In my previous post, I wrote about how the Christian believer is now no longer under Law
A Christian’s first adventures from under Law and out into the glorious freedoms of Grace can be scary – away from the known ‘safety’ of the written (and unwritten) codes of rules and expectations imposed by others, and out upon the ‘Great Unknown’ deep waters of faith and Grace.
I have personally felt the ‘warm, cosy fingers’ of legalism literally creeping up the back of my neck, in a meeting where I was tempted to listen to the voices of Law and security. But I am never again going to go back to legalism. Once a believer has tasted of the true freedom of Christ, there’s no going back there – even though the natural tendency of the human flesh is to drift back towards legalism and trying to please God in our own strength.
Joseph Prince, in his book “Unmerited Favor”, puts it like this:
“Paul asked the church in Galatia point-blank, ‘…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh [self-effort]?’ Paul was saying to them, ‘You began by believing in His grace; why are you now depending on your works? That is foolishness! You should be continuing in His unmerited favour!’ These are strong words by Paul. Don’t start with grace and end up with the Law. Don’t start with the new covenant, only to turn back to the old covenant! There are those who say that they are not justified by the Law but believe that they should keep the Law for sanctification. My friend, both justification and sanctification come by our faith in Jesus’ finished work alone.
” ‘Pastor Prince, how would I know if I have gone back to the old covenant?‘ It is actually very easy to identify the difference between old and new covenant teachings. Just ask yourself if this teaching is putting the emphasis on what you have to do or what Jesus has already done. Does it make you introspective, always looking to yourself and how you fared or failed? Or does it make you turn your eyes away from yourself to look upon Jesus?
“When you are established in the new covenant of grace, you will experience a tremendous sense of confidence and security in Christ. When your confidence is in His unmerited favour and not your performance, you will not feel as if you are constantly jumping out of His favour and acceptance.
“It is unfortunate that some believers have put themselves back under the old covenant without realising it. Sometimes, they feel that God is on their side, but at other times, they feel that God is far away from them. Sometimes, they feel that God is satisfied with them, but at other times, they feel that God is angry with them. All these feelings are based predominantly on their own evaluation of how they have performed, how they feel about themselves, and not [on] how God sees them. Because there is no new covenant scriptural basis for such evaluations, they end up arbitrarily deciding [whether] they are deserving of God’s blessings and favour in their lives or not, when in fact, they actually have access to His blessings all the time, simply because of Jesus and His finished work at the Cross”.
Because we are no longer under Law, the only way that now remains is to live entirely under Grace and Grace alone. In fact, to try to live under both Grace and Law at the same time is simply impossible. So, don’t even try to work even a little with the Law; instead, stay living in the Spirit. But it’s your decision: whether you want the life of power, freedom and adventure offered in the Spirit under Grace, or whether you want the ‘safe’, cosy legalism lifestyle that always leads eventually to dissatisfaction and frustration – because it is not the way you were designed to live! So many these days are still under Law, yet they imagine, and convince themselves, that they are actually under Grace because they have read that this is the way to be, and that’s what everyone else says, and it becomes the ‘done thing’ to say….but they only do it lip service and there’s no reality to it. That’s a real tragedy; it’s theirs for the taking!
No, go for life in the Spirit, under Grace, every time. Only in that way will you maintain your freedom!