Posts Tagged God’s law
Glad I took some time tonight to read this again.
I find myself meditating on the following verses in Romans 3:
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
We are to do good deeds, and I suppose doing what the law commands was (and is?) considered “good deeds”. But the thing he’s trying to get them to understand that doing what the law commands, even if we could follow it completely and without fail (no one can), is not what saves us. The law exists only to show us how guilty we really are.
What I read about the Pharisees back then tells me that they took great pride in following God’s commands. It seems like this was their focus. The laws are complicated and lengthy. I imagine them sitting around for hours debating and discussing every little nuance. Yet, what’s important is to know that God sent Jesus to die on the cross as payment in full for all our sin. I still know there are many people thinking that if they can just do more GOOD things than BAD that they’ll be okay. Without accepting & believing that Jesus Christ did what He did, it doesn’t matter how GOOD you have been.
Paul really clears it up in the following verses in the same chapter:
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
It’s so simple. But it was so different than anything they’d heard.
Lord, how I wish I could simply obey and never fail you. But I know that even when I do fail, you are willing to forgive me. It’s hard to grasp the depth of your love for mankind – especially someone like me. But I’m grateful. Help me to keep my eyes on You so I can continue becoming more like you on this journey you have me on.
It was as perplexing back then as it seems to be today. I’ve talked with several people who have this mindset of the Galatians – that you must obey the law for your salvation. Although we’re not talking circmucision today, as in the day, there are still laws that people try to measure themselves against for their salvation. “Have I done more bad things today than good?” This is an age-old trick of the enemy. Get people focused on “doing” rather than “being.”
Paul makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that this is the farthest from the truth.
The law condemns. It shows us our sins. It was designed to last only until the coming of Christ. No one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law.
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 You have suffered so much for the Good News. Surely it was not in vain, was it? Are you now going to just throw it all away? 5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
It is through faith that we have life. We receive God’s promise of freedom ony by believing in Jesus Christ.
This seems so clear. Yet, why do we punish ourselves when we sin? Why do we live like prisoners to our sins? Why do we see people fall away from the church because they feel they can’t live up to the standard? True: we must confess our sins and repent. But, this is separate from our position in the Kingdom.
Why is it difficult to see? Why is this freedom just out of reach for many? For those that have heard the truth and believed, how can sin continue to strangle us?
Could it be that there are so many among us that do not have faith in Jesus Christ? Are there still those that have not heard and understood that faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us?
grace & peace,
However, one thing kept jumping out at me as I read. I seems to me that the writer of this Psalm keeps going back and forth between a statement of his keeping of God’s commands, and a desire to keep them. Take a look…
1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
In verses 1 – 3, the thesis is established: if you keep God’s statutes, you will be blessed. Now, look at the next three verses:
4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
Precepts? Decrees? Commands? Which is it? What is the writer talking about here? As a matter of fact there are ten terms by which the writer refers to God’s law:
- God’s law
- His decrees
- His testimonies
- His commandments
- His precepts
- His word, or saying
- His judgments
- His righteousness
- His statutes
- His truth or faithfulness
I love what Matthew Henry’s Commentary has to say about this chapter. Mr. Henry uses some big words, but if you can make it through this paragraph, you’ll be glad you did:
This psalm may be considered as the statement of a believer’s experience. As far as our views, desires, and affections agree with what is here expressed, they come from the influences of the Holy Spirit, and no further. The pardoning mercy of God in Christ, is the only source of a sinner’s happiness. And those are most happy, who are preserved most free from the defilement of sin, who simply believe God’s testimonies, and depend on his promises. If the heart be divided between him and the world, it is evil. But the saints carefully avoid all sin; they are conscious of much evil that clogs them in the ways of God, but not of that wickedness which draws them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at them out of those ways. The tempter would make men think they are at liberty to follow the word of God or not, as they please. But the desire and prayer of a good man agree with the will and command of God. If a man expects by obedience in one thing to purchase indulgence for disobedience in others, his hypocrisy will be detected; if he is not ashamed in this world, everlasting shame will be his portion. The psalmist coveted to learn the laws of God, to give God the glory. And believers see that if God forsakes them, the temper will be too hard for them.
Lord, I recognize the need to follow your laws. I also know that the reason you gave “the Law” is for us to realize that we could never be good enough on our own. Your laws point us to You, for without You, we are lost. Keep me from evil – teach me Your ways, Lord. Thank You for Law.
grace & peace,