For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions aroused through the law were working in us to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law. (Romans 7:5-6)
There are two ways of obedience: obedience to the letter of the law and obedience by the Spirit. Obedience to the letter of the law can be grueling and harsh, and often feels like forced submission. It grades against our inner self and easily fosters resentment. We gain a sense that we are serving an impersonal system that cares nothing for our personal needs and would roll over us like a steamroller should we disobey. There is no joy in obeying the letter of the law, and Jesus Christ has come to set us free from obligated obedience.
In contrast, obedience by the Spirit is joyful to the soul. Jesus Christ has given his life for our redemption, and we love him for it. We are motivated to obey him not because we agree that his rules are good nor because we’ve calculated they will help us achieve our goals. We obey him because we love him and trust him. We are no longer obeying a system of rules, we are giving our obedience to the person of Christ. We know that whatever he commands is for our good.
Lord Jesus Christ, because you have given your life for me, I trust you. Deliver me from obedience to the letter of the law and move me into the joyful freedom of spiritual obedience.