Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Victory in Christ - Part 14

This is the next installment of a series I am writing concerning what Romans 6-8 teaches about our sin problem and God's plan for victory. To find previous installments do a search for the title: Victory In Christ. You can find the first installment here.

4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The goal is for the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled in us through the Spirit that God has given us and not through attempting to obey external commandments. Granted, the commandments of God reveal His nature and will for us. They are good and righteous and holy. But obedience has to come from the inside and the only way for that to happen is for us to walk according to the Spirit of God and not according to the flesh. It's like what we were saying earlier about yielding our members to God as weapons for righteousness.

As Paul had said in Romans 7:6, “...so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” For as he says in 2 Corinthians 3:6 “...not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The idea is that God's covenant with His people is that He would change their hearts and give them His Spirit. He promised that He would change our motivation and cause us to walk in His ways. He said that He would put His fear in our hearts so that we would not depart from Him (eg., Jeremiah 32:40, Ezekiel 36:26,27). That's completely different from having an external list of laws that we are supposed to try to be motivated to follow. The point of the gospel in the New Testament is that that approach didn't work throughout the whole Old Testament. That's why even in the Old Testament God predicted the coming of the New Covenant.

Think about two of the major life stages of a human being. When a person is a child, his parents put all sorts of fences around him. They make rules about playing in the street or how to act around a swimming pool. They tell him he must eat his vegetables and go to bed at a certain hour. Life is pretty regimented. Once a child reaches adulthood, he doesn't need these rules. He will still follow most of them because it is dangerous even for an adult to play in the street. It's important to eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep. But these choices are his and come from inside of him rather than from the outside. The Bible compares human history to these stages of development. I'll quote the verses for you shortly, but the idea is that under the old covenant, people needed to have laws and regulations as to how to function well in relationship to God. This would be like the childhood stage. They didn't have the changed heart and the presence of God's Spirit in their lives. However, once Christ had come, died, been resurrected and returned to glory, and the Holy Spirit had come to indwell believers, those external regulations were no longer needed. Under the new covenant, a man's heart, spirit and motivation are all changed and he has the resources to live a life pleasing to God. And as our passage says, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us as we walk according to the Spirit.

Now, as promised, here are the passages where this comparison to childhood and adulthood comes from.

Galatians 323 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 4 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Principle 20: The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us as we walk in the spirit.

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