Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God's Grace fulfills God's Law

""Run John Run" the Law demands, but gives me neither feet nor hands.  Better news the Gospel brings.  It bids me "Fly!" and gives me wings!"
-John Bunyan (Puritan/Reformed Baptist preacher and author)

Let's start dissecting this quote with "Run John Run".  The Law is good and perfect.  It is God's Law.  It shows us everything we are to do to be right with God.  It paints a picture of sinless perfection.  This is what is expected by God and the only life that can be in the presence of God.  The Law tells us to do, do, do or work, work, work towards favor from God.  It should be seen by us as a wall in which we, as sinners, crash into on our own.  We cannot scale that wall and we cannot live up to its "demands". 

Enter the Good News.  The Gospel brings this news to sinners.  "It bids me "Fly!"  The Gospel tells us we are free through Faith in Jesus.  It lifts the burdens of our sin and gives us the "wings" or fuel to live out a more Christ-like life.  The gospel liberates us because it tells us there is nothing we can do to earn God's favor.  The gospel is not about us.  It is about Jesus Christ alone.  It is about His finished work in his life and on the Cross.  It is an unconditional love that we just have a hard time wrapping our minds around.  It is hard for us because we don't do it in our relationships.  We are conditional in our friendships, parenting, and marriages.  Grace changes all of those relationships for the better.  Deep down we expect God to be conditional, but His gospel of grace shows us that he is not.

Grace's role in our "good works" is the key.  We get it backwards so much.  We think we are becoming a better Christian by measuring our works with others.  We look at our spiritual growth by looking to ourselves and what we need to do as a part of it.  Our actions are the fruit of God's favor on us, not the root of God's favor.  Christians obey God, or show some fruit in their life, because God is already pleased with us.  We shouldn't obey God to try to earn his favor.  As I have already mentioned, the Law shows us we can't live up.  Obeying God and good works is a result of the Gospel, by grace alone.  It shows a Living Faith in our life that we could not acheive on our own.

So what good is the Law then?  First the Law is good because it shows us our Sin and our need for a Savior.  It makes us very thankful to Jesus when we break God's commandments.  The Law also shows us how to love God and others.  God's commandements throughout the Bible and especially in the book of James, gives us a picture of what Jesus is and what He was for us.  Because of Jesus' life and death, this is now how God looks upon us.  It is as if we have always lived in accordance to His law.  Not by anything we have done, they are filthy rags, but by everything that Jesus already accomplished for us.  Realizing that truth is the "WINGS" and fuel for our Christian growth.

By God's promise that He is making ALL things NEW and the Holy Spirit's ministry in us, we are being made new and becoming more like Christ.  Pastor Tullian has a quote that fits here.  He says, "When we realize we are IN with God and we don't have to DO anything, it makes us WANT to do everything."  That should be the fuel for our spiritual motors, the constant reminders of God's grace found in the Gospel.

In Romans 7:4-6, Paul explains this "new way" we live by Faith:
"Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code."

Throughout the rest of Romans 7, Paul continues to talk about the Law showing us our sin.  He also goes on to talk about him wanting to do good but because of this sin it is hard for him to do it.  He says about his sin in verse 15,  "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."  As Christians the Spirit teaches us to hate sin, although we still struggle with it.  During this part of scripture you can feel the Law breaking Paul when he says in verse 24, "Wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?"  As I stated earlier, that failure we feel makes us thankful for the One who frees us and fulfilled the law for us.  Paul praises Him at the end of this chapter as this Deliverer he seeks, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" 

A great quote for this topic:
"When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against the One who loved me so, and sought my good."
- Charles H. Spurgeon
God's Law is good, we are the problem.  Jesus is the solution and the work is FINISHED.  For freedom He came to set us, the captives of sin, free. 
That is my pitch for today.  Amen.

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