Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Law of God is good and wise. . .
The Law is about as welcome to our ears as the family secrets are when they come tumbling out into public eye. Yes, we know the commandments. Yes, we know we ought to keep them. But, no, we have not. Worse, our sinful flesh does not even want to keep them. The Law is good but it is better if it is silent and does not rain upon the parade of our unleashed desires.
We had hoped that the Gospel meant we would only heart about the sweet grace of God that gave to us what we did not deserve and that the voice of the Law would become silent to those who love Jesus. But that is not the way of Jesus. There is no more pointed nor powerful law preacher than Jesus Christ our Savior.
You heard it said. . . but I say. With that familiar litany Jesus tears down board by board every house of righteousness we hope to construct. We presume that thoughts do not count. As long as you can keep your mouth from saying it or you body from doing it, we are immune from sin and its condemnation. But Jesus has torn down our house of cards and exposed us to the full, brunt force of God’s Law. Relax the commandments in the least and you will be the least. Love them, teach them, and keep them and you will be great.
Ouch! Does that ever hurt! It hurts to have the Law strip us bare before the all seeing eye of God’s righteous judgement. It hurts to admit to God what we do not even want to admit to ourselves about the sins of thought, word, and deed, of evil done and good left undone, and of secrets kept. It hurts to look at the people we love to judge and admit we are no better than they are before the unbending rule of God’s law.
But it is not God’s intention to hurt us. God is no masochist. He wounds to heal. He exposes sin to light to make it disappear with absolution. He cuts out what is dead that He may make us truly alive. He calls us to repentance so that we might follow Christ the way, the truth, and the life, upon the narrow way of eternal life.
And here is the rub. The expectation of God and the expectation of the Church is that we will learn to love righteousness and hate sin. It is one thing to be told by the doctor to cut out salt or sugar from your diet or you will die. It is quite another thing to love what is good, wholesome, and right. God is not interested in the kind of righteousness which proceeds from fear but the righteousness of faith. He plants His Spirit within us not to teach us to be afraid but to fear and love God above all things – the holy fear that acknowledges who God is and who we are not and the love that responds to His love for us.
The proper distinction of law and Gospel is still the key. Christ has not come to abolish the Law or even to lock it up and silence its voice. He has come to fulfill it and to teach us to love it and to keep it in love. Where the Law could only warn in the voice of Moses, Christ keeps it perfectly and so it can no longer accuse us who belong to Christ. Now it is free to teach us. The Law and the Gospel are not opposing words but both the Word of the Lord and where the Word is, the Spirit is at work, enlightening us to what God has done in Christ to save us and teaching us to rejoice in Christ and to walk in His way.
So repent. Not out of fear but because Christ has kept the Law. Repent and believe the Gospel. The one the Law has killed is the Savior who dies to bring us life. Now let us leave behind all immorality, all unrighteousness, all sin and disobedience, all rebellion and pride... And let us walk in Christ with Christ. You have the righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees; it is Christ’s gift you own by faith. Hearing this Gospel means learning to hear the Law differently. You have died to sin and you now live to Jesus Christ. Live fully and live holy this gift and you will find the Law your delight. Amen.