Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rules Were Made to be Broken

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Romans 7:7-13

"The house was quiet when the workmen arrived, and when someone came to the door they assumed it was the owner himself. They had come to install a new alarm system on the doors and windows. The owner had been anxious about burglaries, following a number of break-ins in the neighborhood, and had called the company to come and install a better alarm system for him. But the owner had an important meeting at work the day of the installation and had asked a neighbor to let them in. The neighbor went round the house with the workmen, and learned exactly how the alarm system worked. This gave the neighbor an idea…and of course put him in an opportune position to rob the house himself." (Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans Part One p.122-123).

Installing the alarm system had an unusual outcome. It accomplished exactly the opposite of what the owner had hoped it would, not because there was anything wrong with the alarm system, because there wasn’t. In fact, the alarm system was top of the line. The problem was already there before the alarm system was installed. The installation simply provided an opportunity that revealed the problem. The owner had an untrustworthy neighbor.  

This is similar to how Paul says the ‘law’ works with us. (Side note: When Paul uses the term ‘law’, he means the rules God has given us, e.g. the Ten Commandments.) The law was intended to bring life, but it brought death instead (v10). Like the alarm system in the example, the law accomplished exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to do. BUT the problem wasn’t with the law. The law didn't make us sin; it merely revealed how sinful we already were. And that was kind of the point all along. God knew that we could not perfectly keep all of his commandments. He knew just how sinful we were, but we did not.

Have you ever heard the saying "rules were made to be broken?" In an odd way this is true of  God's law. The law is like a mirror; it shows us how sinful we really are. God knew we were going to break his commandments. He gave them to us anyway because that was the purpose of the law, to be broken so that we could see our need for Jesus. Looking into this mirror of the law not only shows us our need for a Savior, it also reminds us of how good God is for choosing to redeem creatures like us. 

So praise God for the law and for the fact that you can never measure up to it! Praise God that He is holier than you and you can’t keep His standard! Praise God that He kept the standard for you and credited His righteousness as your own! Take a look into the perfect law of God, be reminded of your inadequacy and thank God for His provision.

For further reading this week…
- Deuteronomy chapters 5-6: Check out Moses' recap of the law.
- Matthew chapters 5-7: Check out the new standard Jesus puts forward.
- Romans 5:20-21: Just a reminder that our sin never outruns God's grace.

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