Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Psalm 19 (The law revives the soul); Isaiah 61:1-7 (The spirit of God is upon me); Romans 7:1-6 (The new life of the Spirit)
The Law of God makes an interesting transition from the early days when it was given until the time of Christ. When it was seen as the right way to live so that everything that people did honored and worshiped God, it was a joyful celebration of God’s presence in their lives. Slowly it devolved until it was viewed a taskmaster designed to keep people in line. The Law, designed to unite God’s people, became a dividing line. Some people were able to keep the Law, or so they thought, and they flaunted their “holiness” in front of the common people who either couldn’t keep the Law or had given up trying to keep it.
Enter Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill the Law. When He died on the cross to bring forgiveness for our sins and restore that fellowship, that joy with God, everything changed. Paul described it as a death and life issue. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6) Now longer are we compelled to follow a written code hoping that somehow we might gain God’s favor; now we live and serve in the Spirit of God. Our actions, words, and thoughts should actually show a deeper understanding of the love of God. I’ve jokingly told my wife that some people are alive just because it’s not worth the jail time. In truth, I look at people who cause problems and I see them as people who need redemption. (Ok, that’s what I should do, not always what I do.) We don’t live each day looking over our shoulder, fearful that God will deal with our sins. We eagerly anticipate God’s presence in our lives because He has already dealt with our sins. We should always remember that right and wrong don’t change because we died to the Law. What changes is our attitude and our willingness to do right. We are no longer voluntold the things we should do to serve God, we see a need and we find a way to meet it. The new way of the Spirit should lead us to serve our God with joy. Experience that joy today.
Oh Lord, how much I have missed out when I went through life thinking I had to find some way to please You; some way to make You love me. You have loved me far more than I can ever imagine! You have forgiven my sins because of Jesus, and You empower me to live for You each and every day. Let me serve You with joy each and every day.