Yesterday’s post was upsetting to many of us. In some cases it shifted our focus from our agreement about Christ to disagreements among ourselves–or with “Charles”– over our relationship to Old Testament law.
In retrospect, we don’t know what’s going on in “Charles” heart. He could be a brother who believes in Christ while being conflicted over enslaving moral inconsistencies in his own life. His comment could be a way of trying to unburden himself from his own troubled conscience. Or he could be someone who has not yet bowed the knee to Christ for forgiveness, and therefore thinks the best way to avoid personal blame is by debunking the moral standards of the Bible.
(In the process, he cleverly exposed what happens when we misunderstand whether followers of Christ are subject to the Law of Moses– in the sense that national Israel was.)
In either case, deciding for or against the laws of the Bible doesn’t solve anything. Ultimately speaking, we don’t just break the laws of God. They break us. They can make us feel crazy as we think and do self-destructive things in an effort to numb or kill the sense of guilt that is eating us up. Or they can break us to the point of realizing that our only hope is to throw ourselves at the mercy of the one who bore the penalty and punishment of the law in our place.
Once we’ve experienced the freedom of forgiveness, we can begin the process of letting the Spirit of God show us the wisdom and purpose of the law of God. But even at that point, let’s remember that, just as the law cannot rescue us from our wrongs, neither can it make us into better people.
This is what Paul seems to have had in mind when he wrote to the Galatians, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:2-3).
He went on to emphasize that a relationship with Christ begins and grows through faith in the Spirit of Christ living in us. If the law serves any purpose, it is to help us see that, for ourselves– as for those we care about– the real issue is not moral law– but whether we see and accept what Christ did for us.