Saturday, August 11, 2012

How The Law Revives A Soul

Do you remember that day? The day of your salvation? I do. I was forty. I was sitting in church on a sunny June morning with my family. I can't tell you what the sermon was about. I don't remember the songs or the prayers or any other details but this - I left there that day different. I had no idea what happened, but if I had known how to explain it I would have used the word free. That's how I felt - burdens lifted, hope instilled, peace beyond understanding.

That was thirteen years ago. Since that time I have absorbed large chunks of the Christian culture around me. I have read books, listened to sermons, and I've tried to watch and learn from those further on down the road.  

My Mission?

Become the godly





and friend that God wanted me to be.

I believed that if I could just attain that one additional piece of knowledge or skill I'd make it. I would be "all that God wanted me to be." I had failed to realize I was already "all God wanted me to be." Because He had rescued me from a miry pit, raised me to newness of life and given me his robe of righteousness I was free to rest. That was the only additional piece of knowledge I've ever really needed.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest. Hebrews 4:9-11

In the following excerpt, Elyse Fitzpatrick hits the nail on the head in her instructive and soul soothing work Council From The Cross:

The striving that will command our energy is a striving to enter into rest, a striving to live "by faith in the Son of God, who loved...and gave himself" for us (Gal 2:20).  Most of us think that our efforts should be focused solely on godly living.  While this is partly true, it's not the whole story.  We've also got to focus our efforts on "striving" to enter into the rest he has provided for us.  If our souls are not fully resting in his love and welcome we won't have the energy we need to fight for godliness.  Christianity will be utterly exhausting.  This rest of soul is found only in the gospel message: we are sinful and flawed, yet loved and welcomed.
If we live by faith in Jesus Christ rather than by faith in ourselves and our works, we'll know the joy that protects us from accusation and we'll live in the love that will constrain true obedience.  Since we no longer view the law as the means to obtain righteousness, since it no longer has the power to either harm or threaten us, we may now use it has it's meant to be used. We will be free to delight in the law because we are freed from the power of the law to curse us.
All of the wonderful obligations of the law will then help us on our way toward godly living and sanctification. Since we cannot be made any more perfect in God's eyes than we already are, we are now free to make the law serve us.  It will serve us by making us more thankful for Christ when we see how we fail to obey it, and it will serve us by showing us how to love God and our neighbor as we long to.  Rather than viewing the law as our enemy, we'll learn to say along with our Savior, "I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart" (Ps. 40:8).  From this position of security and rest in God, the psalmist wrote:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. 

When the law is kept where it belongs - as a means to draw us to Christ and to show us how to love - it is delightful and causes us to rejoice.  When it goes beyond this and attacks our conscience, we must silence its threatenings by remembering the gospel and putting the law back in its place.  The law is a light on our path, but it is not the path, and it cannot impel us toward holiness nor make us love God.

My striving to fulfill the demands of the law can cease.

My mission is crushed to death in the face of God's unrelenting love and welcome that assures me it's already been done for me.

Now I am free.

This freedom alone revives my soul!

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