Leviticus 10

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (Lev. 10:1-2)

How shocking it must have been! What would Aaron have thought? Losing two of his sons like that. It must have been extremely traumatic for him. Yet he and his other two sons were not even to mourn for the sudden death of their family members. “Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace” (Lev. 10:3) They were not to let the hair of their heads hang loose, or tear their clothes which were the expressions of mourning in their context.

It was a serious matter, serving God as priests. God is holy, and serving a perfectly holy God was a risky business. You could literally die. They were to follow God’s orders exactly and accurately as best as possible. God gives them instructions and three times they were told that the consequence of disobedience was death.

After such incident, Aaron’s two remaining sons were too afraid to perform the ritual close to the fire, so they left an animal sacrifice to be burned up instead of eaten by them as instructed. Moses was angry and diligently inquired them about it, but Aaron intervened, saying, “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?” (Lev. 10:19) Aaron and his sons were still in a shock and trauma after seeing their sons and brothers being killed instantly before the fire of the sacrifices, and couldn’t possibly come near the fire to perform the ritual, and Moses accepted the explanation.

God is a perfect, holy, and righteous God absolutely separated from everything evil and unclean. To stand before him, between him and sinful people is a direly serious business. The sons of Aaron were not apt for such important job, and even Aaron himself was too afraid. Who can stand before him on behalf of us then? Who will be our priest stand before him offering sacrifices for our sins?

Jesus Christ. Our High Priest. He stood before God on behalf of us. Our perfect Priest. He was the only one who could do that without making a mistake. The sinless one bearing the sins of the world on his shoulder. Why? Why did he do such a radical thing?

Us. Because of us. We were the reason. Because he loves us. Because God loves us. Because God loves me. Because God loves you. He came down, and stood between the fearful God of justice and righteousness and hopeless and sinful people of rebellion and iniquity, and took the deadly blow of God’s wrath upon him and died for us. God’s just anger subsided, Jesus fell down, and we’re standing before God, accepted and embraced as perfect and holy, loved. The perfect sacrifice of the Lamb, pure and unblemished, was accepted by God.

Thank you Jesus, my true and ultimate Priest and Sacrifce.

 

 

 

 

Psalm 103

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What a beautiful poem describing the wonderful love and mercy and grace of God! God is so awesome. He is the greatest joy of my soul. He is The provider of all that is good.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” (Psalm 103:2-5)

I should remind myself of what God has done and does in myself everyday, forever. He forgives all my iniquity. That alone is more than enough. The most troublesome struggles in my life always has been moral and spiritual. The sense of guilt, having to prove myself, needing all kinds of things and people to justify myself, going through all kinds of troubles that I later found useless. Yet, God takes away the most fundamental problem of my life. He forgive all my iniquity.

He heals all my diseases. How many times I prayed for healing in my body and God answered? I can’t even count. Sometimes the answer came later than I wished initially, but there was always higher wisdom of God involved that meant to make me stronger and maturer. And there might even be some bodily weaknesses that will never completely heal as long as I’m in this side of heaven in this body. It’s okay. God will eventually heal all diseases completely and absolutely. I will be given a new body when the new heavens and the new earth come. God is a God who heals.

God redeems my life from the pit. I often fall and let myself be trapped in a pit of darkness, surrounded by guilt and condemnation, isolated from others, in dread and despair, in fear of death and hell, separation from God. However, God always comes and rescues me. He comes down, reaches his hands, lifts me up gently with his bottomless grace, and wins me back. He redeems me.

He crowns me with steadfast love and mercy. Though I myself have done nothing to earn such status other than being created by God (which also has nothing to do with what I have done), God crowns me and elevates me as His son. And his love and mercy are steadfast, never-changing, he does not change his mind. He is trustworthy for his love and mercy are steadfast.

He satisfies me with good of all things in this world, renewing me like the eagles, giving me new energies to fly high. There were more than hundreds of times when I was weak and restless, feeling like I couldn’t even move. Lying on the bed was the only thing I could do. And when I was awake during the day I felt like zombie, going about the duties of the day dragging myself, walking dead. But now I can’t actually imagine how it felt. I forgot the feeling in my body. I have new strength. God fills me with new strength from within. He is my strength.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8-14)

God is a merciful and gracious God. How sweet are these words.. “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” The unfathomable vastness of the universe demonstrates the infinitely great and steadfast love of God toward us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions.” By his love, our sins are forever removed from us, eternally separated from us. He is compassionate toward us because he knows us. He knows how weak and helpless we are, and he cares so very much.

He cares so much that he provided a way for us to be saved from our sin and its consequence, death. In his wisdom, he took away sin in us without compromising his character of perfect justice and righteousness. He paid the moral debt we owed him with the price of Jesus’ blood. He sent Jesus Christ his only begotten Son to die for us on behalf of us so that we can be accepted into the arms of God who is perfect and righteous. He loves us. That’s how much he loves us.

It is the good news that we should literally remind ourselves everyday. That he knows us to the bottom of our heart’s deepest motives and he still loves us to the extent of dying for us. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10

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This is part of Paul’s apology (defense) for his ministry. Some people were doubtful of Paul’s leadership and authority as he demonstrated apparent hardships and “weaknesses” rather than Homer’s ideal of self-glorifying warrior virtues and Aristotle’s “great-souled one.” (Rikk Watts)

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5)

Paul goes on, “but we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

Paul is willingly suffering his hardship for the sake of the people. He is “weak” because he chose to sacrifice and lay down his life for the people for the sake of the gospel. He doesn’t proclaim himself. He proclaim Jesus as Lord. And he becomes a servant to all because of the gospel. His apparent weakness is not due to his inability. Well, in a sense it is, but it is more than that. It points to Jesus who is able. So his hardship is even more intensified.

This passage makes me examine myself. There are times when I serve people like this by the grace of God, and I am very thankful for those times. But there are also times when I forget about this. I forget about this calling that God has given me to willingly serve people for Jesus’ sake. Instead, I used my freedom in Christ for my own sake, for my own glory, and for my own pleasure and comfort.

Paul’s letter calls me to repentance today. I want to turn away from my selfish ways and live a life of service for others and for God. I want to become a servant of others for the sake of Jesus. It will be hard, it sounds hard, as soon as I say this, I’m thinking at the same time, ‘I can’t do this. I’m not good enough.’ Yet, it is a lie. There’s partial truth in that sentence, that I am not good enough, yes. But I can do this, because I’m not alone. I’m a fragile jar of clay that is afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, but I have this treasure of the gospel inside of me. God’s unending love makes sure that I’m not crushed, not driven to despair, not forsaken, nor destroyed. I can do it because God can. And he will get all the glory which belongs only to Him.

“So death is at work in me, but life in you.” I hope I can say this. I pray that this will be my confession about my life and the lives around me in the midst of suffering and hardship. Not the kind of suffering I allow in my life as a result of my sin and my shortcoming, but the kind of suffering that I choose for the sake of others. Not even the kind of hardship that I choose “to become a good person” with a selfish motivation of a Pharisee, but the kind of hardship that I willingly accept because I love God and others.

Paul meditated on Psalm 116 as he wrote this. (2 Cor. 4:13) And the Psalmist believed God in his affliction confessing that he is God’s servant even to death and promising to pay his vows to the God of grace and mercy who has given him salvation. Paul believes likewise,

“knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 4:14-15)

Yes, there is freedom in Christ. Yes, in Christ I can accept myself. But God does not want me to stop there. He wants me to follow him and participate in his grand plan of salvation for all nations of humanity. God didn’t give me freedom and life to indulge in selfish living in this world. He didn’t make myself acceptable with all the trouble (too weak of a word of course for what Christ experienced) he went through so that as soon as I become clean I would go back into a pool of mud and make myself filthy again. No, God wants to make me perfect, without spot or blemish (2 Pet. 3:14), as a bride ready to meet her groom.

God help me. Help me remember that “the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18b) Help me as I “groan in this tent, longing to put on my heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5:2), I have “a building from God, a house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1b).

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Cor. 5:6-9)

The aim is to please God.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5:10)

Whether Paul here is talking about the judgment for determining the amount or degree of rewards in heaven or the distinguishing of the lost and the saved based on the necessary demonstration of real faith, what we must do is clear. Clearly, he is not saying that we should please God out of fear of condemnation as our motivation. He just talked about the whole dynamic of a Christian’s heart brought by the new covenant in the previous chapter. Our basis of salvation is through faith alone by God’s grace alone.

And Jesus’ teaching about the judgment entails separating of sheep and goats where the sheep are those who served people in need around them (Mat. 25:31-32). It’s not about me. It’s not about how good I am. It’s about them. It’s about helping them, serving them in love.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13)

Father God, help me serve others for their sake and for Jesus’ sake with the freedom that you gave me. Help me remember my hope is in you, in eternal life with you, not in this earthly life of selfish indulgence.

 

 

Isaiah 7-8

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“When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”  (Isa. 7:2)

Ahaz was terrified. But God tells him not to fear.

“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Ramaliah.” (Isa. 7:4)

“It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isa. 7:7-9)

They will not stand. They are mere humans. God decides the course of human history, the destiny of kingdoms. God says, “do not fear,” and “be firm.” He says, “trust in me, and ask me for a sign from me to strengthen your faith” (from Isa. 7:11), but Ahaz makes a lame excuse saying “I will not put the Lord to the test” (Isa. 7:12), and goes to Assyria for help instead. He schemes to have Assyria attack Israel and save him, but he ends up setting a snare for himself.

Because of Ahaz’s unbelief, God will let Assyria destroy Judah, there will be not many people left on the land (Isa. 7:21-22), and every place that used to be fruitful will become briers and thorns. Ahaz rejected God and relied on human power, and that very human power ensnared Judah. (Isa. 8:6-8)

But God will give Judah a sign,

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)

Isaiah urges the people to fear God and wait for the LORD. “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isa. 8:13-14).

“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” (Isa. 8:17)

The people in their spiritual blindness and darkness will be greatly distressed, hungry, and enraged (Isa. 8:21), they will indeed stumble and fall and be broken, be snared and taken. (Isa. 8:15)

What this piece of the history of Israel teaches is that humans fall because we rely on others rather than on God. Only God’s promise is reliable and makes us truly firm. The Immanuel has come. The sign has been given. We have all failed to look to God in faith and ask Him for a sign, but God gave us the sign anyway because he loves us too much not to.

One thing I notice is that it is repeatedly said that this good news will be “a stone of offense” to some people. There are, and will be always people who deny and reject the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ when they hear the gospel. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

We should trust in God in all situations no matter how terrifying it may seem. Using all the human resources and information is wise because they are after all God’s creation, but we shouldn’t put our deepest trust on any of them ultimately. Our sense of security comes from the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. On that secure basis, we do everything else in wisdom and love for the glory of God. Otherwise we become desperate and miserable.

Be careful, be quiet, do not fear. Trust in Jesus, wait for the Lord.

 

 

 

 

Leviticus 9

 

This chapter describes the event of “the formal inauguration of the sacrificial system at the tabernacle”¹ and “the first services which Aaron conducted”² as high priest.

It consists of a sin offering and a burnt offering for Aaron, and a sin offering, a burnt offering, peace offerings, and a grain offering for the people. I know, so many offerings, and it’s confusing which one is which and what the differences and their purposes are. That’s how I feel every time I read about these offerings in the Old Testament.

Well, they have their distinctions and different purposes for different occasion and people, but after doing a quick research, there are some things I noticed.

The sin offering was performed first in this occasion just as it was in the case of the ordination of Aaron and his sons (Ex. 29; Lv. 8). Aaron was not a perfect man. He had sins. He was a sinner. Yet he had to perform these sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel. So he had to offer sacrifices for himself first.

The sin offering involved laying on of hands to the head of the animal offered and killing it and putting the blood on the horns of the altar and pouring it out at the base of the altar. The priest’s sins were therefore symbolically transferred to the animal, and by killing the animal, the penalty of the sins, the moral debt which the priest owed to God was paid. The price was life because the wage of sin is death. And blood was the sign and evidence of the payment.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22).

The sacrifice points to The ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus. God is a gracious God. He knows our state, that we are utterly helpless when it comes to our moral capability of doing the right thing and loving sacrificially. Selfishness is the common disease of all human beings that we cannot escape no matter how our technology or science or psychology or even “spirituality” advances. So even from the time of the Old Testament, he offered a way by which our sins can be atoned for, forgiven, so that we’re accepted and renewed into the loving relationship with our Creator and Father God.

The Law of the Old Testament never meant to enslave us in the prison cell of fear characterized by the life of rule-keeping. In actuality, the chronology of the history of Israel shows that the unconditional redemption of the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt came first, and then the Law was given through Moses. First salvation, and then the Law, is the order. And even the content of the Law largely points to the Messiah who is to come to redeem the people of God from the slavery of sin. The plan has been on God’s mind from the very beginning. (Gen. 3:15)

Yes, the practical purpose of the OT Law was to reveal our sinfulness by showing that no one can possibly obey the Law perfectly. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). However, it doesn’t mean that God’s purpose was to condemn his people by giving the law. Rather, it was simply the preparatory step for Jesus who is the Messiah to come and proclaim forgiveness and salvation to people who were ready to humbly accept it.

“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:22-24)

The ultimate sacrifice was offered. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain, who knew no sin made him to be sin for our sake, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21) Now no more sacrifice of bulls and goats are needed. No more human “Aaron’s” are needed. Aaron had to offer sacrifice for himself first, and then offer sacrifice for the people. Something far better, infinitely better is available to us now, The High Priest Jesus Christ, which this OT sacrificial system has been pointing to all along.

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1)

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7) On the cross, the Work was finished. (John 19:39) The final transaction has been completely closed. There is no use trying to add to the Work ourselves. We can’t, it’s finished. And even if it wasn’t, we should dare not try to add anything to it. There is nothing we have that is worth the price of our moral debt. It cost the life of Jesus Christ. The only thing left for us to do is receive the gift by faith. And enjoy the loving fellowship with God in thankfulness by voluntary and passionate obedience.

“he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:12-14)

 

 

Notes.

¹Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1579.

²Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 147.

Psalm 102

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“Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you!”
(Psalm 102:1)

The psalmist is desperate, very desperate. The following is how the psalmist describes own situation.

“For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace, my heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste  places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.” (Psalm 102:3-11)

What a vivid picture of our afflicting days! We all have such days. I had them just weeks ago. We are indeed very weak. We may look okay on the outside perceived by other people, but this is actually what happens in the daily lives of human soul. It’s an experience of hell, sometimes. We all know it. Our struggle is deeply spiritual whether we recognize it or not.

The psalmist doesn’t stop here, though. He (given the time of the writing of Psalms, it is probably correct to think of the author as male than female) is wise. Now that he poured out his anguished heart before God, he shifts his focus from himself to God who stands in sharp contrast of infinite degree.

“But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is time to favor her; the appointed time has come.” (Psalm 102:12-13)

God is different. Not only that, He is also merciful, and has pity on his children. “For the LORD builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer” (Psalm 102:16-17). He answers the prayers of the desperate people! He doesn’t despise their prayer, he regards them with pity, he is compassionate.

“that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die,” (19-20)

God listens to our groans when we’re enslaved. He wants to set us free and he does set us free. The Gospel. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). We have to remember the Gospel. The gospel sounds almost too familiar to some of us. We say, “yeah, yeah, of course, the gospel,” and then don’t really think about it. We need to think deeply into the implications of the gospel, rehearsing the whole story once again in our minds and letting it capture and stir our heart. It requires time, a committed time set aside for Jesus only. No distraction, just Jesus and me. And the Holy Spirit does his work within us, if only we would spend time with him in this way.

We’re weak, our lives are a mess, looking down and within, we have no hope, nor strength, nor will. But it’s okay. It’s okay because God is strong AND merciful. We can be hopeful in Him. We’re secure in Christ.

“They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” (Psalm 102:26-28)

Let us look to God in our desperate times.

2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18

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“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor. 2:14-16a)

No matter what we go through, in Christ we’re always going forward in triumphal procession, into glory, into Christ-likeness, into deeper appreciation of the cross and softer heart that genuinely loves God, into eternal life with Him, into God. There’s no such thing as back-sliding for Christians in the deepest sense.

We are the aroma of Christ. It’s not so much what we do as who we are just by our presence. People around us inevitably notice Christ within us, and respond in two different ways. One from death to death, the other from life to life. We can’t stay neutral, it’s impossible. We still love all, but not all respond with faith.

We are the “letter of recommendation written on our hearts, to be known and read by all” (2 Cor. 3:2). And “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:4b).

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19)

We have “a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6b).

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah … I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:31, 33b)

The old covenant of the letter written on the stone tablets killed. It was “the ministry of death and condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:7, 9a). It ended. (2 Cor. 3:7b) But the new covenant of the Spirit written on human hearts gives life. It is “the ministry of righteousness” (2 Cor. 3:9b). It is permanent. (2 Cor. 3:11b)

  • Old covenant: of letter, written on stone, of death and condemnation, ended
  • New covenant: of the Spirit, written on heart, of righteousness, permanent

Before, it was simply rule-keeping that enslaved us under the tyranny of condemnation. And there was nothing we could do to get out of it because we could never keep the law perfectly. But Jesus set us free. He died the death that we deserved and lived the life that we should have lived. Our death became his death, and his life became our life. In Christ, we’re completely accepted by God through the work of Jesus. Gazing upon this truth genuinely transforms our heart. It wins our heart. We start truly loving God. At every turn of our repentance, we’re a bit more convinced that it is God that we truly need and love.

Yes, we still fall, and every fall is deeper than the previous fall since our recognition of what we’re capable of in terms of our sinful nature gets deeper each time. But at the same time, as we stand up once again for the thousandth time leaning on the grace of the blood of Christ, our recognition of God’s love also increases proportionately. That’s the dynamic of real Christian growth. That’s what the Holy Spirit does, leading us to repentance every time and helping us learn the depth of God’s love and grace.

The new covenant of the Spirit, the law written on our heart, therefore gives us freedom.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17)

Our motivation for keeping the law of God is no longer simply fear of condemnation and death. It is love. Our heart of stone is removed, and a heart of flesh is created. We love obeying God. It’s not simply a duty that we dread. It’s a duty that we love. In Christ, our duty and our desire finally meet and become one. What a life of coherence, of integrity, of peace and satisfaction, of thankfulness.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God” (2 Cor. 3:4) “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).