Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.
We are going to act according to our nature. This is what John writes as some of his closing words to the Bible. If our nature is sinful, we’ll continue to sin. If our nature is holy, we will continue to act holy.
God wants holy people. It is not about what we do however, it’s about who we are. We don’t become holy by acting holy. We act holy because we are holy – and the only way we become holy is by asking forgiveness of our sins.
We are called to be loving and obedient to God. We are not called to do so out of duty but because this is what a Christian should be. We will not be perfect and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we sin because God has forgiven us and will continue to forgive us.
But holiness is still the goal of the Christian. We don’t do it to earn our salvation. We don’t obey as a way or paying God back for our forgiveness. We should do it because we love the Lord and want to do it.
In the end, every Christian should want to be a better person than what they once were. They should desire to cast off sin and to live a life of holiness in obedience to God. This should be a joy and not a burden like the law was before Jesus.
1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
While there will always be debate over whether certain Old Testament rules are applicable to the church, in the end it doesn’t matter. Likewise, we don’t need to have every little idea committed to memory in order to follow the law.
In the end, everything comes down to love. When the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking Him what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded by saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”
When we love, we can do no wrong. WWJD or What Would Jesus Do was a popular slogan for a while. We don’t even need to ask ourselves that question however. Instead, we simply need to ask, “Is this loving?”
True love is centered on God first and others second. Often what we consider love is still focused on us. We will love so that we get something back. True love is only concerned with other people however. This is the love that comes from God. When we love like this, all of the details of that love are unimportant because we will be fulfilling the law.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
It is said “to whom much is given, much is also expected.” This is essentially what Paul tells the Galatians. Christians have been given grace and are free from the consequences of sin – inasmuch as it affects our salvation at least.
We should use that freedom wisely. This means that we shouldn’t use forgiveness as an excuse to sin. Just because we know that God will forgive us does not make it acceptable for us to engage in sinful activities.
God’s love and grace extend beyond any sin that we can commit. But Christians should still strive to avoid sin because we love the Lord and because it affects our life. There are physical consequences to sin as well as spiritual ones that harm our relationship with God.
Instead of living a sinful life, Christians should strive for righteousness and to live according to God’s law. Instead of sinning, we should seek to serve one another.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Paul equates the law with sin as the law constantly points out our sin. Likewise the law causes us to sin in that it creates a standard which we constantly fall short of.
Because we all fall short of the law, we need grace to wash away our sin. The Romans thought that more sin brought about more grace and hence it was a good thing. Paul says just the opposite.
Even though salvation isn’t found in obeying the law, we are still called to obedience. We will always serve a master of sin or righteousness, doing what one or the other wants us to do.
There is a stark difference between obeying God and following the law. Even though the end result may appear to be the same because the rules are the same, the result is drastically different.
Obedience to God is done out of love. We obey because we love God and want to please Him. Because of this, obedience is a joy, not a drudgery. Following the law is done out of duty however. We follow the law because we feel that we must because we expect a reward or fear the punishment for not following.
Following out of duty will produce a poor follower because we are incapable of following perfectly. Obeying God comes easily because God knows that we aren’t perfect and we know that we’ll experience forgiveness when we fall short.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…
The context of this passage in Ephesians 2 is a contrast between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews attained their salvation by following the laws of God, sacrifices, and circumcision. The Gentiles had no such path to God because they did not know Him at all.
With Jesus, the barrier was removed so that the Gentiles could be saved as well. They could not follow the law because they did not have the law. So Jesus abolished the law, making salvation attainable for Jews and Gentiles alike.
Jesus did not make the law worthless or null and void. There is still value in following the law today. What He did was make it that salvation was not gained through following the law.
Because the Gentiles can be saved through Jesus just as the Jews, there is unity in Christ. This is the peace that Paul writes about in Ephesians 2.