Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Law Kills

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"You will not die" said the Serpent

One law, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge".  One law was enough to produce death.  

After eating the fruit, they were separated from God, feeling ashamed. It was death to the close relationship they had enjoyed with God. Now they were hiding, ashamed because of guilt, and trying their best to cover their nakedness. 

And eventually they died physically, because they were separated from the tree of life. The wages of sin is death. 

But the Serpent had made it sound so good.  "You will not die. You will be wise like God."

Don't we like to have things our own way!  The fruit was beautiful, looked like it would be very tasty, and would make one wise.  Lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  These are powerful motives to our human nature. Left to ourselves, these desires drive us to destruction, to death. Yes, the wages of sin is death.  

The law gives direction, and tells us the right way to go, and establishes the righteousness of God. Paul explains in Romans chapter 7 that the Law is holy, just, and good. 

The Law and Sin

Romans 7:7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

So law is not the problem.  Our sinning is the problem.  Our human nature that drives us to please ourselves is the problem.  What makes us look good, feel good, and gives us pride!  We have the same nature as Adam and Eve.   One law was enough to condemn them to death. 

God created us subject to sin and temptation, so that we can pass through the testing ground and be redeemed by faith. Paul explained that God created us subject to the futility of sin and death in order for the revealing of the children of God.  

Future Glory

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So our failure to keep law leads us to condemnation and death, opening the way for our Savior who paid the death penalty for sin on the cross at Calvary.  We cannot justify ourselves by keeping law, because we fail. But we can be justified by the blood of Christ, if we believe in Him.  This salvation is available to all who will believe. 

As Paul explained earlier in the letter to the Roman believers,

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The one who has faith in Jesus!  That faith is revealed by the choices we make.  God chose the preaching of the gospel to save those who believe. Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.  God did not choose an elect few to be saved, but chose everyone who will believe in Him.  He does not give faith to a few and exclude others, but faith comes by hearing the word of God. Faith is a personal choice, made by free will.

Yes, the law kills because we are sinners.  So why do some seek to make the new covenant into a letter of the law covenant by binding opinion as law?  Perhaps we feel the need to justify ourselves by our own performance.  Some are given to comparing themselves to others in order to feel good about themselves, judging by performance. So if someone else uses instrumental music, and we have a rule against it, we feel good because we do not use it.

But Jesus gave us a different standard.  He challenges us to love each other.  Yes, the law is there, if we love God we will keep His commandments. John writes to us about love, and shows how we can have confidence about our relationship in Jesus Christ. 

God Is Love

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Yes, the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

Romans 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Rom 6:6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

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Victory in Jesus

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