The urge to resist rages within each one of us. Our inclination is to cast off all rules that bind us. The only way to be truly free is to do away with all laws. This allows us to live any way we please, or so we imagine.

The Greek word (compound) to describe this human characteristic is anomia. It literally means without law.  It is often translated lawlessness.

Given this human tendency, it is no wonder that Paul encountered such intense opposition to his gospel. Paul says that if we’re in Christ, we’re not under law! (Galatians 5:18, Romans 6:14). The immediate (and sometimes violent) response to such a reckless doctrine is, “Teach that and everyone will feel free to indulge their sinful appetites!”

And so the standard, religious response to this human tendency toward lawlessness is the addition of more laws. We seek to control rebellious urges by insisting on greater restrictions, tighter regulation, firmer control. This is the human response.

God’s profound and startling solution is just the opposite! He removes the law.

  • The first approach, the human approach, seeks to treat the symptoms, never reaches the underlying cause of our rebellion, and winds up killing the human being in the process.
  • The second approach, the divine approach, seeks to make a direct hit on the source of the problem: a depraved heart. It then appeals to the human being on the basis of love, not law.

God tries to convince us through love, grace, and mercy to voluntarily submit to a process of transformation from the inside out. He seeks to transform us back into the image of the original design without ever violating our free will. Pretty ingenious, don’t you think?

Pretty risky, too, given our tendencies.

I don’t know about you, but my experience has been that God’s approach is much more difficult than mine.

  • Living by a list of rules is relatively easy: go to the right church, do the right religious things, etc.
  • Being transformed into the image of Christ? Now that eludes me. Living as he lived? Feeling as he felt? Loving as he loved? Suffering for the cause for which he died? That is difficult stuff.

To tell the truth, I’d rather just go to church, punch my ticket, and get on with my life, wouldn’t you? If I am honest with myself, I must admit that I am not nearly as interested in being transformed into the image of Christ as I am in (1) being able to live any way I want right here and right now, and (2) still being able to go to heaven when I die.

My way–creating rules that confirm my free pass into heaven when I die–is the easy way. God’s way–being transformed from a self-centered clod into a self-sacrificing servant–is much more difficult.

God’s way is not my way, that much is certain.