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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Land of Lawlessness

The second submission on the matter of grace and why I believe we struggle to embrace it today. It is evident all around us that lawlessness is on the rise. Just like the close of the book of Judges, everyone seems to be doing "what is right in their own eyes." However, when I speak of lawlessness, I am not necessarily referring to the law of the land, though it is very important; rather, I am speaking about the "law of the Lord." I submit to you that a big reason why grace is so trivialized is because God's law is so ignored. Now there needs to be some clarification and explanation concerning this law. Generally, we think of God's law as a set of rules and regulations, do's and don'ts. Immediately, the Ten Commandments come to our mind. However, the Hebrew word from where we get the word law literally means "instruction", not the contemporary version of a societal and authoritative set of rules. It is a popular notion that people think that the Old Testament saints were saved by "keeping the Law." On the contrary, the Law was given to the saints after they had been delivered (saved) and was written for their instruction on how to live in covenant with Yahweh, to wear His name well, to represent Him as His people on the earth. There are scores of verses that can attest to the "law of the Lord" (esp. Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119; Joshua 1:8; Ezra 7:10; Psalm 19:7-11; Nehemiah 8:1-8). Now this is a slight variation on how Paul understood the Law, but it serves as a foundation for New Testament thinking in regards to sin. Now let's turn to the New Testament. Hear Paul saying, "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7). Again, "Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane . . ." (1Timothy 1:8-9). We think, "Whew, I am glad I am not one of them. Therefore, the law does not apply to me." Wait a minute. Before we "think more highly of ourselves than we ought", let's consider life outside Christ, outside salvation. Aren't we all guilty of being lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners, unholy, and profane??? If you answer no in regards to you, then grace is as alien to your soul as sin is to a holy God. But how do we know that we are these things? Because of the law of God. Paul explains the law as being our tutor/guardian to lead us to grace. Hear his argument: "Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions . . . Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that through the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming of faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:19,21-23). Without a tutor/teacher, how can we have knowledge of sin? Certainly, it can be attributed that the reason why we have become so graceless is because we have for so long been so tutorless. As Christians we need to emphasize God's law, God's instruction, God's Word. We don't know sin by means of practicing sin. That only makes our hearts harder and our consciences seared. We know sin by juxtaposing it to sheer holiness, and in that light see sin for what it is. This is what the law does. As long as the backdrop to grace continues to be our spiritual resume or competing goodness or measuring morality, grace will not be savored and salvation won't be sweet. The only backdrop is the law of the Lord which is perfect (Psalm 19:7). In God's perfection and holiness, seeing our state through the lens of God's character, we are imprisoned, bankrupt, destitute, and depraved. And in that state is where grace is appreciated. Not just for the lost person coming for salvation, but for the saved person living in grace, we must always say like the Psalmist, "The law of your mouth is better to me, than thousands of gold and silver pieces" (Psalm 119:72). Oh that we may delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night! Oh that grace will capture our hearts once again!


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