Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 5.1: The Spirit of the Law

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Our lesson today is to reinforce our last lesson concerning the Law. The laws that were given to Moses can be summarized by the Ten Commandments, which in turn can further be reduced to two: love God and love your neighbor. In reality the whole Law can be reduced to just one word, love.

The Apostle Paul develops that idea in his discourse on law and grace in Galatians 5. “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”

Paul also directly links two words in that statement, the Spirit and love. They are one and the same. The gospel of John 4:24 says, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” In 1 John 4:8 he further states, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

The disciples received the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. They were filled with God! They were filled with love! The kingdom of God or the rule of God had come to indwell the hearts of men. They received the Spirit because they confessed that Jesus, the Word of God, was the Son of God. The Apostle John sums this up in 1 John 4:15-16. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God . . . God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

After a person receives the Holy Spirit he is expected to walk in love, or, “Be led by the Spirit” as the Apostle Paul puts it. Individual laws no longer govern him. He is not under the Law of Moses, but under God’s governance. He has received grace, the love of God coming to dwell in him. He is under the Law of the Spirit!

To say that Christians are not under law is an inaccurate and misleading statement. A person not governed by some form of law is lawless. In other words he is a law unto himself doing what is right in his own eyes. Jesus cautioned that in the last days lawlessness would increase and people’s love would grow cold. And the Apostle Paul warned that the man of lawlessness would be revealed, who is the son of destruction. Satan was lawless, he is the destroyer and those who practice lawlessness are his offspring.

Jesus wants his disciples to understand what is behind the Law. What is the spirit of the Law or motive for it? He wants them to listen and learn that they might become expressions of love. Christians are to be governed by the Law of the Spirit or the Law of Love, therefore, are under obligation to conduct themselves to a higher standard of living, a standard that puts God and others before themselves, God’s standard, the spirit of the Law, love.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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