Commentary on "The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy"
Day 4: Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Today’s text, John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” The lesson asks what Jesus links joy to, and then answers the question, that it is obedience to God’s law. John 15:10 is quoted, where Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” It is assumed that these commandments are the laws of Moses, especially the Ten.
There is no greater joy than being obedient to God’s will, the author states. Psalms 1:2 is given, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Obedience to the law will not produce a guilty conscience, but will be liberating. Since pain and suffering in the universe are the result of stepping outside the will of God, obedience to the Ten Commandments through faith can help restore joy.
Can the law of Moses give Christians a clear conscience, liberation, and joy? We know that when Moses went into the presence of God to receive the law, he came down the mountain with his face ablaze with glory, so that Israel was afraid of him. He placed a veil over his face, not to hide the glory from the poor frightened Israelites, but to hide its coming to an end. This Paul explains in II Cor. 3:13. The law written in stone was spectacular, but alas! It was a fading glory that was not permanent.
If only those of us who have been zealous for the Moses law could see ourselves in the mirror held up by Paul in II Cor. 3! We have wanted to perform glorious obedience to the ten words written in stone, and held on to that glory with all our might, but the clear conscience and joy elude us. Paul says that the same veil prevents the guardians of the law from seeing that it has faded away.
In the fading glory of the Old Covenant, the Law reveals the hopelessness of trying to obtain liberation by keeping the ministry of death (II Cor. 3). What begins as an invigorating challenge gradually fades into drudging failure. When even the strongest and bravest honestly try to keep it, the Law will fulfill its purpose by defeating them. That is its function as a ministry of death, to kill us!
The veil represents our attempts to cover over our failure to keep the law. It hides the utter futility in using the stone tablets to give us a heart of flesh, or find joy, and keeps us self-deceived about our fatal condition. A veil lies over the heart of anyone who is still trying to keep it as a self-betterment program. Death is the answer!--death to that law, death to self, and death on a cross. Then, “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”
“Likewise, my brothers, you also 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.” Romans 7:4
With His Spirit making us new creatures and giving us a new spirit (Eze. 36:26, 27), we will behold His face directly, without a veil. Moses could not look at the face of God and live. When we behold the face of Jesus, we become alive. We have life abundantly because we are new creatures with a living spirit. This “new creation” (ktisis) means a new kind of life that was not in the universe before, that burst into existence through an act of special creation. As new creatures, our spirits commune with His Spirit (Rom. 8:16). We can behold with unveiled faces God’s glory, while we are being transformed from glory to glory.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberation from a bad conscience. The Spirit’s freedom is leaping and dancing out in the sunlight, before God’s face, “very bold” and having nothing to hide. When He shows us the beauty of Christ and we delight in His excellence, we also see our own efforts for what they are--shabby layers of fa┴ade and deception to make us look better than we are. Now we no longer fear His gaze, because we have seen the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” II Cor. 4:4
What then of Moses’ law?
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners…” I Timothy 1:8, 9
Christ doesn’t lead us back to the law, the law leads to Him! He is the end of the law, its goal. Let us delight in the law’s righteous function to show us our sin, and drive us out of the shadows into the reality of our risen Lord.
GO TO DAY 5
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