No this post is not about the song of the same title by Britney Spears, although she too has succumbed in this human problem as well. She has had a few epic fails that have been splashed all over the media and I feel really sorry for what she has been through.
What this post is about though is a failing that all Christians suffer as they walk with Christ. It is the issue of when you try to do what is right and you really, really want to do the right thing…and then you mess up and do what is wrong.
Everybody has done it. The road to life is paved with good intentions and nobody ever wants to slip up, falter and fail. But we do. It’s how we deal with it that matters, not that it occurred. And I will look at how we deal with it in an upcoming post, but not today.
Today we look at what Paul is writing about in this section, which is why we do this, especially why Christians do it, but it also applies to the rest of the world as well.
Ok. First up let us get this straight. Nobody is perfect in this world. With the exception of Adam, Eve and Jesus, no one has ever begun life perfect in this world. So take it from one who knows, you are gonna screw up! You are gonna make mistakes and do the wrong thing and fail miserably and fall down and so on. Believe me, I know!
However the bible tells us that we MUST be perfect. Look at the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:48.
You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
But as I have said, no one is and no one is able to be perfect by themselves. No one is able even know what perfection is because man does not know what it is. How can something that is inherently imperfect, broken and a miserable failure even know what perfection looks like? They can’t.
But this is not a cause for concern because even though we don’t know what perfection is, God does. And He has established the means by which we can achieve perfection, not in man’s sight but in the sight of God. We CAN be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect because He will make us so.
So even though we may be monumental screw-ups today, God is working with and in us and in all of His people to overcome our failures and set us right. So don’t worry that you are not perfect today. The day is coming when that will happen through the working of the Holy Spirit and by the power of God.
Beginning to Walk
Over recent posts I have discussed many of the precursors to walking in Christ. We have looked at baptism, repentance, faith, freedom from sin, freedom from law and how all of these things work together.
But all of these are just the beginning. All of these things only set the stage for what is to come, which is our continuing walk with Jesus Christ as we progress to perfection in the sight of God.
And all of those things are necessary for each of them plays a part in setting us up with the right foundation so that we can walk in the truth and walk not as we choose, but as God commanded. If we are to enter His kingdom and live with Him, then we need to understand His path and follow His roadmap to get there. And when we do, it doesn’t matter if we mess up as we journey in The Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul writes in these scriptures the following, which links on from the last words of verse 8,
8… For apart from the law sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Note in verse 9 that Paul says, “I was once alive apart from the law…” Consider now, when did this happen?
Paul was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin and lived his whole life up until his conversion to Christianity under the law. But what he says in this verse is there was a time where he was separated from the law and in that time he was truly alive!
If you have read any of my recent posts you will know that freedom from law is a requirement to enter the kingdom of God and He sets us free through the process of baptism. In baptism we take on the death of Jesus as our own and we die with Him as we go through the waters of baptism. Then we are raised to new life in Him as we are lifted from the waters of baptism, set free from sin, separated from the law by Jesus’ death and alive to God.
This is when Paul was talking about. This is when he was alive. He was alive after being baptised and accepting these teachings by faith and through the grace of God. That is when Paul was alive for he was alive in the spirit.
But the scripture says he was “once alive,” which is past tense. This indicates that although he was alive once, he died again and this new life was taken away.
How could such a thing happen? If you were alive in the spirit walking in the love and the life of Jesus, you would not want to leave Him and die!
This is how it happened. In verse 9 and beyond, Paul continues on showing that when the commandment, that is, the law, revived then it gave power to sin which enticed him to do the wrong thing and so he fell from grace.
How did this happen? Quite simply, Paul put himself back under the law. Paul did what many people have done when they are set free from anything…he turned back to the thing he was set free from and revived the law, sin, enticed his passions, the whole nine yards and he fell down.
We’ve all done it and Paul did it too. He said to himself that there was a law which said, “Thou shall not covet,” and when he stopped believing that he was set free from that law, as well as all the others, he built up that law again, negating the power of the death and the blood of Jesus that had already set him free from the law, and put himself back under law and under the power of sin.
It must have been very, very hard for Paul especially given that he was brought up in strict adherence to the law and was a Pharisee well advanced in the teachings of the law. It must have been extremely difficult for him to let go of the law because as he says in verse 10, which he knew from his studies of the law,
The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me
Law once promised Paul a better life, as it does for all of us. But when we come to Christ and are set free from the law it does the opposite as it returns us to the power of sin if we take the law on again.
God through his grace has set us free from the law so that sin could be destroyed and no longer have power over us. He does this because no sinner will stand I before God and God refuses to help those who continue in sin. But when He removes sin and then removes the law which gives sin it’s power, then god says He will step in and help us to overcome.
And the purpose of all of this is to overcome not sin but to overcome the human passions and desire that afflict all mankind leading him to sin. In our case as Christians these passions and desires lead us to fall again and again until they are dealt with.
The reason God removed sin and the law is to commence the work of transformation. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to come into us and transform us. He is changing us from the inside out. As Jesus once said, “First cleanse the inside of the cup.” (Matthew 23:26)
But when we take on the law again as Paul is counselling us here not to, we stop the work of transformation. We prevent the Holy Spirit from continuing the work of perfecting us as we MUST be to stand with God, when we put ourselves back under law.
Am I making this up? No for the scriptures back this up saying in Galatians 5:1-4,
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Paul says we are to stand freed because Christ has set us free. But if we take the law back on, circumcision being the sign and seal of the law, the Christ is of no advantage and in fact we are SEVERED FROM CHRIST! Don’t put yourself back under law when God has set you free from it through Jesus Christ. Look also at this scripture in 2 Corinthians 3:12-18.
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Note that he writes whenever the old covenant is read, that is the law of Moses, a veil lies over the mind of the person and it is only lifted when a person comes to Christ. But how many Christians continue to walk in the ways of the old covenant law? A great many! And if the continue in the old covenant law then they too are veiled. Their minds are darkened to the truth because it is only by Jesus Christ and the freedom from law that we are removed from sin. It is only through the freedom possible in Jesus Christ that the next stage, the work of transformation of the spirit, as mentioned in verse 18 here, can commence.
So again, as Paul saw the folly of putting himself back under the law when he had already been set free from it by Jesus, so too I say to you, do not put yourself back under law because it will separate you from Christ, keep you blind and veiled to the truth of the new covenant and stunt the growth of the transformation being worked in you by the Holy Spirit.
Yes you are going to screw up, but don’t put yourself under law and condemn yourself as a sinner. God has set you free from sin and already forgiven your sins. He expects you to do something but that is a topic for another post and which we will look at in the next few articles.
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