Main idea: When it comes to our performance as believers, a true understanding and grasp of the grace and love of God will produce far more than what is expected of us.
Text: Romans 7:6 (NIV) 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.
(KJV) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
- Released to serve the Lord, each other and all men, in a new way of the Spirit.
- Not only different than but superior to the old way of just doing what is expected.
- A new way consisting of His righteousness, His Spirit, His body (of believers), spiritual leaders and God’s inspired Word.
- Paul wasn’t more clear and “practical” about how to serve in the newness of the Spirit because it is not just a spiritual way; it is the way of the Spirit.
- 3 John 3:8 – “The wind blows wherever it wishes… so is everyone born of the Spirit”
- We are not in control of the Spirit, He is in control of us.
- Paul taught that circumcision was not necessary but circumcised Timothy. Why? He was serving in the new way of the Spirit and the situation called for it.
- Where did Jesus get that amazing answer to the mob who wanted to stone her? From the Spirit.
- Why did He allow the disciples to pick grain and eat it? He was giving them a preview of the new way of the Spirit.
- Why was He healing people on the Sabbath? The new way of the Spirit says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
- I personally seek two things from the Lord: to be receptive and responsive.
- Numbers 9:21-23 – The people moved when the cloud moved.
There is no formula or program, but there are elements to how to appropriate this new way of the Spirit.
- Keep focusing on your relationship with Jesus. Just as Jesus focused on the Father. Just as He instructed His disciples to focus on Him. “Abide in me for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
- (See reading below)
- Jesus Himself was dependent upon the Spirit’s leading. John 5:19; Luke 5:17.
We are like Counts and Countesses of Monte Cristo (Mountain of Christ) where incalculable riches are buried.
Conclusion: God has no expectations because He hope’s for us a life above and beyond them as we grow in our knowledge of Him. In the end, living beyond expectations is not something we do it is the fruit we bear as we get to know Him.
“Taking Hold of the New Way of the Spirit”
How do we take hold of the newness of life Paul refers to in Romans 7:6? By faith in Christ. Not by greater will power. Not by greater discipline. Not by better strategies. Not by accountability partners. These things can help shape our behavior but a vibrant spiritual life comes from one source – faith in Christ:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
If, like Paul, we set our hearts on trusting in what Christ has done for us, instead of on becoming stronger Christians, strength will follow. If by faith in Christ we draw near to the throne of grace when we fail and fail and fail again, if by faith in Christ we do not allow any idea to settle in that tries to persuade us that we are anything but beloved because of Christ, if our discipline is a discipline of trusting in Him as our righteousness, our lives will become filled with the fragrance of Christ. The flimsy theory of God’s love for us will grow into an unshakeable conviction and we will be delightfully surprised by how the heat of our passion for Christ burns away the dross of bad habits and sinful inclinations. His attraction becomes greater to us than the devil’s distractions. We will be thrilled to discover how the desire for more of Him replaces the consciousness of how to live a more “spiritual” life. The more glorious our vision of Him becomes, the more glory to Him our lives will produce. The more the love of Christ controls us the more our lives will express the love of Christ towards others. Our obedience will be more organic than it is manufactured. The life of Christ will be stronger in us rather than us trying to live strong lives for Christ.
No wonder Jesus said that the work of God is to believe in the One whom He has sent. Faith in Christ, for who He is, what He has done for us and who we are in Him is the key to obedience in greater measure and consistency than we ever imagined, obedience that is the byproduct of something much better than “expectations.”