“For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” — Romans 7:5-6, NIV.
When we consider the notion of serving God, we always associate it with an objective choice of the mind. Very often, it is this choice that will add pressure to believers to accomplish what we’re tasked. In the words of Paul, we are bounded by the law when we made that promise to serve. And as long as we’re bounded by the agreement to serve in the church, whether verbal or written, we will need to fulfil. I think this is good. Even the Bible teaches us not to delay in our fulfilment of a vow to God (ref: Ecclesiastes 5:4-5). But when we consider Paul’s argument of having died spiritually to the law through the body of Christ (ref: Romans 7:4), we are now released from the law (ref: Romans 7:6) to fulfil. Serving God now no longer becomes an obligation of the churchgoer. Rather, it becomes something else. And in Paul’s words, we serve in the new way of the Spirit (ref: Romans 7:6).
Building on this argument, you might suppose that this gives you permission to take service to God lightly and stop as and when we like to. But that’s not the point of God’s sacrifice. Rather, it’s quite the opposite — It fulfils the believer’s obligation to the law. Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfil them (ref: Matthew 5:17). So what does this all mean? We are not bound by the law but we must fulfil the task entrusted to us?
At that, I consider Spirit-filled characters of the Old Testament. We look at David. When David brought the Ark back to Jerusalem, he danced with all his might (ref: 2 Samuel 6:14). He didn’t need to. But it was his act of worship. In fact, he was so into his worship to God that he became “undignified” and “humiliated” (ref: 2 Samuel 6:22).
Consider now this act of worship. It was David’s service to God. He fulfilled his service to God. But more than that, he worshipped God in a way that is “not in the old way of the written code”. It was in the “way of the Spirit”. Now then, David did not just complete his obligation to worship. He fulfils it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, when we consider this manner of worship and we reflect on our own attitude towards worship, we need to consider if we are worshipping God out of obligation, or out of genuine love that overflows from the Spirit? It is only through the Spirit that our service to God will surpass that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (ref: Matthew 5:20). It is only when God personally break our barrier to law-based obligation will we be truly free to worship (ref: John 8:36).