What the Law Could Not Do

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What The Law Could Not Do!

(Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(Rom 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
(Rom 8:3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

However, God did what the Law could not do!

Just as the Law of Moses could not renew the heart, a religious system, or any Church, by its rules, doctrines, regulations, ordinances, sacraments, and various duties, cannot renew the heart; they all are fatally flawed for what is external to the heart cannot renew the heart. A man, without the heart, can attend a church faithfully, be sincere in his devotion to that church, partake of the sacraments, pray, give, work, etc, and all without a renewed heart. He can simply be a religious person with sincere religious beliefs but without a heart made new by Christ. The world is full of "Christian" people, who are sincere in their religion, but do not know Christ. Paul described the religious devotion of Israel as "not according to knowledge"; their understanding of righteousness was flawed. They thought faithfulness to their system made them righteous but Paul tells them it was not their system but Christ who makes a person righteous; their system had become a system of self-righteousness, a system by which their obedience to the system made them righteous. God's way of righteousness is never by a system but by a Person, Rom.10:4.

To trust in the doing of religious things is extremely seductive for we tend to see our religious devotion as an evidence of our righteousness. This is exactly what Paul warns against. He teaches that God's righteousness is a gift through faith in Christ, and not through devotion to a religious system. This was a difficult concept for Israel for it was unimaginable that a man could be made right with God apart from circumcision. But Paul, in Galatians 5:2-4, states to the Galatian believers, that if after believing in Christ they continued to trust in circumcision then they had fallen from grace and Christ would be of no benefit to them!

Is it legitimate to apply Paul's thinking to our present day religions? I think so, otherwise the Scripture would be of no benefit to us. So, from the Apostle Paul's teaching to the Church in Galatia, we can say this - If our righteousness is obtained from the religious system to which we belong, or their doctrines, or from what we see as good works, then we have fallen from grace and Christ will be of no benefit to us.

Colossians 2:9 tells us that we are complete in Christ, meaning we cannot add to His work of redemption; everything needed for one's Salvation is found in the Person of Christ. Paul warns the followers of Christ to not allow the doctrines/teachings of religious systems to cheat you out of a simple faith in Christ. Powerful people may want you to trust in Angels, mystical teachings, self-denial, diets, sabbaths, holy days, relics, rituals, etc., but, only as we are joined to Christ can we be made right with God; God, through faith in Christ, makes us alive with Christ, and if through faith God has made us alive with Christ, then we ought to see that these other religious things have no value whatsoever to the saving of our soul.

To obey is better than sacrifice. This was the message of Samuel to King Saul. God, through Samuel, had given Saul strict orders to slay every Amalekite and also every last one of their animals. But Saul disobeyed the Lord by saving Agag the King of the Amalekites, and he also saved the "best" of the animals, under the pretense that sacrificing the "best" of the animals would be pleasing to God. Samuel's response to Saul were the classic words " to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams." The point is this - it is not our religious practices that bring us into favor with God but favor is a gift of God through the redemptive work of Christ. Are we willing to stop trusting in the "best" of our religious practices and start trusting in Christ alone? Will we be obedient to God and receive the righteousness that comes from God by faith in Jesus Christ?

As followers of Christ the Scriptures tells us to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together", Heb. 10:25. So clearly, in our religious devotion there is a place for churches, doctrines, works, duties, etc..  Our religious practices are important and we need to be part of a Bible believing fellowship of believers. Baptism is a biblical teaching, Jesus taught the Lord's Supper, and other religious practices are equally important to our Christian life. But none of these things can, in themselves, save, and, none can take the place of Christ. If, for whatever reason, our particular Church should cease to exist, we need to be able to say, "my Salvation is not in my Church but in Christ alone, and though Heaven and Earth pass away, my Salvation is sure for it is in the Lord Jesus Christ!

God bless you,

Jim