Twist And Truth
Twist And Truth
By: Danny Wallace
What is the purpose of the Law?
Romans 3: 19-20 says, “We know what the message of the Law is, to those who live under it—that every excuse may die on the lips of him who makes it and no living man may think himself beyond the judgment of God. No man can justify himself before God by a perfect performance of the Law’s demands—indeed it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.”
The purpose of the Law is to show us that we are unworthy, and incapable of being made worthy by servitude to the Law. In short, The Law is simply a map that points us to Jesus, the One who has fulfilled the Law on our behalf.
Perhaps “The Message” translation makes it clearer to our modern way of speaking…
“This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.”
The Message isn’t saying anything different, but perhaps it says it in a way that we more clearly understand. The long and short of the Law is simply that we are ALL in the same boat as sinners. The saint who points at the person they believe to be the greatest sinner is an equal “sinner” to the one being judged. Our involvement with understanding and promoting the Law does not make us right with God. In fact, it only serves to prove that we are as wrong as anyone else.
Many Ambassadors of the Law today say the same thing that their ancient Ambassadors said in the day of Jesus. They say that it is the fanatical message of “Grace” that gives people a license to sin. Law advocates declare that Grace is encouraging sin. However, the Word of God teaches to the contrary…
I Corinthians 15:3 “It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.”(The Message)
OR…perhaps the NIV translation makes it clearer to religious thinking…
“The sting of death is sin. And the power of sin is the Law.” (NIV)
Therefore, it is not Grace that brings sin and death, but rather, it is the Law.
The burden and brokenness of life always comes in the twist. The lifting of that burden and the healing of our hearts is always found in the Truth, and His name is Jesus. There is no freedom in the twisting together of Law and Grace. It becomes the noose at the end of a rope designed to hang all who choose to carry it. Absolute freedom is found in the truth of Grace that breaks that hangman’s noose that has been formed by the twisting of Law and Grace as a means of satisfying God. It was broken long ago by the completed sacrifice and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Jesus did not free us to study the Proverbs and obey them better as a means of pleasing God. We have been freed to “take up the cross,” and follow Jesus – not take up the Law and follow sin and death. Are the Proverbs wise? Is any portion of the Law true? Of course, the answer to both questions is, “Yes.” However, neither are Jesus – and Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
All of the written Word is true. However, we are not set free by “true,” we are set free by the “Truth,” and His name is Jesus. Study the Law as you may, and it remains nothing more than a road map that reveals your sinful condition and then directs you to the only One who has set you free by its own requirements. That “One” is Jesus. Once you get to Jesus you have no further need for the map (The Law) any longer. Follow the One who has fulfilled its every requirement and you can lay the map aside, understanding that it’s every requirement has already been fulfilled on your behalf.
Jesus said it this way. “When the Pharisees heard how He had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show Him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Jesus always speaks from the principle of Truth – never from the twist of “true.” He never speaks from the concept of a glass half-empty. He always offers wisdom from a glass that is completely full, and overflowing. He simply asks us to LOVE God and likewise, to love all others. In doing this we will have automatically completed everything that the Law or its Prophets have ever commanded of us. In other words, don’t try to read, learn, and follow all of the Law and the Prophets. If you do, you will never learn how to love. Love first, and then everything in their command will have automatically been accomplished. As Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help other people get what they want in life, you will automatically receive all that you need.”
So it is with the Law and following the One who has fulfilled the Law for us. When we follow Jesus, the Law is automatically fulfilled. When we try to fulfill the Law we will never step into the glory and truth of what Jesus has done for us. One is a twist, and one remains forever. One is true, and the other is truth. One brings death, and one brings life.