So, how do you deal with each other when you see one who is breaking the law? Hello?!? Shouldn't that tell you something? You need to be careful how you handle these situations because you will find yourself falling right back into the same old patterns of using some kind of a law, a rule, or a principle to correct the law-breaker. Hey, look, I'm talking to you who are spiritual … you who have the very life of God within you! Do you hear what I'm saying? This is the exact point where we usually lose it and jump back into bondage, because while I may view myself in freedom I see you doing something wrong and I approach you as one who needs advice on how to deal with your problem. Hey, the problem here is that your brother has forgotten who he is … and you have, too! Forget the advice and the formulas. What the guy needs is for you to lift this weight of bondage off of him through the power of the message of freedom. When this happens you will see Christ's command to “Love one another” fulfilled.
Anyone who thinks he has a reputation or considers himself a somebody is playing the comparison game. Give it up, where do you get off with this reputation stuff? But when you're operating under a system of rules and regulations it creates a framework with a system of degrees and credentials. It's this measuring of one against another that produces the illusion. In reality, God has taken those who the world considers nobodies and gives them significance in the life of another … the risen Christ Jesus!
You want to boast about something? Get off this thing of comparing yourself to others! Now examine your own work. Without the comparison game to place yourself above or below one another what are you left with? Don't you find that Christ is your life and only in him can you boast? Now, those who teach this freedom to you … support these guys in every good way.
Let me ask you something. Do you remember how God established that all things would produce “after its own kind”? Do you suppose that he will suspend this natural order of reproduction? Get real. The life lived under a system of rules®ulations(law) is trapped by the weak and worthless elemental principles of the world and only produces more of the same! So, don't be surprised at the stuff you see happening in your life when you turn from Christ and determine to produce it yourself. On the other hand, true life – the quality that is eternal life – is only produced by the Spirit. What I'm telling you should be obvious! A poisoned well only produces poisoned water, a living well only produces living water.
So, don't be fooled by appearances and lose heart in doing that which is truly good … for there is always the tendency to do the right thing instead of being the living thing. It's just too easy to get tired of not seeing enough action … remember the product of Abraham's impatience. As to doing good, you don't need any rules to tell you how to live … it is in you; that is the miracle of God's indwelling. So, why is it that we always question the good we want to do by trying to justify it with a principle? Know this: a principle comes in, the life goes out … and love with it. You have been made alive in Christ, live free and count upon the fact that the Spirit of Christ is leading you non-stop into love for one another, especially toward fellow believers. Go for it!
I want you to know that I have given this whole matter my personal attention … I wrote this myself. In my day, men who desired to look respectable would coerce others into the initiation rite of circumcision for the simple reason that they would not have to suffer the rejection reserved for those who preach the message of freedom. It's no different today. Look around you and notice the things your religious leaders are respected for: degrees, morality, signs and wonders, spiritual gifts, a strong stand on their favorite Biblical principles, knowledge, heritage, oratory skills, programs, buildings, large crowds, a denomination, etc. Don't be fooled … that is what they are preaching! For when the man who was rejected by the whole world (by hanging on the cross) is proclaimed as the only way to freedom it doesn't sit very well with the pride of man. For it is one thing to claim to believe in Christ thinking it is a good thing to do; and entirely another to know that you were so far gone that you couldn't do a thing and that you desperately need his sacrifice.
Whether it was the circumcision farce of my day or whatever you hold to today as the thing to bring you closer to God, it really doesn't make any difference. Don't you know that those who pass the initiation don't keep the law themselves? No, they are only looking for you to join their club and receive their brand on you so they can glory in one more convert! As for me, may I have no cause for boasting except in the thing that the organizations of man despise, which is the cross of Christ. It is this very instrument of death that separates the world from me … and me from the world! Whatever the initiation issue is that you are considering (or are holding to now) means nothing, nor does the lack of it mean anything. Simply stated, it is not what you do or what you don't do that counts for anything, but it is the new creation that you have been made in Christ that counts for everything. Those that want a rule … there it is! I know, that sounds like an anti-rule, but the peace of God is upon those who hold to it.
I've had enough of these guys with their brand marks … don't let them cause me any more trouble! They're showing theirs, well I can show mine … and I have lots of them. I count it a privilege to have suffered for Jesus and the scars all over my body are his brand marks on me … not that the world considers them something to be proud of. God's grace through Christ be with your spirit, my brothers.