You are your best as a person when you express yourself as a son of God. Nothing pious, religious or contrived about this. It’s just being who you are. You can live in this redemption in freedom and fullness to realise your identity and purpose. This is what Jesus meant by life to the full.
We can live formulaic and stilted lives from the law. We live as sons and daughters in Jesus. Our new covenant life is not a combination of Jesus and some scraps of law. It’s all Jesus and no law. The fact that we can be in Christ and still sin is not a reason for a dob of law. It’s a reason for more rest in Jesus - to have Him as our life instead of as bits of our life. Any tincture of law dulls our humanity. The more we allow ourselves to be drawn into Christ the more the shrouds that veil our humanity are stripped off; the more our true glory is revealed. Pseudo disciplines like finding others ‘to whom we are accountable’ are religious try-harder attempts and as such false-christs. You need no addition to Jesus.
Dilute Jesus with something else and you dilute you. Purity has less to do with morals and more to do with Jesus being all we are. We will always do better as sons with Christ as our life. We shrink to the extent that things other than Jesus are hijacked in order to bolster our sense of well-being.
Our real and complete identity is found as sons of our Father. Lesser identities such as pastor, apostle, teacher or missionary are superficial when compared to our identity in Father as a daughter and a son. The rootedness of our being in the trinity will authenticate any subsidiary identity we have as people in society. Your authority to minister comes from your identity in sonship - never from a subsidiary identity that you take on in a religious or secular role in society. A son of our Father is quite a different person to a son of a denomination. One multiplies spirit and life. The other releases information or dead works.
Jesus is our grace and the life that we desire to be. He is the expression of every good thing we read in the Bible. We are not whole or holy because we have a routine of repentance or because we have a regular seeking of forgiveness. We are already forgiven. Jesus is forgiveness. This is what we live in and is our a priori position. Jesus is also our obedience. Thus a Godly life is living in Him to the extent that He Himself is our life.
JESUS AS YOU
Paul wrote, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
These things are the fruit of Jesus as you. They are not a list of must do’s. But if we are steeped in law we will probably interpret all we read terms of ourselves as a human doing. To be a human being in the true sense we are who we are as ourselves. To be spontaneously be yourself is to live from your glory. We can do this in freedom because Christ is our life. He is manifesting His life in us. This what is meant by life in the Spirit. It is the only legitimate form of new testament living. What is it about ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’ is it that we do not understand?!
Recently I listened to a sincere gentleman preach on the scripture from Galatians cited above. The fact that He had been raised (indoctrinated) in a law culture explains the framework of his address. He took what was an explanation of life in the Spirit and adulterated it into a mixture of spirit and law. The scripture clearly states that qualities like self-control are the fruit of the vine, which is to say they are the effect of which Jesus is the cause. Jesus never came as a means to life and good living. He came as our life and good living.
Nevertheless our Brother proceeded to urge that if we attempt to be patient and kind, Holy Spirit will come alongside and enlarge our kindness. He was preaching a version of the knowledge of good and evil with Jesus’ help. Sounds ‘Christian’ and it is. It’s what purports to be the Kingdom for thousands. But it’s not Kingdom. It’s the opposite of the gospel and contrary to the scripture from which the homily was drawn. Holy Spirit will come to us. But Holy Spirit always comes to persuade us to start with Jesus instead of starting from some element of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the gospel of the Kingdom: Righteousness is God and He manifests as you!
None of us need repent to be forgiven. We are already forgiven. This is new testament fact. We repent of ourselves and our addiction to our own ideas because we are forgiven. Repentance in the new testament is a turning away from the self-effort and works of religion. The most stubbornly embedded illusion we can cling to is that there is something in us, some scrap of dignity and will-power that renders us capable of making ourselves acceptable to God. Until we can get over this illusion we keep on burying the talents he gives us in the ground.
When Paul speaks of working at your salvation with fear and trembling he is not speaking of a gospel of works - why would he after all he has said in Galatians? He is urging us to be alert to do what is counter-intuitive. To do that which is opposed to the natural. We are to be alert and press into the rest that is both our comfort and fruitfulness in Christ.
Michael Kapler writes, ‘Don't fall into the fleshly trap of trying to produce each of the nine characters [Galatians 5:22-23] listed and turn it into a self-improvement rule book. Much like the old law, the fruit of the Spirit all comes together in the same package and is now a part of who you are with a new identity in Christ. [Our life] is so much lighter and easier when we trust his life within.’
A religious life can range from an ordeal to a kind of austerity regime live out in confusion and futility. Not so when Christ is our life. Here we are covered in His grace, filled with His Spirit, informed by His wisdom and equipped with His sense of adventure.