Serving the Law or Serving in the Spirit

Who do you serve? The law or the living God?
Who do you serve? The law or the living God?

(Romans 7:5-6)

In my recent posts I have discussed the purposes and processes for freedom from law and freedom from sin that we receive by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

These two scriptures continue and expand this issue of law or freedom from law as they drive to the heart of the two covenants. To paraphrase the question contained in these two verses, they ask whom do you serve? Specifically it talks to the service of a Christian and who or what they serve.

And this is important. It is important because we must understand who we serve and how we worship if we are to serve God according to His will.

There are many who seek to serve and worship God but not according to the way God seeks. They want to serve and worship according to how they choose or how they feel rather than the way The Lord seeks them to serve. So let us look at this aspect of service in these words and see what they tell us.

Serving God

If we make up our own forms of service and worship then we are no longer serving God but serving our own passions and desires. We are doing what seems good to us rather than what is good in the sight of God.

Paul wrote to Timothy about this very issue and we see it in abundant evidence today where he said in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 saying,

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

There are a great many myths in the Christian church today. There are things taught as doctrine that have no basis in the scripture but are twisted scriptures and sometimes pure fabrications to serve the purposes of those proponents of such false doctrine. There are lies that are taught as truth and many are swayed by these things because they are well presented by smooth talkers.

These people have “itching ears.” They itch to hear something that sounds good to them. They want to have their itches scratched by something that appeals to them. They do not want to hear the things that may make life difficult but they want life, especially their Christian life, to be all happiness and light.

But the reality is it will not be that way because the bible tells us so. The bible tells us that there will be opposition and persecution and those who follow The Lord will be ostracised. We will have enemies both physical and spiritual because we choose to follow God rather than the ways of this world.

Thus it is important to know what God wants and to seek to serve Him according to what He wants and how He wants us to serve. It’s not about us but it is about what is pleasing in the sight of God and we need to learn how to serve Him according to His will, not our own.

Serving the Law

In the first of these two verses, verse 5, we see that while we are in the flesh serving under the law we have a major challenge that we cannot overcome by ourselves. The verse says,

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

The people of this world are in this same place. There is a law that all mankind were born under and that law is a powerful force working on us. As the scripture shows, the sinful passions in our bodies are “aroused by the law.” It is the law that gives power and force to sin because through the law sin is shown to be sinful.

Law gives sin it’s power as the scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:56 saying,

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

Now the main issue with sin is that it is sin that separates man from God. God rejected man because man chose to sin rather than serve Him and seek righteousness.

What is also interesting about Romans 7:5 is that Paul writes it in the past tense. He talks about it like, “This is the way it used to be.”

And based on the teachings of the new covenant he is correct to write it this way.

Those who have accepted Jesus and been baptised into His death have been set free from the law and from sin. They are released from the bondage of the law through entering the death of Jesus in baptism, no longer to live in the passions and desires of the flesh, but to live in accordance with the will of God by grace.

This is why Paul writes in the past tense for the law and the issues of the arousal of sin in our bodies is now gone in Jesus Christ.

Or it should be if we are serving God correctly and in accordance with His word and His grace.

The challenge for many Christians though is that they do not accept they have been released from law. They live and act as if they are still under law and call themselves sinners. They berate and self-condemn themselves whenever they slip up and do the wrong thing.

And in doing this they make their situation even worse for they are negating the power of the blood of Jesus Christ and negating the grace of God by which we are set free. God says you are set free from these things if you have faith, but you are holding onto those things from which you were released, which shows a lack of faith in what God has done. And as we move further into Romans 7 we see Paul talk about this very issue in more detail.

So it is important to ensure we serve God in accordance with His will. We serve by faith in the grace of God, not under the law. The law is past for those who have entered the death of Jesus in baptism. Sin is gone and we now serve God through faith as He wants us to.

Serving in the Spirit

Now when we look at Romans 7:6 we see what the present situation should look like. Verse 5 was in the past tense indicating that serving the law and thus being subject to sin was where we used to be but are no longer. Verse 6 tells us where we should be now and how we are to serve God moving into the future. It says,

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

The first two words are the initial focal points of this teaching. “But now…” It is “now” that we are released from the law. It is “now” that we are dead to the passions of the flesh. It is “now” that we are released from the power of sin.

And it is now that we are set free to serve God in a new way.

We now serve God, as the verse tells us, in the “…new way of the Spirit.” And when it says we no longer serve in the, “…old way of the written code.” he is speaking of the old covenant law. We do not serve under the law for we are set free from the law. We are no longer under the law but we are under grace to serve God according to His will.

It’s not about the law. It never was.

The law was given as an interim measure to keep man in check and to establish a benchmark for sin, defining what is good and evil, right and wrong. But the original promise to Abraham and the covenant God made with him was based on faith. The law is based on works but under grace we serve God by and through faith.

You cannot work your way into the kingdom of God for entry is by faith and by grace alone. And in order to enter into Gods kingdom we must serve and worship Him in the spirit.

Jesus made this very clear in John 4:23-24 while talking to the woman at the well. He said,

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

He does not tell her that she had to keep the law even though she was a Samaritan and she was clearly living outside the law as the section prior to these verses shows she was living with a man to whom she was no married.

No. Jesus told her that what God was seeking was for people to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Not by works of the law but with a heart of faith in the grace of God through the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We must serve in the spirit if we are to truly serve God and to serve in the spirit we must be born again of the spirit just as we must be born again of water as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5-6.

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

He said you CANNOT enter the kingdom of God unless you are born of both the water and the spirit. You MUST be baptised to enter the kingdom and you MUST receive the Holy Spirit to walk in the kingdom of God.

Baptism is the entry or door through which we come into the kingdom by the death of Jesus. Receiving the Holy Spirit is the way we grow, walk and mature in God’s kingdom for it is the work of the spirit to transform us into the image of God.

You cannot get there by serving the law. It is only possible by serving God through the spirit for as He is spirit, we too must learn to serve in the spirit.

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What Shall I Do To Inherit Eternal Life
The Woman Caught In Adultery Part 1
The Blame Game
Rise Peter Kill And Eat
Purpose
Four Reasons Why Cleaning Up Your Act Is Not About Looking Good
Three Things To Learn About Leavin Leaven Alone
Its Not About The Law

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