This morning, I stumbled across the words, “I came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it.” I think Jesus accomplished this in a few ways, but I want to focus on one that seems less discussed in our times.
In the Old Testament, we see God give Israel a law that they continually fail to uphold. Why? There are many reasons, and I’m sure I only see a few. Part of the human condition called sin is that we are constantly pulled in many different directions between our desire for God and our desire for worldly things. We cannot fully know and understand God’s ways since his ways are beyond us. We are lazy, and proud, and so many things. It is impossible to achieve perfect covenant living when we are sinners. That is why the Israelites failed.
In the New Testament, Jesus comes to free sinners from sin. In freeing us from sin, he has fulfilled the old law by giving us the “power” to overcome sin. By overcoming sin, I am not talking about personal efforts. I am talking about spiritual efforts. Thinking we can save ourselves from personal sin is a heresy called Pelagianism. While Pelagius specifically taught that we can achieve perfection through our own efforts, the fact is, we, as sinners, are always trying to go it alone, to do it ourselves. It is a part of the human condition, and it is an unconscious form of Pelagianism.
The truth is that the Holy Spirit is the answer to freedom in Christ. It is Jesus’ own spirit within us that has the power to deliver us from sin when we admit our weakness and turn to him for help. It is not an overnight fix because we have to learn how to rely on him. We have to learn to surrender to his will, and to let him help us let go of everything within us that drives us to work against his saving power.
God’s kingdom is now. We must choose each and every minute to live in it. To live in it means to surrender to God who knows best. It starts with his invitation and our response. Our response is doing our best (living virtuously), and asking the Holy Spirit to teach us how to rely on him to supernaturally charge our efforts.
I’ll be honest. Sin becomes a more intentional action because once we see how God works to deliver us from sin, we still choose sin more of the time than we like. However, God knows us and is gentle with us. Remember negative voices are the Devil’s way of getting you to quit. Just stay the course. Ask forgiveness, and learn to forgive yourself. As you do so, you will learn what it means to be saved by Christ. In our awareness of our sins, we learn mercy. Through a deep experience with mercy, we experience love. This love is life changing and eternal. It is through this deeper conversion experience that we start to choose not to sin.
Spend some time today with the Holy Spirit asking him to help you see how he stands ready, willing, and able to help you overcome sin. Ask him to give you a glimpse of the truth of a deeper love, a deeper walk with him. Remember, the Holy Spirit is calling you to walk with him. He will not show you everything at one time. It is about learning to dance with the Holy Spirit without stepping on his toes. He will lead, and we have to learn to follow. Ask him to teach you the first move or two in the process. He is faithful, and he will show you the way.
Ms. Debra D. Weldon, O.P.