Skip to main content

Above the Law

Right now, I'm reading through Hebrews in the mornings as my personal study.  (I try to make sure I'm reading and learning outside of what I'm preaching.  Right now, that means I need to be reading something in addition to John and Exodus.)  This is what struck me this morning:
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  Hebrews 7:18-19
The author of Hebrews (Paul, Apollos, Barnabas, Aquila, or Priscilla?) has been comparing the Old Testament covenant with the covenant instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This passage opened up a line of thought which I'd recommend you to consider:

We are not righteous of our own accord.  In fact, all humanity is born with a tendency to sin.  It's like coffee's natural inclination to get cold (and, therefore, nasty), our natural tendency is to drift from the perfection God has commanded.  This has been our problem since Adam, Eve, and that whole fruit incident.  That tendency has very diverse manifestation, but it's still ultimately the same: God is perfect, and we're not.  It's like being born with a negative balance in our account.

Now, the Old Testament Law contains two major parts: 1.)Commands about living a holy life; 2.)Commands about sacrifices to cover failing to live a holy life.  If you extract the narrative, that's Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  What I see is this: under the old way, man was expected to do his best, and offer sacrifices to bring him up to zero in his 'holiness account' before God.  Now, further study of the OT shows that it was actually God's grace that accepted the sacrifices as adequate, but that's the essence of the Old Covenant.  (Covenants are binding agreements. More in another post.)

The New Covenant works differently.  As people, we're still born the same way we always have been, in debt to the holiness of God.  We're still carrying a negative balance in our account.  Except that when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came and died as the substitute sacrifice for our sins, He changed the situation.  Note that He didn't substitute for Old Testament sacrifices.  He substituted for us.  For those who have accepted Christ and surrendered to Him as Lord, His righteousness balances our account at zero.  We are now capable of standing before God, because we have been credited with His account.  Our lives are now about living in gratitude of that credit, and living up to it.

The Law, as the Hebrews passage points out, could not make us holy and perfect.  It was structured to point out our lack of holiness and perfection, and to illuminate what has to be done about it.  It is possible for us to be counted as perfect before God because of Christ, though we are now needing to live up to that credit we have received.  Will we falter?  Certainly, but we have no debt to work off any longer.  We have only the gratitude we owe that brings us back, and keeps us in obedience to God.

Doug

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/east-end-baptist-church/id387911457?mt=2 for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: http://eebcar.libsyn.com/rssThe video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=publicSermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/SermonsThanks!