The last post on the four views of the law generated a fair amount of spirited debate on my email. It seems a number of people believe that their purpose here on earth is to prove that God’s law is just and that Satan’s accusation, that the law is too difficult to be kept, is a lie. They believe that God’s people will be able to keep the law perfectly and thus prove that God is just and fair.
Let’s think about this for a few moments. This view holds law keeping up as the standard that proves our loyalty to God. But, it says something else as well. The great Biblical truth of Jesus “my substitute” is transformed into Jesus “my example”.
The great New Testament writings are of one accord in stating that Jesus substitutes Himself in our place and thus takes the penalty of sin, shame, and rebellion upon His shoulders and dies the death that we should die so that we might have life. In the place of condemnation He offers us grace.
The idea that Jesus is my example unwinds this beautiful truth and replaces it with works. A number of writers to this blog were emphatic that Jesus came to this earth, laid His divinity aside and lived a perfect non-sinful life through the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result they believe that we also, through the Spirit’s leading, can overcome every known sin and live perfect lives of obedience thus vindicating Jesus and His law.
But, what if the Bible isn’t about proving God’s law can be kept, but instead is about the wonder of undeserving grace for a fallen world who don’t keep the law? Now don’t get me wrong; as a Christian, of course, we want to live our lives in harmony with God’s will for us. This longing, desire, and living are all good things, but the reality is we do not live up to those longings. We sin daily and we constantly fall, and if you are totally honest with yourself you know that is true.
Also, does keeping the law really vindicate God in light of the cross? It was at the cross where God’s love was poured out for the entire world to see. If God needs vindicating, and He doesn’t, then the cross would be the place where the love of God would be proof positive.
The great theme of the Bible is that we once had unity with God but when Adam and Eve doubted God’s word in the Garden sin entered into the world. The result was that Adam and Eve hid themselves from God and we have been running from God ever since.
However, God came looking for Adam and Eve and He called out Adam’s name and He continues to seek the lost ever since. The great problem in the Bible is that even though God comes looking for us we continue to hide from His love. Also because of our sinful natures we are polluted with sin and have not the power, strength or desire to cross the gap between God and us. Instead He crosses the gap, becomes the substitution for the wages of sin, which is death, and takes my place on Calvary’s cross.
And what must we do to receive such a gift? The answer is to believe in Jesus’ saving grace. Since this is true, how can law become the great attribute that we must reproduce in our characters to prove our love to God? God knows our hearts and He knows they are evil, deceitfully wicked, and as filthy rags. Yet while I was yet a sinner He died for me to redeem me from the wages of sin, death, and Satan.
When we make law keeping the test of loyalty to Jesus instead of accepting His grace we belittle His entire sacrifice at Calvary. Again let me say that the result of being declared righteous is that we will allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. I know I am not the person I was before I accepted Christ, I have grown spiritually, ethically and morally but none of this holds merit with God. The merit is in what His Son did for me not in what I attempt to do for myself.
“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God,” John 1: 12,13. Everyone who receives Him by believing in Him is given the right to become children of God. These people don’t become children of God by birthright, or human decision or a husband’s will, but because God says so.
God doesn’t have to prove Himself to anyone—He is God. He doesn’t make His plan of salvation about whether or not we can keep laws, but it is about grace, forgiveness, acceptance and love for a people who break the law. The love of God offers us hope, not a dictate to do better and better until we come to the place we don’t need Him any longer because we can save ourselves through overcoming.
God is fair, just, and loves us because that is His nature. He does not need our vindication of those realities because we can’t vindicate those characteristics. We accept His love that was poured out at the cross for us and we are declared vindicated because God made it so.
The very core of the Biblical story is that we are vindicated by the act of a loving God and not us vindicating a loving God by our acts of striving to prove ourselves worthy.
We are redeemed by grace so shout it out, live it, share it, rejoice in it, but do not doubt it or cheapen it by thinking it is not enough. All the law keeping in the world will never add one iota of merit to your redemption and nothing you can do is able to vindicate God because He is way beyond needing our stamp of approval. If Angels, for example, doubt God’s goodness after the cross (which they don’t) then all your striving for perfection isn’t going to persuade them differently.
Let’s be very honest here. They only people who perfectionists are trying to impress are themselves. Something inside of them says, “I am not good enough” so I have to overcome everything in my life so that I can prove to God how worthy I am to be saved. They say they want to vindicate God, but the reality is they are trying to vindicate themselves in God’s eyes.
These posts are written to encourage us in our spiritual journey and I can’t think of a better way to encourage you than to remind you that redemption is not about our performance but about God’s love for us. Amen!
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…