mind with thoughts that perhaps the reason I am stuck in such a place of apathy and sin, is because I haven taken my eyes off the Gospel. Not that I was rejecting it, but that I had not been paying close attention to grace, renewing my mind. My heart needs constantly be refreshed by the grace of Christ, otherwise, I am in danger of forgetting or considering the Gospel of little worth. Thus, the power to overcome apathy and sin is quenched. I could say apathy toward the Gospel is a form of unbelief, and not long after unbelief, do we see the fruits of it.

After reading only a few pages of Luther's argument for case of Christ's salvation, I felt myself renewed and energized.

I had thought that I knew the Gospel and was free from the fear of Christ's judgment, and indeed I have been, but I believed that I needed to move onto discipline and leave behind the Gospel. Not that I didn't need it anymore, but I felt my knowledge was sufficient, and while the revelation I have had of grace has been, without question, great, I am never to move onto something else. The Gospel is my salvation and my power for Godly living. How could I have been so deluded? I knew this from the beginning.

I write this to say to myself, and other believers, that we ought to stay awake and, "gird up the loins of our minds" with the Gospel of Christ.

The Gospel is all we need. We do not need to focus on discipline, however, we must be aware that discipline does have it's place, but only when the mind is set on Christ and on his Gospel.