Righteousness Inside Out

righteousnessThis morning I briefly made reference to the historical problem Christians have of pitting God’s grace against God’s law.  Is it really only one or the other?  Often in this discussion people will make reference to negative statements Paul made against the law.  However, when one examines those passages in context they discover that Paul is not negative about the law; he is against using law as a means of salvation.  Paul is very clear that we are saved by grace through faith, and NOT by works of law.

What then is the role of law?  It is to teach us how to live; to train us in godliness.  Jesus plainly states in the sermon on the mount that the law has an important role in our lives.  Following Jesus means following God’s law; but not in the way of the Pharisees.  Jesus teaches us to follow the intent of the law which is the heart of God.  The better we know God; the better we know how to follow the law.

Reading the law of Moses it becomes obvious that not everything in that law applies equally.  The law of Moses was Israel’s “instant nation package.”  It contained everything needed to set up the nation of Israel.   The law combines ceremonial, sacrificial, judicial and moral laws.  The sacrificial laws found their fulfillment in Jesus’ one time sacrifice for sin.  The ceremonial laws likewise are fulfilled in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for sin.  Some of the laws only apply to Jews living in the land of Canaan with a central meeting place.  Likewise, through Jesus’ atonement the barriers separating Jew and Gentile have been removed.  Thus, laws that keep that distinction (food restrictions and circumcision for example) have now fulfilled their intended purpose.

What remains is the moral law of God that pre-existed the existence of Israel.  This moral law was contained in Moses’ Law and continues in force to this day.  But it is not to be interpreted as wooden and inflexible.  Rather, Jesus teaches us how to interpret the law; and more than simply interpret, Jesus insists that we LIVE the law as God intends.  The rest of the sermon on the mount illustrates how to live a life of righteousness that surpasses the righteousness of the Pharisees.  This journey we’re on through the sermon on the mount is about to take us deep into the heart the God!

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.

Comments

2 Responses to “Righteousness Inside Out”

  1. avatar Stephen Carman says:

    Do we “interpret the law” or does the law “interpret us” … I suspect the former is more common because it is safer. Makes us feel a little more in control of the situation.

    Law and grace go together, and we should keep them together. When they are working together in our lives we are formed into the people we were always intended to be.

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