Understanding the Law

The law God has revealed to us can be mysterious in many ways.  It can be difficult to accept, to uphold, to understand, to follow, to realize it’s purpose.  It commonly lacks proper explanation in how it pertains to the bible, God, people, Jesus, and Christianity.  Before we can understand the depth and breadth the law contains, we need to first understand how we are meant to view it.  How should we look at law?  How were we meant to view it?  How can we understand it as more than just rules God commands us to follow and adhere to?  There’s a myriad of ways to understand the law, but I just want to highlight a few.  I hope this post gives you a better vantage point to see the wholeness of the law.  I want to be clear that I’m not going to be commenting on the difference between the ceremonial, moral, and civil laws.  I am also not going to be addressing ceremonial or civil laws directly.  This post is mainly meant to be a comment on the moral law, however some of this may apply also to the civil and ceremonial laws as well.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the law was given as a guide to life.  It was the blueprint on how we should live.  It tells us which things we ought and ought not to do.  It’s like a manual for how to live right.  We need this because of the way sin has corrupted our hearts and our ability to judge from what is right and wrong.  So, God decided we needed a guideline on how to live with each other and in relation to Him.

Closely related to this thinking, we can see the law as the standard God expects of us.  It is the benchmark that God commands we live up to.  It is the goal and aim of each life to be able to follow all these things perfectly.  It says the best life is the life that meets these statutes perfectly.  This leads to an even deeper understanding of the law though.  It shows us that if a satisfying life is what we desire, then we should live as the law demands.  The more our life is in line with the law, the more satisfaction and value we will obtain out of life.

The law is meant to show us the best and most effective way to live a life that clings to fulfillment.  In doing that though, our understanding and perspective begins to change and show us even more insight into the law.  It begins to give us practical ways to draw near to God.  It tells us of the things we need to do to please the Lord.  It shows us the behavior and actions we need to live in to become more like God.  It is throwing out stepping stones we must walk on if we want to stand near God.  But on this journey, the law devastates us with truth that can be too heavy to bear.

The law exposes us for what we are as sinners.  The law is described as a mirror that shows us how much of failures we are.  It shows us how miserably we don’t measure up to God’s standards.   When we come to see the unapologetic pureness of the law, we are faced with the wretched filthiness of ourselves.  We come to realize really fast we can never keep these laws.  We are fiercely shown our imperfections when compared to God’s demands, when compared to God’s perfection.

The law gives us a glimpse of God’s perfection.  It shows us how pure and holy God must be in order to eternally meet this standard.  To have never once slipped up or made a mistake.  To have not once been judged by this rigid and rigorous system of morality.  The law now goes from being a guide, to being a judge.  It goes from showing us the way to a full life, to being that which shows us our condemnation.  It illuminates every error in our hearts, the depths of our depravity, how vastly unworthy we are to exist in the same vicinity of this holy and immutably perfect God who has made and kept this critical criterion since before time existed.

What are we to do now?  The law went from being our friend that showed us the path to holiness, the way to God’s heart, the way to please Him, the way to move towards Him; to the enemy that rips us away from God, to the light that brings to vision all our shortcomings, to the explorer who searches our days to note every little thing we do wrong.  All of mankind should weep in despair in recognition of our desolateness.  But the law isn’t done yet.  It doesn’t just magnify our sins and failures but it also amplifies our Lord’s grace and mercy.  This is the ultimate job of the law, to bring God glory, and the glory it provides is never ending.  It paints the painfully honest picture of reality.  It unforgivingly displays the chasm between us and God, the sheer categorical difference between human and the divine.  Only then, can we see that in our weakness God is made strong.  Only then do we see that in our vile rebellion, God responds with unceasing forgiveness.  Only then do we see the miracle of God taking our filth and making us clean.  The law radiates God’s glory through the cosmos.  It makes it impossible for us to miss his grace and mercy.  The law may reveal the horridness of humanity, but it blinds us with the holiness of heaven and overwhelms us with the grace and mercy that flows from God through the nature of his forgiveness.

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