I received a comment last night from a reader in response to yesterday’s post (Freedom!). She raised a question that I believe requires a lengthy response. In a nutshell, the question is this: If we are free under God’s grace, and are not required to follow a set of rules, where do we draw the line with regard to our activities and our behavior as Christians?
I believe there is a great difference between trying to live up to a certain standard that is dictated by man and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in your daily walk. In the book of Galatians, Paul is addressing the issue of salvation by grace through faith as opposed to salvation through the keeping of the Mosaic Law. There were many Christians that were teaching that if Gentiles wanted to become Christians, they must keep the law that had been given to the Jews before the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul was instructing them that they were free from the Law because of the gift of God’s grace through Christ.
In Galatians 5:13, Paul states that we are called to freedom, but that we are not to use that freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. As the chapter continues, he challenges Christians to walk by the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. He lists a number of sins that are the works of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. He states that those who pursue such things will not inherit the
(i.e. will not be living in the sphere of God’s authority here on earth). In contrast to this, he tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we are willing to surrender our desires to God, our conduct will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and we will walk by the Spirit. kingdom of God
Does this mean that we have a set of rules to keep in order to live a consecrated life? I don’t see those rules anywhere in the New Testament. Instead, Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are free, under the grace of God, to do anything, without fear of rejection by God, if we have placed our faith in Jesus as our Savior. Jesus stands between our sin and God the Father, and intercedes on our behalf. We have the freedom to walk according to our fleshly desires, in which case we will not experience the fruit of the Spirit, or we can allow the Spirit to guide us each day, and experience the fullness of the joy that the fruit of the Spirit will bring.
So, how should we live? We should live in freedom, guided by the Holy Spirit if we want to experience the fullness of His grace while we are in this world.
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”