[Nedrelandse versie]

Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verses 22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Is a Christian above the law? One would almost think so, when you read what the apostle writes to the Christians Celts of Anatolia. “By the works of the law no one will be justified”.(2:16). “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (3:11). But then you do not understand it. ‘Spirit’ is opposed to ‘flesh’ (own desires, yearnings, will, nature), not to the ‘law’. On the contrary, ‘the fruit of the spirit’ is a life that answers to what God’s law aims at.

Another misunderstanding. Would not the “communion of saints” fall apart if a circumcised one can be a citizen of God’s kingdom, even if the circumcision is not mandatory for everyone? Would there still be one ummah, an ‘undivided’ Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 1:13)? Definitely! The Spirit has a binding function. Look what he allows to grow: love, peace, joy, etc.

Branches, tied unto the ‘true vine’ Christ, by the Spirit, bear much fruit (John 15:5). True Christians mirror the unity of the triune God who disclosed his ten commandments. To “keep in step with the Spirit” (verse 25) means to stand strong together, through the Spirit. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, he did not die right away. People and churches have crucified their “passions and desires” but they are not flawless. Therefore the other fruits are also necessary and constructive: patience to endure and benevolence. The law has nothing against that either.

It works out well that in the Heidelberg Cathechism the ninth and tenth article of the apostle’s creed (that which Christians believe about church, and the forgiveness of sins) are dealt with together.

To sing: joyful, joyful we adore thee

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!