Monday, November 14, 2011

Faith vs. Law

Six days into my "plan," I am loving what the Lord is teaching me. Sometimes, I use a devotional written by a great Christian, and I learn a lot from their words. But I'm learning that sometimes, God wants me to spend time with just Him. Although Beth Moore has great insight and Henry Blackaby challenges me, it's amazing what I'm learning just from the Word.

Image from here.
Yesterday morning, I realized I've looked at the Christian life backwards. I was reading Romans 3 and 4 where the argument concerning the law and faith is being laid out.

Right of the bat, I love the verse that confirm God is faithful when we are not. God is truth even when we lie. The standard He sets is incredible. 

...but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?  
 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true... (Romans 3:3-4 NLT)

I was also completely amazed at the excuses made to keep sinning...just because our impurities further highlight God's righteousness doesn't mean that “The more we sin, the better it is!” (Rom. 3:8)  Yet I found myself realizing I justify sin as well...just by using different arguments.

"I'm tired." "It's Monday." "No one will know." "She was rude to me first."

Romans 3:19 was where I first realized I may need to flip my view on law and grace.

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. 

I've always thought that keeping the law was the main objective. And, since I can't meet the standard, I'll have to rely on Jesus' work on the cross.  Even if a person could keep all of the laws, they would still not be right with God. The law is there to simply show us how sinful we are. I've often heard preachers say "The law is our measuring sick." now that phrase actually makes sense.

All hope is not lost, though. The good news found in 3:24 is that God declares us righteous because of Christ.

I kept asking myself, "Why is it such a big deal that God declares us righteous rather than us just keeping the law on our own?" Romans 4:2 answers that question -

 "If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had 
something to boast about. But that was not God’s way"

- if my deeds were good enough to make me right with God, I would boast in myself (what a good job I'd done) rather than boasting in God. It all comes down to letting God be the most glorified. For example,  

"Abraham believed God, and God counted him righteous because of his faith."(Rom. 4:3, NLT)

To sum it up, "If God's promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless." (4:14)

I heard a sermon yesterday that further illustrated this passage. The message was from Colossians 2:9-23. Christ's sacrifice on the cross was God's sole provision for my freedom - and Christ's work on the cross was sufficient (it met the requirements of God) for my freedom. Praise the Lord that He has delivered me! (Rom. 7:4,6) 

The sermon had great illustration that made me check how excited I am about what God has done for me. Imagine that the bank called you this morning and told you that the had canceled the loan on your home. How excited would you be? Would you jump up and down? Would you tell anyone? Would you recommend other friends to use that bank? Would you celebrate? God has forgiven ALL my sign debt. How excited am I about that? 

If you know anyone pondering the good works vs. faith debate, Romans 3 and 4 in the New Living Translation is an excellent place to point them. After completing six days of my plan, I'm thinking I may walk away from this year knowing where more specific passages are located in Scripture.

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