God sending the Holy Spirit opened the door for something new! The burden of the old law passed and believers now get to be a part of “the perfect law that gives freedom” (James 1:25). This directive to live “by the spirit” is one of the most daunting tasks in our Christian walk, but its pursuit may be the most rewarding.
If God had limited his directions to the Ten Commandments, most of us would know daily if we had obeyed. Few things on that list are accidental circumstances where we can honestly say, “Whoops! I didn’t see that one coming!” Even if we were living in the B.C. era and sought to diligently follow all 613 Old Testament directives, we could make an earnest attempt at obedience. Most of those rules concern safety and Jewish celebrations. Even if folks are simply following their own standards, most in today’s society have a particular set of expectations for eating the right foods, celebrating the right holidays, and taking the right precautions to keep farms and homes safe. Imagine how much easier these tasks would be if the only expectation was to follow God’s list. You wouldn’t have to worry if your celebrations were right or your food was prepared properly; your success would be your degree of obedience to the law.
Yet, a law-following life isn’t the abundant life that God has called us to live. The Jesus follower’s directives are simultaneously liberating and nebulous. On the one hand, we need to do away with the body’s “misdeeds.” On the other hand, we need to be growing and excelling in the traits of the spirit. Are we striving toward showing increased kindness, self control, and patience? Is demonstrating the trait of servanthood more important than our own ambitions? Are your choices “led by the spirit” as Paul discussed in Romans?
Guiding your life by these priorities is not easy, and perfection may always be something to be grasped rather than obtained. But we should never forget the joy of the task. We don’t have to worry about worldly criteria for success. Comparisons to others mean almost nothing. Our lives are judged based upon how well we meet the needs God puts before us and how we respond in our heart. If we meet the different needs we see with the resources God has given with a Godly mindset, we know we are with the Spirit. If we did miss the mark, God usually grants new challenges each day that reveal his mercy and provides new opportunities to be molded into His likeness. Even if it is difficult or daunting, when we near the finished product of who we will become, the amazing privilege and blessing to know we were molded, stretched, and blessed by our creator will supersede all other experiences and bring our ultimate satisfaction.