Thursday, April 6, 2017

Free, Not Muzzled

. . . so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us
who do not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:4

Almost all of this world’s religions, whether small or great, provide some beneficial service for mankind.  Their chief benefit is that they restrain the wild, beastly element of man’s nature.  They muzzle the beast so that it doesn’t harm itself or others.
God, on the other hand, did not send His Son to restrain our fleshly nature; He sent him to change it.  And this He does when He gives us His Spirit.  By the holy Spirit, God makes us partakers of His holy nature (2Pet. 1:4) so that we no longer need to be restrained, for when we walk in the Spirit, we do “not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16) and are no longer a danger to ourselves and others.
In Christ Jesus, we are “new creatures” (2Cor. 5:17) and then are set free from all restraints, except for the restraint of love for our fellow man, so that even though all things are allowed, only what is good for others is done.  As Paul said, “Everything is lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial; everything is lawful, but not everything edifies” (1Cor. 10:23).
When Jesus said that if he sets us free, we are “free indeed”, this is what he meant.  In him, we are freed from every shackle on earth, including its laws and customs.  But we are set free, not to rebel against the earthly authorities that God has ordained for man’s good; rather we are set free to do the will of God, who “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that every one who believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”