When the Spirit himself comes in the omnipotence of his grace, resistance vanishes. ~J.L. Dagg
God’s providence has put a consistent theme in front of me recently: the new covenant blessing of the Holy Spirit. Often (and rightly so) we talk about being “Cross-centered” and speak of the forgiveness of Calvary. Of course, we must do this! Only at the Cross are we forgiven, for we could never keep what God requires (see the Ex. 20, i.e., the Ten Commandments). Christ was punished in our place, and purchased our pardon. We do well, very well, to saturate our minds and lives in this fact.
However, what we might sometimes neglect, is the imperative commands still demanded of those living under the Cross. I have been working through this a lot recently, partially because I got married and partially because I have been thinking a lot more on the Old Testament Law. I tend toward extremes, in all aspects of my life. This fleshes out in emphasizing one reality over another, either the indicative (the Cross) or the imperative (the commands). Of course these do not contradict each other, but my small-minded ways tend to compartmentalize and functionally focus upon one or the other.
One thing that, like I said, is becoming more and more clear to me is the nature of the New Testament imperatives (“Do” or “Do not”, etc.). Or more specifically, how we are called to view them. It seems we are always called to view commandments in the New Testament in light of the accomplishments of God in Christ, including the sending of the Spirit. Often we talk of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension. But we forget about fact of Pentecost — Jesus sent his Spirit upon his people. This is a fulfillment of what Jeremiah 31 talks about — the LORD putting his Spirit within his people, so that they might obey his laws. These must be Old Covenant laws, because Christ was still hundreds of years away. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 declares that the new covenant surpasses the old because the new covenant includes the gift of the Spirit.
We see in the New Testament that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead now enables the people of God to obey. The power is the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am only beginning to grasp this, but I do know that we must correctly view the work of Christ, and not neglect certain aspects of the Gospel. The Son-sent-Spirit comprises a huge part of the good news of salvation — that we, as children of God, can now obey our Father’s commands.