One of the challenges of our modern age is living reactively rather than proactively. This living proactively flows from a purposeful discipline that primarily introduces me to myself SO THAT I can enter into a real communion with my creator!
And the enemy of that kind of proactive living is two-fold: to get us to become slaves to our passions, AND to not know the true meaning of ideas. If you misunderstand WHY God wants you to live a life of virtue and morality, you’ll reduce this call from God into mere behavioral modification OR reject wisdom and discipline for an idea of “freedom” that isn’t freedom at all!
Look at our lesson this morning in Romans 7:1-14:
BRETHREN, I am speaking to those who know the law. Do you not know that the law is binding on a person only during his life? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
St. Paul is trying to help the Christians in Rome understand the purpose of God giving “the Law” to the people of Israel and how the relationship to the “Law” is transformed because of the coming of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. This is a huge shift in thinking because those from a Jewish background considered the giving of the Law to be the pinnacle of God’s relationship with His people, Israel. The Law was the basis for their connection to God. But Paul insists the Law was only meant to bring us to the fulfillment of the Law – the Person of Jesus Christ. Paul tells these Romans that God had always intended to BE in them, not just read about by them!
He goes on to explain that this doesn’t mean the Law was bad! Far from it! The Law, the commandments and the regulated lifestyle of the Jewish people was meant to teach us all that we were gripped by sin and death, and the Law fulfilled this revelation perfectly. No matter how hard someone tried to observe all the wisdom of the Law, they failed and they died. But Christ comes to destroy, not the Law, but sin and death which the Law made plain to the whole world! So, the Law of Moses was good. It was fulfilled and perfected, not in our own strength and goodness, but in Christ’s coming among us and destroying the enemies the Law made plain!
Today, are you still trying to be “good enough” to get God to love you? Why? God already loves you with a love greater than anything you could imagine. Now the challenge is to learn to love Him back and that’s where seeing the wisdom of the Faith as your guide to love comes in. By being Orthodox on Purpose you aren’t making God happy as much as you are allowing Him to make you ABLE to return His love and become by grace what Christ is by nature!