Are you held in slavery to a set of rules or things you think you need to do to be accepted by God and enjoy Him forever?
Believe Jesus' words! He said that the one who believes in Him has everlasting life ((John 6:47). Just believe in Him and He gives you the free gift of an awesome life with Him forever and an abundant meaningful life now as you continue to walk with Him by faith.
The sad commentary on the lives of many believers in Christ Jesus is that while they once understood that they have been delivered from their sins and eternal death by God's grace in Christ Jesus, they now are living their life under the Law. Sadly, many believers become confused about God's grace plan for their life much like the Corinthians to whom Paul wrote long ago. The result is that they do not have the joy of true freedom in Christ but, sadly, they are living a life of slavery to rules and regulations that they think they have to obey in order to know that they are secure in their eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Just reading through 2 Corinthians 2:14 – 6:2 should cause us to draw these conclusions:
> The Law of Moses can only bring death.
> The Spirit of God is the One who gives life.
> In Christ there is freedom to be transformed into His likeness by His love and grace.
Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 3:6:
"[God] has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant (the contract agreement God signed with the blood of His Son) --not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."
What is Paul’s main point? The Law of Moses had its God-given purpose. It brought death and illustrated the reasons for death. It was a message of condemnation (3:9). We have disobeyed God’s Word. We have sinned against God and therefore we die. Left to ourselves we will live in torment and be forever separated from God.
What is it that kills? What is it that can only produce death? It is God's Law that "was engraved in letters on stone" (3:7). Only the Spirit of God is able to make us alive in Christ through faith in Him (2 Corinthians 4:13-16; cf. 3:16). Only through faith in Christ is the veil of the Law taken away with its fading glory (3:14).
At the very moment that we believed in Jesus Christ, we died with Him when God identified us with Him in His death (2 Corinthians 5:15; cp. Ephesians 1:13-14). God has reconciled us to Himself by means of Christ’s work in our place (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that we might receive God’s righteousness (5:21). Paul clearly taught that this was appropriated to us not by any works or obedience to God's Law (His rules) but by believing in Jesus Christ.
Whenever any human effort or obedience is presented as a requirement for deliverance from sin or maintaining one’s eternal relationship with Christ Jesus, only confusion can result. There is the real danger of the veil remaining over the hearts of believers who once understood the grace message of the gospel but have become confused. Any true transformation into the likeness of Christ Jesus is impossible as long as the believer views his obedience as necessary in order to keep what God says that he already possesses--namely eternal life.
The mirror of God’s grace in Christ Jesus is blurred by setting forth any requirement of obedience to the Law or God's rules for maintaining one's eternal relationship with Christ Jesus. The message of grace in Christ is distorted. And consequently believers return to slavery to the Law.
The only way the Spirit of the Lord ministers and gives life is by turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, believing that He and He alone saves and guarantees everlasting life. He can give us life with God forever because of who He is and what He has done for us on the cross of Calvary. Likewise, the Spirit of the Lord is the One who brings about our transformation into the likeness of Christ by His grace as we keep fixing our eyes on Christ Jesus in faith, keeping in mind His love for us as we continue to trust Him for His strength to apply His Word.
Is obedience and pleasing the Lord Jesus important? Of course!!! But we experience the freedom of His grace only when we obey Him in gratitude for His love and for the many gifts He has given, not because we fear that if we do not keep obeying Him He will take away what He in fact has freely given us through faith in Him.
Jesus Christ made it possible for us to enter heaven by His suffering and death in our place. By believing in Him we receive everlasting life with Him. The wondrous love that Christ Jesus has for us includes our position in Him, giving us resurrection bodies and rewarding us for faithful service. Paul brought this into view in 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:13. Then he explained (the explanatory gar in the Greek text introduces 5:14) to the Corinthians that he and Timothy did what they did because they understood the significance of Jesus Christ's love for them:
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 "For the love of Christ constrains (compels or motivates) us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer."
The love that Jesus Christ so clearly demonstrated to us by His suffering and death on the cross provides real substance for the meaning and application of grace in our life. In verse 14 Paul uses the verb sunecho (pres.act.ind.). It is translated “constrains” or “controls” in other English versions. How this verb is used elsewhere helps us understand its meaning. When we comprehend the love Christ has for us, it "hems" us in (Luke 19:43), it "presses" us to act (Philippians 1:23). The grace demonstrated by the love of Jesus Christ has everything do with being properly motivated to please the Lord when we obey His commands. This is how the grace of God revealed by the love of Christ for us instructs and trains us (cf. Titus 2:11-14).
The only way the Spirit brings about transformation is by God’s grace in Christ Jesus. It is all His work in us and through us. When this is not the emphasis, when this is not understood and applied, there is a real danger that believers have received the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).We should not put up with a message that is a message of death that kills. Study Paul's concern for the believers in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4. The false teaching that declares that God's rules must be kept in order to retain one's eternal relationship with Christ is in opposition to the message of grace. This false teaching will keep people in slavery to those rules. How can anyone rejoice in a message of condemnation and death? Yet, many believers today continue to "put up with it easily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:4 in the NIV), as is evident by what is commonly taught and practiced by many.
If you have questions about any of the above, send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll be pleased to do my best to respond.