16. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
When Paul said, in verse 18 that "you are not under the law" he didn't mean that we were free to do any thing we pleased. As the author of our book, Victory Over the Darkness, Neil Anderson says, Walking according to the Holy Spirit is not "license", meaning "we do not have an excessive or undisciplined freedom constituting an abuse of privilege. As a Christian we may see the phrase "You are not under the law" and exclaim, "Wow, I'm free. Walking in the Spirit means I can do anything that I want!" Not at all. In the previous verse Paul said , "You may not do the things that you please." It means we are finally free to live a responsible, moral life- something we were incapable of doing when we were the prisoner of our flesh."
Walking by the Spirit is not "License".
This reminds me of being a teenager again and the end of the school year. The rules and regulations of school, the 8-3 class schedule, homework, chores, getting to bed by 10:30, all show me what happened as soon as the bell rang on that last day of class. We ran around with our friends, went to parties, ate way too much of the wrong things, stayed up all night and then crashed the next day, not finding my way out of the bedroom until late afternoon. The rules and "law" of the school year just served to make me want to "cut loose" in the summer and do exactly what I wanted.
Let's take that same scenario with kids just graduating from high school and then think about them moving off to college. They no longer have their parents watching them so they can sort of go crazy in the "I'll do what I want to do" department. We know where that can lead. Hangovers, missed classes, failing grades, promiscuity, not to mention that dreaded "Freshman 15"! License can be fun for a short while, but there are always consequences.
Some misguided Christians feel that because they are "saved" and going to heaven, that they have the license to do whatever they desire. If you are being led by the Holy Spirit that won't happen. If you are letting Him lead your daily life, thoughts and activities, I can guarantee that you won't be running off to engage in harmful or sinful activities; not for long at least. What may appear to be "freedom" at first, really can lead to a "bondage", full of unhappy results.
2 Corinthians 3:6
who also made us adequate [as] servants of a new covenant, not of the letter (law), but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
In the Old Testament or Covenant, the Israelites lived under the "Law"; God's rules and regulations. It was clear no one could keep them perfectly. The Ten Commandments are guidelines and parameters of how to live our life, but no one has ever been able to keep them perfectly. (except Jesus Christ) God knew that when He gave them to Moses all those thousands of years ago.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree "--
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
Walking by the Spirit is not "Legalism".
Strictly trying to obey Christian rules and regulations does not enable the Spirit-filled walk. Freedom only comes when we receive Christ not only in our heart but in our mind. When we look to Him for our freedom.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
How many of us know that "laying down the law" - telling someone that it is wrong to do this or that, does not give them the power to stop doing it? Christian denominations have been notorious at trying to legislate spirituality and morality. Smoking, dancing, playing cards, drinking, movie attendance, wearing make-up...these have all been things that church denominations have tried to prohibit within their congregations. How many of US or people we knew from church, would "sneak around" to do many of these activities, all the while hoping and praying they wouldn't "get caught"?
Walking by the Spirit does not give room to "Rebellion".
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were [aroused] by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
We all know that all you have to do is to tell a 5 year old that there are fresh cookies in the cookie jar and that he cannot have them until after dinner, to see him crawl upon the counter and grab a couple as soon as our backs are turned. Legalism can't curb immorality. Laying down the law only serves to heighten the temptation. Paul said that the law actually stimulates our desires to do what it forbids.
"Neither will a Spirit-filled heart be produced by demanding that someone conform to a religious code of behavior. We often equate Christian disciplines such as Bible Study, prayer, regular church attendance and witnessing with spiritual maturity. All these activities are good and helpful for spiritual growth, but barely performing these admirable Christian exercises does not guarantee a Spirit-filled walk.
God has given us protective guidelines and a moral standard within the Bible for our good. His rules for behavior and living a Christian life are for us to remain healthy and productive Christians, keeping us out of the territory of the enemy. Loose Christian living can bring unhealthy and unhappy results, not only in the physical, but in the spiritual realms.
I used to think that God was just a big spiritual "Party Pooper", please forgive my seeming lack of respect, but you get what I mean. I thought doing things my own way was my "right" and I didn't want Him or anyone else telling me what to do or how to live my life. After many years and many mistakes I now realize that it is because God loves us so very very much that He wants to protect us from the consequences of poor choices, choices that can draw us away from Him and change the course of our destiny.
Next time we will approach this idea from the "positive" outlook instead of the negative.
love, in Jesus,
(concepts and quotations taken from
Victory Over the Darkness
by Neil Anderson)