In Christ, Life in the Spirit, The Law

The Christian and God’s Moral Law

The Law
photo by Alex Bruda

Under the Law

In the Bible, ‘the law’ often refers to the covenant that God made with Israel, which Christians know as the Old Covenant. It required of them, amongst other things, to keep God’s moral law. It is especially in this regard that Paul called it a ministry of condemnation (see Gal. 3:10). For, though it was good, in that it highlighted God’s perfect moral law (see Rom. 7:12), it pointed out the error of those who were ‘under’ it, thereby condemning them.

The law was unable to save those who were ‘under’ it from the penalty of their past, present and future sins. Nor could it save them from their sinful nature or enable them to keep its requirements (see Rom. 8:3). It essentially pointed out human sin and sinfulness, and to their desperate need for another way. The Bible puts it like this: ‘Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith’ (Gal. 3:24).

The same principle is also true for those not ‘under the law’ (i.e. those not part of the Old Covenant). This is because, ‘They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them’ (Rom. 2:15 NIV).

In Christ

In contrast, Christians (Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ) are in a new covenant with God. And, though we also seek to fulfil God’s moral law (see 1 John 5:3), we don’t do this by being ‘under the law’ (i.e. under the Old Covenant), but by being in Christ. We no longer try in our own strength to satisfy the law’s requirements in order to please God or avoid His punishment. Instead, the good news is that Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice satisfies all that the moral law of God requires of us, justifying us (see 2 Cor. 5:21). Furthermore, His life in us enables us to keep His commandments (see Php. 2:13 & Rom. 6:4). This is especially true when we as a matter of lifestyle ask God to empower us by His Spirit and when we walk in step with His Spirit (see Eph. 5:18 & Gal. 5:25).

‘Therefore, my brothers, you also died to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God’ (Rom. 7:4).

Rob Morley

Life in the Spirit, Real Church

I Can Only Love You If…

Smiley FaceI’m sorry__________ (fill in anyone you like), but I can only love you under certain conditions. And, if these aren’t just right then I’m afraid you may bear the brunt of my dark side! Not to worry though, as I usually do my best to hide my dark side because it’s quite embarrassing for me when people see it. In fact, I have learnt many ways to cover up and put on a pretty good show. For the most part, I come across as a decent chap and you won’t even know when it’s my dark side.

The Bible (and even society) requires things of me that I really cannot do if conditions aren’t optimal. Things like, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” And, because I know what I ought to be socially, I will at times practice this outwardly when inwardly it’s not true of me at all. so quickly a hypocrite, A whitewashed tomb AND no different FROM the Pharisees.

It is easy for me to acknowledge and even teach that this kind of unconditional love is the key to a blessed life and being the blessing that we are meant to be. However, I cannot do it unless God steps in and takes over.

Are you like me too? I hope so as this will help you to understand me.

Perhaps a simple self-test will let you know whether you ever have this same problem or not.

Here’s a test that I think works best:

1. Simply list in your mind the people you know or see in your church, family, at the gym, college, your workplace, even in the gutter, etc.

Let me help with some prompts.

  • The sweet receptionist at…
  • The guy who irritates you because…
  • How about the colleague who…
  • What about those ill-disciplined kids at…?
  • Your brother/sister/aunt/uncle/mom/dad/in-laws…

 2. Now, close your eyes and imagine their faces one at a time. And as you do this, ask yourself whether you regard him/her/them more significant than yourself.

How did you do? Did you fail too?

Bottom Line

Let’s face it, whenever we are not regarding each and everyone with their unique background, personality and gifting, whether in the body of Christ or not, MORE highly than ourselves, then we are in the FLESH and SIN.

You might be thinking, “Shucks, that’s a high standard! Only God can be like that!” Exactly, the unconditional love for one another in the body of Christ and for people in the world can only come from God. It’s the fruit of the Spirit.

So, the optimal conditions for showing you love are when I’m continually being filled with Him and am walking in Him. Pray for me and remind me of Who to go to so that I can love you properly, especially, if you don’t see this in me then.

Rob Morley (Similarities to other posts were unintentional and I hope that they confirm truth for you rather than irritate.)

This post was the 19th link in a chain blog, started by Alan Knox, on the topic ‘One Another’. Please look through the other links and comments to join in the topic. You can even join in the chain – read the rules below to participate.

Links in the ‘One Another’ Chain Blog

1. “Chain Blog: One Another” by Alan

2. “Linking One Another” by Swanny

3. “What Does It Mean to Love One Another? by Chuck

4. “The treasure of “One Another” by Jim

5. “This is how the world shall recognise you…” by Kathleen

6. “Accepting one another in love” by Chris

7a. “One Another-ing: A meta-narrative for the church” (Part 1 of 2) by Greg

7b. “One Another-ing: A meta-narrative for the church” (Part 2 of 2) by Greg

8. “Individualism and ‘one another’” by Pieter

9. “All Alone with One Another” by Jeremy

10. “When it’s OK for Christians to compete” by Joshua

11. “Jesus Christ, the Corner Stone for One Another” by Peter

12. “Be Superficial with One Another” by Jon

13. “The Unmentionable One Anothers” by Alan

14. “Loving more fully and widely” by Chris

15. “the one another weapon” by Dan

16a. “Corporate One-Anothering” (Pt.1 of 2) by David

16b. “Corporate UN-Anothering” (Pt. 2 of 2) by David

17.“The Last Revival” by Tobie

18.“love: a ‘one another’ comic” by Dan

19. “I Can Only Love You If…” by Rob

Chain Blog Rules

If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment on the most recent post stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.

Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both this post and the other link posts in the chain).

When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.

The Good News

God’s Love and Anger Satisfied!

Getting Help
Mankind in the Eyes of God

The Bible is clear about how we as mankind stand before God. Romans 3:23 says,“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and Romans 3:11-12 says, “There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God… there is none that does good, no, not one. Because of our sinful nature it is impossible for us to live up to God’s standards and be righteous in and of ourselves.

God’s Gift

Despite our sinful condition, God, in His love, made a way to make us righteous so that we could forever be in His presence. He sent Jesus to take our sin upon Himself, and the penalty for our sin, death. In this way God could satisfy His holy anger toward sin and at the same time He could justify us and declare us righteous. But most of all He could satisfy His love for us.

So, through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be made righteous. And, righteousness is a free gift that is given, once and for all, to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Below are some verses from the Bible that tell us this:

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight …But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation(satisfying God’s anger) by his blood, to be received by faith…For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:20-28).

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God …” (1Peter 3:18).

 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Empowered to Succeed

At the point that we are made right with God, our nature is also changed and His Spirit comes to live inside of us enabling us to love Jesus and keep His commandments.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Apart from this grace we could never love Him properly nor keep His commandments.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will never fulfill the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16-25).

God is Approachable

Hebrews 12:1 speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us”. Essentially, we sin when we fail to walk in the power of the Spirit. Yet, despite sinning, we are forever called the righteousness of God! This, however, doesn’t mean that we are licensed to freely sin. Nor does it mean that sin doesn’t have consequences. What it does mean is that we can forever freely enter God’s presence where we can enjoy His love and friendship and be enabled to satisfy a new inner desire to love God and those around us.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Rob Morley

Life in the Spirit

The Bible Code for Life – Part 1

(Go here for part 2)

Christians often inadvertently live between two codes in order to live out the life that they believe they should be living. In most of our lives the change from one code to another happens regularly and sometimes unknowingly. You see, in some areas of our lives we are so aware of God’s presence and are so in touch with the Holy Spirit that error is impossible. Yet, in a moment, we can be facing a scenario where we are not so used to being in the Spirit’s presence and despite wanting to do what is right, we easily switch to relying on our own resources and fail.

Often we simply drift away from being aware of our need for the Holy Spirit to our old familiar pattern of relying on ourselves. Depending on who has become the most recent source of thought and action, the Spirit or us, will determine the response to any further provocation to sin. You see, we all want to do what’s right, and doing what is right makes us feel right, but whenever I begin with myself as the source of achieving what’s right, I’m already making the first error. My source is wrong. I presume that I am able to give life into a situation, when at best I can only mimic true life and temporarily hold things together.

Let’s look at the two codes:

Code 1: A standard that I must attain

Code 2: Jesus in me

Code 1: A demand

Code 2: A response

Code 1: A struggle

Code 2: A rest

Code 1: My apparent success

Code 2: My weakness embraced

Code 1: Ultimate failure

Code 2: Guaranteed success

Code 1: Disillusionment

Code 2: Impressed by His grace

Whenever we fail as a Christian, whether it’s intentional sin or not, it’s always because our source has been wrong. Whether you have simply given in to the passions of the flesh or whether you have attempted in your own strength not to give in (and maybe even succeeded not to sin), it’s one and the same problem. You see, although the second seems nobler, either way you have made yourself the source and have usurped God’s place. The cycle will repeat until we exchange our strength for His. It is in repenting of this, our chief sin, and turning toward Jesus as our life (and by his grace staying turned) that we really begin to live.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Rob Morley

Life in the Spirit

Who is in Control?

Letting go, letting God

All success and failure in life is related to who is in control. We are blessed in the New Covenant to be able to enjoy God’s very presence in our lives and a Spirit-led lifestyle. The Word says, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Php. 2:13) and also, “…your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’…” (Isaiah 30:21).

His Word also says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25) and “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). So, while God is continually at work in us, clearly our free will remains intact and we still get to make the choices in our lives. However, you’ll notice that God doesn’t firstly call us to choose right from wrong, but rather to walk in His Presence. Doing what’s right is not our goal, but it is the result of walking in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit comes from a rested lifestyle that God gives us when our lives are turned toward Him. It’s a quiet confidence in our loving God that His Spirit permeates in us. In the Spirit we have access to Jesus’ faith, His strength, His leading, His wisdom, His presence and His perfect will amongst many other things. We know this because God’s word says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

Yet, we are easily and often outside of God’s best. In particular areas of our lives we might be prone to either walk in the Spirit or not, despite God being at work in us. Yet, it’s this choice that determines the source of our subsequent choices and their outcomes. We are easily drawn away by our own flesh and the world’s temptations. Like Demas was, “in love with this present world”, I and perhaps even you and many others are examples of this. John speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us.” Circumstances, distractions, fears or whatever can come our way and we are faced with whether to take control, or call on Jesus and be led and strengthened by the Spirit.

Jesus, our perfect example, said, “I only do what My Father does and I only speak the words that My Father is speaking.” He lived in perfect connectivity to God and has restored this possibility for us. Notice, however, that He always had His own will. Yet, unlike us, He always subjected it to the will of His Father, because He always drew on the Spirit to continually do so. Apart from God’s Spirit, Jesus could have done nothing of what we read about in the Gospels. Equally, Jesus says to his disciples, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Also, consider these conditional promises to us:

  • “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Notice the two conditions.
  • “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Pro. 3:6).
  • “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph 5:18). A lifestyle choice.
  • “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas 4:8). Everybody else, but me!?
  • Jesus, talking to a church, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:5).
  • Whatever the works are that Jesus mentioned in the verse above, no doubt they exist in the light of John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’”

Jesus judges His church by their works, because the fruit in our lives, both in attitude and activity, show the extent to which we are relying on Him. Now, what do I do when I find that I’m outside of God’s best? I rest in His finished work at the cross and repent of having taken over control. I repent of not living in and from His presence and from doing my own thing. I give control back to Him and begin to rely on His still small voice again and His grace (God’s enabling power) at work in me. Correcting wrong behavior is firstly about choosing the right source.

The Christian life is about Jesus living His life in and through us. To the church and specifically to the individuals in it He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

Rob Morley