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Why Did God Give Us the Law?

Why Did God Give Us the Law?

“Obviously, the law applies to those whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are” (Romans 3:19-20).

Our Sunday night Bible Study viewed a series portraying the Book of Acts. During one of the episodes, a man who was baptized suddenly assumed he had the miraculous power to heal others, just as the man who baptized him possessed. The re-enactment showed the man telling his friend to give him his knife, and he proceeded to cut his friend’s hand. “Don’t worry!” The man says, “I am baptized! I now have the power to heal it!”

He didn’t have the same power as Phillip, the apostle who baptized him, did. And he couldn’t heal his friend’s hand. In that moment, the man, Simon, realized he didn’t fully understand his desire to be baptized. The healing powers he sought to gain were not automatically attained as he came up from the water, but the healing of his heart had surely begun. Obviously, he had a lot more to learn about what it meant to follow Christ. Clearly, there was a lot of life change and learning ahead of him. But he was on the right path.

Obvious means “easily seen, recognized, or understood; open to view or knowledge; evident.” It also means, “lacking in subtlety.” The New American Standard translation of Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know …” It’s an assumed knowledge:

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God” (Romans 3:19).

Obviously, in this context, means the law is meant to expose sin for what it is, and convict all of us who are guilty of it. It strips away any attempt to legalize righteousness before the Lord. The story of Simon is recorded in the Book of Acts:

“A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as ‘the Great One - the Power of God.’ They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic.

But now the people believed Phillip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed” (Acts 8:9-13).

Simon’s confusion with the result of baptism had to do with the incorrect posture of his heart. The law of the Lord makes visible our lack, our sin, and the separation between us and God which occurs without the saving blood of the Lord Jesus. Luke recorded more of Simon’s story in the Book of Acts:

“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. ‘Let me have this power, too,’ he exclaimed, ‘so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!’

But Peter replied, ‘May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.’

‘Pray to the Lord for me,’ Simon exclaimed, ‘that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!’” (Acts 8:18-24).

When we first come to faith, the hope we have in Jesus bubbles up and overflows from us. The flood of emotion and relief released by the grace of the Lord rushes in like a tidal wave in our lives and creates a flood of change in us! Though we are obviously a new creation, there is clearly a lot for us to learn on the journey throughout life with Jesus.

Over the course of our lives, life within the love of the Lord Jesus becomes more obvious. There are certain character traits of God which become obvious to us, and changes in our lives which become obvious to others. The challenge is to remain in the obvious state of child-like faith in the Lord, with an obvious hunger to learn and grow in our daily walk with Him. It’s a process called sanctification, which describes the Holy Spirit’s work in us from the time we accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior until the day we meet Him home in heaven.

“The ultimate purpose of the law,” NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible explains, “was to highlight sin, not to provide a means to become righteous before God.” As we grow in our faith, there will be things which are seemingly obvious for a season, but there is always a tendency for us to fall back into old habits, repeat mistakes, and become stuck in a cycle of sin. No matter where we are in our walk with Jesus, His command to have faith like a child applies.

A daily discipline of reading God’s Word is important to the development of our faith. Otherwise, our prayer lives can become like an unanswered text or a one-sided conversation. Though God surely hears and answers us, if we aren’t tuned in to listen to Him, we may not be able to understand or see His directives on our lives. Walking out into the world without the Word of the Lord is like trying to cross the street blind-folded; we are unprepared, and unaware.

Scripture tells us God communicates with us mainly through His Word – the Bible. He can make Himself known to us any way He chooses, through nature and other people – but He chooses to reveal Himself the most through His Word.

Jesus is the Living Word of God. We have the opportunity, each day, to live life to the fullest, as He died so that we could. We can choose to see life through a better perspective and operate our days for something more than just this life here on earth. God’s laws were meant to be guardrails for our lives, not legalistic measuring sticks. The law exposes us for what we are – sinners, every one of us. It reveals our need for God, and draws us closer to Him.

Our lives were meant to bring glory and honor to God. Every parent knows the pain of a child’s mistake suffered because they didn’t listen to warning or follow the guidelines their parents set in place. How much more does the Lord love us, and want what is best for us? His plans for us are more than we can ask for, or image. Look in the mirror at the unique, beautiful and purposed person you are – it’s obvious!

Additional Resource:

NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible. Copyright © 2021 by Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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Meg BucherMeg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ at megbucher.comShe is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ,” and "Sent, Faith in Motion." Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Web Network since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team at Salem Web Network. Meg loves being involved in her community and local church, leads Bible study, and serves as a youth leader for teen girls.