This is a very important distinction that all followers of Jesus must be able to clearly show from their lives. It is very important that all of us live increasingly free from a life under the Law, but also increasingly disciplined lives .
This is a critical distinction, and let me try to explain this statement. We must live increasingly free from a life under the Law:
A life under the Law refers to living based on rules and regulations. But we must first recognize how deep this mindset is within us. When we think about the Law, we tend to think about the Law of Moses (the Ten Commandments and other various laws that we read in the Old Testament). However, our desire to live our lives with God based on a set of rules predates that. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil basically represents living by a set of rules. The other tree that contrasts this is the tree of life (or eternal life), which is to know God Himself (John 17:3). So we can either follow a set of rules that God has given, or we can get to know God Himself. And if we get to know God, we can live a life that is pleasing to Him based on the Person that we get to know.
Since it goes back to the first sin that we humans committed, we can see how deep-rooted this instinct to live by a set of rules is. Even just think for a minute about your daily walk with God. How do you assess whether you are pleasing to God day after day? If you’re like me, there is a HUGE tendency to think about the things that we did or didn’t do. Have I been reading my Bible faithfully? Have I been attending church regularly? Have I not been lusting? Have I not been getting angry? And so on. As you can see, I build a set of rules to gauge the quality of my spiritual life.
This is not the Law of Moses, but it’s still a life of rules. And Jesus came to this earth to set us free from living a life of rules and regulations. Many Christians think that freedom from the Law is freedom from the Old Covenant rules (don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, etc.). But they keep living life by a set of rules – maybe rules they find from the teachings of Jesus. And they are even more burdened in life because of the even-higher standards of the New Covenant (don’t lust, don’t get angry, love your enemies, etc.). That is not the freedom of Christ.
I think that as we examine our lives, we will see how deep-rooted our desire to live based on rules is. And we might be surprised how much we’re still burdened by a life of rules, even if they are rules based on something Jesus said.
We must also live increasingly disciplined lives.
Some people know verses that preach these truths above, and highlight them and celebrate God’s great news that He has come to free us from a rule-based life. But many such people do not also embrace the equally important truth that we must live increasingly disciplined lives. Some get so tired of living by a set of rules that they misunderstand the freedom of Christ to be a freedom without consequences.
But let’s look at what Jesus said about freedom in John 8:31-32 –Jesus said, here is not a set of doctrines or beliefs. Jesus explicitly said that HE IS the truth (John 14:6). So to know the truth is to know Jesus. And so we can paraphrase the second sentence to read: And you shall know Jesus, and Jesus said “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
We must first be crystal clear in our minds that “the truth” here is not a set of doctrines or beliefs. Jesus explicitly said that HE IS the truth (John 14:6). So to know the truth is to know Jesus. And so we can paraphrase the second sentence to read:And you shall know Jesus, and Jesus shall make you free.
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