Not in Oldness of the Letter

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Rom.7:6)

It is a universal reality that every true believer desires to live a life that is pleasing to God. The belief, however, that walking in perfect accordance with God’s Law as the way to please Him places a weighty burden on us because of our utter inability to fulfill it. The problem we face with the Law is that it incites sin and this problem is not resolved by simply abolishing it or calling it obsolete. It must be fulfilled—to the letter! This is precisely what Christ did and those who place their trust in Him become partakers of that fulfillment.

With that, the new birth that the believer experiences results in new desires and new affections. The Law is no longer a heavy burden, but rather the Law becomes the believer’s delight as David describes in Psalm 1:2. Believers find contentment in walking according to God’s will.

But what about the areas of life where God’s will is not specific, where He is not explicit in terms of what to do and what not to do in a given situation? How are we to respond in those situations? Fortunately, in His infinite love and mercy, God does provide an answer. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul addresses this issue in Romans 14:22-24 when he records the following statements concerning Christian liberty and faith. He writes, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.” What Paul is saying is that in the areas where God has left some “wiggle room,” so to speak, the answer comes by way of our own convictions which have been shaped by God’s Word. If we respond contrary to those convictions, doubt will creep in and we begin to condemn ourselves because our actions are not consistent with our beliefs and as such we are not walking by faith. The ultimate consequence of that response is sin.

Whatever is not from faith is sin. Let that truth shape your thinking concerning Christian liberty. Allow the Word to strengthen your convictions. Listen to your conscience that you may keep on the narrow path, for His name’s sake!

Are You Truly Rich?

No one will argue that currency has changed over the years. Financial wealth was once determined by the quantity of livestock or precious metals you possessed. Today it is defined by the sum of your assets, your salary, the value of your home, and your stock portfolio. Even then, the determination of temporal wealth today isn’t necessarily tangible. You can sum up all of the monthly statements you receive and ultimately come up with a number but what is it that you really have? Better yet, how do you know if you are rich?

While currency in its form has changed over time, one thing remains the same: money will never cease being a true indication of the condition of our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” The Word of God gives us two examples that show what devotion to one or the other looks like. We all know the story of the rich man who desired eternal life but was unable to leave all of his possessions behind in order to receive it. They were simply too important to him and as the scriptures say, he went away grieved because of it. We also know the account in Mark chapter 12 as Jesus observed the people as they came and put money into the treasury. The financially rich individuals were giving large sums of money. Jesus was not impressed by the amount of their giving. Rather, He directed the disciples to the poor widow who contributed two small copper coins, as this was all she possessed.

It’s not difficult to determine who the individuals in these accounts were devoted to. What about you? If you cannot serve God and wealth, then whom or what does your giving indicate that you are serving? If you have allowed wealth to become your master, here are a few simple steps to get you on the right track:

  • Remember that “the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)
  • Remember that we are merely stewards of what we have been given and will one day give an account of how we have used what He has given us.
  • Remember that you will never find contentment in worldly things and that true contentment is only found in Him!
  • Turn your eyes upon Jesus!

Where’s the Love?

If you’re a guy like me, there are probably many humorous images or past examples that you can point to when you hear the words, “Where’s the love?” We use this expression in a number of different situations. It can be used when you make a sarcastic, albeit timely, comment that is under appreciated, or when you accomplish something significant in the presence of your friends that you think deserves commendation that isn’t given. It is at that point that you subtlety help your friends try to appreciate what they are clearly not appreciating by saying, “Where’s the love?”

All kidding aside, these are the last words you want to hear in the family context. What this means that is we need to learn how to love our spouses and our children. You’ve probably heard of the Five Love Languages. This is how they look in my family.

My wife’s love language is acts of service. The interesting thing about acts of service is that it manifests in so many different ways, from the minuscule to the magnificent. From her perspective, it simply denotes teamwork and gives her a sense of connectedness. I have to keep reminding myself of that. It gives her a sense of being appreciated when I invest time in doing things that are important to her. This is her way of feeling loved.

My son’s love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. There is a significant change in his attitude, a willingness to please, and an overall disposition change when he is being encouraged. Quality time also ranks right up there, so long as the time is free of instruction or teaching. I’m still learning that there is time for practice and instruction and I have to remember how to separate the two so that we can just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.

One of my daughter’s love languages is quality time. We have a nightly routine after our devotional where we spend focused time talking, acting out various characters that we’ve created over the years, and just spending time together. These are very precious, creative times of bonding. Her other love language is receiving gifts. She loves to receive pretty much anything with sugar.

The point is this. God exhibited no restraint in order to demonstrate His love towards us (Rom.5:1). His actions were purposeful, awful, and extreme in order that man might not question His love, His loyalty, or His commitment to him. The giving of His beloved Son to be a sacrifice for our sins was motived by love. If God is willing to do this for us, shouldn’t we also seek to understand how we might love those around us? What sacrifices of time, effort, or gifts are too much to show those whom God has given us that they are loved? Show your family that you love them, for they are a gift from God!