A few weeks ago I flew from Myanmar back to Cambodia. On my layover in Bangkok, I got to talking with a girl from Brazil, living in France but spending 6 months of each year traveling Asia. She had just spent 11 days meditating, in silence, at a Buddhist monastery in India.
She described to me how she really liked Buddhism because it was about doing good, for goodness’ sake, instead of for a future reward, like heaven. Whether or not that’s an accurate description of Buddhism, I’m not sure. But it got me thinking.
Today I read this:
“‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” -John 8:31b-36
If there is one thing that pushes us to justify our sins, it is fear of judgment over sins we have so far been unable to stop. There can be no other reason for someone who loves the God for who’s identity the law is an expression. The person that loves God, loves his law as an image of him, as a path to meeting him in everyday life. The person that loves God would not honestly and knowledgeably try to change his law unless that person had given up believing it was possible to obey, and had started depending on themselves, rather than Christ, for their justification.
So if we love God, as expressed in his law, but we find ourselves excusing our sin for fear of judgment, it’s time to think further about Christ. It’s time to investigate if he really is love. Because doubt in his love is the root of our fear. If he is love, we have no reason to fear judgment, and therefore no reason to change the law.
So removing our doubts, we can recognize, fearlessly, that we are saved from sin. We can stop quelling our deepest hope–our knowledge, in fact–that even that sin can be overcome. And we can start fighting for good, against sin, with the Spirit. Not in order to win Jesus’ approval. Not in order to avoid judgment. Not because we’re supposed to.
But because we want to. Good is good. We know it, we love it, and when the Son sets us free, we can be free to do it, indeed.