What is different?
What is different? Maybe not much. Paul’s problem of “coveting” was perhaps only noticeable to him as an inner struggle, so little may have changed in one sense, in the sense that Paul’s human life went on as before. He never says he quit coveting, only that no condemnation came and then after that he saw himself caught up in and walking in the Spirit. He finds new uses for his humanity which had seemed ready for the discard heap. He never mentions his possessive coveting again, but again and again Paul expresses “coveting” for other things – the salvation of his brethren the Jews, to preach the gospel where it has not been preached before, to continue to reach for the prize, which was not just his own personal resurrection, but the prize of being in on the resurrection of others to newness of life. He covets more than anything to plant the plants of God, and spends everything in his life for that end. “Spending and being spent.” (2 Cor 12:15). Paul does not speak a further word about personal problems with sin. After all that desperation and anguish, from here on out he expresses no further concern about himself or his motivations. He is no longer that self preoccupied with itself as in Romans 7. In another place he says he no longer judges himself, having entrusted all self-judgment to the Lord and the Spirit. His concern about personal behavior, whether outwardly or inwardly, becomes in the Spirit an outgoing concern geared to one purpose, to give his all that others might find life. Everything Paul talked about after this was about God being the sufficiency and power in everything and every instance of life. As he also said, “to live is Christ.” (Phil 1:21).
Certainly, a change does occur, but it is a change in consciousness, from flesh to spirit, and that makes all things new. We have finally left the law, i.e., knowing “about” God, as if God is an object we could study, analyze and “become like.” Now having gone over this hump, we come into knowing God, not as an “over there” person we can look at and touch, but as being mixed in union and oneness in that union through Jesus, so that inwardly we now know that we living are He living. One person expressing Himself as the Same Person in many sons.
All our lives God has spoken to us and in us in various ways, drawing us to Himself in order to reveal the Son in us. Every moment God has been saying in all our hearts, “You are my beloved son,” even if for years of our lives we could not hear His voice. All that time He has unfailingly, little by little, in every circumstance and event of our lives, been perfectly drawing us into Himself in order to reveal His love – in us!
Now here, as we are coming into this life that is Christ’s LIFE being lived out and expressed in the world through and AS our humanity, the greatest shockwave ever hits our mortality, swallowing it up into life. For the first time we hear in ourselves, the Word that God has eternally been saying of us, “You are released from death, and have passed forever into my Life. You may rest from your labors in Me, knowing that I AM the Life in you. Go your way; I do not condemn you!”
Suddenly everything in the universe turns around and changes. The music changes keys. Long sustained dissonance that has been there so long it is almost unnoticed turns harmonious and you notice.
You have found favor! There is One Who sees you and delights in you!
“How could that be for one such as me?” we ask. Only God knows, but here you are, now delivered from the law, now delivered from the self-efforts of a falsely independent self and all its tricks and foibles, now delivered by great wonders out of darkness into light. Right now here you are, called and chosen of God, to bear His name and light in fear and trembling into the world.
The handwriting of ordinances, the law, which rightly testified against us, has been removed, nailed to His cross, where He bore it Himself. And the inner dread, the condemnation it brought us all our lives is pierced through with that same nail, and borne by Him as well.
The word of NO condemnation is the portal, the announcement, of that which is to come, because condemnation is that last little bit that has been about “me,” and from now on we move away from “me” in the life of the Spirit. As we become settled in who we are – Christ living as us – we move into an entirely “for others” life, out of the spontaneity of the Spirit who is working all God’s purposes perfectly in every circumstance and event in our lives. We no longer accept any such thing as “condemnation” because we are He living as us, and are therefore the “beloved Son,” in Whom the Father is always pleased. Having passed out of the inheritance of Adam into the inheritance of Christ, we are no longer of the kingdom of condemnation, and have nothing to do with it anymore.