By Eli Stutzman
January 1, 2015
Many years ago if you wanted to get somewhere, you would ask directions from someone who knew the way. They might tell you to turn at a certain landmark, which could be a large rock, a tree, or a big red barn. All was well if you had good directions and followed them carefully. Since then, maps and compasses and GPS (global positional system) have guided us. Knowing the old way of getting directions did not necessarily help in using a new method of navigation. With a map, you need to know where you are at any time. You have to learn to read a map in order for it to be useful. It is a whole new method of finding your way. The difficulty we have in changing from a system of law to a life of grace as expressed in the New Testament is like learning a new type of navigation. Living under the law was a lot like getting directions. If you followed them carefully, all was well. If you listened carefully, memorized them exactly, and if the instructor was accurate and clear, it could be simple. Any glitch and you could easily be lost, but with practice you might get good at it. With the advent of maps, your previous understanding does not help.
Some people think that when we say eternal life is not from the law, we are throwing our rules of conduct to the wind. Grace gives you freedom to aim at a higher target and find a way to get there. A map or GPS can show many ways to get to a destination. Roads may be detoured for whatever reason, but a map can help you navigate back roads, so you will have no problem.
In our spiritual world, we have Jesus as head of the church. When we trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we receive His Holy Spirit. Jesus has a plan for us. He often reveals His plan one step at a time. He has the right to ask us to serve Him in whatever way or place He wishes. Also, He has given us the Old and New Testaments as a kind of map.
When a Pharisee asked Jesus which is the most important commandment in the Law, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
How can we say that salvation has set us free from the law? It seems we are now lawless and can do whatever we want! That alarms some folks. We are so used to the strict direction of the law that our sudden freedom frightens us. What guides us?
As believers, we are not without guidance once we are saved. Scripture says that we are dead to the written law. In fact, Jeremiah chapter 31 says, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
That is exactly what has happened! With the Holy Spirit, we have the law of God written inside us. What drives us now comes from the heart. We have a built in moral compass and roadmap, in a manner of speaking. When you are new in the faith, it seems hard at times to understand. We may want the old way —the Law—to guide us; but Jesus has paid the price for our souls and now He is the owner. Don’t be afraid to learn how it works.
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