Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Fought the Law and Christ Won!

There is an old song that I love called “I Fought the Law.” The hook sings (over and over again), “I fought the law and the law won!” The verses tell the story of a troubled soul who commits crimes and suffers the consequences. The message is clear: those who fight against the law will lose.

In one way, the song illustrates a characteristic of the human soul. In our natural state, we rail against rules and regulations. Even when it comes to God’s law, our instinct is to fight it.

The Apostle Paul says this rebellious instinct is actually revealed by the law itself. Romans 7 says, “Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” In other words, the law reveals our wrong inclination to fight. It reveals our inclination to fight a losing fight.

Unlike the song, God’s law does not point out our rebellious instinct for the sake of defeating us. God’s law does this for the purpose of pointing us to Jesus. Paul goes on to say, “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.” Where the law reveals our rebellious instinct, Christ reveals (and offers) a law fulfilling Spirit.

As you go through the coming week, don’t bother fighting the law. Know that you have already won in Christ Jesus. Let that victory encourage you in fulfilling the law. As you do, you will find life in the law of the Spirit. You will also find no need to sing, “I fought the law and the law won!”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Law, Freedom and Obedience

An old professor once said, “Having the right to do something does not mean we should do that thing.” His point: freedom of action does not make every action moral or good. I think he is right.

People do all kinds of things that are legal, but hardly moral. People exercising their freedom of speech spew all kinds of garbage. People wielding their right to free assembly, assemble for all kinds of goofy behavior. Having the right or being free to do something does not mean we should do that thing.

The Apostle would have agreed with that professor. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul tells the church that God’s work in Christ has freed them from service of the law. But, Paul continues, that freedom does not make law breaking pleasing to God. Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Freedom from the law does not make sinning right or moral. Freedom from the law frees us to fulfill the law freely in Christ Jesus.

As you go through the coming week, exercise your freedom in Christ to fulfill God’s will. Live faithfully out of freedom instead of using freedom to justify goofy behavior. As you do, you will experience a righteousness that comes from God instead of the law. You will also enjoy the freedom of a faithful, obedient life.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Discovering What We Already Knew, Anew

Concussions have been a hot topic in the news. Retired football players report problems symptomatic of head trauma, claiming the trauma is a result of playing football. In response, medical researchers across the country are pouring resources into the study of sports related head trauma. Many are finding a direct correlation between full contact football and premature loss of brain function.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to some. Putting on a helmet and running head-to-head with a 250 pound, muscle builder will knock your brain around. Do it enough times and the collision will have lasting results. Researchers are discovering what we’ve known all along: football can knock a person senseless.

Discovering what we already knew isn't isolated to sport. It happens in our spiritual lives too. We know that life apart from relationship with Jesus isn’t good for the soul. Sin leads to drama. But, we do it anyway. With time, we realize, “As it turns out, neglecting relationship with Jesus negatively impacts the spiritual life. I have learned this through extensive research!” We turn our attention back to Jesus and He begins cultivating the life abundant again.

The early church in Corinth wrestled with it. They had been told of the challenges of life apart from God’s will. They did the research and discovered what they already knew: Sin enslaves. Jesus frees. Paul calls them discover what they already know. Paul writes, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand, by this gospel you are saved…” The Corinthians are discovering what they already knew (anew).

With that in mind, let me encourage you to go with what you already know. Sin enslaves.  Jesus frees.  No need to test the theory. Stay focused on Jesus and enjoy what you already know. As you do, you will be blessed by the God who never fails.