|Graphis from New Hope Ohau|
But what jumped out at me today was this phrase in the first part of the 15th verse, I looked at it in several versions and found that I especially appreciated these:
"by setting aside in his flesh the law and its commands and regulations" (NIV)
"He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped":(MSG)
"abolishing in His [own crucified] flesh the enmity [caused by] the Law with its decrees and ordinances [which He annulled] (AMP)
I appreciate these thoughts of Joseph Evel found in his book The Biblical Illustrator about this verse:
"The word rendered “to abolish” is the word often used by St. Paul for “to supersede by something better than itself”--translated “to make void,” in Romans 3:31; to “bring to nought,” in 1 Corinthians 1:28, and (in the passive) “to fail, to vanish away,” to be done away,” in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. Now, of the relation of Christ to the Law, St. Paul says, in Romans 3:31, “Do we make void the Law? God forbid! Yea, we establish the Law.” The Law, therefore, is abolished as a law “in ordinances”--that is, “in the letter”--and is established in the spirit."
What does it mean to establish the law in the spirit? Or perhaps a more accurate question might be what does it mean to say that Jesus established the law in the spirit?
In a sermon about Romans 3:27-31, John Piper makes some comments that I think shed a clarifying light on this topic:
"what the moral law of God requires of us, we will do, if we pursue it by faith, as those who are already justified, and not by works, in order to be justified. If we get right with God first by faith alone, and then live in that freedom of love and acceptance and justification, we will be changed from the inside out and will begin to love the very things the moral law requires so that they become established in our lives-not as works of merit, but as the fruit of faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11) and fruit of the Spirit"
I really think that second reference that Piper points to says it well:
"we pray for you all the time - pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something" (MSG)
It's all about God. Jesus' work on the cross made it so His very Spirit can live in me. The Holy Spirit in me calls out to me to be in His Word. As I'm in His Word I realize anew His love, grace, justification. These things change me. He is changing me. I don't need letter of the law thinking, I want Spirit of the law. In and of itself, the moral law is good. It helps me get my thoughts straight about what is wrong and what is right. But it is the Holy Spirit inside me, changing me, that produces right living by me - not me looking on the outside and conforming to standards of right living.
So, what does all this mean to me in my daily life?
- It's not my place to be the law-judger and go around judging other people. I can leave that to God. Of course I need to be wise in my interactions with people, so I will watch and listen. I will make "judgements" in that sense of the word. But by God's Spirit, may I not fall into a judgmental attitude.
- The feelings of not-being-good enough do not have a place in my life. It is never about that. God made me good enough. There may be specific areas in my life where improvement is needed, and by His grace and power I will seek to improve. But, I am good in His sight. I am acceptable and beloved. There is no criteria to which I need to measure myself.
- I can spend time thanking God for what He has already done through His Spirit in me. This is bigger than it sounds: Instead of pining for righteousness - I can spend time speaking aloud thanksgiving for the work He has already done and is continuing in me. I can ask for wisdom in how I can cooperate with Him specifically throughout the day. The focus is on faith and God and not on me and activities to "get it right."
Oh dear God, thank You. I can never thank you enough.Your ways are just so much greater and better than mine. Thank You more than I know how to say for what You've done for me in Jesus! Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for working in me. Show me specific ways that I can cooperate with You today. Help me hear You well today.