But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:33)
I remember those days very vividly when I still thought that the law was something which I had to observe by self effort. The law was something outside me which I as a good Christian had to fulfill. What an anguish my soul went through when I repeatedly failed. I still carried around this illusion that God and I were separate beings; He there and I here. I firmly believed that He would give me power to overcome my apparent shortcomings. I must admit I was a bit confused when that power never materialized.
I have, however, come to realize that Christ lives inside me as me, which of course is a huge mystery; that we who are two are one spirit joined together. He will not give me power to overcome anything, since He is power. It isn’t something He has so that He can dispense it to needy Christians. He is power, and it is only through realizing our union that I become power as He is power. It was only by me failing miserably that He could reveal to me that this is the new reality. That illusion of separation really had my mind in a tight grip, so I had to come to the end of myself before I ceased making so much noise.
Lately I have been fascinated by Paul’s statement in Romans 8:4; “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” A verse which corresponds wonderfully with Jeremiah 31:33. In the new covenant the law isn’t longer something out there which I have to adhere to. It is something which is fulfilled in me, because it is God who works in me, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Notice that Paul says “might be fulfilled in us” in the verse quoted from the Romans. Now it becomes very interesting, because that little preposition “in” denotes in Greek to be in from a position of rest! Hence, all my struggling to perform impeded His ability to fulfill the law in me and through me as me! There was no room for Him to spontaneously express Himself through my mortal flesh when my life was governed by rigid rules.
Paul had quite a struggle with the Galatians. After they had come to Christ some wolves had infiltrated their church and promoted the law as a necessary ingredient in the new life. Frustrated Paul exclaimed: “My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal 4:19). Here Paul is saying the same thing as He did to the Romans, but in different words due to a different context. Trying to live the Christian life impedes Christ being formed in us!
To a rather huge group of well meaning Christians that must come as a big shock. We have heard more often than what we wish to count that we have to become more like Christ. That was the original sin from Eden; trying to become more like God. The law is a perfect and holy expression of God’s character. Attempting to live in accordance to the law is thus repeating the original lie. Hence Paul writes to the Galatians: “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse.”
What does it mean that Christ is formed in us? I have come to understand that this is finding our lives again in Him to be perfect expressions of Him in our uniqueness. I am liberated to fully be myself with everything that entails. That is both a profound and magnificent gift. In this lies the realization that I am fearfully and wonderfully made to be an expression of the divine life as me. Only the Spirit can settle us in this truth through faith.
Our old master, Satan, is expelled from the temple. Thus I now say as the psalmist: “O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells” (26:8). That place is me.