14 May 2011

The Law and the Spirit

Submitted by Stephen Winters

The difference between walking in the Spirit and living under the law is very simple. Those in the Spirit WANT to do what is Right. Those under the Law only do stuff because they HAVE TO do it.

You could put it simply like this.

  • Walking by the Spirit = WANTING to do what is right.
  • Living Under the Law = HAVE TO what is required.

Those who walk in the  spirit (pure and blameless mindset) WANT to do what is right. In fact they continually think about how to do the best job. The quality of their atititude and of their work continually improves.

Those who are under the Law ask, "What do I HAVE TO do? Their mindset is on what is the minimum that they can get by with and still "fulfil the law".

One major problem with this mindset is since they are not fully engaged in each tast, they don't look for ways to improve. They are only seeking to get any task done as  quickly as possible so they can go do what they really want to do. The quality of their attitude and that quality of their work both greatly suffer.

With this attititude, one who is living under the law can never truly fulfil the demands of the law.

When one is living "by the law" it is so easy to bypass the meaning of the law by redefining what we are doing so that we think we are not breaking the law. For instance, the law says, "You shall not steal." But we can get around that law. If we take something that is not ours, we can tell ourselves something like, "He (the owner of an item) probably left if there for someone to have. He probably doesn't want it any more anyway." People can twist words around to make them mean to suit one's purpose. We need to go beyond mere words to try to ind the true intent.

"The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_and_spirit_of_the_law


Living "by the spirit" of the law is learning the principle of the law. Living by principles goes much deeper than merely living by the law. One can always "get around" the written law. But when one lives by the spirit, by the principle of the law, that means that one has taken the law to heart and has understood and accept the deeper meaning of the law. Once one takes the law to heart, he is no long "bound" by the law. Instead he willingly and joyfully lives in accordance with the spirit of the law. He accepts the law and is no longer fighting against the law.

The law was given for our benefit, to help us live a life of peace and wholeness. The law is meant to be our servant, not our master.

Living by the Spirit means internalizing the intent of the law. The immature person will fight against the words of the law. The law was given for a purpose, to point us to Christ. What does that mean? When we "accept Christ" we stop fighting against the "restraints" of the law. Instead, we look deeper than the mere words of the law and seek to understand the true meaning of the law. As we begin to understand and live by the true meaning of the law we begin to live by the spirit of the law. Then we have peace with God and peace with ourselves.

Literal

Conceptual

Living Consistantly

What does living in the spirit look like?

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