The Inadequacy of Law-Based Living (Part II)
November 1, 2008
Despite the books and chapters of the Bible dedicated to teaching believers their freedom from the law, Christians still try to find victory and comfort through law. The flesh drives them to self-righteousness and performance, forgetting only the righteousness of Christ living through us is valuable to God. Last issue we studied five characteristics of law-based living. Below are five more.
1. Rules foster a holier-than-thou attitude.
Morality becomes measurable-"we do this, we do that, we are spiritual," interpreted: "we are better than others." In a rule-based mentality-If one rule is good, more are better; the stricter the rule, the better. The tendency of a person who lives by rules and wants to get closer to God is to create a narrower box, to give up more, to restrict more freedom. The result is not more victory, and certainly doesn't bring a person closer to God, but creates more religious bondage. Simply, just like the Pharisees, pleasing God means lots of rules.
2. Rules obscure the real condition of the heart.
Anyone can follow rules, but true spirituality is HEART-based. Much of what pleases God can be described as in between the lines. The sinner woman of Luke 7 broke all the rules, but in between the lines was a heart that connected to the heart of Jesus, far more than the religious man did. Churches are full of people who do all the right things, but inside their hearts are bound up with self-righteousness. Paul cried out in Philippians 3, "That I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness derived from law, but that which is through faith in Christ" (v.10).
3. Law based living always makes one feel unworthy, unable to live up to God's expectations, and inadequate in His love.
The only thing law can do is condemn us by telling us where we were wrong, but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus calls us to our righteous potential. Law is cold, objective and condemning, but the Spirit is relational and doesn't use condemnation (Romans 8:1) to control us. Living by the Spirit breeds SONSHIP. Living by law breeds SLAVERY.
Galatians 4:7 says, "You are no longer a slave but a son."
If you feel as if you always fall short of pleasing God, it may well be that you still are depending on your rules and laws. If that is the case, you will never experience the unconditional acceptance of God. True faith is not about our ability to please Him, but His promise to live His life through us.
4. Rules are impersonal, have no grace and don't generate joy.
Living by the Spirit is a far higher standard of living-of righteousness and purity, because it is based on relationship with the Holy Spirit, not on a rulebook. Everything in the true faith of Christ is based on a relationship of love. Obedience to truth emanates from that relationship. The overflowing joy comes from a personal walk with a person, and hearing His voice (John 10).
5. Law-based living satisfies the flesh.
The flesh loves to serve God. Much religion and passion across the world is generated by the power of the flesh. But God has told man that we can not please Him in our natural man. We must die to our own ways, and abandon our will to His Spirit living through us.
Read the rebuke in Colossians 2:20-23: "If you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."
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