Is the law then against the promises of God?  Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

                                                                        Galatians 3:21-22  (RSV)


The human race has been given two gifts by God: the Promise and the Law.  Both gifts are anchored in history, coming from God through actual events to actual people.   Both gifts stand to this day.  As long as heaven and earth remain there will be the Promise and the Law.


The Promise:  There is a way out of this realm of death and sorrow, back into the Paradise of God---even now, in this life.  The Promise has no strings.  It is open to anyone who will take it on faith and believe it.  If you accept the promise, believe the promise, live in the promise, it's yours---no matter who you are, no matter what a mess your life has been!  The door to God's world is open to you.  All you have to do is walk in. 


The Promise is grounded in history.  It began with Abraham 4,000 years ago, and was fulfilled with Jesus' death and resurrection 2,000 years ago.  Shortly after Jesus rose from the dead, he poured out on his followers the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This gift brought his followers into God's world, even while they walked this earth.  


In fact, the gift of the Holy Spirit brought Jesus into their very bodies.  And with Jesus living within them, these men and women were now dwelling in two worlds at the same time: their everyday world, and God's world---his redemptive Kingdom. 


The same thing happens to us, if we allow it.  When we believe the Promise and enter God's world by faith as followers of Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit.  The Lord Jesus now takes up residence within us.  We are in God's world.


With Christ living in us, and to the extent that we cooperate, his love, his power, his peace, his authority, now rule our minds and even our bodies.


The evidence that this miracle has come to us is that his healing grace flows out of us like a river to others---blesses them, awakens them, heals them, frees them.


Jesus is the incarnation of God's promise.


In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

                                                John 1:4

He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become sons and daughters of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

                                                John 1:11-13


Believe the promise, and you receive the life of God, delivering you from the power of sin, lifting you into a life of joyful, trusting prayer, and sending you forth on Kingdom business.


The Law: God's second gift, arrived about 3,500 years ago, again grounded in history.  The Law, given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, was simply the outward expression of the Law which God has already written on our hearts.  Whether we apprehend the Law as the Ten Commandments, or boil it down to the Two Commandments our Lord spoke of---"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind….and your neighbor as yourself---the Law is already written in our DNA. 


But why was the law given, if we already have the Promise?  Three reasons:


1.      To remind us of the Law of God written on our hearts---so that we are clear about what God requires of us, if we are to live in harmony with him and with each other.


2.      Until we come to that point in our lives where we receive the Promise by faith, the Law, written on our hearts keeps telling us that something's wrong, something inside us is twisted.


We can ignore the message of the Law inside us, and pretend we are not hearing it, or we can wake up and start crying out to God to show us the way to the Promise.  The heart, burdened by the Law, which cries out to God for help, sooner or later finds the Promise in the face of Jesus the Messiah.  Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Paul were driven by the Law within them to the Incarnate Promise.


3.      Once we receive the Promise by faith---receive Jesus as our Lord and Master---the Law is no longer our slave driver, but our Friend, helping us to walk the walk.  The Law is now the Law of Liberty. 


Now, with the Lord Jesus living within us, it is possible to "love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind…and our neighbor as ourselves."  Christ's love in us does it!


Exactly how this new life of the Lord within us manifests itself in daily life is explained in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6, and 7.    The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' revelation of the Law of Liberty which now empowers his followers to live the life described in these three awesome chapters.


The Law of Liberty, as set forth by our Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount,  needs to be absorbed by his followers until it becomes their second nature.  It consists of seven parts:


1.      The Master's Blessing  (Matthew 5:1-12)


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…."  The blessings continue as Jesus includes in his beatitudes all the people the world shuns and ignores.  Into this blessed assembly the Lord Jesus inserts his disciples, promising the rewards of heaven.


2.      Jesus Tells Us Who We Are  (Matthew 5:13-16)


"You are the salt of the earth….you are the light of the world."  Notice, that the Master doesn't urge us to become salt and light, he announces that we are salt and light.  Our job is to be, by faith, what he has declared us to be.


3.      The Law Is Now Our New Nature  (Matthew 5:17-20)


"Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the Law until all is fulfilled."  The Law is now our new nature.  This is how we are now empowered to live.  If we don't live this way, we're only dreaming if we think we're in the kingdom.  "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."


4.      New  Light On The Ancient Commandments (Matthew 5:21-48)


"You have heard it said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.'  But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."


"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members, than that your whole body be thrown into hell."


Jesus continues to throw the light of heaven on the ancient commandments and call us to higher ground, where we love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, give, lend, bless and impart the mercy of the Father through lives indwelt by the Lord Jesus himself.


5.      Never Use Your Relationship With God As A Means Of Impressing Other People  Matthew 6:1-18


       Your piety is your underwear.  It is a holy thing, between you and God,    

        never to be paraded before the eyes of the world. 

            Giving alms is to be done in secret.

Your prayer life is done in secret.  Corporate prayer is only valid if it is engaged in by people who spend time alone with God.

Fasting of whatever kind, to focus on the Father, is done in secret.


6.      God Is Your Treasure, Not Money and Things  (Matthew 6:19-34)


                     Keep your eye on the kingdom.  Trust the Father to provide.  You cannot serve God and money at the same time.   Turn your anxieties over to the Father and live one day at a time.


7.      God Is The Judge---Not You  (Mathew 7:1-29)


                     Never try to take God's place as judge.  Your heavenly Father is both holy and good.


-  Stand in awe of his holiness.  And don't throw your pearls before swine.


-  Trust in his goodness.  Ask and you will receive.


-  Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.


-  Enter by the narrow gate and stay on the narrow way, which alone leads to life,

    even though you'll be in the minority.


-  Discern counterfeits by the wisdom you have been given, and make sure you're

    not one of them.


-  "Once you've heard my word, doing it becomes your life, not doing it becomes

    your undoing."



But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

                                                                                    Galatians 3:25-29


Out in the world we are still "Jew" and "Greek," "male" and "female."  We are distinct and different from each other.  We fit into all the different slots the world has prepared for us.  But all these distinctions disappear in Christ.  He is our unity.  If we are truly rooted in him, we are one with each other. 


Out in the world we are all "outsiders," "speckled birds,"  people with "wounded thighs" like Jacob.  But in the Body, gathered around Jesus, we are one family in the Father's House.  We accept each other in Jesus' name, even as the Lord Jesus has accepted us.  We treat each other with high honor. 


The Body of Christ for each of us is four things:


1.      The Body of Christ is a foretaste of the coming glory.


When we break bread, we are connected, not only with Calvary and our Lord's death, but also with the approaching Marriage Supper of the Lamb.   Our fellowship is even now the Vestibule of Heaven.


2.      The Body of Christ is the furnace of God, where we are formed into shape.


Here is where the Father forms us and bends us into Sons and Daughters of Heaven, as we learn to forebear and fit in with each other.     


3.      The Body of Christ is our school of forgiveness. 

   As we learn to forgive and ask forgiveness of each other, our love for one another….and our love for God deepens and increases.

4.      The Body of Christ is our Outreach Base


We are not a club.  We are not a closed fortress where we seek protection from the "world."  We are laborers in the Harvest.  This is our outreach base where we are empowered and sent to find those lost and wandering sheep for whom the Shepherd died.   The more we reach out with boldness and love, the more clearly the atmosphere of heaven pervades our fellowship.