22 Feb Being Right – Excerpt 2
When I was a child of about four years of age, I remember riding in the front seat of my father’s red, 1971 Ford Fairlane-Falcon. These were the days before seat belt laws and child restraints. He parked in front of a convenience store and ran in quickly to purchase something he needed. Just before leaving me in the car (also, not against the law at the time), he warned me not to push the pedals under the steering wheel. Before that moment, I had never noticed that there were pedals, nor was I aware that they had any function that would warrant my restraint. As clearly as if it were yesterday, I remember waiting until my father had entered the little store, and I immediately moved over to the driver’s side. Now, the car was off and the keys were not in the ignition, so I was in no danger of going anywhere. But I began to press repeatedly on the gas pedal. I flooded the car, and earned myself some special attention from Dad when we got home. In fact, when we arrived at home I thought he had forgotten his promise to punish me. I bolted in the apartment and announced “I’m going to play!” He firmly said, “No, you’re going to pray.”
“But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:8-12)
You see, sin in this context is comparable to the ornery kid in school that passes you a note, and then tattles on you for passing notes. The accuser seized the opportunity to accuse us after he introduced the temptation to sin.
My point is the same as Paul’s: until there was a rule pointed out to me, I did not see or care about the restriction. But once I was aware of a Law, I encountered an overwhelming desire to know what it was like to do what I’d been instructed not to do. Did my father make me disobey? Of course not. Did God make man sin by giving the Law? Of course, He did not. Sin brought condemnation through the righteousness of God’s Law. God didn’t give the Law to arm the devil, but the devil, knowing that the Law indicted man, took advantage of it and has been using it against man. And as every covenant works, if one part of the Law is broken, then all of it is broken. No one is rewarded for keeping 90% of the Law. It stands as a veritable pass/fail proposition. In school many of us were happy to simply pass, paying little attention to the effect it might have on our grade point average. Earning a C- in Biology might have made little difference to me when my reason for attending college in the first place was to study music. However, with the Law you would have to make a 100% to be considered righteous in the sight of a Holy God.
Thirdly, the Law was a binding covenant as long as the agreeing parties were living. The covenant was an everlasting covenant, and both parties are bound to the agreement. Paul makes the point that when a person dies, they are no longer obligated to fulfill contracts. If a woman’s husband dies, she is no longer bound to the marriage contract. Likewise, the Law becomes null and void for one that has died. Jesus, having fulfilled the Law, was put to death for no wrong doing. It was the intention of the religious leaders, and the demonic leaders to remove Jesus out of the way. They did not know what they were doing when they condemned Him falsely. Luke and Paul confirm this,
“For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize Him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning Him. 28 And though they found in Him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed.” (Acts 13:27)
“None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8)
When Jesus cried out “It is finished!” (John 19:30) He had fulfilled the purpose for which He was sent. In one unparalleled act He bore the sin, guilt, and judgment of mankind. In that moment the Law’s purpose was completely fulfilled. Every shadow written in the Law, every detailed symbol in the ritual, every feast and Sabbath find their fullness in the One anointed to die. And that’s not all. In His death the record of every sin, the sentence for every crime, the condemnation that stood against you and I was stamped “Paid in full”.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
Do not misunderstand. Some teachers make the mistake of saying that the Law was nailed to Jesus’ cross. That’s not accurate to the scripture. It was the record of our debts to the Law that was nailed to His cross. By this powerful act He removed once and for all the record of offenses that condemned us. The devil has no more ammunition to accuse you before God. Your sins are washed away, and the former contract by which you were bound is null and void in the death of Jesus.