Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I fought the law -- and we both won

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 4:41-5:33

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Deuteronomy 5:6-7)

Since we’ve already read the Ten Commandments (in Exodus chapter 20) I don’t think it’s necessary for us to go through them again, one by one.

This time, instead of repeating them individually, let’s talk about the Law collectively, as a whole.

The Law gives us a glimpse into the genius of God. (These are some radical precepts, so hang on…)

1. The Law, though it cannot save us, is not a failure:

The law itself is holy and right and good. (Romans 7:12)

The law itself is good. The problem is with us:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. (Romans 8:3)

The law is weak through the “flesh” – our sinful nature. If you’ve ever roasted a chicken in the oven, then tried to lift the whole roasted bird out of the pan with tongs, you might have found out that the tongs were strong enough to lift the chicken, but the chicken disintegrated and fell to the floor!

Think of the law as those tongs — able, on its own, to lift us. Then think of us as the roasted bird!

2. The Law was given to increase sin:

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. (Romans 5:20a)

Why in the world would God want to increase sin? A famous Bible story shows us why:

In Luke 18 a tax collector (think “Mafia”) was praying. As he did, he was so ashamed that he would not even lift his eyes toward heaven. His prayer asked only for mercy:
“God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”

Nearby, a Pharisee (think “Pastor”) was inviting God to pat him on the back for being such a wonderful guy:
"God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector."

Here’s Jesus’ assessment of the scene:
“I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God."

The Law is a truth teller. Although the truth the Law tells us about ourselves may temporarily hurt, it is actually meant to eternally heal. With that in mind, let’s look again at Romans 5:20a:

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

Now let’s add the rest of the verse:

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Romans 5:20b)

The Law, the truth-teller, had gotten through to the tax collector, leaving him in perfect position to receive God’s unearned, unmerited, and undeserved grace.

If it weren’t for the Law, we wouldn’t have a prayer.


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