How to Move from Duty to Delight

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)

There is a diminished version of Christianity that is often found among people who have not grasped this great truth of union with Christ: Jesus forgives you when you mess up in order that you will be a good person who keeps the law. 

That produces a wooden, joyless attempt at discipleship that often lacks any real intimacy with God. And all the time, you live with the feeling that God “has it in for you” if you don’t get it right.

From Duty to Delight

Union with Christ moves you from duty to delight. It moves you from that wooden, joyless attempt at discipleship to a new freedom and joy that flows from loving Christ.

Someone in our congregation said to me recently, “I used to come to church because I thought it was something I needed to do to be a good person.”

I said, “So why do you come now?”

He said, “Because I love Jesus.”

There’s all the difference in the world between these two things! Why do you pray? Why do you give and serve, and tell the truth, and stay loyal when being faithful isn’t easy? Is it because you think this is something you should do in order to be a good person, or is it because you love Jesus? That’s the difference between marriage to the law and marriage to Jesus Christ. In the second marriage, there’s love and life and freedom and peace and joy!

From the Law to the Lord Jesus

Jesus Christ says something better to you than “I forgive you. Now go and do better next time.” He says, “I forgive you and I bind myself to you. I give you my Spirit and I will dwell with you.”

The law cannot love you, and the law cannot give you strength. And the law will never let you rest. You will never find peace by measuring yourself against the law. But in Jesus Christ there is strength, there is joy, there is life, and there is peace. There’s all the difference in the world between the first and the second marriage.

William Still, whose writing first got me thinking about this series says, “Christ puts himself in the place of the law. He smiles at us and says, ‘Look, you will never be good by following that finger pointing of the law, but look at me smiling at you, loving you, caring for you, forgiving you.  I will save you.’” [1]

This Lord Jesus Christ says, “Come to me all you who are weary, all who are heavy laden, all you who have been beating yourself up trying to be a better person. Come to me and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Bind yourself to me, and I will bind myself to you, and you will find rest for your souls.”

[1] William Still, The World of Grace, p. 88, Christian Focus, 1999.

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from duty to delight

Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

Date Posted: Aug 5th, 2016