Recently I attended a pastor’s conference in New York and one evening went for dinner with a couple of guys in Manhattan. As we were crossing the road, this convoy approached…
…lots of people stopped to take pictures and videos of New York’s bravest heading off into action, as evidently did I, and I couldn’t wait to get home to show this to Roman, our 4 year old. He loves Fireman Sam, and his face when he saw my video of FDNY flying past was just wonderful. Wide-eyed, open-mouthed, just thrilled to see real life heroes heading into action. As his Dad, seeing him like that brings a tear to my eye.
Today in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul references this exact point in our life; when we lived so simply, so purely, and with awe-struck wonder,
7 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. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Paul writes that without the law, we would not know what sin is (v.7), and gives the example of coveting. Nobody knows what this is until someone says, ‘Don’t covet’, or, ‘That is coveting, stop it’. Now we know what covetousness is, Paul writes, we find ourselves doing it all the time, and calling it sin. Apart from the law, he goes on to say, sin lies dead. What promised to be good and what promised abundant life actually turned out to be a holy and righteous standard (v.12) that we can never actually reach.
But, despair not, there is something in there that alludes to a better way. Paul writes I was once alive apart from the law; do our children know what covetousness is? Do our children know a strict regime of rules, regulations, and laws? Or do our children know that to love one another is good, to treat each other with kindness is good, to show forgiveness is good, to think of others before ourselves is good?
Do they know that thou shalt not…or do they know that Jesus loves them and they should love others?
Paul writes very clearly that the law itself is not sin, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. The problem is us. Sin corrupts the law, so, as we have talked about in the last few days, we must die to both, to sin and to the law. The law is holy, righteous, and good, but the problem is us.
We need another way to become holy, righteous, and good…
There was One who lived this life.
There was One who fulfilled, to the last iota, the holy, righteous, and good law.
There was One who took the consequence of sin upon Himself and put it to death.
There is One who says ‘Follow me’.
There is One who says ‘I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life’.
There is One who says ‘Abide in me, and I in you.’
The One is Jesus.
He is our way to become alive apart from the law, to live a life of wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and awe-struck wonder.
Point to ponder – Am I alive apart from the law, or am I trying to supplement the all sufficient work of Jesus by keeping rules and laws?
Prayer – Father, we thank you that we have this amazing opportunity to become as little children again, to live with such simplicity, with such purity, and with such awe-struck wonder. We thank you that this is all because of Jesus and His finished work on the cross, and nothing that we can bring. Remind us of that today; more of He, less of me. Amen.