Laws seem to encourage lawbreaking. Issue a strong prohibition, and before long somebody breaks it. Tell a little boy he must stay out of the cookie jar, leave him alone in the kitchen, and what happens? The commands create in him an irresistible desire for one of the forbidden treats. He looks longing; he yields. Had the order not been issued, the youngster may not have become an offender.
We respond in much the same way to God’s holy law. It seems to incite us to do the very thing it is intended to prevent. This is because another law, “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), also operates within us. Paul said he would not have known covetousness, “unless the law had said, You shall not covet (Romans 7:7). That prohibition, when brought in contact with Paul’s heart, stirred up within him “all manner of evil desire” (Romans 7:8). Although the law is good, it has no power to make us obedient.
How then can we fulfill God’s law if all it does is condemn? We must learn to live by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2), which gives us a marvelous freedom and power. It’s like flying in an airplane. On the ground the aircraft is subject to gravity. But as it races down the runway, it reaches a point where the laws of aerodynamics displace the law of gravity. So, too, when we yield to what we know is right, God’s Spirit takes over, superseding the “law of sin and death,” and then we find delight in keeping God’s commands (Psalm 119:143). – Dennis J. De Haan
Law keeps us limping in the dark; grace sets us walking in the light.
- March 6, Vol. 1, Our Daily Bread