May 20, 2017

The purpose of God’s Law

Reading a few novels in a mystery series by Margaret Truman about crime in Washington, DC brings out the raw sinful nature of human beings. Rather than keep the law, those who make it and supposedly enforce it — also break it.

As a Christian, I’m well aware of God’s Law, higher than our civil laws and the foundation for most of them. I’m also aware that I cannot keep the Law of God, yet the Holy Spirit never commands anything contrary to it. That is, the Law is good, but my capacity for goodness falls short.

This reminds me of a 4-year-old in a Sunday school class I taught. The lesson was that all are sinners, and this little child said with wide eyes and complete seriousness, “But I’ve never murdered anyone.”

Most of us would say the same thing, yet the Law is more than that. We break it without awareness. Even in civil law, one mile an hour over the speed limit is just as much an infraction as driving double speed.

Sinners cannot keep the Law. Even if we could, it still would not make us godly, righteous people. So why did God give us all those rules? The Bible asks and answers the same question:
“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Galatians 5:19-22)
This means that the Law is like a speed limit sign. It tells us that we have exceeded the limits, gone past what is allowed. It reveals our sinfulness and shows us why we need another way, the way of salvation by grace through faith, the salvation that is available only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
Some use the Law to judge Christians, another misuse of it. The Bible is clear that no one becomes a Christian by keeping the Law so it is totally illogical to expect anyone to stay in God’s favor that way. We are saved by grace, being saved by grace, and will finish our walk with Christ by grace. It is as the Bible says:
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6)“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
Jesus begins the work of saving and will complete the work. In between, I am to walk with Him the same way I received Him, not by Law-keeping but by grace through faith.

Why then do so many ‘religious’ people focus on Law? By biblical definition, sin is going our own way, trying to establish ourselves rather than going God’s way in utter dependence on Him. Logically, if I’m going to live by sin instead of by faith, I don’t have to murder anyone; I just have to try and establish my own goodness by trying to keep the Law. This is the source or reason for such a focus.

Jesus, Your Word is plain. The only way of salvation is through faith in You. The world, my sinful flesh, and that liar the devil continually try to confuse the issue. Thankfully, I can depend on You to keep me, to shed light on any rule-keeping that I fall into or any self-righteousness that I try in an attempt to save myself instead of trusting You. This is so simple. Thank You!

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