THE ILLUSION OF BEING IN THE SPIRIT WHEN WE ARE IN THE LETTER
The futility of a law-conditioned gospel comes from the fact that it is human-centered and as such is a version of the attempt to ‘be as gods’ in separation from God. Law infected gospels invert the cross and are the fall continued. Whereas the atonement and incarnation weave us into God. Law-gospels make self-improvement and performance the way to union with God.
A gospel of law and moralism has the appearance of doing something solid for God. But it produces rigor mortice of soul, deadness of spirit and sermons devoid of revelation - even if they are full of scriptures and information.
We are not in the spirit if we are in the law, even if we can function in the gifts. People who don’t live in the spirit always see in the flesh. Law will give us a tree of knowledge epistemology but never vision in the Spirit. A law-lens is weed-killer to spiritual discernment.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV. Captive to a law-culture we will rationalise that we are alive when we are dead men walking.
Attached to the law, a schema or a belief system we can convince ourselves that we are living the life Jesus intended. But we may live a parody of it. We either live an intellectualized religion or we live in the letter that kills and attempt to bring it to life with a Holy Spirit additive or a bunch of miracles and signs. None of these sustain the Kingdom as they have no root. Enveloped in this kind of blindness we plateau, fade- out or continue circling the mulberry bush of our self-generated ennui.
People can begin this treadmill of false starts, dormant middles and inconclusive endings and make one or two spurts of progress. They may even gain a name as a reformer. But they may also come to the end of their lives and go down to the grave without knowing that they had given their lives to a delusion.
The Parable of the Sower is really a story about soil that refuses to be new-covenant union-with-God-soil. This is why it is filled with so many foreign objects.
An ‘other gospel’ like a law-based gospel dims who God is and cripples us. The insidious nature of this illusion is that it insulates us from real vision and spirit and life. “Theosis consists in being recreated in Christ Jesus who alone is the Image of God. Until men and women are renewed and brought face to face with God in Christ, we cannot know what it means either to know God or to know ourselves as persons.” (1)
(1) Myk Habets, Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance, p 33.