For those of you living here in the United States, you don’t need me to tell you that our laws are cumbersome and confusing. We have criminal and civil laws. We have constitutional law and statutory law. We have federal law and state law. Not only are the laws many, they are written in confusing language that requires a special vocabulary to comprehend. Is it possible that our lawmakers don’t want the common man to understand what is being written? We have laws to amend laws. We have laws that contradict other laws. There can be no doubt about it, the law is a tricky and confusing business! No wonder people invest YEARS into learning the law just so that they can practice it!
The first law was handed down from God. He gave it to the Hebrews because they ASKED for it. It was a simple list consisting of just 10 items; do’s and don’ts if you will. After Moses was given the law from God’s own hand he came down the mountain to find that his people were already violating the first one, “You will have no other gods before Me.”
He spoke to God as a mediator for his people while they gave up all their gold so they could make a calf to worship! Even though none of the Hebrews were able to keep these 10 simple commandments they decided to put together more laws; man-made laws. It was a few thousand years after the original law was handed down when Jesus began speaking to the religious leaders about their rules.
By then there were approximately 613 “Mitzvot laws.” The people simply weren’t able to keep up! Yet the Jewish law had greater implications than our laws today. Not only were lawbreakers subject to the penalty here on earth, according to those who MADE these laws, there could be eternal implications as well! When Jesus spent a night at dinner with the religious leaders he had a few things to say about their laws and he was very clear and concise in his statements. “You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.” For the scope of this note I won’t go any further but if you take a minute to look at Luke chapter 11 verses 37 – 54 you will find that these were some of the NICEST words he had for these religious leaders and law makers.
It’s clear from Jesus’ statement and his actions that he didn’t come to enforce the law. Actually, it was quite to the contrary. He came to FREE us from the law! He knew the original commandments given from God. They were simple, right and just. He also knew all the man made laws that found their way onto the “books.” As if God’s 10 simple instructions weren’t enough!
In the place of this laundry list of law he offered two simple commandments. He asserted that by honoring just these two things, we can live in fulfillment of the law. What were these things?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Examine God’s 10 laws given to man and Jesus’ two commandments and you will find, as I have, they are a fulfillment of each and every one. Yet, even as Jesus spoke the words, he knew that we couldn’t even live by the most simplistic set of rules. There is good news for you who are biting your nails and wringing your hands at this point. Jesus himself came to fulfill the requirements of the law!
Jesus knew that none of us were able to live by the law, whether it was 613 Mitzvot laws or two simple commands. We all fall short, we all missed the mark. Yet we don’t have to be a student of the law with impeccable lives to be in his kingdom.
We need only accept the gift that he gave us. See, Jesus came to do a number of things but his most important task on his mission to our planet was to pay for all of our law breaking! He offered himself on OUR behalf as a living sacrifice. He bore the scorn of man, physical pain, emotional heartache and even separation from his Father. All of this was done on our behalf as theFULFILLMENT of God’s law. None of us could do it and so he did it onour behalf!
So the question remains. Which is greater, the law or the grace that Jesus offers us through his sacrifice?
You can go get your law books out (you might need a bigger house to fit them all in) and begin reading right now and for the rest of your life. You can use the “bell curve” and compare yourself to all the “heathens” around you.
It doesn’t matter. We all fall short. We all miss the mark! There is another option, however. You could just accept his gift, knowing you are not worthy. Of course, when you do this, realize that you will NEVER be worthy under the law.
So I ask, how could you accept a gift given freely and then begin scanning the “rule book” trying earn salvation? Don’t get me wrong. I am not here promoting lawlessness and anarchy. I am proposing that we allow him to change us from the inside out!
The aggregate of every law ever written can’t do that! Perhaps you are reading and saying, “I need the law. Otherwise how would I know what is right and wrong? How else could I possibly know what to do?” My response to this won’t be popular, but it is the truth. If you need the law to know what to do, you have yet to surrender your heart to him. In this surrender, this unconditional waving of the white flag, we cease being humans striving to satisfy God’s laws.
Instead, we become His CHILDREN. We become righteous and holy. Our hearts of selfishness, scorn, anger and spite aretransformed to hearts of LOVE. When this happens there will be NO QUESTION as to what we should do, for we will KNOW what to do and we will want to do it!
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This morning I want to feature a song that is very special to me partly because it is written and performed by a man that is very special to me. His name is Randy Thompson and he is my friend. He also serves as the minister of music at Open Door Fellowship, yet another part of my close family. Listen and pay attention to the words of this song. Randy is speaking of our NEW identities when we are in Christ.
I don’t hear the words, “I have to”… “I should” or “the laws says I must,” and that’s because those words don’t fit into our walk with Jesus. We CHOOSE to let Him lead and guide us in all of our ways! We CHOOSE to let go of ourself constructed identities and take on his. I could write an entire post around this song! Please take a few minutes this morning to LISTEN and absorb the truth in the words that Randy is sharing. What do YOU choose?
~ Mitch Salmon
Mitch Salmon is a follower of Jesus Christ and proclaimer of the Good News – The Gospel of Christ Jesus!