The New Testament, taken in its literal form, appeals to the unsanctified mind as a mere extension of the Old Testament law, full of commands that appear to direct and control the behavior of believers within the church. The legalistic mindset loves to build community around the law because it has no desire to allow the Spirit of the word to challenge their lifestyle. Sadly, the 'flesh' desires nothing more than that of human authority, because they can either fight to change it, or just leave it when ever they decide it no longer suits their desires. This is a mind void of the idea that they "were bought at a price", because to come under the authority of the Holy Spirit is to surrender ones entire life to His work.
To the casual 'Christian', the New Covenant ideals appeal to them in a very similar way that the Old Covenant does. For centuries, churches have patterned their style of teaching and worship upon Old Covenant design. For those seeking to purify themselves from their 'dirtiness', they had to follow strict guidelines of repentance, ultimately sanctified by a priest. But those in Christ have been set free from that bondage. Why are they still playing old temple games? Many preachers are simply carrying over Old Covenant bondage into what is supposed to be New Covenant freedom. They refuse to let go of their old wineskin (carnal nature).When the message from the pulpit declares that we have to get right with God, the speaker has just declared that they themselves have not been born again from above. Why would anyone remain under a leader like that?
The suffering saint has been given a vision well beyond what is commonly taught as "obedience before intimacy". They know that the redemption from their dying soul lies in the Life of the One who gave Himself up for them; that and nothing more. Period. This is the power of God unto salvation. The community of legalism, however, has nothing to offer the suffering saint. The expectation of strict adherence to moral obedience adamantly implies that the individual is responsible for becoming a 'saint'. But in the depths of those who intimately know the Lord, they realize this is an impossibility. They see through the hypocritical and double-minded religious masquerade that passes as "church".
Finding no hope for their struggling soul, God's children have grown weary of the superficial church. They have trusted that as they surrender their own understanding, the Holy Spirit will grow them into Christ. Where fellowship seems to elude them, the Holy Spirit is taking time to show them "a better way". It is a necessary wilderness where we must let go of our own understanding about how we are to be obedient, about how we should be doing church. It is not possible, nor is it expected by God, that each follower of Christ strive to fulfill, all at once, everything that Jesus came to reveal to us. It is a process, and there will be skips and gaps, forward and back; oops and uh-ohs, abundance and lack. Let's be patient even as He is patient with us.
Jesus has much He wants to tell us, but some of us aren't ready for it yet. So let's not push ourselves beyond what He knows we are able to handle. We have been called to follow Him, and only He knows the way. We will find our peace when we can rest in this knowledge. According to the portion given us, let's give thanks, because by this we will learn to be content, whether abounding or abased. We learn we are no longer "our own". We have been bought at a price.
What does it mean, "The life we now live in the flesh, we live according to faith"? If our gaze is incessantly upon Him, then we will be shown how it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives...in us. This is when the following becomes a known reality. "It is no longer I who sin, but sin that lives in me." When you lose that burden, you will finally come to understand what it means to be set free. Let there be no guilt found in our sin, only forgiveness. Guilt is of the enemy; forgiveness is from God through Jesus. If we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength, then we don't have to worry about abusing His grace, for He keeps us in perfect peace.
Fear is the fuel of those who struggle to believe that Christ paid it all. Fear fuels the life of the legalist, thinking they must protect themselves and others from taking advantage of God's grace. It is a rationalization of the mind's intellect (unbelief) that thinks they must add to the cross. "It is finished" means just that. But He implores us, don't stop there! Don't sit fat in your salvation. Rise up and allow the Holy Spirit to scare the hell out of your own understanding! You have a carnal mind that God intends to renew. Don't be afraid to look the fool in the presence of others while you seek Him. You will be rewarded with the riches of the Kingdom if you will but keep your face set toward the New Jerusalem.