The Only Thing That Counts

They once went in because they had to; they now go in because they want to. By the time we enter the gates for a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend, the 40 to 50 “outside volunteers” have become a close-knit group. Most of us have never been incarcerated under the State’s penal code, but many among us have, and I often marvel at these who, though once processed into the prison system under the force of law, now eagerly enter its confines under the law of love. How starkly different their experiences must be! I can only wonder. No one compels them to go, and no one forbids them; now born of the Spirit and following His lead, they live and love in freedom and faith.

Last week, we recalled God’s words spoken through Ezekiel: “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”1 Does this mean we are born of the Spirit through faith in Christ, only to return to a life governed by a lengthy list of “dos and don’ts,” as though we receive God’s favor by His grace only to maintain His favor by our righteousness? Is this how the Christian life works? The Galatian church was beginning to think so, which was the primary reason Paul wrote to them. “Are you so foolish?” he chided, “After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”2 Then how do we reconcile God’s desire that we “keep my laws” with the welcome truth that we are set free from the law and live now under grace?3

Simply this: We follow God’s Spirit, who is born and living in us through our faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will never lead us in the ways that are displeasing to God; He will only ever lead us in the ways that are good and right. The ways of God are clearly seen in the fruit His Spirit bears through us: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”4 It bears repeating: God has put His Spirit in us; the Spirit of God leads us in the ways of God; and against the ways of God there is no law. We keep the law only as people freed from its confines. All the glory goes to God.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.— Galatians 5:6.

Father, through Your Spirit in us You have made us one with Yourself. Lead us from Your voice within, that in perfect freedom and grace we will journey this day in Your ways, which are always good and right. Take joy in us, Your people, today. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Ezekiel 36:26-27 emphasis added
2 Galatians 3:4
3 Romans 6:14
4 Galatians 5:21-23 emphasis added

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