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Entries in law (3)

Wednesday
Jan132016

Why didn't God just start with grace?

Why didn't God just start with grace?   Why put His people through the Old Covenant Law with it's painfully exhaustive list of "do's and don't's?"  Why not go right to the good stuff?

Because the Law had a temporary, but genuinely merciful purpose. 


"WARNING, ACTIVE GRIZZLY AREA. STAY AWAY."

Our tour group was pulling over at a rest stop in Denali National Park, Alaska.   As we were getting out, our tour guide immediately cautioned that we were in active Grizzly habitat.  There was a sign about 300 feet away that read, "Warning, actively grizzly area.  Stay away."

If we had chosen to ignore the posted warning sign and gotten between a Grizzly sow and her cubs, the surgeon's needle sowing our scalps back on would have served as a painful reminder just how foolish it would have been to ignore the clear and present danger. Ignorance hurts.  Foolishness hurts even more.

Similarly, our medication bottles often come with a warning label saying, "Do not exceed recommended dosage."  The label itself cautions that there is something at risk: You.  But, "If one pill makes me feel good then five pills would make me feel great!"  Maybe so, but the intense vomiting or drug-induced coma that follows will be a painful reminder that sin hurts. 


The law was a temporary form of grace.
  The Old Covenant couldn't offer a cure for foolishness and the even greater pain of trying harder not to be so, but it mercifully made clear the painfulness of chosing against life.  Against health.  Against wholeness. 

We'd beg God to free us from chronic arguments with our spouse, the addiction to emotional eating, the pull of porn that won't let us go.  Sin hurts.  Ignoring the warning signs hurts.  And when it hurts that badly, you want help:  When you spin your wheels long enough, you want to stop the madness.

 

SO THE LAW CREATED A CRAVING FOR GRACE.

"As long as an intense longing for deliverance from sinning has not been wrought, they will naturally fall back into the power of the law and the flesh.  The holiness which the New Covenant offers will rather terrify than attract them..."  - Andrew Murray

Ask any addict or person who has tried harder to be a better person:  Grace is far more attractive to the powerless than it is to the prideful.  The Old Covenant Law's painful exposure mercifully ushered in a craving for authentic goodness, a desire to get out from underneath sin's manure pile.  Sin hurts.  Goodness restores us.  We'd beg God to free us from something that had a hold over us.

Law created a craving for grace. 

 

Monday
Dec312012

Grace and royalty have the right to you claim you: A lesson from "Kingdom of Heaven."

 


"I'm your priest, Balian; and I tell you, God has abandoned you...The village does not want you."  - village priest

 

Balian [Orlando Bloom] and Godfrey, Baron of Ibelin [Liam Neeson]

 
"Murder.  I've done murder.
"  - Balian the Blacksmith

Balian [Orlando Bloom] is a blacksmith, whose wife has died of suicide.  Unbeknownst to Balian, she was beheaded post-humously [for being a suicide] by the wicked village priest  who, rather than consoling the grieving Balian, assures him that God has abandoned him and the village has rejected him. 

Balian's true father [Liam Neeson], a man he's never met, is Godfrey, Baron of Ibelin; and has just come to the village to reach out to Balian and to invite him to follow him into the Crusades, joining the baron's small band of warriors.  Balian refuses to go.  He has no desire to know his father, Baron of Ibelin; nor to move beyond the world he knows.  After all, he's just buried his wife.

 

The crime

The scene escalates as Balian discovers that the wicked town priest has cut off his wife's head just before burial, claiming it was punishment for the sin of suicide and that his wife would certainly be in hell for it.  In a fit of striken horror, Balian runs a sword through the priest, killing him.  After murdering the priest, leaving his blacksmith shop to burn, Balian flees town to see if he can catch up with his father, Baron of Ibelin, on the road.

The Law would claim him

Balian catches up with his father, Baron of Ibelin, on the road, and confesses the murder to him. But the law has sent a hunting party for Balian.  The law has come for him so that he may face charges for murdering the priest.  Even knowing his son's sin, his father still won't give him over to the Law; and they quickly discover themselves ambushed by the hunting party. 

Half of the baron's warrior band is slain.  When the dust settles, Balian reminds his father,

"They had the right to take me."


His father replies,

"And so do I."

 


Notice three things:

  1. Balian the blacksmith doesn't realize there is royalty in his blood.

  2. The Law will always try to claim you.

  3. Grace, his true Father, also has the right to claim him. 

 

 

 

Friday
Sep142012

"Don't apply that to your life."

If you don't know you have a new-hearted identity in Christ, the following passage from the Old Testament will be understandably troubling for you:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  [Deut. 8:2]

If I had read that passage ten years ago, I would have drawn some horrible conclusions about my heart - wrongly assuming that:

"There is possibly something in my heart that I shouldn't trust - something that could prevent me from following his commands."


God's audience at that time was not new-hearted, Spirit-indwelled:

Why did God need to "test" something he already knew?  His omniscience would have told him what was already in their hearts.  They were not yet new hearted, Spirit-changed people.  Jesus had not come to bring them that yet.  That would be later in history.

Perhaps it was the people themselves that needed to know what was in their hearts, and experience the futility of living under a broken [ill-functioning] heart?  People often need to feel the crushing burden of living as a self-indulgent corpse before they are ready to live as a free-hearted and alive son or daughter.


What we need to know today:

Secondly, the primary point of Jesus' rescue of us is to give us a heart that loves God and leaves no room for doubt as to its allegiance.  And, being an in-Christ person, that faithful heart is already in you.  When you enter friendship with Jesus, he surgically removes the wandering heart and replaces it with a heart that is aligned and allied with God.

You can trust the faithfulness of your new heart.