Did you ever see the movie The Ring? It has been a long time for me, but I remember this crazy part in it where the guy thinks that he has figured out what the poor little girl ghost who has been murdering everybody really wants. She wants to be set free from the well she is stuck in, he decides. So he sets her free in this lovely moment, and you think everything is restored and fine. “It’s over now. I set her free,” he says to his love interest. “What the hell did you do that for?” the love interest replies. Suddenly, the little girl comes out of the TV and murders him.
The law is like that. We think we know what it wants (our good behavior), but then we also think that it is attainable and that some among us have attained it. Jesus speaks to the first, by saying we haven’t really a clue what it is after – indeed our whole hearts, not just modified behavior. The second, though, is where many of us will repeat the mistake of The Ring‘s protagonist.
Preachers today haunt us with the law, but then tell us that we can set it free. Try your best to follow their steps, their prescription, and it is likely that the law will stop haunting you. Just be enough like the first century Christians, up your devotion a little bit, read your bible a little deeper. Just be generally good, and support good causes, and don’t be a jerk to people. The law, like the little girl in the ring, is much greater than that. We can’t buy it out. It isn’t cheap. And it is ruthless.
It is counter-intuitive to the max, but we must stop preaching this way. We cannot set the law free, or shut it up. Only Christ can. Only by letting the law condemn us entirely can we ever be free from its haunting grasp. We need to hire someone stronger than the angry ghost, lest the ghost haunt us forever.
Haunting people with the law is not spiritual. It is a half-truth that makes us believe we can stop the haunting. But the haunting is only foreshadowing our murder. If, when you suspect you are doing something wrong you try to remedy it, you will never be completely sure that you did. If you are completely sure, stay away from the TV where it will come out and murder you. The law is not gracious – especially to those who think they figured it out.
The Holy Spirit is not a ghost that haunts, he is a ghost that comforts. Jesus said, in John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” This passage is surrounded by a constant refrain of: “do not be afraid.”
Do not be haunted by the law, instead let the Holy Ghost battle it out in your heart as he testifies to your perfect savior who secured eternal life and freedom for you. The law will and should murder you completely, forcing you to abandon all hope. Let it. Don’t try to set it free, instead let Christ set you free into love for God and others that isn’t tinged with terror and dread, but with rest and comfort.