Holiness vs. Happiness (4)

Am I expected to be holy? Am I expected to obey God’s holy commands?

The answer to both is a resounding yes.

But how do I reconcile that with my liberty from the law? Haven’t I been freed from the law? Questions like these reveal a fundamental misconception about Christian liberty. There are some (not suprisingly most often those who declare “God just wants me to be happy) who say “I’m free to do what I want. I have my liberty in Christ.” Freedom to do what you want leads to anarchy (Just read the book of Judges). There is a liberty that enslaves, and there is a law that frees.

We have to first understand that the law is an expression of the Holy nature of God. The commands given by God are all related to His character. There is an objective standard of right or wrong in this world. It is not societal norms or personal preferences. It is the immutable nature of a holy God. What is true to His person is right, and what is contrary to it is wrong. Therefore, it is an error to think that I no longer have to obey the commands of God. (By commands, I speak of the moral law, not the ceremonial or civil) Hebrews says that under the new covenant God would write the law into our hearts and minds.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”
Hebrews 8:10

So God’s holy expectations have not been done away with.

But as he which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15, 16

Now, however, instead of outward pressures to obey, there is the inward pressure (work of the Holy Spirit) which empowers me to obey. This is my Christian liberty. Not freed FROM OBEYING the law, but freed TO OBEY the law. The law is written in my heart and mind, not just on tablets of stone. Instead of laboring futilely toward morality, I can now experience a work of holiness wrought in me by God’s sanctifying Spirit.

What is this work? It is love, that purest of all motives. The love required to fulfill what Paul calls the “fulfillment of the law.”

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Romans 13:8-10

So by the Holy Spirit producing the love (fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5) within us that cannot be duplicated by the flesh, we fulfill the great and second commandments. Through those two, we fulfill all. Jesus said “On these two hang ALL the law and the prophets.” This love cannot be duplicated with mere morality. It can only be produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another.”

This love for God and others is the key motivator of holiness in our life. When we have this Spirit-enabled love, our life is lived as God intended it to be. In correspondence with His nature, and in His image I can experience the joy of holiness.

Does God want me to be happy? No, He wants something far better. He wants me holy.

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