A friend of mine recently shared a quote from Martin Luther:
"It is the supreme art of the devil that he can make the law out of the gospel."
I keep thinking about it.
'Gospel' means 'good news'. And isn't the gospel the best news you ever heard? God loves you! He loves you so much He sent His Son for you. He sent His Son to die so you could live. He paid the price. He opened heaven to you, although you were entirely steeped in sin -- and He is holy. He made a way to have fellowship with you, although your sins separated you from Him. He comes to dwell here in this fallen place, to inhabit our bodies, which were previously temples to sin. He promises help and hope and love and companionship and eternity to us.
The law is not the way to heaven. The law is the way to hell.
Because we can't keep it. We can't be holy. We can't be acceptable to Him. But His Son, who is accepted, was willing to trade places with us, and clothe us in Himself. We are accepted in the Beloved, in His Son, with Whom He is well pleased. Do you understand that? In Him, we are well pleasing to God. He is satisfied looking at us in His Son. And His Holy Spirit comes to make a home with us, in us, to bring us into our inheritance.
And the enemy of our souls makes it a law. An abomination of striving miserable service. A 'you have to do this now because you're saved'. A driven list of musts and mustn'ts.
Although the Scripture says if you walk by the Spirit you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, the enemy says we can't trust the Holy Spirit to lead us away from sin. We need some laws. And if we listen to him, he'll lead us right out of the Spirit's leading into a straightjacket of our own contriving which can neither keep us holy nor bring forth fruit.
Do you know that what God has for you is GOOD NEWS? He gives rest to our souls by means of His easy yoke. He wants to fellowship with you. He doesn't come with 12 steps to holiness. He comes with His Son and an offer to exchange your unrighteousness with His holiness. And by the same Spirit He makes us alive in, He wants to keep us alive.