I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) saying in class, “If you want…
When Daniel worships his own God, Darius doesn’t change the rules for him. This seems ridiculous. The king loves Daniel, he doesn’t want Daniel to die, and he’s the king! Why doesn’t he just change the rules? Well, it doesn’t work that way. The law is inflexible: not one “jot or tittle” (Matt 5:18) will be changed. There is no wiggle room. This is terrible news for us sinners.
One of the great misconceptions about Christianity is that grace involves setting aside, circumventing, or ignoring the rules (the law). At the very least, we think of Jesus’ good work as lowering the bar of the law. He takes all of God’s laws and turns them into “Do your best to love God and love each other. Try. Peace out, man.”
But this is a profoundly flawed view. In the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, Jesus raises the bar of the law. Or, more accurately, showing how high the bar of the law has always been. From the beginning, God has always demanded perfection. Uninterrupted, inside-out, outside-in perfection. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Like grace, the law has no “buts.”
When we sin, God does not set the law aside. If he did, we could never have any assurance, or peace. What is he going to do next time? What if we do something worse? What if we keep doing the thing that we did? Is he going to keep setting aside the law? This is not grace, and it doesn’t lead to peace. It leads, rather, to fear. When we count on the rules being relaxed for us, we’re hoping on something in which we have no confidence.
The Good News is that God does better than setting aside the law. He closes lions’ mouths.
Jesus did not come to relax the law; he came to FULFILL the law! Or, to put it another way: we are not saved apart from the law; rather we are saved by Jesus who perfectly kept the law on our behalf. So, when we find ourselves called onto the carpet of life, and justly accused of breaking a law, we don’t have to hope that the law gets ignored. We don’t have to hope that the law gets changed. We don’t have to hope that the law gets circumvented. We can know that the law has been placed on the shoulders of Another, and that he has been cast to the lions in our place. Daniel awoke the next morning without a scratch; saved by God. Jesus does one better: he was raised, victorious over sin and death — and not just for himself, but for us.
The law demands perfection–no “ifs, ands or buts.” The gospel is the good news announcing that Jesus has delivered perfection with no strings attached–no “ifs, ands, or buts.”3 Comments