When Paul was arrested and about to be bound and beaten following an uproar in Jerusalem, (of which he was suspected of being the instigator) he asked the centurion who was in charge, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25) Upon hearing this statement, the centurion contacted his “chief captain” and apprised him of the fact that Paul was possibly a Roman citizen. Understanding the gravity of this situation and the total impropriety of beating an uncondemned Roman citizen the captain further questioned Paul, who affirmed that he was indeed a free-born Roman citizen. He marveled at Paul’s answer and showed the value of being such when he replied to Paul saying, “With a great sum obtained I this freedom.” (Acts 22:28) Paul then stated his own greater status, “But I was free born.”
As Rome conquered much of the known world at that time, it was advantageous for those who were brought into subjection to their rule, to apply for, and when able, to purchase citizenship in the Roman Empire in order to advance themselves positionally and financially. Paul (then Saul) was born in Tarsus, a city in what is now called Turkey. Tarsus was declared to be a “free city” by the decree of Marc Antony, as he made it the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. We see the predestinating hand of GOD in all things, and this is but one example. For it was a few years later that Saul was born into his parents household (through no effort or will of his own) as a free born citizen of Rome, who now stands before this Roman Consul with those privileges.
To be a citizen of a country subjects one to the “law” or “rule” of that nation only. And such a citizen cannot be judged by the laws of another nation, which he does not occupy. Many immigrants have come to dwell in our country over the years. Most have desired to become citizens of it and have been willing to abide by its requirements in being made legal citizens of it by a process called “naturalization.” While such immigrants can obtain all of the legal rights of citizenship by such a process, they can never achieve the higher status of being born into this nation as a child who becomes a citizen of it without any effort on his part. This is a privileged place which cannot be bought or earned but is granted by birth.
So too are the sons of GOD “born into the Kingdom of GOD”, without any effort on their part, and totally without any action of their will. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13) Thus they are now called, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1Pet 2:9)
By their natural birth, they are all born under a sentence of death, and as soon as they are born, they manifest their sinful condition by coming forth from the womb speaking lies. (see Ps.58:3). While the sons of GOD are worthy of death by their own nature and action (note here the “power” of free will) yet by the mercy and grace of a Sovereign GOD, they have not been appointed unto destruction but rather to obtain mercy from HIS HAND. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thes 5:9) Thus, in the appointed hour they are translated from darkness to light and revealed as the “free born” sons of GOD whose citizenship is not of this world nor are they subject to the laws thereof. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:12-14) “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 5:19-21)
The sons of GOD, chosen in CHRIST from before the foundation of the World, are no longer under a sentence of death, but rather of LIFE. Not of bondage but rather of freedom. The man who is a citizen of the kingdom of darkness cannot escape it and must abide by the rule (i.e.; the law or principle) which is the law of that land, that being “the soul that sinneth shall die.” Paul clearly states the standing of the sons of GOD in contrast to that despotic kingdom, wherein no mercy can be found. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1-4)
The Law which was given to Moses serves the LORD’s purpose for it in the kingdom of darkness, which is to reveal sin, to punish sin, and to reveal the glory of HIS justice in the Earth and the Heavens. It is here in this world, subject unto that unyielding law written in tables of stone, that HE is pleased to manifest the terrors of that law as HE gave up HIS only begotten SON, to die a sinner’s death, condemned and judged guilty of every crime which HIS elect had committed or ever shall commit. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1Pet 3:18)
So, what is the “rule” (i.e.; the law or principle) of this Kingdom of LIGHT and LIFE of which the sons of GOD are free born inhabitants. It cannot be the Law given to Moses, for this Kingdom is a Kingdom of FAITH. “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” (Gal 3:11-12) Whereas the Law of Moses is primarily a restrictive law, with much foreboding and threats of judgement; the rule of the Kingdom of GOD sets men free to bear fruit unto the glory of GOD. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal 5:22-24)
Paul declares that those that walk according to this “rule” (i.e.; principle) are surrounded by the peace and mercy of GOD. It is the LORD’s purpose to dwell with HIS people, to guide them by HIS SPIRIT, and to direct their steps. If a man has “begun” in the SPIRIT, can he be improved by the works of his flesh? Paul addressed this very subject in his letter to the Galatians. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3)
Yet there are many who think that by exalting the letter of Moses’ Law, that holiness will be manifested. The Pharisee’s thought the very same thing and were constantly stumbling at the STONE which they rejected. Most often, the flagship of those who would bind men with burdens which neither they nor their fathers could bear, is that of carnal “Sabbath keeping”. We would rather rejoice in HIM who is the LORD of the Sabbath than to spend our time lamenting the disregard of various days. If we lament anything it would be the seeming disregard of the assembly of the saints by many who profess to be HIS followers. Can those who love the sons of GOD have no concern for the wellbeing of the brethren? “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:15-16)