Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. The apostle Paul had a rather interesting life of faith. His story is probably well known to us. As a Jew, Paul was zealous in following the Law, as he tells us, beyond all his contemporaries. He excelled in following the Law. And then came his big conversion to the Lord Jesus. This was not simply a conversion in doing something different but rather in being someone else. His insight helps us to understand the role of religious law in our life.
In understanding this, we have to be careful to avoid two incorrect extremes. The first would be in seeing Paul as completely disregarding the history and the role of the Torah. The second, would be seeing that Paul’s insight means we can do whatever we want, the type of freedom that really is best defined as license. Both extreme interpretations would be incorrect. What Paul is giving us is an understanding of freedom that flows out of a loving relationship that calls us to be more than we can possibly imagine.
What Paul has come to realize, is that in his relationship with the Lord Jesus, his conversion to the way of life of the kingdom of God, he is become truly free in seeing all things in light of Jesus Christ. It is the Jesus Christ has become the embodiment and perfect expression of the Law. The example of Jesus provides Paula with an understanding that not only is he called to live up to the obligations of religious life, but is also given the grace of the Lord Jesus and the example of the Lord Jesus’ way of life.
A relationship with Jesus provides us, is an understanding that in the person of Jesus we come to know not only the Lord Jesus and his example of how to live life, we come to know ourselves even better. How can this be? It is the case, because we are made in gods image and likeness. This is not a new insight to the Christian way of life, since this article of faith is given to us in the book of Genesis. But what is unique to a Christian life of faith, is the understanding that we can learn about how to live this way of life in the example of God’s only son, incarnate in human flesh.
What this means for us, is not a relationship with God that is about following rules and regulations, learning again and again befall short in perfect following the law. Nor is it an instance where we find it difficult to separate significant aspects of religious law from those that are not as important. But we learn in our relationship with Jesus, is that following the Lord Jesus means that we come to a deeper understanding of who we are and what we can become.