Fully Devoted Followers of Jesus or Led by the Spirit of Jesus?
I know it sounds odd, even absurd, for me to make such a statement about believers not being called to be fully devoted followers of Jesus.
In this post, I hope to bring clarity as to why we are not called to be fully devoted followers of Jesus in the new covenant of grace (how we relate to God following the death, burial, resurrec...tion, and ascension of Jesus, in contrast to how a person related to him before each of these).
Here are my thoughts based on what I see in the Bible:
In the new covenat of grace, Jesus, through his Spirit, now lives in our hearts by faith and he is fully devoted to us in the ways I will mention in this post.
Jesus, in his death, resurrection, and ascension, established the new covenant of grace. That was God's will...to set aside the first covenant and establish the second covenant (Hebrews 10:1-10). The Spirit of Jesus IN US leads us to the new covenant of grace.
The Spirit of Jesus in us seeks to convince us of the new covenant of grace where God knows us, from the least to the greatest, and remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 10:15-18). To deny the new covenant of grace, whereby Jesus lives in us by his Spirit, is to insult the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).
We now live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life under grace.
Before his death (during the old covenant of law), the disciples were followers of Jesus. How did they do at being fully devoted followers of Jesus? They all denied and abandoned him. They failed miserably. The truth is all of us are poor followers of Jesus...failures at being fully devoted followers of him. If we did succeed at following Jesus, then we do not need his death. He died in vain. Faith in him would be of no value. Truthfully, the only one who has ever been fully devoted is Jesus himself.
Had we followed Jesus during his earthly life, we would had followed him to his crucifixion for all of our sins. We would have witnesseed his resurrection and his ascension.
After his ascension, the Spirit came, just as Jesus taught his disciples he would come. Jesus, through his Spirit, now lives in us by faith. He dwells in our hearts. That is the mystery Paul talked about in Colossians and Ephesians. We are now filled to the measure of the fullness of God as we come to know the length, breadth, width, and depth of the love of Christ. We are strengthened by his Spirit in our hearts (Ephesians 3:14-19). This was Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. It is a prayer for us too.
The Spirit of Jesus now lives in us, enabling us to call God "Abba Father" (Romans 8:14-16; Galatains 4:4-6). The Spirit tesifies with our Spirit that we are his children...his sons and daughters. We do not live in fear as slaves under law, but as loved sons and daughters under grace.
The Spirit of Jesus in us leads us to call God "Abba Father". He leads us to experience the Father's love then empowers us to express the Father's love to others. This is the fruit of the Spirit where there is no law needed to guide a believer because the Spirit of Jesus is leading us in the Father's love from the inside out. (Galatians 5:13-23).
By the Spirit of Jesus in us, we now have direct access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). God dwells in us by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
The Spirit of Jesus pours the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
We worship, or relate to God, by the Spirit of Jesus in us, not by the Law (Romans 7:1-6; Philippians 3:3.) The Spirit of Jesus will complete what was started in us (Galatians 3:2-3).
The Spirit of Jesus in us gives us the mind of Christ so we can know all God has prepared for us and has freely given to us in Christ (1 Corinthians 2:8-16).
The Spirit of the Lord Jesus now lives in our hearts, liberating us from the old covenant of law, which brought death and misery. We now live under the new covenant of grace, which brings life and righteousness, where the Spirit of Jesus lives in us and transforms us from the inside out to reflect the glory of Jesus...which is his grace (2 Corinthians 3:3-18).
We are new creations in Christ...the old covenant of law is gone, the new covenant of grace has come (2 Corinthians 5:17) where we live by the Spirit of Jesus internally.
In Galatians 2:20, Paul said "I live by faith in the one who loved me and gave his life for me." We now live by faith in Jesus, not as followers of Jesus. We live by faith in his love and devotion to us. We have been crucified with Jesus, we no longer live, but He Lives In Us By His Spirit.
His presence in us and love for us compels us as it did Paul (2 Corinthians 5:14-20).
Paul admitted his own personal weaknesses. He proclaimed his confidence, competence, power, and strength came from the grace of Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus in him (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13).
His willingness to die to deliver the good news of grace to others came from the love of Jesus for him and the life of Jesus in him (2 Corinthians 4:7-15).
His energy came from the grace of our Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Being a fully devoted follower of Jesus, under the new covenant of grace, was not Paul's understanding of the Christian life. That was not the message the ascended Jesus poured into Paul's heart and mind (Galatians 1:11-12).
The message given to Paul by the ascended Jesus was the good news of God's grace (Acts 20:24; Ephesians 3:2-9), the message of reconciiation (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2) and Christ In You, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). This was the message Paul took into Gentile cities.
As believers, we need to be taught about the riches of God's grace and the indwelling life of Jesus in our hearts, rather than being urged to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus in our flesh.
Understanding the riches of God's grace and the indwelling life of Jesus in our hearts was Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in 1:15-20 and 3:14-21.
Under the new covenant of grace, it is not about us being fully devoted followers of Jesus. It is about Jesus living in us by his Spirit. Transforming us inwardly by his Spirit. Strengthening us by his Spirit. Giving us the revelation of the riches of God's grace by his Spirit. Giving us the mind of Christ by his Spirit. Enabling us to call God "Abba Father" by his Spirit.
The Christian life is not about being more committed to Jesus, being on fire for Jesus, or being fully devoted to Jesus. The Christian life is about Jesus living in us by his Spirit. It is about the Spirit giving us the revelation of the good news of grace. It is about being filled with his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) as we come to comprehend his love for us, which is uncomprehendable, it surpasses knowledge. It is about being led by his Spirit (Galatians 5:18) and living and walking by his Spirit (Galatians 5:25), which is walking daily in a love relationship with the Father (Galatians 4:4-6), just as Jesus did during his life on earth.