The mud of rotten flesh seduces
Lying shadows build castles in the air
the castles are prisons
sinners are prisoners…..How is it possible for sinners to learn to love?

A slave of the law

I grew up with the commandments of love. My parents taught me the values of helping and loving other people, but in many ways, it was impossible for me to follow the commandments of love. I believed there was a God, but that was I all I knew. I didn’t love myself and it was hard for me to love other people, because I didn’t know Jesus.

When I was 17 years-old, I met Jesus and became a Christian, but for many years, I did the evil, which I didn’t want to do. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19). I often read my Bible, but I couldn’t understand why Paul all the time said I was not allowed to sin. I mourned that it was impossible for me to stop sinning. How was I a new person and how had my old person died? (Ephesians 4) How could I live in the Spirit, and what were the fruits of the Spirit? I tried, I tried and I tried, but I failed. I tried by my own strength and thoughts to love my neighbor, and I never succeeded. Why?

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:2-6)

I acted as if I was still under the law. By law I mean the value and set of ethics you make for yourself and learn from your parents, in school and by your society. Of course we need to learn a set of ethic values, but being a follower of Christ, is not to be a slave of legalism. It is to have faith in him, trust him and believe that he died for my sins and paid my debt, so I no longer should be a slave of the law, which I could not fulfill.  When we believe in him, we will have the Holy Spirit and can stay in Christ. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Why did I act like a slave of the law, even though I had faith in Christ? I believed too much in myself. I thought it was all up to me to love other people. I trusted my own mind and feelings, and I couldn’t let go of my self-control and my proud ego.  Like the Jews we hear about in John 7, I trusted man made laws, including my own laws of my mind and humanity. I couldn’t surrender all to Christ, trust him and the work of grace.

After many years I gave up and realized I had no power in myself, only in Christ. So I surrendered all to him. I no longer lived for myself, but for Jesus Christ. I trusted him and I was given the Holy Spirit which taught me about God’s love and made it possible to love myself and other people.

Rivers of living water

The end? No, I still sin every day and am tempted to trust myself to handle everything on my own. The battle is not over, but the Holy Spirit helps me, and I am no longer a slave of the law, but live under the grace, and I will not leave Jesus, who says

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John: 7:37-38)

Photo credits: Jeff Sheldon

Photo credits: Jeff Sheldon

What ever problem or need I have, what ever thirst I have for peace, understanding, solution, love or order, I can come to Jesus and drink. When I have faith in him, there will from within me flow living water. The living water is the Holy Spirit.

“Out of the belly”. The belly refers to the entire body. The Spirit lives within those who believe in Christ! It flows deep from within our bodies, and therefore it not only gives life and restores our minds and hearts, but can restore our entire bodies. God’s truth and grace works inside us.

From within “rivers flow”. The Holy Spirit feels in different ways, but it’s always there when we have faith: neither no water or just a little water. “Not in spoonfuls, nor with pipe and tap, but in full streams” (Luther).

The Spirit is “living water”.  Not only does the Spirit work in us, it also has an outward direction. The water gives life to others, this water communicates truth and grace to others. This living water flows from one individual to others (Biblehub Pulpit commentary). This explains the love and blessings we can experience in godly friendships.

This living water creates many gifts of grace and fruits of the Spirit. I believe there are books written on the fruits of the Spirit. I’ll just mention a few here:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

 As hard as it can be to let go our yourself, your flesh and mind, it is that simple to come to Jesus and drink. Jesus says:

“Come to me, all you, who thirst. The one who drinks of me, shall never thirst again. I will give you peace, love and joy. Trust me. Come to me. I miss you. I Iove you, I will never stop loving you. Have faith in me.”