System – Galatians 5:16-26, “16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
So many Christians argue on just what laws we are to obey and to what extent we are to follow the rules laid down in the Old Testament. I think this passage really makes it easy to draw the line. If we live with the law trying to follow it best we can, it will be all too easy to miss out on the spirit of the law. The Pharisees were the same way. But if you live by the Spirit you are not under law.
I think this passage makes it rather simple. We follow the New Testament because Jesus has fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. He fulfilled the Law by being the Passover Lamb. He fulfilled the Prophets by doing and being what they said he would do and be. That is not to say that the Old Testament does not have a purpose. It is the foundation that tells us just what the Law and the Prophets are.
The rules of the Old Testament were given to the Israelites, His Chosen People who were under His Covenant. It did not apply to non-Israelites then and it still does not apply to non-Israelites today. You can be made an Israelite according to its rules, but then you would be under those rules and still waiting for a savior. Good news though, he’s already come. So what do we do? Sow the fruit of the spirit, for one. And we follow Jesus’ and the Disciples’ teachings.
Those who insist we pull out an Old Testament rule to support a teaching or to come down hard on a person will find themselves doing what some early Christians did. They wanted all believers to be circumcised. A great meeting was held and it was decided best not to burden the believers in that way. Perhaps to have allowed that practice would have begin a slide where ‘if this rule is followed, I don’t see why I can’t ask for that rule to be followed, too.’ I don’t know if it would be the case or not. At any rate, too often are people shown the door for not meeting the churches’ standards of dress, grooming, or demeanor. Too often are people whispered about for their scandalous tattoos when it should be recognized that this person realizes that the church might have the answer for whatever has been missing in their life.