23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (Galatians 3:23-25 NIV)
I can remember being young and thinking that I was independent, even though I still lived at home and totally dependent on my parents for the basic necessities of life. There were times that I would encounter a problem of some kind and would get so frustrated trying to figure it out. My mom or dad would become aware of what was going on and say, “Hey, let me help you out.” I didn’t need their help so I would continue to work and work to try to solve the problem by myself. There were a few times I figured things out on my own, but most of the time I ended up going back to my mom or dad and asking them for help. What took them only a few minutes to figure out would have eventually caused me to lose my mind if I wouldn’t have eventually come to the end of my independence.
In the Scripture I’ve been reading this morning I see the same kind of scenario at work. God calls us to be holy just as He is holy, yet we are born sinners, and sinning comes naturally to us. For those who love God and want to do right by God we oftentimes set out to live a “good,” moral life. We can start by trying to live out the Ten Commandments. You know the ones, “You shall not have any gods before Me. You shall not worship false idols. Honor your mother and father. You shall not steal or kill or commit adultery, etc.” In seeking to be “good” I can use the Ten Commandments as check list. I worship God. Check. I love my mom and dad. Check. I don’t steal, have never killed anyone, and have not committed adultery. Check. Check. And check again. I can conclude, “I’m not perfect, but I’m doing pretty good so far.” Jesus comes along and redefines the Ten Commandments. He says,
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22 NIV)
Wow! You’ve got to be kidding right? Wrong. The Law shows me that I can’t do it on my own. I will never be able to do it on my own. The bar is too high and I am too…sinful. God says, “Exactly. Now you are ready to receive the gift I’ve provided for you through the perfect sinless life of my Son who gave Himself for you so that His righteousness might live and work through you.” The bad news of my sinfulness and inability to maintain any semblance of “goodness” is the Good News that God loves me so much that He has fulfilled every thing I lack through Jesus. I can forgo my ambitious drive to be “good” and instead be His. When I trust in His work in my life then I see more of His ways begin to surface. Praise God for the Law because God has used the Law to teach me about my incredible need for Him.
My prayer today, Lord, is that I will seek You throughout the day rather than seeking to be “better” than those around me, that I will recognize Your righteousness at work in my life, and that I will rest in Your perfect provision rather than my imperfect attempts at “goodness.”