2015-2016 Bible Challenge, devotionals, resources

Free to Do Good (a meditation)

4So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. 5When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death.  6But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. ~ Romans 7:4-6 NLT

Freedom. It’s a great thing; we like the sound of the word.

At the end of Romans 6, Paul argued that apart from life in Jesus we are slaves to sin. “You become the slave of whatever you choose to obey” (6:16). With hearts of rebellion, turned against God, we obey our sin. But when we receive and follow Jesus and our old selves die with him, then we have new lives no longer bound by sin or by the Old Testament Law.

chains111This is one of several places where Paul spoke this truth (almost the entirety of Galatians being another, as well as parts of 2 Corinthians, etc.). When we look back at the Ten Commands of Exodus 20 and all the laws that flowed from them, we find that we are no longer bound by them. Paul went on to argue in Romans 7 that all the Law accomplished in the lives of those who heard it was exposing their sinfulness. That doesn’t mean the Law itself was bad, it just shone as a light onto dark and rebellious hearts that refused to keep its commands. But in Christ, the greatest light, we become free.

Freedom from the Law is not liberty to do anything without consequence. Instead, it’s freedom to live for God and freedom from sin. In a sense we can do whatever we want, but when we’re free from the Law we have the Holy Spirit within us. He gives us a new heart with new desires, so that what we want is to please God.

When it comes to the Law, then, we no longer have to be bound under the command to have no other gods or to not take God’s name in vain, because with new hearts we are free to love the one true God and honor him in all we do. We are no longer bound by do not murder or do not commit adultery, because with new hearts we are free to love our neighbors as ourselves and seek their good and not their harm.

But what about the times where our desires seem to be in conflict? Where we want to please God, but we end up choosing sin because in the moment something about that sin seems more appealing?

We have to remember we are living in the already but not yet—a time between times; a time where the kingdom of Jesus has already burst forth into the world through his first appearing and his promise to build his people, his church; but also a time where sin still exists, a time where we are justified but not yet glorified, a time where we still have to put to death our old selves and put on our new selves in Christ (Colossians 3).

We have to fight the old nature to live in the new. Thankfully, though, this is not a fight we do on our own. Looking into Romans 8, we find that God is in our corner. Not only is he cheering us on, but he has given us his Spirit, made us his children, and is working out our greatest good through all situations—our glorification or the perfection we will see through Jesus and with Jesus for eternity. He fights for us.

With God working in us and fighting for us, we have the strength to do good and the ability to stand up after a stumble and keep pressing on. After all, God has freed us…

This post is part of our ongoing series as we journey through the Bible together as a church.

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