A couple of months ago during the early evening, three of the five of our family piled in the car to escape our house for a moment. Adventurously, we traveled less than five miles to a family favorite drive-up institution affectionally called “Sonic.” After ordering our small apple juices and a large diet coke with cherry, we ventured home. While approaching home, my 2 year old accidentally inverted her beverage. Some spilled on her lap. One of the greatest things about Sonic drinks is the ice which keeps the drink very cold. Spilling a sonic drink in your lap often transfers that cold feeling to an uncomfortable level. She cried out and I decided that coming to a complete stop at the approaching stop sign simply wasn’t necessary. Fifteen minutes later, holding a small pink piece of paper, I realized the officer didn’t see things the same way. Alas, I had broken the law and my sin was ever before me, spelled c-i-t-a-t-i-o-n.
The laws we live by are designed with certain purposes and functions in mind. Whether I agree with those purposes and functions matter little. The law simply tells me when I am wrong. It doesn’t affirm the hours of driving well nor does it take into consideration circumstances. The law simply tells me when I am wrong. Growing up in small churches across our country, I developed a sense of God’s law in my life. When I behave well, God is pleased and I am treated with peace, love, and some level of comfort. Sin, breaking God’s law, is punished with guilt, pain, and a feeling of lost favor with God. My actions determine God’s level of love for me and his favor is dependent on how well I am following the law. By law, I don’t mean the Mosaic law or the laws of the Old Testament though that might be part of it. Law indicates this internal code by which I make God happy with me.
Two major issues surface here. One, God’s love, favor and blessing become dependent on me. I essentially begin to earn His love. Two, the law becomes void of a relationship with Jesus. While it may sound so churchy, rules void of a relationship will only lead to bitterness, frustration, and rebellion. Many parents have seen this in their grown kids. Both of these issues create incredible problems in light of Scripture. The law challenges me to be a good moral person. Often, this seems a noble goal! But God doesn’t want good moral people who don’t relate to Him. For whatever reason, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to repair a torn relationship. Sin severed the ties between God and His beautiful creation known as humanity. For thousands of years, creation anticipated the restoration of God with His people.
Jesus was crucified to defeat sin and sin’s result, death. The reality is, I can’t do it. I can’t stop sin in my own life. I long to but I don’t have the ability. Only through a relationship, and adoption, can I find reprieve. So what does this mean?
Instead of trying hard not to sin, I need to talk to and hear from God. Instead of making every effort to eliminate sinful influence, I need to draw near to the influence of my Father. I have spent much of my life trying not to mess up, to fail. Instead, God desires me to rest in Him. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds of the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6) The connection is a relationship with the Spirit, the God of the Universe who lives inside me. Choosing to take off the nature of sin is then replaced with putting on life in Christ. My sin has been taken care of, but not because I am a moral good person. I am wretched and my flesh runs from God. But only in receiving His grace, extended to all mankind, did I become free. Peace fills my heart because my sin is dealt with and the law (which shows me when I have sinned) has been fulfilled.