the letter iconWhat is the point of God’s law/the rules? Today we share the 3 reasons God created ‘the law.’ Paul wrote a letter to the Church in Rome. Just so you understand who Paul is writing to, they are Jewish Christians who gathered in many homes. They believed in Jesus but they also believed that you must follow all the rules to be accepted by God. For example, believing in Jesus isn’t good enough, you also had to be circumcised. Ouch. The Jewish Christians in Rome viewed themselves as the Delta Force of Christianity. The elite. Paul writes them a letter and is willing to offend them by saying,

…we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. MSG Romans 3:23-24

I think those five words summarize Romans the best, God did it for us.

Before we move on, I have to tell you this offends a lot of people today too. People who believe in Jesus but they also believe you have to follow the rules for God to like you more. They attend church and view themselves as the Delta Force of Christians. The best of the best of the best. You know when you are around them. How? You feel weighed and measured you come up short.

In this letter Paul wrote, he started in Romans 1 by saying, the Roman culture you live in has taken their eyes off of God. They refused to worship God. This began a downward spiritual spiral. They began to make gods of their own and do what they felt. They forgot how to be human, men slept with men and women slept with women. It got worse, rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. Inventing new way of wrecking lives. Stupid, cruel, cold-blooded.

Then in Romans 2, Paul said, if you Christians who think you are the Delta Force of Christianity think you’re better, you’re dead wrong. Don’t point the finger at them because you, in all your attempts to be holy with your rule following, come up short too.

Paul continues in Romans 3. TJ drove this point home last week. We base our lives NOT on what we do, but on what God has already done. It’s called Grace.

Today, Paul talked about the why God created the law. Romans 3:9-20

9 Well, then, are we Jews better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all men alike are sinners, whether Jews or Gentiles.

10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is good-no one in all the world is innocent.”   11 No one has ever really followed God’s paths or even truly wanted to. 12 Every one has turned away; all have gone wrong. No one anywhere has kept on doing what is right; not one. 13 Their talk is foul and filthy like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are loaded with lies. Everything they say has in it the sting and poison of deadly snakes. 14 Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. 15 They are quick to kill, hating anyone who disagrees with them.   16 Wherever they go they leave misery and trouble behind them, 17 and they have never known what it is to feel secure or enjoy God’s blessing. 18 They care nothing about God nor what he thinks of them.

19 So the judgment of God lies very heavily upon the Jews, for they are responsible to keep God’s laws instead of doing all these evil things; not one of them has any excuse; in fact, all the world stands hushed and guilty before Almighty God.

20 Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. TLB

Paul is saying that everyone, church people and non-church people, have walked away from God and no one does it right. And no one can make it right by following the law, the rules. Our freedom, our rescue, our salvation comes from what God did for us. God’s grace.

So let’s talk about the law because there is a purpose to it. What does it do? 1.) The law, the 10 commands, the rules show us that we are utterly in capable of meeting God’s holy standard. 2.) The law, the 10 commandments, the rules exposes our inability to be right with God and it should drive us to our unbelievable need of God. It should smash any pride that we might have. 3.) The law, the 10 commandments, the rules are to guide us NOT save us.

Example: We have rules in my house. Why? To guide the family. For example, you can’t have a fist fight in my house. You can’t punch each other in the face. Yes, we have rules. That doesn’t mean I am judgmental and mean. It means we love the kids enough to create a home of peace. So the rule, the law in our home is, no fist fights. However, the joy in my family doesn’t come because everyone follows the rules every day. The joy in my house comes from the relationship we are in. We all break the rules in my house. But at the end of the day, our joy as a family comes because we love each other. Do you see it, the law is there to guide us, it doesn’t save us, it doesn’t produce joy in our home.

With God, understand, the rules are there to guide us not save us. If you follow them, you will live a better life and you will push back evil. If you get good grades, you work hard, you wait till marriage sexual activity, you get out debt, you have kids, life is easier. If you don’t follow the rules, don’t be surprised or dramatic with bad things happen and blame God because you put yourself in that spot. “I don’t understand, I punched the cop and he arrested me – what is God doing to me?”

Here is the most important part, all along, if you follow the rules or not, God loves you the same.

So how do you know if you are living a life based on what you do, following the law, or based on what God has done, grace. How do you know God’s grace is the foundation of your life?

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. NIV Galatians 6:7-8

How do you know if you are living by the law or grace? Simple. Look at what you are reaping in your life. What you plant as an unseen seed grows up and everyone sees the tree.   What you sow, you will reap and everyone sees it. What is happening in your life? Two questions you need to wrestle with.

Question 1: How do you view God?

If you are planting the seed of the law, that means if every day you think God likes you more or less based on your BEHAVIOR, you think God is your judge and he’s disappointed with you isn’t he? You are tired, you feel guilty, you will feel like you will never add up. And, any attempt on your part to be with God is like making an appointment with the judge. Who wants to do that? Awful. Do you see how planting the seed of the law [Following the rules], you will reap thinking God is your judge? Let me tell you, you will live in bondage, in a prison all your life and that life will me miserable.

What if you are planting the seed of grace, that means every day you believe God has done it for you, you can’t make him like you more or less, you think God is your loving father. He comes home early to throw baseball with you, to have tea with your room. What happens with you break the window? You can tell him and he will replace it. Who doesn’t want to be with a loving father? Hanging out with him is a thrill. Do you see what how planting the seed of grace, you will think God is a loving father?

So stop for a second, how do you view God? A judge or as a loving father?

Question 2: How do you treat others?

If you are planting the law, that means you think others need to follow the rules for you to like them, you will view everyone based on how they behave. In your marriage, it’s tit for tat. If you would do the following things for me, I would have more sex with you. If you would do more things for me, I would talk do you more. We create hoops for our spouses to jump through.

In all our relationships, we carry a ledger in your head of all the things you have done and all the things they have not done. Why? It’s the law. We need justice. Equality. Fairness. Do you see what happens when you plant the law in your relationships? You become the judge and you are miserable to live with.

Side note, people have asked us how we have raised our girls. For us it’s real simple idea. Treat your kids today the way you want them to treat you when you’re old. If you are old and you want them to ignore you, ignore them today. I you what them to view you as an inconvenience, make sure they know, they are inconvenience today. If you want them love you and hang out with you, then love them and hang out them today. This is why I refuse to have more than 1 night away from my family.

If you are planting grace in your relationships, that means you have experienced God’s grace and you want to give others grace, what does that look like? You will measure your love by how much you willing to sacrifice to love others. In your relationships, your love isn’t based on what they give you, your love is based on much you can give them sacrificial love. Why would anyone live like this? Isn’t that how Jesus treats you? When you plant grace, you reap grace back. In marriages, if you want to feel ‘in love’, the marriage counselor Kutz said, then do ‘in love’ things. It’s up to you.

The law has a purpose. It exposes our inability to be holy. It shows our dependence on God. It is a guide but it won’t save you. How do you know if you are living by the law or by grace? You will reap what you sow. How do you view God? A judge or as a loving father? How do you treat others? You are the judge, tit for tat, measuring everything? Or do you give more than you take?