Here's an excerpt on a piece I did on it for a book:
"Sure. As I said, I used to be a police officer. ‘To Serve and Protect’ is our motto so in many ways it was very fulfilling for a season. My position also helped me see in a real way how the law operates in our lives. Not too long into the job I began to see its limitations as I witnessed an astounding number of repeat offenders. It became a revolving door for them. I then found myself wanting to help others at a deeper level. Eventually, I left the work and began seeking the Lord about this new desire and his direction, and now here I am. Sarah, we are constantly evolving in the Lord so what may be fulfilling in one season isn’t necessarily fulfilling in another. Sounds like you may be ready to move on."
"That is exactly how I felt on the first day we met. I woke up that morning feeling it was a new season and wanting to dive into it, and then I found myself here . . . But tell me Alex, what did you learn about the law? That’s a topic that has been much debated. Some say it isn’t applicable nowadays and some say it is. You said before that when it comes to application we are to be living in the new. I understand that to a degree, but is the law really not applicable today?"
"Sarah, I like to use the example of police officers when speaking of the law for they are the authoritarians of criminal law. With that in mind, I ask you, do we still need cops in our society?"
"I would have to say the obvious answer is yes. Crime is still a problem and we still need their service and protection."
"And would you say there is a difference between a crime
and a criminal?"
"Sure. A crime is the act of breaking the law and a criminal is someone who repeatedly engages in the act. Guess you can say it has become his nature."
"Very good, but what if there were no law?"
"Well . . . then there would be nothing to declare anyone guilty?"
"I’m impressed. Yet, if a crime is the act of breaking the law, then why not get rid of the law so there wouldn’t be any crime, or guilt for that matter. Would that not solve our problems?"
Sarah didn’t respond right away, but looked at him intently as she considered the implications. After a moment she said, "But the law isn’t the bad one. It’s good. Why would we want to get rid of it? Even if there were no law, humanity is still guilty of rebelling against God. There’s still evil."
"So, let me see if I understand what you’re getting at. Even if we broke no physical law, there is still a deeper issue within fallen humanity that makes them guilty before God."
"Yes, the heart." Sarah said bright-eyed. That’s what the bible says and it’s quite evident in the world. Don’t you agree?"
"Wholeheartedly. Pretty simple, yes?"
"Yes, but I know you are heading somewhere with this line of questioning."
"And so I am. When man fell he died spiritually in his severed relationship with God. His fallen, natural life awakened to all sorts of lusts and tainted by sin, became sinful. Fallen man is led by this sin nature in its drive to quench its soul’s hunger and thirst. From Adam on, sin and death were at work in man, but without an explicit law, as you asked, how are the guilty to be shown their guilt? And so the law was given to declare our guilt before God and to condemn our fallen life to death so that we may attain new life in Christ. Yes, the law is very good, and in this we can see how wonderful it really is."
"Oh, I love how you said that. It really brings honor to the law, and brings out its beauty."
"It’s the truth Sarah. The law is honorable and glorious. Even some believers mistake the law as the guilty party and condemn it, but the law isn’t the guilty party. It doesn’t die, we die. That is, our old selves by way of our old nature supernaturally dies.
It’s in co-death with Christ that the law passes from our lives.
Yet, as glorious as God’s law is, it is also important to understand that we weren’t created for the law or to serve it, but it for us and to serve us while sin lived and breathed within us. As Jesus said regarding the Sabbath, its purpose is to serve us, not for us to serve it, and so it is with the rest of God’s law. Galatians 3 tells us the law would play a temporary role in our lives until we came into faith in Jesus."
They had reached the park in his neighborhood and Alex paused for a moment to find a bench where they could sit. When they had settled in, he continued . . .
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so through him the Amen is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. ~2 Corinthians 1:20-22
"So again, we weren’t created for the law. We were created for Jesus, to be married to Him by his Spirit, two-as-one in holy matrimony, but we made a poor choice in Eden. Even so, our Heavenly Father promised to do what we cannot do, give us a new heart that beats for Him so we can be like Him, holy as He is holy in our union with his Son; so that we can enjoy an up close and personal, intimate relationship with Him. From the beginning it was always about the promise of God doing it through the promised Child."
"The promise," Sarah declared. "You’re right."
"Shall we start from the beginning again and break it down?"
"Yes, do continue. I really want to see your take on this."
"Then let us prepare for take off?"
Sarah giggled at that. "Ready whenever you are."
"Ok, here we go. . . When Adam and Eve were created they walked around naked. Basically, they lived open lives with no shame. After the fall man lived in a state of self-awareness and with the seeds of sin within him, his nature became sinful. He’s a criminal ruled by the lusts of the flesh and pride in his own accomplishments. This criminal is guilty of rebellion against God. We can say he is a glutton that lives to satisfy his own soul, or emotional aspect of himself, by the lusts of the flesh instead of finding his fulfillment and pleasure in his Creator. We were never meant to live in self-awareness. We were created for Jesus, our Tree of Life; to live in the awareness of God and enjoy Him forever. Even the angels are captivated by God’s holiness and can’t help but sing his praises continuously."
"I love that," Sarah declared in excitement.
"It’s awesome when you consider it. You know that feeling you get when you are privileged to witness something so spectacular and beautiful that you are bursting at the seams to express it? It can even hurt to keep it in."
"Yes, I get that way after God reveals something to me. I get so excited and want to share with other believers," Sarah replied, still excited. "Then just last night I stepped outside and found myself marveling at the beauty of the moon. It was larger than usual and so bright. My neighbor was also out in her yard so I went over there and we engaged in a conversation about how beautiful it looked and how the Lord was the most incredible artist of all. Also, sometimes after enjoying a good show I get up and applaud in my appreciation and gratitude."
"Don’t forget the marvel of a good meal or a football game,"Alex added, making her laugh.
"Of course, God forbid we forget those," she teased, drawing a chuckle out of him.
Alex then continued, "I like what you said for many times we begin to worship the creation instead of the Creator Himself. Paul speaks of this in Romans 1. There is nothing wrong with appreciating the beauty of creation and finding pleasure and enjoyment out of it, but we must give glory to the Creator of all and foremost find our pleasure and enjoyment in Him.
Lucifer fell when he took his eyes off his Creator and fixed it on himself, then aspired to be like God. In Eden the devil tempted man with the same. We took the bait, thus declaring our independence from God. As a result we became dead unto God’s heart, and enlivened unto sin through our fallen nature.
The sad part is, we were already created in the likeness of God and our destiny was to be like Him as children embodied with their Father’s essence, but like Jesus showed us in his dual role as Son of man, we need to know it all comes from Father and allow Him to take us there, instead of giving into the temptation to take matters into our own hands."
Alex paused for a moment to give Sarah time to take that portion in. He then continued, "Living in the knowledge of good and evil is a life lived apart from God, which is no life at all for goodness and holiness only exists in Him.
Humanity can engage in good acts equipped with an awakened self-conscience and the law. We are not totally in the dark even in our fallen state, but we need more than this shadow view into Father’s heart. We need union with Him, the One that is Good, by way of his Spirit abiding in ours."
Sarah nodded in agreement and Alex went on, "The Holy Spirit is the heart of the law and the unveiled revelation of Jesus Christ. I refer to Him as Father’s heart, but there’s a problem with this union. God’s Spirit cannot live in a defiled temple, and our natural hearts are defiled by sin. It’s like adding fire to wood. The wood is not changed, nor can it hold the fire. The wood is destroyed in the fire. As Jesus put it, new wine goes into new wineskins, otherwise the wineskins will burst and the wine will be lost . . .
So the law was a temporary addition to the promise to help with the dilemma of our fallen nature. Once again, Galatians 3 tells us it became our temporary guide until we came into faith in Jesus. It refers to us as children back then. Sort of like how parents become the conscience of their children until they’ve grown and matured. Although, Jesus said good and evil are found in the condition of the heart. The Apostle Paul said the same in Romans 2. He went on to say that even those not privileged with God’s written law show that they know it and have it written in their hearts when their conscience either condemns them for doing wrong, or tells them what they are doing is right.
Tell me, have you ever found yourself engaged in a behavior that you knew was bad for you, but struggled to stop?"
"Did others tell you to stop?"
"Yes they did."
"And did it help?"
"Sometimes for the moment I would stop, but eventually I returned to it. In fact, repeatedly hearing what I already knew sometimes had the opposite effect and made it worse."
"Sarah, knowing what we ought to do doesn’t empower us to do it, and concentrating on the problem only emphasizes and empowers it with greater strength. Now I ask you Sarah, who was at fault for your behavior?"
"Well, I guess that would be me, but it didn’t help to constantly hear that I needed to stop when I already knew it was bad for me, but felt helpless to quit."
"So you recognize that it wasn’t others’ fault even if they constantly brought it to your attention, which may have made matters worse. Same with the law, the law is good and even though it empowers our sin nature, it isn’t at fault. It’s the sin within our fallen, natural life using good for evil. Now, you mentioned that you felt powerless to overcome. Are you telling me you didn’t have a choice?"
Sarah thought it over for a moment before answering, "I don’t know Alex. That seems like a cop-out. It also contradicts scriptures which repeatedly tell us to choose. The scriptures also speak of personal accountability to God, but that is how I felt,although I know feelings aren’t always in line with the truth."
"True. Even so, they have some merit in revealing what we believe at heart, which has become truth to us. If you want to know what you believe, consider what your automatic response is in any given situation . . .
You’re right to say the scriptures often speak of choices. The problem is not the choice itself. The problem lies in our inability to carry out our good intentions for the long term. In Romans 7 Paul said he loved the law and wanted to do good, but there was another power at work within him, the sin nature that won the battle over his mind."
"You’re saying it’s not our fault?"
"Yes and no. We are at fault, but within that major YES is a minor no. We’ve all been guilty of rebellion against God by our inherited sin nature with its powerful desires that continuously draw us to sin. The bible refers to fallen humanity as slaves to sin. A slave is bound to his master, to carry out his desires at his beck and call. Although, when God draws us to Christ, we do have the ability to turn to Him and undergo a supernatural co-death with Him where we find deliverance from our natural lives. It’s a circumcision from the life and passions that used to rule us, as foreshadowed in the ritual of circumcision.
Afterward, we are reborn of the Spirit and engaged to Jesus who, by his Spirit, equips us with Father’s will and desires, successfully empowering us to live out our new, inner, holy life.
Going back to our example, an officer of the law cannot change a criminal’s heart, but can place him in bondage. Imprisonment can help a man see the error of his ways and seek change at a deeper level. We can change our ways by a shift in desires, but holy living and righteousness is found in Christ.
"Yes, yes it is," Sarah agreed wholeheartedly.
Alex continued, "Think of it as two jurisdictions. An officer has authority in his assigned jurisdiction, but he loses that authority in another. The law’s jurisdiction is our natural man whose heart is now bent on sin. The law was created to serve us while sin lived in us, giving us desires and passions for the wrong things. Without the heart of God empowering it, the law cannot overcome our carnal desires and passions, and if the natural man tries to keep the law at heart, the law will arouse and empower the sin within, successfully exposing its nature as it bears fruits unto death: hatred, jealousy, lust, pride, and so on.
There’s no conflict between the two jurisdictions, they just serve different purposes, the law created for our old, sinful nature driven by lusts; to expose it and condemn it to death. Meanwhile, the Spirit inhabits and directs our new man in Christ by the love of God. Trying to live by the law could never give us life because death was at work in us. What was meant to lead to life, led us to death instead, but in Christ we are given his life and the law is fulfilled. It’s all given by God’s unmerited favor and received by faith. As Paul said, ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives in me, and this life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God.’
Just like Abraham was counted righteous because of his faith. Father shared the good news of the gospel with him when He told him what He would do through Jesus, his seed. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Likewise, we are also saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
The children of Israel also heard the gospel for Moses
proclaimed it to them, but like many of us, instead of putting their trust in the coming Messiah, they tried to attain righteousness by the keeping of the law. As Father said, ‘I will put a Stone in Jerusalem that will cause men to stumble, but all who put their trust in Him will not be put to shame.
We said earlier that there is a difference between committing an act of crime against God, or the act of sinning, and being a criminal, or having a sinful nature. As believers we can commit an act of crime while progressively growing up into Christ’s full stature, but our new man with a new nature is not a criminal. We meet with sin and bondage when we allow ourselves to be led away by the lusts of the flesh within the natural man. It becomes an adulterous love affair with our former nature consuming our affections while bringing death to our souls, thus preventing us from entering the Kingdom of God."
"So we can lose our salvation? That’s another topic that has
been heavily debated."
"I don’t know. What I do know is that we won’t enter into the fullness of his life, but He is committed to taking us there. We can rest assured in his faithfulness as we continue in our walk with Him. He can break the bond, that soul tie, and burn away the idols therein by his Spirit as we turn to Him, and as we enter into an intimate relationship with Him, we will find nourishment for our thirsty souls and our affections and passions for Him flourishing. We become like the burning bush Moses encountered, ablaze with God, but not destroyed in the process. It’s now passion for God and his desires that burns within us. It’s new wine in new wineskins; a new, Godly intoxication."
Sarah’s eyes widened. "Oh, I love that. Burning bushes, on fire with love for God and the passions in his heart. And it appears to me that struggling with sin after conversion can be indicative of an old, soul tie that still needs to go . . .
I’m not sure if salvation can be lost either. . . And here I was beginning to think you knew everything," she said teasingly.
Alex laughed. "No Sarah, there’s still much I need to learn and grow in, and I don’t claim to have it all right, but I do feel good with how it is coming along; not complacent, but good.
And, I do believe the law can still serve the believer, when he is following after the flesh, the law’s jurisdiction. It’s not a leading role, but a reminder that our old self is crucified with Christ, and a call to remain in Him so that we will walk in the Spirit where we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord looks upon the heart - Proverbs