The ability to obey God’s commands - 4 July 2019

Ewald Schmidt

“… And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8: 3-4

It is quite human to take a chance, to test the limits of our existence. But it is usually humiliating when we get caught out in the process of doing wrong. It is embarrassing when a traffic official pulls you over in public for a traffic violation. Our newspapers are filled with the stories of people who have been caught out doing some wrong deeds. What they have tried to do in secret is thrown into the light of public scrutiny, and the punishment should fit the crime. From the smallest traffic offence to the largest crime, it tells the story of someone who thought he or she could get away with it. No one will know, until everybody does. Every story of crime, and most stories of human suffering at the hands of another, is a story of someone who stepped outside the will of God. When I am in control of my own life in a worldly manner, I get hurt as well as other people. The result of our life in the flesh is selfishness, people who blaze a path of destruction through life. Their own and the lives of the people around them.

But there is another alternative. Jesus has died for us, He has paid the price for our transgressions. When he is Lord of my life, I have surrendered all to him. This has changed my life. Now I follow him as his disciple through my journey of life. I am no longer in control of my life, and my flesh does not control my actions any more. The Spirit of God leads me on a new path, through his work I am becoming a new person, transforming to the image of Christ.

What does God want from us when he transforms our lives? Jesus has taken all the commands of the Bible, and boiled it down to one commandment. The night before he died, he commanded his disciples, and the future church: “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples...” (John 13:34-35). Disciples are people who follow Jesus, and love one another as he has shown us in person. They build up their neighbour with words and deeds of love. They honour one another above their own desires. If you love your neighbour as Christ loves you, how could you murder someone, or steal from them, or abuse them in any way? The Spirit of God leads us to see people through the eyes of Jesus. Our faith moves over into deeds of love, in helping others. So God’s love becomes visible in this broken world, and so we live according to the law of the Spirit.

Prayer: Lord, my sinful nature wants my flesh to be satisfied, and leads me on the path of death. Your Spirit leads me on the path of life. Lord, I choose your way over mine. Lead me, Holy Spirit. Amen.

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