Conundrum: a confusing and difficult problem or question.
How do we understand this desire to live a life dedicated to God? For many Christians this is Christianity 101, basic stuff that is not hard to understand at all.
For others, it is the great stumbling block to acceptance of Christ in one’s life.
What is this New Covenant and how is it supposed to work? Why did the Jewish people not buy into this idea, still clinging to the Old Covenant of Laws, Rules and Regulations [e.g. The Laws of Moses]? Why does Pastor Hamilton spend a whole chapter talking about this in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White?
Nowhere in the Bible can you find a greater advocate for the New Covenant than the Apostle Paul. He preached that God had placed His Spirit in the hearts of all who believe. Why is this significant? That spirit is our guide to living a life dedicated to God.
For the Christian who wants to do the right thing, that Holy Spirit is our Guide, not a set of laws. For the Christian who wants to honor God, the Holy Spirit is our Guide. For the Christian who wants to please God, the Holy Spirit is our Guide.
This may be super simple. I have had several conversations with a man at church. He and I have talked about this Holy Spirit quite a lot. He is retired and instead of spending his retirement years doing nothing, he tells me that he lets the Spirit guide him throughout his day and when he can do this, the day goes well.
For me, I sense the Holy Spirit the most when I am working in the yard. I love gardening and maintaining a landscape and with the seasons, the temperature and the moisture conditions, things change. I often have a sense that I have to do what is most important at the time based on the conditions that are there. Often I pray for direction and believe it or not, I feel the Spirit tells me what to do.
What we are talking about here is being “led by the Spirit.” “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” says Paul in Romans 8:14. This is the same Spirit Jesus describes to His Disciples in the words “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.…” [Matthew 10: 19-20].
When you add the freedom of forgiveness to this newfound direction, you come to see Christians as having a freedom to fulfill the “greatest” commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Did some take this newfound direction as a ticket to do anything they wanted?
Of course they did, misinterpreting the New Covenant as a pass to absolute freedom. All they had to do was profess a faith in Christ. They did not feel they had to do anything.
If you are a student of the Bible, read the Book of James where he states it simply: “faith without works is dead” [James 2:20]. Do we need to elaborate further?
Do people today live the life of absolute freedom, putting on a veneer of the Christian but living any way they want? They do.
But that is not what Jesus intended for His followers to do.
It is a conundrum because Jesus came so we could experience the forgiveness of our sins if we profess that we accept the gift of salvation. That sounds so easy…too easy some say.
The biggest question is how do we live in response to our acceptance of God’s offer? It is a commitment, a commitment to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, follow what the Holy Spirit says to do and get ready to do stuff.
As my friend has told me, if you ask Him “what do I need to do now”, He will tell you where to go, what to do and how to do it…