Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spinning the Generalities

Today's Non Sequitur comic strip drew a chuckle from me and has a theological hook, as it were, so I thought I'd include both:

How true. Confronted with God's holy law we try to justify ourselves by narrowly defining it to such an extent that we pass the test.

Under divine inspiration, the Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing in his letter to the Romans:

 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. 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.”  But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.  The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.  [7:5-12]
God's law is "holy and righteous and good," but our sinful nature is aroused to further rebellion upon hearing it. God's law exposes our sin and our need for a Savior. It's clear we cannot perfectly fulfill the law. We are wholly opposed to it and its Author naturally.

What we need is a Savior who perfectly fulfills the Law and acts as our subsitute and then fills us with His Spirit so that we walk in obedience to Him.

That's where Jesus comes in. His perfect obedience is credited to us by faith, and our sin is credited to Him at the cross, where He died in place of sinners who would trust in Him. Risen from the dead and ascended to Heaven, He sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers, producing the fruit of repentance from sin and faith in and obedience to Christ:

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [Rom. 8:3-4]
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [Rom. 10:5-13]
Praise God, who gave us not only His holy law to expose our sin, but His only Son to pay the penalty for our sin and rescue us from the Law's just penalty!



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