Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:23-29).
This faith, which expresses itself through love, is only experienced as a reality through trusting in Jesus as Saviour and King and by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. This genuine faith may, when not understood nor experienced, be regarded as a nebulous irresponsible way of opting out from firm, binding Law. In other words, faith could be regarded as lawlessness, if and when it is not genuine. Misplaced “faith”, not grounded in the truth, may indeed be a way of disregarding the Law of Moses, all the more so when God’s new covenant law is not written upon a person’s heart. God writes his law on the hearts of the genuinely faithful by pouring out his love into their hearts through the Holy Spirit.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
As the apostle John taught in the passage quoted below, we have been given a new commandment that completely fulfils and makes possible the old command, which is to love God and our neighbour – and which is the perfect fulfilment of the whole Law. (It is not the fulfilment of the Law to the strict letter of the Law, but the fulfilemnt of the spiritual intent of the Law which was to bring us to Christ, to be circumcised in our hearts and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new life in the Spirit only becomes possible when we take up our cross and keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of genuine faithfulness to God.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them (1 John 2:7-11)
Genuine faith expresses itself through love and if there is no love, neither is there faith. Faith is not lawlessness. We are only set free from the external law, which was written in stone, when God’s law of love is written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We are set free from external legalism by the love of God.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:1-6).
As the apostle Paul taught, the Law given at Mount Sinai through Moses and from God, was powerless to change humanity who are under the control of the flesh and therefore enslaved to sin and under the manipulative control of the devil. Only by dying to the law, do we also die to sin – and are raised to a new life by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:1-8).
If we take our eyes off Jesus, who is the spiritual man from heaven and the author and perfecter of our faith, we will sink beneath the weight of an insane world which is under the control of the devil.
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:18-20).
We are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of the kingdom of God. our King, who is the King of kings, is seated in heaven at the Right Hand of God from where he now reigns supreme. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to him. As ambassadors of the kingdom of God, we still live among the enemies of God. Our mission is not to destroy the enemy, but to urge all humanity to repent and be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus the King. Let us not, therefore, be drawn into racism, national pride, self-righteousness – or anything else that promotes bigotry, hostility and hatred. We have no desire to kill our enemy with the sword, but rather to pierce their stubborn hearts with the spiritual sword – the testimony of the King of kings who laid down his life for the salvation of humanity.
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:17-21).
God did not say, from heaven to us mortals on earth, “Live according to the written Law or I will punish you”, on the contrary, he said in the Law that he would put his word in the Messiah, the one who is the prophet like Moses, who will take up the cross to set us free from sin. He came into our situation, shared in our humanity, suffered and endured, remaining faithful to the point of death. He removed our fear of death, forgave our sins, assured us of the resurrection and eternal life – and he put his Spirit in us to enable us to live in faithfulness to him.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18).
Having come to live among us in the form of a mortal human like us, he has now ascended into heaven from where he came. As the author and perfecter of faith, he said, Ï will put my Spirit in you to move you to obey me”. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead now lives in us who have put our trust in Jesus, the Anointed King of kings.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11).