Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Which covenant are you choosing today?
A lot of rules to remember – and we know the penalties that apply if we break any of them!
WE DISCUSSED yesterday an environment that is uncommon on earth today, that attracts and hosts the presence of God: a culture where people are honoured according to who they are in heaven’s perspective, both when they are walking well and also when they are not.
If you go for a walk in the woods and tread on a piece of wood with a nail sticking out of it (ouch!) so that the nail goes into your foot – does that make you a nail? No, it makes you a person very keen to get that nail out!
When we fall short, mess up, offend God and others and especially moral failures we instantly label as ‘sin’, the failure becomes all-defining. All we see is the nail. But we know that in Christ Jesus we have been set free from the penalty of sin, because He has taken that on Himself. Sin doesn’t need punishment – that has been done and accounted for. It’s not that we are now calling sin something else, or disregarding what it is – but we don’t have to be frightened by it. And therefore we don’t have to overreact to it. There is a remedy for sin. It depends on a change of heart, genuine repentance, but in Jesus there is a remedy.
There are two different covenants that we are familiar with. Strangely, we often choose the wrong one – the one that was not designed for us. The law, with all its intricacies, was for sinners and is a relationship based on rules. If we choose the Old Covenant way of protecting our relationship with the rules, we are lining up with those for whom that covenant was designed – sinners, who deserve to be judged and punished. And we are saying, in effect, Christ’s death was pointless and the only thing that can actually save us, grace, doesn’t apply to us.
Paul writes to the churches in Galatians 4:30 NASB
Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the sons of the free woman.
This tells us that the two covenants do not mix and match. You are either a slave under the Old Covenant, or a son or daughter under the New Covenant. They cannot coexist in the same place because they are mutually exclusive.In Jesus we have been given a relationship, not with rules, penalties and punishments, but with the Spirit – a relationship that practises love. Love keeps the identity clear and allows grace to flow.
Paul said in Romans 8:1
Therefore there is no condemnation (punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus.
This passage goes on to tell us that being “in Christ Jesus” means we are those who are choosing “to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh”. So our experience of life without condemnation depends on how we walk – either in a relationship based on rules, or this new relationship based on love.
In our world, we do not literally walk a lot but we do drive everywhere. Driving is a highly rule-based occupation. Break one of the rules near that mobile speed camera, and the penalty will come in a brown envelope from Kidlington! So it is more natural for us to relate the ‘rule’ way back to God, and how He treats us. Even if we know it is wrong – untrue – foreign to His nature – inapplicable to us as saints, not sinners – we lapse back into the rule and condemnation mentality.
Don’t! Jesus doesn’t want you to deny what He has done. He loves it when we live in the freedom of it – and make that freedom the basis of how we relate.