When we are learning a new skill, there are a bunch of rules and precise steps that need to be followed to achieve success. In the beginning, we tend to stress over each and every rule to the point that our efforts are weakened. The ultimate goal is to reach a point where all the steps and rules are so ingrained in our mind we no longer think about them. We are truly successful when we can switch on the autopilot and operate without a cheat sheet.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, God listed a bunch of rules that needed to be followed to achieve righteousness. Over the years these rules were frequently broken. The lesson learned was that no one was able to keep all the rules. Then Jesus came along to establish a new way to achieve righteousness, using those rules known as the law as a demonstration of the need.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:20 (NIV)
Jesus died on the cross as payment for our sin – for our inability to continuously obey the rules known as the law. When we put our faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we are declared righteous.
“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28 (NIV)
There were two things the law was intended to teach us: First that we are to be totally dependent on God. And second, that we are to love God and love our neighbor. All the rules found in the law were pointing us in that direction.
“Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” Romans 3:31 (NIV)
The law does not go away as a result of this new understanding. This new understanding is how we are able to operate without a cheat sheet known as the law. By going to the cross on our behalf, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate understanding of the law – love.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)
We no longer need to think about all the rules and regulations if we focus our hearts and minds on love for God and love for each other. Our faith in Jesus is an acknowledgment of the power of love.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 (NIV)
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