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No Longer Under A Schoolmaster

    Did you know that the Apostle Paul described the Old Covenant as a ministry that condemns? In comparing the Old Testament to the New, he says: "Now if the ministry that brought death (the Old Covenant), which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory…will not the ministry of the Spirit (the New Covenant) be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!"                   2 Corinthians 3:7-10 NIV.

     Many believers read the Old Testament and do not realize that its sole purpose is to condemn and bring individuals to a saving knowledge of the grace of Jesus Christ. Well meaning Christians, saved and living under grace, have often used it to condemn their fellow breth
"Abide in me and I in you."ren (and themselves) - but grace and law cannot be mixed.
    
     It reminds me of the time I was making some fried dough. I had boiled the oil in a pan, fried the dough, and was now going to wash the pan full of hot oil. I put the pan under the faucet, turned on the water and bang - the oil burst up onto the ceiling. Why? Because oil (especially hot oil) and water do not mix. They are mutually exclusive. This is what grace and law are like.
     
    Often, however, our Christianity is a mixture of both. The result of this is like the new wine and old wineskins that Jesus spoke of: "Neither do men put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved" Matthew 9:16 NIV. The old wineskins burst because the new wine of the Holy Spirit is not maintained within the old wineskin of law, but within the new wineskin of grace. For grace (God's unmerited favor) and law (man's efforts for God) are in opposition to each other.
     
     The book of Romans tell us that the "law brings wrath" Romans 4:15 NIV. Why? Because we inevitably break the law because of our sinful nature. In fact, the whole purpose of the Law is to condemn us in order for us to see our need for Jesus our Saviour. Once we see our true sinfulness and call on Jesus, we are no longer under the law, for: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Galatians 3:24-25. Again it says: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" Galatians 3:13." How did he redeem us from the law? By being punished in our place on the cross...to put it another way, He paid the bills of the law for us. Now we can confidently say: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1.

    Now it is this very grace that actually causes us to walk in God's righteousness. This righteousness, however, is not like the law. It is the righteousness of Christ within the heart. It works its way from the inside out, and not the outside in. It is the life of God at work in us. God has taken possession of the believer's heart through the Holy Spirit and He has re-created it "in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians 4:24
     
    But even though we have this new nature, we still do not have the power to walk in it. We find ourselves in a struggle of our old nature, which is still present with us, and this new inner nature. Indeed we are powerless to overcome the influences of the old nature without the grace of God. For Jesus Himself causes us to walk in our new nature by His power. As Paul exclaimed "Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death (the old nature)?" He gives the answer in the next verse: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 7:24-25. They are forever linked, this new nature and God's grace. For He has re-created us in Christ Jesus. Our old nature is corrupt and beyond repair - it never can nor will be good. He causes us, like a butterfly from the caterpillar, to fly in the wind of His Spirit. How? Because of grace.
     
    Sound too easy? How else can you interpret the words of the Holy Spirit when He says: "The days are coming when I will make a new covenant...not like the former covenant…I will put my laws in their heart and cause them to walk in my ways." Ezekiel 36:27. Again it says: "It is because of Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righeousness, holiness and redemption" 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV. And again "For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" Phillipians 2:3. Also: "... and be found in Him (Christ), not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" Philippians 3:9 NIV/KJ.
     
    Truly, we have received a new covenant of boundless grace. Therefore, when we read the Old Testament, as believers, we must remember its purpose: to condemn. Doing so will help us glean all the truths within its pages, that are so full of instruction and the faith of the saints, without the condemnation. We can ever draw near to our God because "The punishment of our peace was upon Him (Jesus)" Isaiah 53:5. In His love and mercy, the Lord will still instruct us and discipline us to walk in His ways of life, and mature us into His image. But He will never condemn us. We are now His sheep and in His care, purchased by His precious blood. He will watch over us to keep us in the flock. We must remember that after Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two. Therefore, as believers in Christ Jesus, we may now enter boldly unto the throne of grace.
     
     Paul spoke of it so well when he said: "…the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" 2 Corinthians 3:6.

       In Christ Jesus,

                   Richard 



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