Monday, December 21, 2015

When Bitterness Finds the Freedom of Faith

I’m writing this out of the delightful lesson (reminder) this morning that bitterness is not necessarily handled through forgiveness (though it is sometimes needed), but it is always handled through faith. Yes, we can have complete freedom from bitterness through faith, even when no forgiveness is included. As novel as that may sound, please bear with me, because God’s book is clearer on this than we may imagine.

One of the difficulties in relating to people who have wronged us is that the church seems to see only two options. Option one, is bitterness; option two, is forgiveness. If we are bitter, it is because we haven’t forgiven them. If we want to stop being bitter, “just forgive”, as the cliché goes.

This works fine and well when someone has come to us in repentance, confessing what they have done to us, and we know that it is God’s will to forgive them. Jesus’ words are very clear when he speaks of a brother who has sinned against us. Even “if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”[1]

No questions. Brother sins, even numerous times, but repents every time, we forgive every time. Simple (no matter how not easy) as that.

The question is, what do we do when someone sins against us, perhaps is sinning against us still, and has never repented of what they have done? Does God’s book teach us to forgive unrepentant people?

The short answer is that there is no example in the Bible of God forgiving an unrepentant person; there is no example of any apostle or prophet of either covenant forgiving an unrepentant person; and there is no verse in the whole of the Bible telling us that it is God’s will for us to forgive unrepentant people.[2] On the other hand, there are plenty of teachings and examples of God withholding forgiveness, and extending discipline, because his people have yet to repent.

Now, since it always seems to come up that, when people think Jesus forgave sinners while he was being crucified, and the people who had crucified him were clearly unrepentant in their sin, this surely must be an irrefutable example of forgiving unrepentant people.

Let me just say that, Jesus was not forgiving his enemies while he was dying on the cross, but was praying for them, just as he instructs us to do.[3] His words were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[4] Whom was Jesus talking to? His Father. What was Jesus asking his Father to do? Forgive them. Can we follow Jesus’ example of asking the Father to forgive unrepentant people? Absolutely. It totally fits Jesus’ instructions to pray for enemies and abusers, and it is a significant part of us experiencing freedom from bitterness even while not forgiving unrepentant people.

In fact, try this next time someone comes to mind who is unrepentant in their sin against you or your church: pour out your heart to God about what these people have done to you, telling him all the hurts and heartaches they have caused, and then ask God to forgive them. Adding the, “for they know not what they do”, is optional, since sometimes people are very aware of what they are doing. Keep praying this out with God until you have handed everything over to your heavenly Father, trusting that he will answer your prayer however his divine will sees fit. It is no longer up to you whether they are forgiven, but your heart is free to continue loving them, blessing them, doing good to them, praying for them, and trusting God with anything you need for the healing of your brokenheartedness, and the binding up of your wounds.[5]

If God does not require us to forgive unrepentant people, what do we do to experience freedom from the bitterness? If forgiving a repentant person will free us from any bitterness towards them, how do we get that same freedom when forgiving someone is contrary to the will of God?

The answer is simple and clear: Faith! It is not forgiveness that delivers us from bitterness. That would make the freedom from bitterness based on a work we do, rather than a gracious work of God within our souls. Instead, our freedom from bitterness comes by putting our faith in God regarding whatever unrepentant wrongs have been committed against us.

By this I mean, when we truly connect with God in genuine faith that his sovereign goodness will handle unrepentant sinners in a way that perfectly meets all his holy and righteous demands for justice, we can truly leave the present injustice in his hands. When we have the faith of a little child who leaves the issue in God’s hands, and then puts our attention on being with him, and walking with him, and keeping in step with his Spirit, we will find that our bitterness is healed because the injustice is in God’s hands, not ours. We are free to enjoy him in what he is doing now, instead of remaining bogged down by them and what they did who knows how long ago.[6]

The most direct teaching to the issue of handling unrepentant sin in others is God’s instruction, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”[7] We are never to avenge ourselves on those who wrong us, repentant or unrepentant alike. What do we do instead? We leave it to “the wrath of God.”

Why do we leave it “to the wrath of God”? Why not leave it to the love of God, or the grace of God, or the mercy of God, or the kindness of God? The answer is that God is a God of pure and perfect justice. If a wrong has been committed, God will act justly against it. He will mete out whatever expression of wrath any sin requires. However, can you “leave it” with him to do so?

There are two ways that God will absolutely and always express pure and perfect wrath against every sin. Of course, this means that he will deal just as justly with us as with anyone who has ever sinned against us, since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.[8]

One way God will express pure and complete wrath against sin is in the coming judgment. Every sin will be punished, no exceptions. Anything we have left to the wrath of God will get the full wrath of God that sin deserves.[9]

The other way God expresses pure and complete wrath against sin is in the condemnation he poured out upon his own Son upon the cross. John writes, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”[10] For Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins, it meant that he removed God’s wrath against our sins by taking that wrath upon himself. God can now forgive us, not because he ignores justice to do so, but that his justice is fully satisfied. He expressed his whole wrath against our sin on his Son; there is none left; God forgives us because justice has been met.

When we “leave it” to God’s wrath when there is unrepentant sin against us, it means we have complete faith that all the demands of God’s justice against those sinners will be satisfied. Every ounce, smidgeon, mite, or sliver, of wrath will be poured out against that sin.

However, do you trust God to pour out his wrath in the way he deems righteous? Are you willing to trust God to forgive completely the (presently) unrepentant sinner because the wrath of God against their sin has already been poured out on your Lord Jesus Christ? Or, can you only be free from bitterness if they “rot in hell” for what they have done to you?

I hope that, should such a discrepancy exist (that of wanting unrepentant sinners to rot in hell while seeking God for his gracious forgiveness in our direction), we recognize it as a lack of faith. We do not trust God to do the right thing, so we feel we need to continue holding bitterness against the person.

Whenever I see this justice-issue shining through someone’s expression of bitterness, I see a heart that has not truly experienced the depths of unmerited mercy and grace expressed through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.[11] If we cannot trust God in faith for justice towards unrepentant sinners, there is something wrong in our own experience of faith in God’s mercy towards sinners like ourselves.

I write this out of a heart that has walked through many such cases of unrepentant sin against me. I have entered the worlds of abuse, and dissociation, and childhood trauma, while getting to know Jesus Christ all the better no matter what I have had to face of my own, or what stories I have travelled through with others.

I once ascribed to the notion that we experience freedom from bitterness by using the forgiving-everyone-of-everything-all-the-time model. Somewhere along the way I realized that is not the biblical way at all, and that it is not our place to grant forgiveness on unrepentant people. Justice is in God’s hands, not ours.[12]

What is required is that we learn to “leave it” with God by faith. If we can’t leave an injustice in God’s hands, it is a faith issue. Go look in a mirror. Ask the Spirit of God to reveal the true condition of your soul. Ask him why you cannot trust him with justice against the unrepentant. There is a real and genuine need in our souls, and it must be brought to God for healing; I simply contend that it is faith that leads us into the experience of what we need.

We are called to do many things in relation to unrepentant people.[13] However, forgiveness is not one of them. Praying for their forgiveness, as Jesus did, is actually very liberating. We then carry on with our lives, walking in the Spirit by faith, and continuing to “leave it” to God to handle whatever new injustices confront us along the way, or old injustices rise up from the hidden places of our souls.

There is freedom from bitterness in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us come to God and experience that freedom by faith.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Luke 17:4
[2] The verses often used to say we ought to forgive unrepentant people do not specify whether they are referring to situations of repentance, or situations of unrepentance. We need to look at the Scriptures that specifically address who we are to forgive to know how to interpret all the others. I contend that all those verses are reminders of how we are to relate to people when they repent, just as God relates to us based on bringing us to repentance.
[3] Matthew 5:44. What I am sharing here is not a denial of Jesus’ instructions and example to pray for our enemies and persecutors, nor is it a denial of any of the other teachings about loving enemies, doing good to haters, blessing cursers, and praying for abusers (Luke 6:27-28; context Luke 6:27-36). This is only addressing the complete lack of teaching to forgive unrepentant people, along with presenting, not only a better way of dealing with our bitterness, but a response to unrepentant people that is according to what is revealed in God’s word.
[4] Luke 23:34
[5] Psalm 147:3
[6] Of course this covers all the most recent stuff as well!
[7] Romans 12:19; referenced from Deuteronomy 32:35; see also Proverbs 20:22, Psalm 94:1
[8] Romans 3:23
[9] Revelation 20:12
[10] I John 4:10
[11] I don’t mean they are not saved. No human can judge that. I mean they have part of themselves still consumed with something that has not yet felt the touch of God’s grace, therefore they are trying to satisfy justice-issues through their own brand of justice.
[12] Although I fully submit to what God’s book teaches about church discipline (see I Corinthians 5:1-13 as an example), rebuking a brother when he sins against us (Luke 17:3), showing a brother his fault until he either repents or is disciplined by the church (Matthew 18:15-20), and the various warnings about having nothing to do with unrepentant believers who resist our attempts to win them over (Titus 3:10).
[13] Romans 12:17-21 is a good example.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

To Experience Jesus' Promise of Rest For Our Souls

Any time we find a promise in Scripture that still applies to God's children today,[1] we should ask ourselves how well we are experiencing what is promised. If God promises that the fruit of being filled with the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control,[2] those who continuously set their minds on the Spirit should experience these qualities constantly maturing in their lives.

One promise that stands out to me at the moment is contained in Jesus’ invitation of Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus says that, if we come to him for rest, he will give rest to our souls. That being the case, if we come to Jesus, our experience ought to be a distinctive kind of rest deep in our souls. 

Here are a couple of diagrams to help us think through what Jesus is promising us, and how much we experience of this promise.

First, this is what it looks like when we consider what Jesus promises, and then our experience of his promise.

Second, here are some questions that correspond to what Jesus told us to do in order to fully experience what he has promised. 

This last chart simply pictures giving yourself room to answer the questions.

Here are the three questions listed separately. It would be worth copying into a word-processor document so you can fill in your answers:

1.  “Take my yoke upon you” ~ What are the ways you have taken Jesus’ yoke upon you? (What do you feel the Holy Spirit leading you to do in order to do this all the more?)

2.  “and learn from me” ~ What are the ways you are learning from Jesus in a real and personal relationship? (What do you feel the Holy Spirit leading you to do to grow in learning from Jesus?)

3.  “and you will find rest for your souls” ~ What are the ways you have found rest for your soul through the things you have learned from Jesus? (What do you feel the Holy Spirit is exposing within you of further need of rest for your soul?)

If each of Jesus’ disciples will do this, setting our minds on the Spirit instead of the flesh, we may be pleasantly encouraged to identify how these things are already true in our lives, and how we could experience rest for our souls in even greater ways. Perhaps we will also see how to minister this to others who need help and encouragement to experience Jesus’ rest for their souls. 

[1] There are some promises that applied to Israel under the first covenant that are no longer in effect to believers under the new covenant; there are promises Jesus gave to the church that have already been fulfilled; and there are promises about our future hope that will not be fulfilled until we are with the Lord forever. In the case of this post, I am identifying things that Jesus has promise that all his disciples can and should experience during our earthly pilgrimage, so to speak.

[2] Galatians 5:22-23

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Flesh and Spirit at Christmas

While there are stories of families and friends coming together for Christmas in the best times of fun, food, and fellowship, there are far too many testimonies of people living with fear, disappointment, and depression, throughout the Christmas season.

The thing that really stands out today is that Christmas, for many people, is based totally on law. This is why it is so much about the flesh![1] By “law” I do not mean biblical law. Rather, I mean the law of expectations, both ours and others. You know, the laws, or rules, that govern whatever each group of family and friends wants Christmas to look like.

Separating Spirit from Flesh

If the Christian life should look like our minds set on the Spirit, rather than our minds set on the flesh,[2] which of these best describes how we make it through the Christmas season? How much of what we think about Christmas is setting our minds on the flesh, and how much is about setting our minds on the Spirit?

Things we think about in the Spirit
Things we think about in the flesh

The Feelings of the Spirit; the Feelings of the Flesh

Setting our minds on the flesh is death, and setting our minds on the Spirit is life and peace,[3] so, wherever we set our minds determines the things we feel. For each thought as listed above, describe the corresponding feeling. What kinds of feelings belong to the issues that come from setting our minds on the Spirit, contrasted with the kinds of feelings that follow setting our minds on the flesh?

Thoughts we think about at Christmas
Feelings that follow these thoughts

If you take the time to identify these things, you will notice that positive feelings follow positive thoughts, while negative feelings follow negative thoughts and beliefs. Feelings do whatever our thoughts and beliefs tell them to. If we want to change our feelings about whatever takes place at Christmas, we need to change our beliefs, something Paul calls being “transformed by the renewal of your mind.”[4]

Handling Disappointments in the Spirit

          Many Christians would have to admit that the majority of our thinking about Christmas is about our minds set on the flesh, and the majority of our feelings are fleshly, negative, depressing.
What the negative things of Christmas seem to come down to are these two things: who are the people who are disappointing me because they are not measuring up to my expectations about Christmas? Who are the people I am disappointing because I am not meeting their expectations about Christmas?
Of course, even when relationships have a fleshly focus, as long as everyone is doing their part to meet everyone’s expectations, there can be the appearance of happiness, at least on the outside. For the moment, I’m only addressing the all too common experience of disappointment that accompanies this season.
For each of the issues of disappointment you identified, what would it look like to set your mind on the Spirit about that disappointment? I don’t mean to avoid the disappointment, but to bring the disappointment to God’s Holy Spirit, setting our minds on him about our problems or issues or hurts, and watching where he leads us to fill us up with himself.

Who is
disappointing me?
How do I set my mind on the Spirit?
Who am I disappointing?
How do I set my mind on the Spirit?

I do not expect that everyone has time to fill in these charts. I just wanted each of us to see that we could do ourselves some good in what we expect, and how we feel, by deliberately considering how to set our minds on the Spirit no matter what expectations are met or denied during this season.

In some cases, we may find that the moment we set our minds on the Spirit, we discover we have nothing to be disappointed about, and our fear of disappointing others is in his hands as well.[5]

In other cases, hurts may run so deep, regrets may haunt us from the shadows, and implicit memories spring up at every turn, that we may need to consciously set our minds on the Spirit about those very things. However, even these can be part of our growth in Christ this Christmas season as we set our minds on the Spirit and how he is ready to help us for our healing and growth in our Savior.

Earlier in Romans 7, Paul said this about our ex-relationship with the law of Moses. He wrote, “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.”[6]

I do not in any way suggest that Paul was speaking about the family laws, rules, and expectations that surround the Christmas season. However, I do love the thought that the same God who released his children from that greater law, could do so with any others, leading us to walk in the new way of the Spirit, and not in any kind of old way whatsoever.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
against such things there is no law.[7]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] This is a synopsis of what Paul teaches in Romans 7:1-25
[2] Romans 7 and 8, particularly Romans 8:1-11
[3] Romans 8:6
[4] Romans 12:2
[5] Philippians 4:4-8 may bring immediate peace, or start us on the road to get there.
[6] Romans 7:6
[7] Galatians 5:22-23

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fully Myself When Fully Surrendered to Christ

In giving myself fully to God, I find myself fully.


Because God is my Creator who chose to make this creature in his own image and likeness.[1]

Because God alone knows how much sin has done to make me different from his own image and likeness, making me different from myself.[2]

Because God is my Redeemer, my Savior, my Deliverer, who has saved me from the clutches of sin, death, hell, and the grave, in order to restore me to his own image and likeness, and he alone knows what that final restoration looks like.

Because God has justified me through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in order that I now wear the imputed righteousness of the Son of God, the image into which I will now be returned.

Because God is working my sanctification through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in order that I am daily being conformed into the same image as my Lord and Savior “from one degree of glory to another,”[3] until the day I am fully like him.

Because God has already secured my glorification through faith in Jesus Christ whereby he will so complete the good work he has started in me[4] that, one day, “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[5]

So it is that, through my justification, I now have a new nature in Jesus Christ that is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,”[6] making me feel that I have truly found myself, no matter how immature and unfinished myself may be.

Through my sanctification, I see God leading me through my battle against fleshly independence, in a Spirit-led journey that makes me feel more like myself every day of my life. Even though the world, the flesh, and the devil, conspire to make me like them, God’s work continues relentlessly, transforming me through the renewal of my mind,[7] filling me with the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence,[8] that make me feel more like myself than any self-centered sarkiness[9] could ever do.

And, with a constant hope in my promised glorification, every mistake and failure, every regretful surrender to temptation, is overcome by faith,[10] so that I continuously learn this lesson, that I feel more like my true self when I rest in the righteousness of God by faith, than anything I have ever felt at my most selfish and self-dependent moments of life.

I do not agree with the pendulum-extreme that suggests we are to so glorify God that we completely lose all sense of ourselves in the process. Neither do I swing to the other pendulum-extreme that suggests that God comes into our lives in order to give us complete self-fulfillment in whatever way our sarky selves imagine fulfillment would be.

Instead, I believe in the plumbline of God’s Book that tells me to, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”[11] When I delight myself in the LORD, then I am truly delighted. When I find the true desires of my heart, to be just like Jesus Christ my Lord, he gives me the very thing I desire.

It cannot be otherwise than this, that God’s glory and my glorification go hand in hand. God cannot restore me to the image and likeness of his Son without me feeling as loved as Jesus feels loved, as joyful as Jesus feels joyful, and as truly myself as Jesus feels truly himself.

It is no wonder that my brothers of old would declare that, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”[12] He is the most glorious person in existence. How could we fully glorify him without enjoying him in his glory? If God is to be glorified in his work in us, it will be as we are the most joyful and satisfied and peaceful and content people the world has ever seen.

John Piper’s summary of these things resonates with so many of us because it calls us away from the two extremes of the pendulum, to the glorious plumbline of God’s word. He states that, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”.[13]

This captures what Scripture shows so clearly, that the most joyful people in the world are those who most revel in the glory of God through faith in Jesus Christ his Son. The greater we find our satisfaction in him, rather than in the world, the flesh, or the devil, the greater we give him glory for who he is, and what he has done to restore us to himself, and to his image.

Jesus said to his brothers, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[14] When we give ourselves fully to living the words Jesus has spoken, we will know this double-sided, impossible-to-separate experience, where we feel his joy in us, and our own joy filled to the full in him. The greater our surrender to his joy, the greater our own experience of joy.

You wonder why I want to strive every day to surrender myself fully to Jesus Christ as a person, and to the fullness of his work in my life? It is because I was created, and saved, to be like him. So, the more I enjoy being like him, the more I enjoy being myself. Selfishness makes me so different from him, that no selfish pursuits can truly make me joyful.

My prayer: that I would fully surrender to the words Jesus has spoken in order that I may feel the fullness of his joy in me, and my joy rising to the full in him. I want to “rejoice in the Lord always,”[15] and fully enjoy myself while doing so!

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Genesis 1:26-27 (I absolutely deny and reject the evolutionary religion that claims otherwise. Science continues to sing to the glory of God as our Creator, no matter how many Worldlings disagree.)
[2] Ephesians 2:1-3 is one description of what our submission to sin, and the devil, does to us.
[3] II Corinthians 3:18
[4] Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:28-30
[5] I John 3:2
[6] Ephesians 4:24
[7] Romans 12:2
[8] Galatians 5:22-23
[9] Just a reminder that I like to use “sark” when referring to “the flesh”, hence “sarkiness” means the same as “fleshliness”.
[10] I John 5:4
[11] Psalm 37:4
[12] Westminster Catechism
[14] John 15:11
[15] Philippians 4:4

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Law of the Spirit of Life vs the Law of Sin and Death

Why is it that, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”[1]

It is because, the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”[2]

The “law” spoken of here is not the law of Moses, or “the written code”.[3] It is speaking of the laws that relate to the way the Spirit of life operates, and the laws that relate to the way sin and death operate.

Much of Romans 7 is Paul explaining how “the law of sin and death” operates.[4] Sin takes advantage of the law (the ‘written code’) to stir up the sinful passions of the flesh so that we sin and die. It is a law. It always works that way. Something had to replace the “law”, or, “the written code” given to Moses, so that this “law of sin and death” no longer had anything to work with.

The “law of the Spirit of life” is the life of the Spirit, the inherent characteristics of how the Spirit operates in the church, and the way we relate to the Spirit by faith so that we keep in step with him. It is a “law”, not because we are under “the law” of Moses, but because there is a certain, particular, way the Spirit works.

In other words, we cannot have the Spirit by whatever means, or experiences, or characteristics, we choose. He is who he is, and does what he does, and we must walk with him in his way of doing things in order to have the life he gives. Whatever God’s book teaches us about who the Holy Spirit is, how he relates within the triunity of God, and how he works in the church, give us the “laws” that govern the “Spirit of life”.  

The Holy Spirit cannot come and do things our way, because that keeps us under the law of sin and death, and he cannot be part of that. We must be brought out from under the law of sin and death, and into the new law, the new way of life, that cannot be ruined by the written code enacting the law of sin and death. Paul earlier called this, “we serve in the new way of the Spirit,”[5] and now summarizes the same thing with, “the law of the Spirit of life.”

What is this ministering to me?

On the negative, to convince me that nothing sarky (fleshly) will ever work. We cannot find our hope in methods, and systems, because they can be done in the flesh. It doesn’t matter how good the beliefs, or the group of people, or the history, or the building, or the location, or the denomination, or the skills, anything handled in the flesh (sark) will produce the fruit of the flesh.

On the positive, to convince me that the ways of the Spirit always work. It is a “law”. As gravity always does the same thing to any physical object, so the Spirit always works the same way in all believers. If the Scriptures tell us something the church can experience of the Spirit, it applies to every one of us who are “in Christ Jesus”.

Now that I see that the “law” Paul refers to is just the way both sides work, there is no way to think that we are being called to “keep” the law of the Spirit of life. Any thought of “keeping” the law went out with the “written code”.[6]

Instead, we are to be filled with the Spirit[7] so we can live under the laws that apply to how the Spirit works.

In fact, it is the Spirit who is bound by laws of holiness, and righteousness, and goodness, and love, and grace, and mercy, and relationship to the Father and the Son, to hear and do their will, and to enact all the promises and provisions of the new covenant. It is because the Spirit of God always lives by the laws of God’s nature, person, and work, that we can live in the Spirit by faith, not by keeping laws.

This is why Jesus would tell us to take his yoke upon ourselves so that he could give rest to our souls, and that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.[8] It is because it is faith that yokes us to the law of the Spirit of life, and so God enacts all the laws of his character, and of the new covenant, and the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity, so that we benefit by everything they do according to unchangeable laws of life and love.

As the church moves ahead in life, we are to seek to know the “law of the Spirit of life”. Paul will help us through this in Romans 8, so we have all the encouragement we need. Any Scripture that speaks of the person and work of the Holy Spirit helps us understand the laws by which the Spirit operates. We simply need to live under this law, instead of the “law of sin and death.”

For starters:

We need to agree that life in the flesh keeps us in bondage to “the law of sin and death”. As Paul says a few verses later, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death”.[9]

We need to agree that life “in Christ Jesus” keeps us in the freedom of “the law of the Spirit of life”. As Paul says a few verses later, “but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”.[10]

The “life and peace” we want is right here. It is in a person we can trust and follow, not a set of laws we need to keep. The person is the Holy Spirit. If we keep in step with him, the law of the Spirit of life will guide us wherever we go.

It reminds me of something God ministered to me a long time ago: 
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”[11]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 8:1
[2] Romans 8:2
[3] Romans 7:6
[4] The Law of Sin and Death:

·         “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” (7:5)
·         “the law (the old way of the written code) held us captive (7:6)
·         It is the law that causes me to know sin (7:7)
·         “sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (7:8)
·         “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died” (7:9)
·         “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me” (7:10)
·         “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (7:11)
·         “It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure” (7:13)
·         “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin” (7:14)
·         “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (7:15)
·         “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:17)
·         “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (7:18)
·         “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (7:18)
·         “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (7:19)
·          “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:20)
·         “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (7:21)
·         “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (7:23)
·         “with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:25)

[5] Romans 7:6
[6] See Romans 7:6 again
[7] Ephesians 5:18
[8] Matthew 11:28-30
[9] Romans 8:6
[10] Romans 8:6
[11] Deuteronomy 30:19