|Posted by Donna Dawson on August 13, 2011 at 2:30 AM|
Some would say "We must follow the ten commandments." Others would say "It is by grace that we are now saved so we are free from the law." I would say "Um...both."
Mankind began its journey into religion through disobedience. We could have continued with relationship had we not sinned but--it is what it is--we sinned. From that point on we continued to sin leaving God with no choice but to spell out a list of requirements which would make us acceptable enough to come into his presence. The problem is: we confuse the issue. We think the sole purpose of God's law was to bridge the gap. Well, not only was that not possible because God is perfect and we aren't, but it was a misguided understanding of the law's function. In Romans we are told that God created the law to show us our need for a Saviour. So, throughout the ages, mankind plodded along under the heavy burden of trying to reach God through a series of do's and don't's until the time was ripe. What do I mean by that?
History had to play out long enough to show us that we could never redeem ourselves. The best we could hope for was flawed obedience of the heart. That was what God saw in Abraham, in Moses, in Joshua and Caleb, and in King David. It was what he saw in his prophets--that realization that they--we--would never attain acceptibility without God's intervention. So enough time had to pass for our sakes, not for God's. We were the ones who had to have millenia of proof that we couldn't cut it.
Then enters God in human form--Emmanuel--God with us. The perfect son of God. The sacrificial lamb who would end the need for sacrificial lambs. He lived a perfect life. Some would say he didn't because he broke some of the Pharasitical laws. Jesus understood those laws to be a corruption of God's true law and so, Jesus lived a life where not one of the Ten Commandments were broken and they--we--crucified him for it. It was there, hanging between two thieves, on a Roman cross where we see the connection between law and grace. Jesus says three words. "It is finished." What does he mean? What is finished?
The Old Testament is about the law. The New Testament is about grace. The Old Testament demands compliance to the law in order to satisfy God. The New Testament demands faith in order to come into God's presence and Jesus is the bridge to both worlds. He lived the law to its completion. He finished the life of perfection. According to the law, he should have never died. It was only lawbreakers who were to face death--us. But he chose to die and in dying he took away the need for the law. I didn't say he took away the law--just the need for it. What do I mean?
We needed the law to show we needed a Saviour. We needed the law to reveal that we are unworthy. We needed the law to bridge the gap to God. We still need the law but for entirely different reasons. God's character does not change. He still wants us to have no other gods before him. He still wants us to keep from making graven images. He still wants us not to take his name in vain. He still wants us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. He still wants us to honour our parents. He still wants us to refrain from murder, adultery, theft, and bearing false witness. He still wants us to keep away from coveting. Will we go to hell if, as born again Christians, we fail to do any of these things? No, we won't. Will we disappoint God? Probably. Will we cause others around us to stumble in their faith? Most definitely.
The law is no longer the bridge to God but the witness of God to others through us. So I go back to my first comments. Um...both. The law will not save us. We can do everything possible to follow the Ten Commandments but if we are doing it because we think that will get us a place in Heaven we are as spiritually lost as the atheist. It is by grace we are saved, through faith, not of ourselves; it is the gift of God so no one can boast. And yet, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. A better definition of that is to display our salvation--that which we have received through faith--by reverently following what we know pleases God.
As Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself." If we follow that, we will show the world that law and grace work together to reach the lost.