In Galatians Paul warned, ‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Gal 2.21 NIV. It’s pretty clear. No glass half empty or half full here. It’s all or nothing. Nevertheless Believers do make religion out of the law and they are convinced that the Bible supports their self-made distortion. The Bible does not disagree with itself, with Jesus, with John or Paul.
‘He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’ Titus 3.5 NIV.
Holy Spirit and the gifts are an effect of incarnated life. But not life in the Spirit. Life in the Spirit is Christ our life. This life is what John meant when he spoke of Christ come in our flesh. Christ does not live in us to imbue a list of virtues. He lives in us to be us. The fruits of the Spirit are not some post cross version of the law. They are simply Christ as you – or Christ our life, as Paul expresses it.
In the 19th century a number of ‘other gospels’ arose in the United States that were ‘other,’ not because they were a variation - but ‘other’ because they were an alteration of the gospel of Jesus and the apostles. All of them may loosely come under the heading of ‘Christian’ but it is a mistake to call them Christian in the sense that they are an expression of the gospel of Jesus and the apostles. They subvert the teaching of Jesus and the apostles with a performance gospel.
Galatians 2. 21 says that, any law-based gospel subverts the efficacy of Jesus. The implication is that living from the law leaves us on our own. Paul wrote, ‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Gal 2.21 NIV. He says it with force. Living from the law may be explicit or implicit. Explicit when a faith community is based on the law and implicit when what is taught is moralism and jumping through hoops.
THE WIDE ROAD
It’s surprising that people embrace these derivatives given that the teaching diverge so clearly from the scriptures. But as the climate change debate reveals – many people do not believe things because they are true. They believe things because they want to or because they trusted leaders who made the Bible fit their ideology and claimed their constructions as a revelation of God.
‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons’ 1 Tim 4.1 NIV.
Today through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit Christ becomes the person we are. This mystery is Christ come in our flesh. It’s life in the Spirit. You are continually graced by His life as yours and infused by the Spirit with His nature as your persona and humanity. This is the one way that we can love ourselves and love others.
MAKE THEIR HOME IN YOU
“In the new covenant, the spirit of the resurrected God-Man in glory has come into time and space, not only to be among and upon members of the believing community, but also to inhabit them, to be in union with their human spirit. This never happened in the history of humanity until the first time at Pentecost. It has been the order of the day ever since.” (1)
This is the inheritance you have. You are a manifestation of Jesus. You are always in life and surrounded by His life. There is no time where He is not and no place where he does not dwell. Most important of all He dwells in you!
‘But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!’ Gal 1.8 NIV.
(1) Crosby, Stephen. The New Testament Prophet: Understanding the Mind, Temperament, and Calling (Kindle Locations 1219-1222). . Kindle Edition.