The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Code Or Christ?"
Every human being, through the influence of heritage, upbringing, culture, education, and circumstance, adopts some form of moral code by which to live. We set out to establish our own righteousness (Romans 10:3). The parameters run the gamut, from "I will do whatever I want that pleases me," to "I will seek to live by the spiritual and moral code of the Bible." Most human attempts to implement our own standard of life fall somewhere in between the extremes. Regardless of which code is chosen, one common trait characterizes all. Failure.
"The letter killeth" (II Corinthians 3:6). The Apostle Paul refers to the law of Moses, the best of all moral and ethical standards because it is God's own guideline for character and behavior. "The law is holy and just and good… Unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 7:12; 3:2).
Israel began its determination to keep the code with the exultant, "All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do!" However, before Moses descended from Mt. Sinai with the tablets upon which God engraved His tenets, the Jews had already violated the first command by forging a pagan idol to worship (Exodus 19:8; 32:1-4). This should have told Israel all it needed to know about seeking to relate to God by the law. It should also tell anyone who reads the account how impossible it is for fallen human beings to live up to the standards of any code of morality, be it God's or our own. The letter kills, not because there is anything wrong with God's law, but because it was given to expose rather than cure our our truest need (Galatians 3:24). Indeed, the law was a diagnostician that could not treat spiritual and moral illness, but rather direct us unto the Surgeon who can.
"The Spirit giveth life" (II Corinthians 3:6) Humanity has a heart problem. No code can solve this dilemma. Christ can, however, and He does in all who freely receive His saving grace.
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:2-4).
"The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Hebrews 7:19).
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you" promised the Lord to Israel long ago, referencing the national redemption still yet to come (Ezekiel 36:26). Such personal redemption, however, already graces the born again believer in the Lord Jesus. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). In the wondrous moment of the new birth, the Spirit of God enters the trusting heart to birth a "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). God begins a work of transformative grace not from the outside in (as under law or code), but from the inside out. God changes our hearts by inhabiting them, and by spiritually rebirthing the essence of who we are in newness of life. Therein, we are not who we were. Rather than lifeless and frustrated adherents of code, we are forevermore living temples of Christ, who "is our life" (Colossians 3:4).
Of course, we still live in tents of flesh prone to be tossed by the winds of both legalism and licentiousness. Legalism addresses our current consideration (with no intent meant to minimize licentiousness). The flesh of even the most godly believer remains prone to transform our walk with God into something less than living relationship and fellowship with Him. This always leads to frustration (see Paul's Romans 7 experience). Indeed, many commands of "do" and "don't" grace the pages of the New Testament, mandates meant to be taken with utmost seriousness. We seek to obey them, however, as sons and daughters of a loving Father, united to His faithful Son, and empowered by the ever-present and active Holy Spirit. Indeed, believers live for God by living from God. The moment we view ourselves and our lives in any lesser perspective is the moment we set ourselves up for the inevitable failure and frustration that proceeds from forgetting the Life our lives. No code or ethic can replace the Christ who dwells in us by His Spirit, and who infuses our hearts with the motivation and enabling that proceeds from His living presence.
"To live is Christ."
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
Weekly Memory Verse
The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.