I've been blogging recently about the Kingdom identity of holiness and righteousness, because this is our freedom!
The New Testament has law. When you read it, you can see that the first Christians were dealing with a lot of rules and regulations. Don't gossip, don't commit murder, don't tell lies, don't think immoral thoughts. Sometimes it feels like the New Testament focuses as much on the dos and don'ts as the Old Testament does, right?
People say, "Christians live by too many rules." They're wrong. We don't live by too many rules. We don't live by any rules! We live according to commandments, and there are two of those, which are actually just one: Love God our Father with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
It doesn't mean that we sin whenever we want. It means we don't want to sin. It happens, of course. Have I lied? Yes! Did it feel good? No! Do I want to do it again? No!
I don't steal. I don't cheat on my wife. I don't commit murder. Sometimes I have unhealthy thoughts. I don't like it, but I do, and I will as long as there's flesh on my bone. Where there is flesh, there is sin.
In Romans 7, Paul says, "There's a battle waging inside me. Who can save me from this sin?" Jesus saves you. He's the one inside of you that reminds you who you are. It is through Him that you are made holy and righteous. You will live out of your flesh at times, but that's not your identity. Your identity is Kingdom identity.
This does not mean that I'm a sinner that's saved. It means I am a saint that sins. That's two different views, right? One theology teaches that you're a sinner. It's a theology that says, "I want to control that individual, so I'm going to tell him, 'You need me, because you're going to sin and you need saving.'" But that's not what Jesus says. Jesus says you're a saint that sins. He tells you, "You don't need them. They need me! I make saints that mess up from time to time."
Holy and righteous people aren't idol-worshippers or backstabbers or God-haters. We don't gossip, murder, tell lies, steal, or have immoral thoughts. It doesn't square with who we are. We are confident in our understanding of who we are in Christ. We can say, "Those aren't dos and don'ts. Those aren't even commands from God. It's not necessary to require moral behavior from me. I live morally because of who I am, not because I'm afraid God is going to be disappointed in me."
Doing good is as natural to Kingdom people as an Inuit wearing furs to stay warm, or a Muslim woman wearing a scarf to cover her hair. Do we make mistakes? Yes. Do we battle with the desires of the flesh? Yes. But this isn't what defines us.
And it's certainly not motivated by fear. Kingdom people don't do the right thing because they want God to like them, or because they fear His disappointment or His punishment. Kingdom people do the right thing simply because it's obvious to us that goodness is good. It's how we live, because it's who we are.
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Jeremy Affeldt is a pitcher for the World Champion San Francisco Giants, a philanthropist and co-founder of Generation Alive and the author of "To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice and Major League Baseball." Follow on Twitter @JeremyAffeldt and @GenerationAlive