By Kevin Ivy
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tullahoma
God established a standard for His chosen people to live by, and that standard was the Mosaic law. In that law, the expectation was made clear. The Jews were to do all the Lord their God commanded them. They were not to turn aside to the right or the left. They were to walk in all the ways of God perfectly. The problem was they were incapable of keeping that law perfectly. In fact, there has never been a natural born man who could fully walk according to the law standard of God. After all, a single violation of one law causes us to become guilty of breaking all of the law of God (James 2:10).
We all have sinned and come short of the glory, or standard, of God. Because we do not meet God’s standard, we are under a curse (Galatians 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26). Since no one can keep the whole law perfectly, we have no hope of being justified by it. Simply put, we cannot be good enough for God. We can never do enough good for God. We cannot pray enough, get baptized enough, join enough churches, or do enough good deeds to ever cancel our sin debt before this holy God. We cannot expect any of our good deeds to be any more than filthy rags in His eyes. Our only hope is to be made righteous by faith in the finished work of Christ (Galatians 3:11). Christ came to this earth, to live the perfect life God requires of us. He came to pay the penalty for our sin. The Father poured out His wrath upon our sin, in Christ, on the cross until Jesus cried it was finished. Our sin, with Christ, was buried in a tomb, and on Sunday Jesus resurrected bodily from the grave so that all who would reject their sin and turn to Christ by faith could be made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.
If one can only be made righteous by faith, why did God provide a law that He knew we would be unable to keep? The law served as a temporary tutor or guardian until Jesus Christ came. This word guardian pictures a slave appointed to serve as a child’s protector. From age 6 until late adolescence, the child was under constant care and supervision. This slave was part babysitter and part chaperone. Ancient drawings usually depict him holding a rod. He provided protection and punishment to keep the child safe and in line. Likewise, God used the law like an ancient guardian to protect, discipline, and ultimately drive His people to their Savior.
The law is like chemotherapy. When chemotherapy is used, it does not give life. Actually, it is an instrument of death. The chemicals that are poured into the body destroy healthy tissue as well as cancer cells. Chemotherapy actually makes the patient feel much worse, before it makes them feel better. In much the same way, the law makes us worse so that Christ can make us better. The condemnation of the law drives us to the grace of Christ by faith in His finished work upon the cross. And now that faith in Christ has come, we are no longer under the law and there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If that doesn’t sound like good news to you, you haven’t read Leviticus and Deuteronomy lately!