Against Such There Is No LawFr. Barnabas Powell
There ought to be a law! Isn’t it fascinating that the first thing most people think about when there is some conflict or some disagreement or some unwanted actions in our society is that there should be some governmental control issued to make people “behave” the way they “should?” Why is “passing a law” or getting the government to exercise their power in some way our default answer to conflicts in society? How do you think this is working out for us?
A great example is our current psychological delusion that if we just pass a law then “everything” would be OK. And this delusion is common no matter what side of the political spectrum you happen to be on. And yet, over and over again, we humans have proven that no matter how many laws we enact (and we have enacted thousands of laws) people still do wrong. So, should we abandon making laws? No. But we do need to stop deluding ourselves that external controls are going to solve all our problems!
There is another way!
Look at our lesson today in Galatians 5:22-26; 6:1-2:
Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
It is significant that St. Paul tells these Galatian Christians to “Look to yourself, lest you be tempted.” It is no mistake because avoiding temptation requires me to be attentive to my brokenness and my tendency to be asleep, until it’s too late, in giving in to temptation.
St. Paul’s wisdom to the Galatian Church, a church made up of a lot of Gentiles who were not raised with the Laws of the Jews, is that there is an internal formation that matters more! In fact, he insists that the formation of the “Fruit of the Spirit” internally is superior to any lawmaking or external control. He even says after having listed that internal “fruit” of a vibrant relationship with Christ that “there is no law” necessary to those who have embraced this internal character.
But, how does one develop such an internal character? Brace yourselves!
You have to “crucify” yourself! WHAT? Who would do such a thing TO THEMSELVES? Those who humbly accept the reality of a life lived free from the addictions of the passions and desires. Look at all the lawbreakers in our society. They seem to believe what they want is more important than peace or their neighbor’s desires. They are so undisciplined in their inner life they allow their desires to master them. They are a slave to their wants. They are not free. They need external disciplines from society to control them because they refuse or can’t control themselves. What a horrible and infantile life!
But those who willingly “crucify” (that means actively kill) their desires and passions because they are following Jesus, need no external controls to govern their lives. They are the masters of their desires, not slaves.
AND those who have these desires and passions controlled and disciplined are able to help those around them and even restore their brethren who have “lost control” of their desires. A person who has “crucified” their desires and learned, through the wisdom of the lifestyle of the Faith, to master their passions is a source of strength, peace, harmony, and joy to the whole world. Conversely, those who remain slaves to their passions are the source of dissension, fighting, and childish addiction in society.
Today, are you crucifying your passions and desires, or are you indulging them? Are you able to live your life free from necessary external controls because you still are addicted to your passions? Know that the fruit of the Spirit grows in the lives of those who willingly and humbly and purposefully embrace the disciplines of the Faith to see the character of Jesus created in them. And you can have that Fruit growing in your life IF you have the courage to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Lord Jesus, You know me for who I really am. Grant me the grace and courage to abandon all that is not me for my true self; that person You created me to be. Help me to avoid temptations for a lesser life and fill me with the strength to look to You for my true identity. Amen