If you want to learn to drive do you go to a driving examiner or a driving instructor? Likewise, if you want to be holy do you go to the Law of Moses for help, or the Holy Spirit?
Now, there is nothing wrong with what the driving examiners do and the standards they uphold (although they could be a little bit friendlier sometimes!) However, their job is not to help you, only to see if you meet the required standard.
If you fail the test and you manage to recover yourself after this serious emotional kick in the teeth, then you receive a list of your major, serious and minor faults. Maybe you didn’t look in your mirrors or you forgot to look properly at a junction. Now you know some of the deficiencies in your driving – that is all!
Sin is missing the mark. How do we miss that mark? We fall short of the glory or goodness of God. To have relationship with God you have to be as good as he is! The Law is a shadow, it’s an outline – not the real thing. Likewise, the shadow of a car is not the real thing and you can’t drive it. Jesus is the real thing. Jesus is the perfect representation of the nature of God. He is not an outline or shadow. No, he is the image of the invisible God!
Imagine though, you never had a driving lesson and all you had to help was the test form. Would it be possible to drive just looking and learning from that list? No, of course not, that would be ridiculous! Imagine working out how to control the clutch or deal with traffic just looking at the list of faults – impossible! No, what you need is an instructor or a coach who knows HOW to drive – an expert, an example. As believers, that’s exactly what we have – the most patient, gracious, enthusiastic coach – the expert and wonderful Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the law says you mustn’t steal; you mustn’t lie. That standard hasn’t been replaced – only surpassed! Yes you could, like the rich young ruler that Jesus met, outwardly keep every law from your youth up. However, when Jesus tested him and said: “sell all you have”, Jesus got straight to the spirit of the law, the perfect goodness of God – which says GIVE to others unconditionally. There is no law for this! So you can see, the law isn’t relevant for someone operating at this level of holiness – this is life in the spirit. Love is the fulfilment of the law. The law is now written on your heart. However, this isn’t the Law of Moses, this is the very nature and goodness of God: Christ in you the hope of glory – the Royal Law, the Law of Christ.
Indeed, your coach, the Holy Spirit, isn’t sitting there pointing out your every fault. He’s not perpetually angry, impatient and annoyed with you. He’s not about to get out of the car and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere because you accidently scraped that parked car! However, that is what many Christians think in reality; they believe the Holy Spirit is really that easily grieved and temperamental and unable to deal with us. Grace abounds where sin abounds – but yet the Holy Spirit doesn’t?!
Ok, yes he will lovingly point out an occasional fault, and he will certainly intervene if the fault is so serious we are getting others and ourselves into danger. However, he’s mainly interested in YOU keeping your eyes on the road (Jesus). In fact, as a driving instructor myself, its actually quite annoying and distracting (I’m not perfect), when a pupil keeps saying sorry every five minutes for every fault they commit. My solution for these perfectionist types, is to ban the worst offenders from saying the word sorry at all. I mean, what have they got to apologise for? I’m not expecting them to get everything perfect – they are learning for goodness sake!
Likewise, does the Holy Spirit get a bit fed up with some believers confessing their sins all the time? – I’m just saying!
If, on the other hand, a pupil deliberately tries to knock a cyclist off their bike, then that’s a different matter. I will stop the car, take the keys off them and make sure they know what I think. I am upset and grieved!
The good news is, the Holy Spirit is not expecting you to get everything right first time. All he wants you to do is follow his instructions and answer his questions. Is he going to do everything for you? No, he wants YOU to drive, you’re in the driving seat, but, like driving, spiritual life cannot be microwaved, it comes through knowledge, practice and experience.
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