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Message – The Holy Spirit of Grace
The Holy Spirit of Grace
Grace as the Spirit
So often the law is pitted against grace without really focusing upon the honest and greatest differences between them.
Though I cannot be dogmatic on this point, it seems as if the law is what it is or rather that it has the reputation that it has because of the pride and independence of man.
If you remember, the law was given AFTER God drew near to Israel on the mountain through Moses, but the people’s response to God was to cry out for distance from Him.
It seems to me that the law, in its form of regulations without intimacy, came about due to the response of man to the invitation of intimacy with God at the mountain.
I do not pretend to know what would have happened had Israel responded differently, but the scriptures tell us that the law and the commandment are holy, just and good.
Rom. 7:7-16, “(7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law.
For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”
(8) But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.
(9) And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive (10) and I died.
So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!
(11) For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.
(12) So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.
(13) Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not!
But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
(14) For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.
(15) For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate. (16) But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.”
We know from the writings of the New Testament that even under the New Covenant the things God spoke to Israel that day are still applicable to us.
They included how to treat others in our various relationships. Morality. Social laws for justice and equality and such… and included the 10 commandments.
So it is clear that the law would have come to us one way or the other.
So obviously the issue is not the law – it is being UNDER the law and today we are UNDER grace…but what does that mean … what is the difference?
God approached Israel at the mountain
Let’s hear God’s heart on the issue.
Exodus 19:1-25, “(1) In the third month after the Israelites went out from the land of Egypt, on the very day, they came to the desert of Sinai. (2) After they journeyed from Rephidim, they came to the desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert; Israel camped there in front of the mountain.
(3) Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, “Thus you will tell the house of Jacob, and declare to the people of Israel: (4) ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.
(5) And now, IF YOU WILL DILIGENTLY LISTEN TO ME and keep My covenant, then you will be My special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is Mine, (6) and you will be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”
So what was the offer, what was God doing… what was His purpose?
I brought you to ME – not to a religion. Not to a system of rules, but to Me.
IF YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME and keep My covenant you will be an entire NATION of priests and a holy nation!
If you have a nation of priests… where is the priesthood? Remember, that did not happen until the rebellion when God required the defiant to be killed and Levi overwhelmingly responded with zeal and devotion to God.
So did Israel as a whole respond as God requested? NO!!!
Why? They withdrew!
What might it have looked like if they had?
Who knows, but I dare say it would have been different than it was.
“(7) So Moses came and summoned the elders of Israel. He set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him, (8) and all the people answered together,
“All that the LORD has commanded we will do!”
So Moses brought the words of the people back to the LORD.
(9) The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you.”
And Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.
(10) The LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and make them wash their clothes (11) and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
(12) You must set boundaries for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves not to go up on the mountain nor touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain will surely be put to death! (13) No hand will touch him – but he will surely be stoned or shot through, whether a beast or a human being; he must not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast they may go up on the mountain.”
(14) Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes.
(15) He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day. Do not approach your wives for marital relations.”
(16) On the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud horn; all the people who were in the camp trembled. (17) Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain.
(18) Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently.
(19) When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him WITH A VOICE.
(20) The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the LORD summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
(21) The LORD said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn the people, lest they force their way through to the LORD to look, and many of them perish. (22) Let the priests also, who approach the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break through against them.”
(23) Moses said to the LORD, “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, because you solemnly warned us, ‘Set boundaries for the mountain and set it apart.’”
(24) The LORD said to him, “Go, get down, and come up, and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the LORD, lest he break through against them.” (25) So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.”
God spoke the law
Exodus 20:1-3, “(1) God spoke all these words: (2) “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. (3) “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Israel does not want God to talk with them
Exodus 20:18-21, “(18) All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and heard the sound of the horn, and saw the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and kept their distance.
(19) They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.”
(20) Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you so that you do not sin.”
(21) The people kept their distance, but Moses DREW NEAR the thick darkness where God was.”
Moses gets the commands and reads them to Israel and they agree…
God gives tablets to Moses to teach the people:
Exodus 24:6-18, “(6) Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar.
(7) He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the LORD has spoken.”
(8) So Moses took the blood and splashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
(9) Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, (10) and they saw the God of Israel.
Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. (11) But He did not lay a hand on the leaders of the Israelites, so they saw God, and they ate and they drank. (12) The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them.”
(13) So Moses set out with Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. (14) He told the elders,
“Wait for us in this place until we return to you. Here are Aaron and Hur with you. Whoever has any matters of dispute can approach them.”
(15) Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. (16) The glory of the LORD resided on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called to Moses from within the cloud.
(17) Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in plain view of the people.
(18) Moses went into the cloud when he went up the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”
Now, we read last week in Galatians 3:21-29, that 400+ years earlier, God made a promise by another covenant to these people’s forefather Abraham… and of righteousness and the promise of the Spirit by faith…
So Paul asks…
“(21) Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!
For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.”
Well we JUST read in Romans 7 it contained life and was intended to give life… “(9) And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive (10) and I died.”
So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!
So death was a subjective experience due to our response TO IT!
“(22) But the scripture imprisoned everything under sin so that the promise could be given – because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ – to those who believe.
(23) Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed.
(24) Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith.
(25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
(26) For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.
(27) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
(28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.”
So we would have had the law one way or the other. It was AND is Holy, Just and Good and it had life in it and was given in order to bring life, but due to our rebellion it brought death.
- It brought death because it was rules apart from intimacy!
- It was a taskmaster – not our God.
- It was a list of things God WOULD have said to us…would have taught TO US, had we drawn near, but instead we drew back and kept our distance!
Now we have been brought near to God AND the same law we had before.
NOT the same covenant, but the same law – or moral code.
So I’ll ask again, what is the difference?
The scriptures tell us we are NO LONGER UNDER the Law, but Under Grace!
This means we are no longer under the taskmaster of a set of rules, but rather under the direct influence of the Spirit!
The MOMENT that we start living apart from the Spirit we are back under the law – don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you any different!
So as we read this, we MUST read this as a difference NOT between circumcision and faith, but between distance and nearness.
Between rules and intimacy!
And Isn’t that appropriate? Yes!
In this very letter we just read that IF there had been a law which could have established righteousness in man, then intimacy with God would have come by that same law.
God was and IS seeking union with His created race – humans. The intimacy of knowing and being known!
“(1) Now I mean that the heir, as long as he is a minor, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. (2) But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
(3) So also we, when we were minors, were enslaved under the basic forces of the world. (4) But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights.”
Notice the difference is that between a slave and a child.
“(6) And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls “Abba! Father!”
The words Abba, Father is actually just saying, “Father, my Father”. It is the Aramaic word Abba, and it is always followed in scripture with the Greek word Pater.
Daddy really is NOT an accurate word substitution and in fact one does not exist. It is a term expressing a high degree of closeness with reverence, and in addition to the family circle could be used by disciples of a much loved and revered teacher, like Mary who called Jesus Rabboni, a loving term of endearment for a much loved, cherished and highly respected teacher.
The key issue here is the intimacy of the word mingled with the reverence due to God as our Father.
THIS was the proper response for Israel in the wilderness, but they withdrew and increased their distance asking for an intermediary between them and God!
Now in Christ – His Spirit within us, cries this out through us!
Notice it does not say, He causes US to say it, but that He cries it through us!
“(7) So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God.
(8) Formerly when you did not KNOW GOD, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods at all. (9) But now that you have COME TO KNOW God (or rather to BE KNOWN BY God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless basic forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?”
“(10) You are observing religious days and months and seasons and years. (11) I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain.”
What had they done? They were seeking to create distance with God through external observances rather than to press on into the knowing of Him “on the mountain” as it were.
The writer of Hebrews addressing a very similar issue and he drew upon the imagery of Israel before the mountain as well saying this,
Hebrews 12:18-29, “(18) For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind (19) and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more.
(20) For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”
(21) In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”
(22) But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly (23) and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, (24) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.
(25) Take care not to refuse the One Who is speaking!
For if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less shall we, if we reject the One Who warns from heaven?
(26) Then His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised,
“I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven too.”
(27) Now this phrase “once more” indicates the removal of what is shaken, that is, of created things, so that what is unshaken may remain.
(28) So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. (29) For our God is indeed a devouring fire.”
“(12) I beg you, brothers and sisters, become like me, because I have become like you. You have done me no wrong!
(13) But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, (14) and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you welcomed me as though I were an angel of God, as though I were Christ Jesus Himself!
(15) Where then is your sense of happiness now? For I testify about you that if it were possible, you would have pulled out your eyes and given them to me!
(16) So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
(17) They court you eagerly, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly. (18) However, it is good to be sought eagerly for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you.
(19) My children – I am again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed in you! (20) I wish I could be with you now and change my tone of voice, because I am perplexed about you.
(21) Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not understand the law?
(22) For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. (23) But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.
(24) These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.
(25) Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
(27) For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains, because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband.”
(28) But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. (29) But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now.
(30) But what does the scripture say?
“Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman.”
Why not? Because it was rebellious self effort that got the human race where we are in the first place. Is God now going to reward that very same evil, independent nature? No!
“(31) Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.”
“(1) For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.
(2) Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all!
(3) And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
(4) YOU WHO ARE TRYING TO BE DECLARED RIGHTEOUS BY THE LAW have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace!
(5) FOR through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.”
The righteousness these people were trying to establish is not the righteousness that we received to be a relationship with Christ but the righteousness that is completed in US by our being so reconciled to Christ that he is formed in US. That is still in our future and we obtain it by faith.
“when we see Him we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We will be like Him for we will see Him as He is.”
” (6) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.”
Why did the Israelites draw back? They were afraid! It was not a healthy reverent fear, but a human, self-interested terror.
Now that we are IN Christ, His Spirit is within us and there is trust and according to this passage THAT is what matters!
Let’s read it again…
“(5) FOR through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.
(6) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.”
“(7) You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? (8) This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you! (9) A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise! (10) I am confident in the Lord that you will accept no other view. But the one who is confusing you will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.”
“(11) Now, brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (12) I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves!
(13) For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.”
This is often taught in a way as to suggest they were looking to use their freedom to indulge in carnality – like drunkenness or vice, but Paul is specifically referring to the sin of self-reliance. To seek to obtain right-standing with God, through adherence to rules rather than through trust in the inner work of God in Christ. Paul had already addressed this in chapter 2…
Gal 2:19-21, “(19) For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God. (20) I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (21) I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”
“(14) For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
“(15) However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.”
“(16) But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
(17) For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.”
Well then how is that any better than we were under the law? For Paul said,
Rom. 7:13-17, “(13) Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
(14) For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. (15) For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate. (16) But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.”
This is how!
“(18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Herein is today’s lesson!
We say we are no longer under the law, but under grace, but what does that mean?
Well that was the basis of the brief and uneventful radio show I was once a part of, which we called ‘Under His Influence”.
By “grace” we mean influence and by “under” years – we mean control!
It is NOT a once and done issue, but a daily… moment by moment choice!
The word in the Greek implies an ongoing and continuous action. If you ARE BEING LED by the inward influence of the Spirit of God THEN and THEN ALONE is when you are no longer under the law!
Wuest has this to say about this passage…
“The Galatian Christians had up to the time of the Judaizers’ entry into their churches, lived their Christian lives in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, in accordance with the teaching of the apostle Paul. The power of the sinful nature had been broken, the divine nature had been implanted, and the Spirit had entered their hearts to take up His permanent residence. The conflict spoken of in verse 17 had been going on in them, and the result had been that they were living victorious lives over sin (Gal. 4:19). But now a new factor had entered, the law, and with it, their dependence upon self effort to obey that law. The Galatians were still trying to live Christian lives, but they were going about it in the wrong way, with the result that they were failing. The entrance of these new factors meant that the Spirit had no opportunity to minister to their spiritual lives. The mechanical set-up of spiritual machinery which God had installed, had become ineffective by reason of the monkey-wrench of self-dependence which the Galatians had thrown into it.
Paul here presents to them a third way of life, distinct from that of a person under law, and also from that of a person who, because he is not under the restraining influences of law anymore, thinks that that leaves him without restraint of any kind, and thus yields to the impulses of the evil nature. That third way is not a middle road between these two, but a highway above them. It is a highway of freedom from statutes and from the sinful nature, a highway which is a faith way, a dependence upon the Spirit.
The exhortation is therefore, to be led by the Spirit. The assurance is given those who do so, that they will not be living their lives on the principle of legalism. The Spirit and the law are here contrasted, and are shown to be methods of living a Christian life that are diametrically opposed to one another. The law is not only no safeguard against the flesh, but rather provokes it to more sin. Therefore, the believer who would renounce the flesh, must renounce the law also. Thus, the flesh and the law are closely allied, whereas the flesh and the Spirit are diametrically opposed to one another.
Again, the law finds nothing to condemn in the life of the person who is led by the Spirit, for that person checks every wrong desire which is brought to him by the evil nature, and so he fulfills the law. This is the blessed moral freedom of the person who is led by the Spirit. He is in such a condition of moral and spiritual life that the law has no power to censure, condemn, nor punish him. This is the true moral freedom from the law to which Paul refers (Rom 8:1-4).”
“(19) Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.
I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!
(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(24) Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.”