Rev. Jonathan Latham

Rev. Jonathan Latham

Romans 3:20

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Many years ago, while driving to college, I passed through a small town — a very small town. It just so happened that this tiny village, sometime in the past, felt compelled to reduce the speed on that minuscule portion of the road. The hamlet’s leaders determined that traveling 10 miles an hour slower would be sufficient to spare the lives of its citizens. Sadly, my car ignored the speed reduction and did not slow down the aforementioned 10 miles an hour while hurtling to its appointed destination.

Suddenly, both the car and I became aware of a problem. A loud siren and blinking lights riveted our attention and encouraged us to pull over and stop. The officer politely informed us of our speed violation. The officer cited the Law, thus making us aware of our transgression. Unfortunately, the car had no money and silently refused to take any responsibility for the act; therefore, I had to pay a fine. Later I traded the car for one more likely to keep the speed limit.

All laws are designed to motivate or restrict our actions. For example, the Ten Commandments tell us what God wants us to do and what not to do. Following those commands can help the individual and society to live more harmoniously together. Sadly, keeping the Law is only an outward exercise of obedience. Inwardly, humans tend to rebel against rules. Maybe that is because laws restrict our freedoms. We like to do what we want, how we want and when we want to do it. Our selfish desires often come at the expense of what is good, helpful or healthy. Without Law, civilization is impossible because humanity would sink into chaotic anarchy. Ultimately, there is going to be some authority that will exercise its power to force submission.

Submission does not remove the rebellious spirit; it simply hides it. The only way one is genuinely submissive to the Law of God is for that person to be internally changed to agree with the Law. Paul makes this point when he says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 4:28) The Bible also says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Cor. 5:17)

Doing what the Law says does not change a person. However, it exposes our sinfulness and shows our need for salvation which comes only from Jesus. Once Christ inwardly changes us, we have the desire and ability to obey God’s Law.

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