2019-11-25 Pandora’s Box.

“Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test
by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that
neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”
Acts 15:10

I had an interesting night reading my bible. As you know, I’m currently reading two chronological plans. Trust me, it’s not because I’m trying to be some super star. However, it is the first time I have done this plan, and I am finding some very interesting things in it. For example, one day the plan had Acts 15 and the next Galatians 3.

Nutshell, Acts 15 is the first meeting of the church to hash out a doctrinal issue. Seems that some were insisting that salvation came from 1) faith in Jesus and 2) keeping the law of Moses. Both, they said, were necessary. The end result of this was an acknowledgment that Gentiles have always been intended by God to be part of his redemption and not required to keep the Mosaic law. Why? Because the Jews couldn’t keep it themselves – and that’s why Jesus came. At the end of the day, the Christian Jews weren’t required to keep it, either. Incidentally, that was the reason for the Reformation, with the Catholic church requiring faith plus works and the Reformers insisting on faith alone.

Then, my plan switched to Galatians in which Paul expands upon all of this. In fact, it was no minor point of contention. See how forcefully he addressed the church:

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Can’t get any stronger language than that. And that’s the same forcefulness that Luther had.

Then comes Galatians 3 which really nails things down. Now, I’m not going to dive into this chapter because that is beyond my scope today. Suffice it to say that I was really puzzled by this whole idea of the Law. Are they talking about rituals, such as circumcision and animal sacrifice? Yes, and much more. Take the Ten Commandments, for example. That’s the Law. But that’s good, right? Yes, it is. But, here’s the problem. We can’t keep them. Sure, we can do better than we sometimes do, but can we ever follow them 100% of the time? Will I never go beyond the letter of the law and allow myself lustful thoughts so that I commit adultery in my heart, like Jesus spoke of? Who am I trying to fool?

Then, I started to wonder about the Law and how it actually magnifies sin. This brought me to Romans 7, and I settled on this verse:

Romans 7:13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

I don’t know about you, but the harder I try to get rid of sin, the harder and harder the sin seems to be to remove. In fact, it is impossible. It seems that by focusing on the evil of the sin, it becomes stronger. Is that what Paul is illustrating when he said, “…through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.”? Indeed, that is what seems to be happening. The more I despise my sin, the worse it seems to be. It becomes sinful beyond measure.

Folks, this may seem elementary, but my strategy for dealing with sin can become futile. In fact, it proves to be counterproductive. My efforts to rid myself of sin are bound to fail. In fact, they must fail. Why? Because I am trying to do a job that only Jesus is qualified for. In fact, it is the job he already did.

So, I live by faith. Faith in what? That Jesus died for my sins, was raised from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father and he will come again to judge the living and the dead? Yes, that and more. Faith that Jesus alone is qualified to take away my sin – in the here and now as well as with regards to everlasting life. If I want to be done with a particular sin, a really stubborn, besetting sin, then Jesus is my only answer. In fact, he is the only answer for the most minor sin I have. Hear me out. Gambling isn’t my problem, but if I understand all this properly, if I started to shine the law on what little I do gamble and keep on shining it, that sin will grow and grow until it overwhelms me and eventually kills me. The Law reveals sin.

I don’t have all the answers to this, but I think I’m on to something. Maybe it’s something you all think is obvious. But faith is not just in Jesus coming again. Faith is also in Jesus removing sin from me, today, so that I might walk closer to him. Do I believe this? Or, do I need to keep trying to get control over my gluttony under my own self-will?

It looks I have more work to do on this topic. I know one thing; my gluttony problem can easily get out of hand. I need a whole new strategy.

Father, teach me. I am utterly amazed how your bible is so interconnected and continually revealing truth to me. I truly desire to be sin-free. Prune this vine. Amen.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

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