"INTO THE VINE in 2009" - is my greeting and motto this year. As I am discussing the concepts of LAW in my sharing of my pilgrimage, I realized that for me, it was accentuating the positive of God's plan which dealt more fully with my tendency to be a legalist. GOD means for me to be a SON - in prophecy and fulfillment - and doing that helped explain my error to me. We can read such things and jump right past it to get to our favorite negative - or our felt need of a CONVICTING statement of my wrong. Many of us Christians have suffered from that problem - always needing a new STRONG statement to keep us on the straight and narrow. (Cf. 1 John 3:1-2; Romans 8:15-17- and the prophecy of Hosea 1:10 fulfilled in Romans 9:26)
I don't put down conviction - far from it. However - if we ONLY focus on being convicted of our failures or our "wrongs" - do we next convince ourselves that we are STILL doing everything for encouragement? I think I substituted being convicted of wrong as "encouraging" to harmonize my "convictions" with verses like 1 Corinthians 10:23; 8:1; 14:5; Romans 15:2 and others. That 1 Corinthians 8:1 convicted me - Paul wrote "Knowledge puffs up; Love builds up" - and I lost part of my legalistic structure right there. BUT - when I studied 1 Corinthians 13 - and ran into a verse that teaches, "Love doesn't keep a record of wrongs" - well, I began to stop thinking God had His list of mine - but was still LOVE. BUT - that didn't end it - I still would cling to "conviction" with both hands. It was when I realized that God forgave ALL my sins - the positive began to take over. I began to see that whenever I see the word LOVE - agape in the Greek - that was a description of GOD and HIS nature, I could BEGIN to realize I had come to the understanding of Scripture from wrong information. LAW had been "almighty Master" - when God wanted LAW to be our great SERVANT. The servant "LAW" was to bring us to Christ - where its role in my life would change. A new lifestyle would begin - with Christ as Savior and Lord. Some great material about being "in Christ" and Christ being "in me" changed it all forever. I began to see myself as a son of God - and "law" took its proper place as my servant. And - no one can scare me with reference to areas I am not perfect in yet - that's all part of my ROYAL training - very appropriate for God's kids to grow and mature - to improve and develop. I embrace that now as part of "growing up into HIM who is the head" - Ephesians 4:15.
That guarantees the NT picture of law being UNDER us - but we are not "lawless" - in fact we learn "law" better than most. We just know that it is part of maturity - not a matter of heaven and hell. Obviously a lawless "Royal" is a contradiction of proper decorum; but one who thinks that if he keeps law, he becomes ROYAL - is deluded about royalty AND law.
Final nail in the coffin of "Law-legalism" - came in two parts - first, salvation is the GIFT of God, Ephesians 2:8-10; so receiving it is in the structure of GIFT RECEIVING - (but I still didn't GET the concept of "unconditional love") and then the idea that "GOD was IN CHRIST - reconciling the world to Himself" - 2 Corinthians 5:19 - which means reconciliation is PREPARED for us - already an accomplished fact. I join HIS reconciliation in Christ; then I invite others to join what I have received. That makes it MIGHTY GOOD NEWS for me to simply announce to my world. Ah - a Scripturally balanced mind - at least in THAT regard. More to come