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What’s the Purpose of Old Testament Law?
Understanding the law in the Old Testament can prove difficult. For instance, Paul believed that the law is good and holy (Rom 7:12). However, he also said that it only serves to expose and even increase sin (Rom 5:20; 7:5-11). He wanted to carry out the law, but he also found himself unable to do this consistently (Rom 7:9-24). The result was that the law brought Paul to the point at which he proclaimed that he was a “wretched man” and cried out for someone who “will rescue me from this body of death” (Rom 7:24).
What then is the purpose of the law?
Paul argued that one of the reasons God gave the law in the first place was to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:17-24). The law leads us to Christ both by showing us what love for God and others looks like and by showing us how we can never be united with God through the law. “No one is justified before God by the law” (Gal 3:11).
We cannot arrive at union with God through the law because we cannot actually get our relationship with God right on the basis of our ethical behavior. We lack the one thing that is necessary for genuine relationship to exist: love.
The law is a classic Catch-22. Our efforts to get life precludes our ever getting life. And this is exactly the point! Through the law, God actually intensifies our need to get life in order to break us from the illusion that we can ever get life from the law.
The law pushes us to see that the only way we can get life is by being united with God, as was always intended. And the only way to be united with God is to receive it as a gift. A life-giving relationship with God can only be entered into when we stop trying to establish it on the basis of judging what is right and wrong. It can only be entered into by placing our total confidence in God’s ability to make us good and abolish our evil in Jesus Christ.
The only way to get life is to have it freely infused into us by the Spirit of God. As we learn to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, all that belongs to God by nature begins to evidence in us by grace. When we abide in love, the evidence of love is manifested in our lives. Without striving to keep a list of laws which means that we are trying to acquire something we don’t yet have, we don’t strive to acquire something we don’t yet have. We now can manifest love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives. There is no law that can get us such things (Galatians 5:16-23).
—adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 90-93
9 Things That Are True of Us When We’re Saved
Image by rAmmoRRison via Flickr The New Testament has many amazing things to say about who we are as believers because of what Christ has done for us. When the Lord saves us, he doesn’t just rescue us from eternal death; he gives us a completely new identity. Consider what happens to us when the Father…
The Ultimate Goal of Life & What Stands in the Way of It
What is the point of it all? What is the highest good? What is the point of life? Greg addresses these huge question in this sermon clip, where he introduces the idea of the beautific vision. The point of everything is to enjoy loving God in his is enjoying and loving us. But of course…
The Trap of Religious Idolatry
We live in a world that seems to be full of religious idols. These are beliefs, rituals, and behaviors from which religious people draw life. Religious idolaters of course don’t recognize their idols as such. However, we can try to get “life” from believing the “right” things and acting the “right” way in the same…
So, What Do You Do?
Don’t ever let this question define you. Image by Victor Bezrukov. Sourced via Flickr.
From the Sermon Archives: Stick & String
Since Greg didn’t preach this last Sunday, we thought we would feature something special from the Woodland Hills archives. God’s will for us is first and foremost about who we are and not what we do. God’s original design was to express his beauty to this world through us, but that requires us to receive who…
What do all of the following behaviors have in common? • A couple with two kids purchases a bigger house than they need, even though it means they’ll both have to work more and see each other and the kids less. • A Hindu woman prays to a shrine of Vishnu three times a day.…