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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Law vs. Grace...

We live under a lot of laws!

If you drive a car, there are all kinds of laws for driver's to follow: Don't speed. Obey the road signs and traffic lights. Stay in the correct lane. Don't drink and drive. And countless others. (We're in the throes of Driver's Ed with our youngest son, so we're trying to hammer into him all those laws!)

There are all kinds of laws to obey as citizens of the United States: Don't steal. Don't pollute and litter. Don't murder. Pay your taxes. And countless others.

As Christians, we accept the Ten Commandments as law: Don't have any other gods. Don't use God's name in vain. Honor your parents. Honor the Sabbath. And six others.

I'm reading through Leviticus these days and I have to tell you...God gave His people, the Israelites...A LOT OF LAWS!!

There are laws concerning the sacrifices and the temple; what foods they could and couldn't eat; what to do after a woman gives birth; what to do about infectious skin diseases; what to do about mildew; what to do about bodily discharges (Ick!); eating blood (Ick, again!); about sexual relations; and countless others.

I guess because all these laws are spelled out right here in the Bible where I can read them, I have the impression that there were just waaaaaay too many laws. But if I were to hold in my hand a book containing all the laws I'm supposed to keep as a driver and a citizen and a Christian, I probably wouldn't be able to hold the volume. It would be enormous. Have I kept every single one of those laws? I know that I haven't. I don't often intentionally break laws, but I'm not going to lie and say that I never break the law--God's or man's.

It is impossible to live life without ever breaking a law.

I don't say that as an excuse for bad or sinful behavior. I say that as a person who's being honest.

Thankfully, Jesus took the burden of living under the Law upon himself when He died on the cross. He basically said, "Here, let me carry the heavy, impossible weight of the laws for you."

That, my friend, is Grace.

""For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14

Does that mean we don't have to obey God's laws anymore?

Absolutely not!

Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Matthew 5:17-18.

I think it's pretty clear that we're to continue to live our lives as lawful as possible, adhering to the Commandments and teachings in the Bible. But there are a lot of rules and regulations in Leviticus that aren't part of our daily existence in the 21st century. Some, like the food issues, are addressed in the New Testament. Some aren't.

The bottom line comes to this, in my humble opinion:

Following God's laws is important, but it will not save you from your sins. Only Jesus can do that.

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