Dear Christian Siblings,
I pray to God that I have not left you in despair.
I ended my last letter with you lamenting the infection of both the Law and our Flesh by that Parasite, Sin.
But know this—Christ’s coming has scrambled sin, in order that the Spirit might move in.
It has acted as an anti-Parasitic—chasing out Sin from all things. You flesh, once hellish, may be Holy.
Christ came in the Flesh, flesh like yours and like mine—that we all might have a holiness like his. And so, there is no condemnation! Through the power of the Spirit, Christ Jesus is in you!
Not only that, he fulfilled the Law, which Sin would not allow, and as such, by his frustration of Sin’s hold there, the Law is made whole—Disinfected and filled too with the Spirit.
Therefore, you are now in the Spirit and the Spirit in you, and the Law, it is now a Law of Spirit.
Wow, you may live the Law, you might inhabit your flesh—both of these in a Spiritual way!
Let’s go back to another metaphor, you were enslaved to Sin—a servant of Sin’s household, but the Spirit is now your adoption papers—you are not only freed, but made a child in the household of God.
That doesn’t do it for you? Well, maybe you don’t hear it quite right… you see, in my day powerful men had children everywhere, but rarely were they fathers to them. It was only the rare child who would be adopted—for they were the man’s favorite—they became his heir. That’s the context in which I speak the word Adoption.
So too, you are adopted—you receive God’s favor—you are Christ’s heir! You, through the power of the Spirit, may cry out as Christ did—“Father! Father!” To God, our first parent.
Yet, I can hear, even through the vastness of time and space—there is some harumphing going on at these simple statements of mine. And it is fair that you consider my words carefully…
That you think a bit about my proclamation that you are disinfected—free to follow the Law of the Spirit, Adopted as highly favored children of God, blessed among a big and growing family of God
—you say, “sure, but those are just words… it often doesn’t feel like that—the Spirit has not launched me into a perfect paradise… It seems that all these things are still far from me!”
To this I respond—“exactly!”
In fact, the Spirit makes you realize that—the Spirit infects you with longing—with hope—you note the chasm between the world as it is, and as it should be.
You shoulder too, the sweeping disparity in your soul between Saint and Sinner! Your best self and who you are.
In short, you notice that time and our flesh conspire, you notice these great divides, both within you and outside of you. You notice…
You notice, that too is of God—that uncomfortable space between it all, is filled with Spirit.
If you saw everything in yourself and the world around you—as all right, when it isn’t—then you’d have much to fear! Then you’d be lost to your Sin infection—but no! No, you know the needs of the world and you know the absence in your soul! That is the Spirit moving you!
Moving you to cry out—to pray! Pray for the gap between intention and actuality—pray for the tears in your soul, that they may become balm.
What then ought we say about all these things? About the liberation of our Flesh and the Conduct now allowed under the Law of the Spirit? About our first cry as Children of God? About the tensions pulled taut in this world, as it is being redeemed by God? What ought we say when the Spirit speaks through us with glad but strange prayers, prayers stronger than anything that we’d expect to come from our lips?
In all this—God is for us, so who might be against us? God has given his own Son to us, so is not everything ours? To the mad barks of judgement against us, let us remember it is God our Father who is the only judge. When all condemn—let us remember it is all, except Jesus Christ, who does not condemn, but instead speaks well of us—and that is all that matters!
I admit, that the tension of this world pulls us to the breaking point—hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword—yes even slaughter—but the Spirit also points us to the conquest of all these things done by God for us!
Death, sure it looms, life itself—heavier than we’d like, powers beyond our control twist us this way then that, our fate and inclinations attempt to imprison—but it is my conviction that none of these may separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.