Two very different ways of serving God are described in the book of Galatians, and are brilliantly captured in a simple verse: If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. Galatians 5:18
There’s the way of the law, and the way of the Spirit. The one is like slogging through the desert with a heavy load on the back, parched and exhausted, with no end in sight for the journey. The other way, recommended to us by Paul, is soaring effortlessly through the sky, carried by winds on outstretched wings. It’s the experience of exhilarating adventure, breathtaking speed and long vision of a glorious destination over vast and limitless horizons.
You can walk or you can fly. But you can’t do both.
Moses brought the law – the walking way. It says that you get what you deserve from God, and you make every effort to reach Him by good behavior. Any who have seriously tried this route find that the goal gets further and further away the harder you try. Perfection is elusive and impossible. The one comforting thing about walking is that you’re in control, you’re ‘self-made’. But you aren’t acceptable to God, and deep down inside you know it. There isn’t peace, and there’s no rest because more is required.
Jesus introduced a different way – spiritual flight. Instead of the law, He brought grace and truth. His truth shines the spotlight on our sin, and His grace eradicates it from our lives to make us fully acceptable to God – sons of the Father, reborn. And in the same moment as we are made fully righteous, totally perfect in Him, He steps into our lives with His very own Presence and says, ‘fly with me’. The word ‘led’ in our verse also means ‘carry’ – that’s the updraft of the Holy Spirit lifting you into God’s Presence, carrying you through the seasons of life, surrounding you with His love and protection, making you a David against Goliaths.
It’s a totally different way of traveling. But as soon as you try to start walking again you stop flying because you’re giving up your wings of faith that declare ‘already righteous in Christ’, and are putting on the tired old walking boots that say ‘hopefully if I do better God will be pleased with me’. You’re forgetting your acceptance as a son in the Father’s eyes, and are headed over to the servant’s quarters to try an earn a place in the house.
Unfortunately many live in a ‘mixed’ understanding of God’s grace and can’t pinpoint what changes between the glorious ‘flying’ freedom they sometimes have, and the grinding slog of feeling ‘not good enough’. Here’s a question that reveals the essence of whether you’re walking or flying: do you know that God is fully pleased with you, that you’re completely acceptable in His eyes? If not, it’s those walking boots you’re about to put on again.
Christianity is the only religion where God seeks out man. All the others are men attempting to reach God through sweat and tears (and sadly sometimes blood). In Christ, God reached out to His prodigal planet, and He paid the full price to bring us to God with His life blood. He made us righteous – ‘right with God’. He reached for us and called us. When we responded, He transformed us and brought us near.
What we have to do is believe it. We have to keep the wings of faith stretched out to know that we are fully loved and accepted by the Father. All the time.
Romans 1:17 says, “in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”’ This faith says, “I am righteous in Christ; God smiles when He sees me; I’m His son.” Faith for righteousness is needed at first in our salvation, and is crucial right until the end. It’s how we fly.
Pursuing this is what Jesus meant in the second part of His words: ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’. It’s interesting how even material provision flows from confidence in righteousness, and we worry less too. (Read Matt 6:25-34 in this light.)
As you fly, carried by the Spirit, you are not under law. You’re flying in the sunshine and blue skies of God’s favor. So expect to soar to greater heights in Christ: expect more victory, deeper worship, the joyful ‘fruit of abiding’, power and healing, miracles and breakthroughs, Christ’s nature revealed in you, love poured into and through your heart and people touched by the influence of Heaven through you. Expect glorious destiny and world changing impact. Not because you slog, but because you fly.