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Is this supposed to be encouraging?

August 22, 2007

I have been spending some time in Romans recently. When I go there I have to stay for a while because it takes a lot of work for me to understand Paul’s writing. His large and complex sentences and big words can really confuse me, but also he says a lot and it usually packs a punch.

Today I was in Romans 3. It talks about the law. People in Paul’s time knew a lot about the law. They had been raised with it and their lives were bound by it in many ways. Christ’s message had opposed that and redefined it bringing a lot of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, but for many people that message must have brought confusion and inner turmoil.

We don’t talk about the law very much in America today. There are Christian circles that don’t even talk about the old testament other than maybe the well known stories of faith that are referred to in the New Testament. However, the law is a part of what God gave us, and part of the history of how he has revealed himself to mankind. Paul discusses the law and tells people they are not bound by it. That is great news, and must have been very freeing for the people of that time. However, reading verse 20 this morning I was struck by the truth of what comes from observing the law. If we observe the law….if we choose to try to walk a life that follows the guidelines that God has expressed will lead us toward a better life….if we seek to live a life that will draw us closer to God ….what do we get? We get to become more conscious of our own sin. Is that supposed to be encouraging? Do this…follow God’s word….seek to live well…and you will become even more aware of how far you are from the mark, and how messed up you are. The good part is we will become more aware of how much we need God, but I have to say I am not exactly encouraged and excited to live by the law today. I have a pretty good view of my sin and shortcomings already, the idea of seeing it more clearly is actually a pretty repulsive thought. I guess the trade off is that if I don’t live by the law you get to see my sin and shortcomings.

Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Delany permalink
    August 30, 2007 5:25 pm

    Hey kiddo. For the one who is trying to live by the Law and make a good showing to the Lord, then chapter 3, like chapter 2 is NOT good news. When one reads this chapter it should break one’s will for even trying. These chapters give us a glimpse of the depths of the darkness in our hearts when we try to please Him outside of faith. Take a look at Paul who says he ‘practiced’ the thing he hated in Romans 7:15.

    Like you stated, the Law reveals our sinfulness which drives us to our only recourse, Christ !!

    So our bad news becomes good news in Christ.

    So, the just will live by faith (Rom 1:17).
    Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through faith, not imputed law.

    Rom 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
    Rom 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
    Rom 3:26 for the demonstration, {I say,} of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
    Rom 3:27 ¶ Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

  2. September 1, 2007 4:40 pm

    Good to hear from you Delaney. I have missed your wisdom!

    Thank you for sharing this. I know it, I hope many believers do, but it is still so easy to get caught up in trying to do things to earn our place rather than to walk in the relationship and live in faith. Our daily life in this world is so far from how God wants us to live. I keep trying to work on learning his ways, but I seem to fail at it all the time. As you stated, this drives me to the only recourse, the only thing that will make the difference, Christ.


  3. Delany permalink
    September 3, 2007 12:12 pm

    It is always good to read and share our thoughts here. It has been a very busy summer. I’ve read here but have not responded, as you well know.

    You said above “it is still so easy to get caught up in trying to do things to earn our place rather than to walk in the relationship and live in faith.”

    Why do you think this is? I can think of several things but I would like to hear your take on the issue.

  4. September 3, 2007 2:42 pm

    For me it I think it comes down to three key areas. 1) I am a person of action and learn and relate best when I am actively involved in something 2) I come from a family with a strong work ethic and a touch of perfectionism 3) and my own insecurities typcially lead toward me trying to “prove myself” by doing something. I don’t know how many of those translate to the reasons others feel a need to earn their place. I believe insecurities is probably a piece of it for many people.

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