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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Saving The Law From Legalism

None of us seeks after God, we like sheep have gone astray after our own lusts, we have worshipped the creature over the Creator, we have set our mouths against Heaven and declared war on the God who made us, trying to make a name for ourselves and blaspheming his name among the nations.

Beloved, we’ve blown it, and these are just the first four Commandments. There are six more and they don’t get any easier, and if you’ve broken one, you might as well have broken them all for the exceeding guilt of your soul.

Where can we turn for life? The Psalmist says we ought to turn to the very law that has made sin come alive and which killed us.
I will never forget your precepts,
__for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me,
__for I have sought your precepts. – Psalm 119:93-94
Legalism! Or so it seems, but it’s not a good idea to call the Gospel of Grace legalism; that might just border on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Christ said likewise, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51) If we separate God from the word, the law, then indeed we are legalists, but the law is the embodiment of truth and knowledge and so is Jesus Christ. (Compare John 1:1-2 and Romans 2:20) The Pharisees were condemned for searching the law without acknowledging the Son (John 5:39ff), but beloved, the law as it points to the Son is able to save.

How then? It is the exact four Commandments that have utterly condemned us which are now our response so that we can cry, “Save me, for I have sought your precepts!”

Commandment 1 – You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me. Paul really states this one well when he says, “We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10) There is one Saviour of humanity; besides him, there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11) You must set your hope on this Saviour, the Saviour who put on flesh, lived a perfect sinless life abiding by every Commandment, tempted in all ways yet without sin, and who willingly substituted himself for you on Calvary, canceling your debt against the law by nailing it to the cross. You shall have no other gods besides him.

Commandment 2 – You Shall Not Bow Down to Idols. Peter says that we are to set our hope perfectly on Christ, forsaking every former lust. (1 Peter 1:13-14) The Commandment tells why we must turn from idols, for your God is a jealous God and will visit iniquity on all idolaters. But for those who turn from idols to him, who set their hope on the Saviour, he promises steadfast love (Hebrew Chesed, alternately translated Grace) to those who love him and keep his Commandments.

Commandment 3 – You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain. Even when we have blasphemed the name of God in thought, word, and deed, his salvation is available through this Commandment when the repentant blasphemer holds fast to their confession of hope in the Risen Christ. But be assured that if you deny him before men, he will deny you before his Father. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

Commandment 4 – Remember the Sabbath, to Keep it Holy; On It You Shall Not Do Any Work. Jesus Christ is the Sabbath Rest of the New Covenant, raised on the eighth day of the week beginning the New Creation. (Hebrews 4) The saying is faithful, that Jesus plus nothing equals everything, but Jesus plus something equals nothing. If you are trusting partly in yourself and partly in Christ, know that your hope is not complete and you have not entered into his rest. Cease from working for salvation, rest in Christ, and be saved; for if we have indeed come to share in Christ, then we have rested from our works just as God rested from his works.

These four Commandments which promised life have slain you and I, but they are still the Living and Active Word of God, able to save, able to make alive, never to pass away, and in them is salvation if you look to the God to whom they point. Make him your God, he is the only Saviour of the world, and if you trust in him, he will be your Saviour. Repent of false gods and false salvation systems, confess Christ with your mouth and hold fast to the confidence in him. Trust not in your works, but rest from them, and trust in the works of Jesus Christ, him who died for sins, but lived again, who lives eternally to make intercession for his saints.

Make this your prayer,

Let your hand be ready to help me,
__for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD,
__and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you,
__and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
__for I do not forget your commandments. – Psalm 119:173-176

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