Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Law

The Law is such a huge thing in Christendom. Without the law no one can be saved. I have been pondering the place of the law in the Christian life. How much do we have to obey? Which are the ten commandments? Well, here are my thoughts on the law.

Firstly, you cannot be saved by the law. This, to most Christians, seems obvious. But how obvious I wonder. The law does not save you. This means that by obeying the law of God, from this point on for the rest of your life, you will not be saved by it. The reason behind such a statement is this: The law is not given for salvation. I have received many an argument from friends saying "But I love my parents, I listen and care for others!" While I am not saying these things are not good, I am saying they are not the path to salvation.

But why? I have to obey the law, so why can it not be the means of my salvation? People are looking for the classic movie "one cure for all" solution in the law. The reason the law does not save is this: the law is what we are supposed to do anyway! We(human beings) are not found in a state where obedience is optional. Obeying the law is not a choice item. Think about the road traffic laws. Have you every received a letter from your local police thanking you for obeying the traffic laws? I certainly have not. There is only condemnation in the law! It is what is required of you no matter what.

But what is the purpose of the law then? Why keep it? God has saved us, do we need the law anymore? Of course. In conversion, we realize (via the Holy Spirit) that we are sinners in need of a saviour. The law of God convicts us in our hearts, and we are drawn to God, crying out in His name to save us.

This is the amazing thing: That there is no boasting in the works of the law. If I speed at 100 and Jimmy goes 200, where the speed limit is 60, who is guilty? Who receives a fine? We both do. I have no claim to be better than Jimmy just because my crime was less. It was still a crime. People seem to think that because they have not murdered they are not that bad a sinner. These people are pharisees and legalists!

"He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
-Luke 18:9 - 14

The pharisee in this parable compares himself to others. But the one who is truly righteous compares himself to none other than an eternal God. He looks at himself and can plainly see that it does not matter that other people sin, but that he does. The law is pure, it converts the soul. But only God can save us.

So the law must be followed, yes, but under the realization that it is God who saves. But what law then? The law Jesus gave. remember that God gave us a new covenant under Jesus, that no longer we would be under sacrificial (ceremonial) or the Jewish(civil) law. In the NT we just follow the moral law, which are the ten commandments, summed up as

"And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
-Matthew 22:37 - 40

Even from the old testament God was showing that ceremonies and ritual are not what He requires.

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
-Hosea 6:6

Praise be to God, who made the law so that we do know the manner in which to act, but who also paid the penalty for when we do not obey His word!

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