With All My Heart

“We know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

1 John 3:2

We may wonder what life will be like when we have passed on to be with Jesus. The Bible doesn’t give as much of a description as we might like but there are clues. Most descriptions have to do with nature rather than material things although some passages do describe physical attributes of the new material world.

To Jesus and the New Testament writers the physical aspects are of secondary importance. The prime aspect of our future with Jesus and with each other is that of what we will be like in nature. In the verse above, John writes that we will be like Jesus. Since Christ is in us we should expect that His nature will be expressed more and more as we learn of Him and grow in faith in Him and His word. For the present, we fall short and that grieves us but in the resurrection we shall be just like Him.

When Jesus was asked by an expert in the law what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked him what was written in the law. His response was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). This man knew that he couldn’t achieve that so asked for clarification. Jesus’ answer gives us the account of the Good Samaritan.

For now we all fall short but it is a description of what we are in Christ and shall be when with Him (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus loves the Father in this way and so will we. Little by little His nature will be expressed in our lives as we allow Him to live in us. It will be completed and perfected when we pass into His presence.

Read and pray the verse again; but this time, personalise it as a witness of faith that He will accomplish it:

“I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind. And my neighbour as myself”

This is a description of you and all who have trusted Jesus as we will be in His eternal kingdom. It is the fulfilment of the New Covenant. What is left but to give glory, praise and thanks to God for His amazing Gift in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and to work out what He has worked in? “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”  (Philippians 1:6; 2:12).

A New Creation

“As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Jesus” Galatians 6:12

Paul had already addressed the matter of allowing false teachers to seduce Christians into falsely representing Christ and the Gospel. There were Jews who tried to compel Gentile Christians to be circumcised and live under the Mosaic Law. Even Peter had been persuaded to compromise under pressure from the Jews (2:11-14). Peter’s compromise led to Barnabas and other believing Jews also playing the hypocrite with him (2:13).

In the verse quoted above we note that the reason for their compromise was to avoid some degree of persecution. Peter, Barnabas and other Christians had buckled under the pressure of those who wanted to bring them under the bondage of the law and thus they falsely represented Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Much of this letter of Paul addresses this false teaching (i.e. 2:16-17; 3:24-25).

In the closing words of his letter Paul exhorts Christians to resist being drawn or seduced into coming under the bondage of the law. The enemies of Christ and the Gospel will employ the threat of or actual persecution in an attempt to persuade us to revert to their carnal way of thinking. The ways that Satan uses to achieve this have not changed. He will undermine the validity of key parts of the Bible or try and discredit those who proclaim the Gospel. This he had achieved with Peter and Barnabas until Paul rebuked them. Trying to appease those who proclaim a bondage type of gospel is not an act of Christian love because it communicates a false gospel that cannot save. Many who profess to be Christians are still deceived into believing that belonging to a particular religious order or living a humanly imposed moral standard or ritualised life will give them entrance to heaven. Paul puts those notions to death by saying that none of these have any bearing on where we spend eternity. In Adam we inherit sin and death. What we need is a new heredity. That is only possible in Christ and Paul writes that it will take an act of the Creator (6:15).

In Christ Christians are free from the requirements of the law because Jesus Christ fulfilled those requirements on our behalf. However that does not mean we should indulge the carnal nature. Having been created new in the likeness of Christ we will want to live as He lived expressing the new nature we have in Him.

Called to Liberty

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

The liberty that Christians have been given is freedom from the law and all its requirements. The law was given by God through Moses and is a description of at least some aspects of the Divine Nature. It is also therefore a description of our new nature He has given us which can be expressed now and will be fully expressed in the resurrection. The problem the law brings is that it condemns the one who chooses to live by it. It has no power of enablement to abide by it.

In the latter part of this chapter Paul gives a description of the Christian’s two options. He may be ruled by the lust of flesh and reap the character of verses 19-21 or he may yield to the Holy Spirit and reap the character of the fruit of the Spirit given in verses 22 & 23. Knowing the outcome of each we have the opportunity to choose.

If our lives are characterized by the works of the flesh then we conclude that we are under the power of the lusts of the flesh. On the other hand, if our lives are characterised by the fruit of the Spirit then we can be confident that we are walking in the Spirit. This is the same as being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and being in fellowship with Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3, 7) but viewed by a different ‘window’.

Because we are set free from the curse that the law brings there is the possibility that we will neglect or discard our knowledge of the commands of God. The law is itself good and has its purpose to unbelievers (Galatians 3:19-25) but it is still good and has its purpose for Christians. The law no longer condemns the believer because Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf. What good then is the law to Christians?

Like the fruit of the Spirit the law is a revelation of the Divine Nature and is therefore also a description of what we are in Jesus Christ and how we shall be in eternity. Yes, the law is a schoolmaster for unbelievers but it is also a safety instructor for Christians.

As a ship comes into harbour needs markers to keep it safe in deep water so as not to run aground so the law is as markers to keep the Christian safe from shipwreck of his faith. So Paul writes, “do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh” (5:13). So the law is not a curse to Christians but a blessing for it shows us the way of safety and warns of dangers.