Are you cheating on Jesus?

by Michael Scroggs

One of the main reasons church members struggle in their “relationship” with Jesus Christ is because they are still in a relationship with (married to) the law. This is, no doubt, unfamiliar and alien information for most church members and leaders. But, this information comes directly from the scriptures. 

Most church members are completely ignorant of what the Bible says about their need to “die to the law through the body of Christ” (to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20), and what it means if they do not become crucified dead to the law as they seek to be joined to Jesus Christ. The ONLY reason they are ignorant of and unacquainted with this truth is they have never heard such radical (original and fundamental) truth from the pulpits under which they have existed over the course of their lives.  Most will categorize it as “new” and “untrustworthy” information – precisely the same response it received from those in religion when the message was first revealed two thousand years ago – but it is neither.  Paul, a former Jewish Pharisee (leader of religion) who became Christ’s “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), was the first to deliver such a new and bold message against his “former way of life” in religion. He had come full circle; born in the flesh into religion only to be born again in the spirit into relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul’s message was simply Christ’s message which he had received personally from Christ Himself through divine revelation during their three year relationship in the Arabian desert (Galatians 1:12).

It is as simple and straightforward as can possibly be stated.  As long as “believers” remain alive to the Law (of sin and death – Romans 8:2) and its natural emphasis on sin (sin consciousness, sin confessions), they will NEVER know the “abundant life” of Christ and the freedom for which He has set us free (from sin, law, and religion). They will NEVER rest in the peace of knowing that only HE can live His Life – the Christian Life – from INSIDE them.

Listen to Paul as he illustrates the point.

“Do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:1-6 (NASB)
Paul uses himself as an example of what the law does to a man who has yet to grasp the extreme value of becoming crucified dead to it (1-6).  He shares his personal experiences – intense mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual inner battles – as he describes what it is like to try living under law and under grace (Romans 6:14).  He testifies to the difficulty of living under the slavery of the law (yoke of bondage) while simultaneously trying to live in the freedom of the gospel – the grace of Christ.  What you will read are the mostly painful words of one struggling in a double minded (two spirited – James 1:8), schizophrenic, adulteress (3) relationship.  You can see his focus on himself – his sin (conscience), the dominion of sin in his thoughts, and the condemnation that results; all of which are to be dead through our crucifixion with Christ.  He is quite focused and disturbed with what is going on within himself as identified by the multitude of references to “I, me, my” in the last nineteen verses (7-25).  Interestingly enough, he had written (3:21) “the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed” and “those of the law are” not heirs (4:14).  He wrote in the previous chapter that we (saints) should not continue to live in what we have died to – sin (6:2), that we are to be dead to sin and alive to God (6:11), and that we should present ourselves as “alive from the dead ones” (unbelievers) who live all around us in the world (6:13).  This is why I believe he is writing of experiences from his past struggles with giving up his religion of law.  Many will present this as his testimony of contrition, of ongoing remorse for his continued struggle with sins, but this is a stretch.  Others will present this as Paul recognizing that the righteousness of God within him is so incredible and appreciated that the least little thought or memory of his former way of life in religion, law, and sin is still part of his struggle.  Some will present that the slightest temptation that currently presents itself and Paul’s recognition of how relentless the sin nature spirit himself is in seeking to devour him is the cause for his struggle.  And you may believe something differently than what I have mentioned, and that is not a bad thing.  But we know one thing for sure; he presents a clear understanding of the truth that we cannot live under the law and in the grace of Christ!

What is Paul teaching and how might we grasp his teaching?

The illustration (1-3)

The married woman represents the Jewish and Gentile readers and listeners of his letter and are the focus of his illustration.

The husband represents the law (the Ten; the Mosaic law of sin and death).

The “another man” represents Jesus Christ; Him who was raised from the dead; the Bridegroom.

In the illustration, the wife represents those who claim to be “saints” though they remain alive to their first husband, the law.  This is precisely the point Paul is trying to make – any wife (saint) not having been crucified dead (with Christ) to her first husband (the law) and claims to be joined to another man (the Christ of the New Way) is living in an adulteress relationship with the “another man.”

In the illustration:

  • (2) The wife was bound by the law to her husband as long as he was alive.
  • (2) The wife was released from the law if her husband died.
  • (3) The wife was called an adulteress if she were joined to another man while her husband lived.
  • (3) The wife was not called an adulteress if her husband died (being made free from the law) and she was joined to another man.

Application of the illustration:

  • The wife is every unbeliever before they turn from unbelief (faith-trust in the sin nature spirit within; self-centered) to belief (faith-trust in the righteous nature Spirit within; other-centered).
  • The wife (unbeliever) is seen in God’s eyes as a potential member of the bride of Christ.
  • The wife (unbeliever) is bound by the law (of sin and death; the Ten) and its God designed purposes to proliferate sin until she gives in to the sin spirit derailment in her life – her end.
  • The wife (unbeliever) was given complete reconciliation through redemption and offered free and clear access to the righteousness of God – by grace through faith without works – over two thousand years earlier.
  • The wife (unbeliever), by grace (the Groom having fulfilled the law and removed all her sins), through faith-trust (believing in what Christ has accomplished and finished on her behalf) now begins living “dead to the law” – the former way of life – and alive to the perfect law of liberty (freedom in Christ). And dead people do not respond to the stimuli (motivations) of the former way of living under the influence of the sin nature spirit and his death dealing ways.

The audience (4-6)

Paul wrote more specifically to his Jewish brethren who were naturally entrenched in the Jewish traditions, books, and law of Moses, and who were finding it difficult to trust in the new Way – the God purchased “grace through faith-trust without religious works” message – which was just in its embryonic stage as a result of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Christ.  But he also wrote to those Gentiles who had chosen to convert to Judaism at some earlier point in their life and were also converting to the new Way.  But God used him to write to all of us who would become saints (the adopted Jews of the faith of Abraham).

He was illustrating how they were to handle their dilemma.  In their former way of life (religion), they were joined to the law (their husband).  The law (their religion) and its rules, regulations, traditions, ordinances, or obedience to any religious practices, could not make any of them more righteous or more “like God.”  If they were

Paul clearly illustrated the fact that the saint cannot be joined (married) to the law and simultaneously be joined (married) to Christ.  In fact, he defines such a participant – one joined to Christ while still in a relationship with the law – as an adulteress (3).

  • Paul states the law was not to be dead to us, but we to it. The law remains at work in the lives of unbelievers – strengthening sin and working the sin consciousness so as to bring the sinner to their confused, broken, and dead end – that repentant end – where they finally realize they are incapable of doing anything to attain God’s love, acceptance, and righteousness.  And that is why He came – to give it away – unearned and unattainable by flesh practices, free and forever by faith – trusting that He has completed and provided it for anyone willing to trust Him.
  • Paul illustrated the wife was “made to die to the law through the body of Christ” (4). In our crucifixion with Christ, not only does Christ remove our sin debt and fulfill the law in us, but we are made brutally dead to the law – no longer having the law (the strength of sin, the increase of sin, the power of sin, and the consciousness of sin) as our schoolmaster.

What Paul said to his readers and listeners then is the same thing he is saying to us who read his letter two thousand years later.  We, as saints, are to be made dead to the law and its sinful implications.  We are to stop making the law an additional element to the gospel of Christ for salvation.  We are to cease from feeding on all that religion has to offer – the flesh practices, traditions, rituals, ordinances, obedience to its man-made rules, and the “works of righteousness which we have done” – and start enjoying the restful relationship for which Christ actually created us.

Paul declares: You cannot be affectionately attached to the law (religion) and be joined with Christ (as part of the bride of Christ) in a meaningful and monogamous relationship!  And this statement is one that religionists have always found difficult to believe and preach.  Why?

Full trust and allegiance to Christ and His finished work for our redemption and righteousness, and our disengagement with the religion to which we have been so affectionately attached, will cause us to have to do the unthinkable – that which I had to do over ten years past.  I had to admit to my congregation that I had been wrong, deceived in my religious upbringing and my understanding of the truth.  I stood before them and publicly sought their forgiveness for preaching and living according to another gospel; which is not really a gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-9).  I had finally realized my own inability to live out what I was led to believe was necessary and possible to maintain my “right” relationship with Christ.  I realized I was living “the lie of the devil in Eden” as I could not achieve being more “like God” and I hardly ever, if ever, experienced the “victorious Christian life” (which I seldom, if ever, witnessed in the life of any other believer).

Believing what Paul describes in this passage causes us to admit that we have been mistaken concerning our new identity.  If we remain loyal to our religion (our pastors, churches, and denominations) that does not preach and practice the truth of the grace of Christ, we remain alive to the law and, if truly saved, in an adulteress relationship with Jesus Christ; disbelieving the truth and living double minded.

Have we been misled?  What have we been taught?

  • We are instructed that we have been saved by grace but we have to maintain our relationship with Christ; which negates the need for faith. This is the result of actual unbelief in what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.  It is like saying, “I have a responsibility to maintain my side of the relationship!” Really?  Did Abraham walk through the fire when God did to complete the covenant of Promise?  No!  Abraham was in a deep sleep.  God spared him from having to walk through the fire; just as He has spared you from walking through the fire; Jesus visited hell on your behalf.
  • We are subconsciously taught that Christ’s work was incomplete – not powerful enough to remove our sin issues. Therefore, we live under false pretenses and a false identity, believing we are just “sinners saved by grace.”  We humans live out what we believe to be true.  We agree with what we have been led to believe without ever questioning the authenticity of the information we have received.
  • We are all sinners, even after our new creation life, because we all have the sin nature somehow supernaturally attached to our flesh body container. Thus, we are destined to struggle with sin for the rest of our lives until our flesh body container dies, where we are finally delivered from and set free of the sin nature.
  • We must be faithful to do what our religion (denomination) says in order to live “the victorious Christian life.”

Truth says…

  • Saints are those who have been saved by grace through faith without works because that is what Christ says He has accomplished for us (Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).
  • Christ’s work – reconciling all men to God by redeeming His own flesh body (became a sinful, worthless coupon which He redeemed for something of value, all of us) – was finished once and for all and powerful enough to have removed all our sins, the penalty for sin, the power of sin, and the person of sin (the sin nature spirit himself) from our own flesh body containers as saints.
  • Sinners are those who perform sins because they are operated (led) by the sin nature spirit himself “that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2) to accomplish his own desires in and through their lives (John 8:44).
  • Sinners were at odds with God due to their sin debt with Him – until Jesus came!
  • Grace reconciled all sinners to God through His own death (2 Corinthians 5:19) by removing their sins (Psalm 103:12), bringing the sins (sin accounts) of “the whole world” (1 John 2:2) to a zero-balance due. That is amazing grace!  That is truly unmerited and unearned favor!

In placing our trust in Christ (turning from unbelief to belief), we recognize He has finished the work He came to earth to complete on our behalf – because He knew we were totally incapable of doing one righteous thing.  We realize that our new and true identity is Christ alone – He IN us, AS us – and that He actually comes to live IN us because that was His initial creative purpose for us, and that He will perform the work He began in us from the foundation of the world.  The progressive nature of our righteousness comes in our understanding of who we are in Christ and accepting the truth that our flesh works of righteousness are over.  We have exchanged our former way of life and thinking (religion, law, sin consciousness) for our new way of life and thinking (forgiven, grace, no sin consciousness, the mind of Christ).  We begin to know and enjoy confidence in who we are – Christ in our form – and in what He is doing IN and FROM and THROUGH our personal life and that He is truly our only righteousness as there is no other righteousness.  We are as complete and righteous in Christ as we will ever be and there is no point in furthering a belief system that says we receive Him (sanctification) incrementally as we obey Him, obey our religious laws, and live right before others; proving our worthiness and maintaining our relationship with Him.  We no longer have to live “under the influence” of religion (sin consciousness), live in endless defeat, or struggle as we take progressive steps toward becoming righteous (which would only result in self-righteousness).  Therefore, we cease from any self-effort and are led by the Spirit of God to accomplish His mission.

This is a difficult thing for those who have been in religious leadership and teaching positions – to have to admit that they were off base and have been preaching only half-truths.  It is not an easy thing to admit that in our efforts to become more like Christ, or climb the progressive sanctification ladder toward His righteousness, that we are actually engaging in unbelief of the fact that Jesus paid it all, that Jesus is enough, and that Jesus will never send us a “balance due” notice on our sin account, and that sin no longer has dominion over (domination in) our minds, thoughts, and yes, our flesh.

Paul knew they were attempting to make the gospel of Christ an “additive” to their own law-based religion.  He was trying to illustrate it for them in the simplest terms so they would understand the Truth and be able to enjoy a genuine and restful relationship in Christ.

He believed this truth enough to write about it in most of the letters he wrote in the New Testament.  No wonder the religious leaders didn’t like him.  No wonder the religious leaders today do not like the present-day Grace preachers.  No wonder he was so hated among the religionists.  And that is true today as well.  Any pastor or other Grace Life teacher who presents and promotes the Truth of the gospel of the grace of Christ is considered a heretic, a false teacher, and unbiblical; when in fact, the opposite is true.

According to Paul, living under the law and trying to “live for Jesus” is nothing but living in an adulterous affair with Christ and is destined for failure.  Nothing like the blunt truth!  But, now having personally experienced both sides of the conundrum, as Paul did, I am extremely grateful.  I understand why most “believers” struggle intensely in their “relationship” with Christ.  I understand why “believers” confess their sins daily, trying to feel better about themselves.  I understand why “believers” actually live in unbelief, not trusting day to day in unbelief They do not realize their new and true identity.  And that is because they are ignorantly living in religion and under the law – the yoke of slavery – that which was only to hold them until they trusted in the gospel of Christ.  They are burdened under the notion that they must adhere to the law in order to maintain the Christ relationship – and that is from the father of lies.

It is only in this truth that they will be set free.  But, there is a cost to being set free!  If you identify with this truth,

  • It may cost you your position in religion; it did me!
  • It may cost you your income.  It did me!
  • It may cost you friends; it did me!
  • It may cost you family; it did me!

 

I have spoken with several pastors who agree with the gospel of the grace of Christ but they remain in pastoral positions by preaching the message of the Pharisees so they lose their family income.  I suppose that is “religion” at its finest.  Or, to be less blunt, job security at its finest.

 

If you have questions about what you’ve read, that’s ok!  It has taken me years to have “confidence in Christ” enough to share openly what He has shared with me.

If you are seeking to be set free from your inability to measure up to the standards of religion or the feelings and experiences of condemnation, contact me.  Maybe you would like some clarity or want to speak with a fellow, and former, law-based religionist, who has been set free in the Truth of Christ.  I would be happy to share with you what He has shared with me.  Maybe you just want to talk about your life… your issues… your relationship with God… I would sincerely love to listen to you.

You can contact me by email:  theinnerpeacecoach@yahoo.com

Do get in touch with me.

Until then, grace and peace!

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