Completed by the Spirit Part 22: A Summary

Ed Trefzger

Ed Trefzger

This is the 22nd and final part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I presented at a New Covenant Theology think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

The apostle Paul writes throughout his epistles that the law was given for a different covenant and that believers are not under its jurisdiction. He makes no qualifications in this: he does not separate the law into component parts – moral, civil and ceremonial – and he does not prescribe commands of the Torah for our Christian walk.

Paul warns us of the power of the law to promote sin in the flesh and implores us not to submit to its yoke of slavery.

While John is often referred to as the apostle of love, love is a major focus of Paul’s teaching. (A search for “love” in the Pauline epistles returns 115 results in the ESV.) It is love that fulfills the law in the Christian; it is a perfect love of God and of neighbor that is a reflection of the relationship among the Trinity and it is a perfect love of God and of neighbor that is the outworking of our completed Christ-likeness in glory.

Until then, an increasing reliance upon the love of Christ – given to us by His Spirit –molds us more and more into His image.

No law can produce the fruit of the Spirit. All that the law can do is produce sin, despair, self-condemnation and self-righteousness in our remaining imperfection.

It is our union with Christ through His Spirit that results in our sanctification.

“I have come to realize,” writes Jerry Bridges, “that the deep work of spiritual transformation of my soul has been what the Holy Spirit has done, not what I have done. I can to some degree change my conduct, but only He can change my heart.”[1]

Thus, while Paul gives us imperatives in his exposition of what it means to be a follower of Christ in our hearts and in our conduct, those imperatives have their basis only in the indicative of what Christ has done in us.

“[1] There is therefore now no condemnation,” self or otherwise, “for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:1–2).

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[1] Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006), 106.

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