The Law Foreshadows the Spirit


  Photo by Steve Murray – Where Moses looked into the promised land

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Spirit does what the Law could never do.

The law is exterior to us. It imposes a standard for us to follow, but it does not give us the desire or the power to follow it. The Spirit gives us both.

When we invite God to be the Lord and savior of our lives, when we are born again, born from above, God’s Spirit comes to reside in us, and God’s Spirit gives us both the desire and the power to conform to the nature of God.

While the Law may have given us some model and structure to live by that would please God and help us conform to God’s nature, it gave us neither the desire nor the power to live by that model and structure. The history of the nation of Israel is a history of God’s chosen people who were given God’s very law who simply would not and could not follow it.

Lest we be too harsh though, the Law given to the nation of Israel was is a necessary precursor to the law of the Spirit. For one thing, it demonstrated the standard of God and exposed the fact that we, as His created beings, simply cannot live up to that standard on our own.

It was instructional in that way and in other ways, giving us some idea of who God is and how we can relate to God.

The ritual laws were designed to reveal God’s desire to live among us. The description of the presence of God residing in the Ark of the Covenant, resting the holy of holies, the very inner sanctum of the temple into which only the priests, after consecrating themselves, could go, is a physical illustration of how we progress from outside the temple, into the courts of the temple, into the temple itself, and only after humble consecration into the holy of holies where we commune with God Himself.

The temple worship is an illustration for approaching God with thanksgiving and song and progressing to recognition of sin and forgiveness and deep, intimate prayer and reverence that now takes place in our hearts. The Law gave us a physical example of the spiritual reality God desired to enter into.

That reality was made available to us by Jesus. Jesus was the embodiment of God in human flesh, living out God’s righteousness and character in His interaction with the people of 1st Century Judea. Jesus made the way for the Spirit by His death burial and resurrection – dying for our sins that we might be considered righteousness before God and able to receive God’s Holy Spirit in our own selves.

The Law given to the nation of Israel was forward-looking, setting the stage for the coming of Christ who we are told God sent at the right time. Though Jesus was the embodiment of God in human form and demonstrated God in his life and teaching, it wasn’t enough for Jesus to come as the embodiment of God in human flesh.

We needed something more. We needed God the Spirit living in us in order to accomplish the purpose and desire of God. God in us, welcomed by faith and humble submission, bears the fruit God has desired from us all along. This is fruit we were incapable of producing on our own. This is the fruit the law, being outside of us, could not produce.

This fruit is not ritual observance, commandments, sanctified diet or anything else that we can do. The fruit is the very nature of God: it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law; this is the reality the Law foreshadowed but could not produce in us.

 

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2 Comments on “The Law Foreshadows the Spirit”


  1. In some bible versions, “patience” fruit of the spirit is replaced with “long suffering”. I remember the first time I came across that. I literally thought it was a misprint in my bible… because all of the other fruits were “nice” kinds of things.

    There is an advantage of the Holy Spirit over Jesus. Jesus, as a human, was limited. He could not visit/talk to everyone on Earth simultaneous… he could not be everywhere at one time… physical limits. The Holy Spirit has no such physical limitations.

    Liked by 1 person


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