I have a question for you…What was God’s intent for giving the Law, or as it’s more commonly referred to, the Ten Commandments? Before you answer, really think about it. It’s not uncommon for people to answer incorrectly. Many people think God gave these laws as our list of “rules” to live by. But actually, the opposite is true. The Law was given, not because God ever expected that we could keep it, but to show us that we can’t keep it because we are sinful.
Look at Romans 3:19-20,
19 “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”
You might be wondering if you read that right; you did. That last sentence means that the whole reason the law was given was to make us conscience and aware of our sin. It was because God wanted the Israelites, and ultimately all people, to come face to face with the fact that they had a sin problem. The Law/ Ten Commandments were given to provide a big glaring contrast between our sin and His holiness.
Here’s an example.
I remember when I was in elementary school (3rd grade to be exact). I had a piece of black construction paper and I had decided to write something on it. Equipped with my pencil, I began to write. But the writing didn’t show up on that black paper because my pencil and the paper were so similar in color. It almost looked like I hadn’t written anything.
I remember pulling out a white sheet of paper and drawing on it with my white crayon and what do you know?! It didn’t show up much either! I had a realization that day about the importance of contrast. (My mind has always been lightning fast, I tell you…) and it made an impression on me. That’s the kind of impression God wanted to make on us. Until that day, I never really had a need to use a white crayon. I didn’t know how much i needed a white crayon. That is until I needed to make a mark on that black piece of paper. It’s in the same way that we can go through life, not knowing how much we need Jesus, until we encounter a moment of darkness that compels us to look for the light.
That day I learned about contrast and how it’s created with “black and white, darkness and light”. This is exactly the kind of contrast God was providing when He gave the Ten Commandments.
He was presenting all requirements necessary to ever be considered worthy of having any kind of relationship with Him, because He is not just perfect, He is holy and holiness is His standard. So where does that leave us? If that were the end of the story, we would be left without hope. But actually, it leaves us with a choice…
There are some people who look at the high standard of the Law and they think they can do it, they can muscle their way into being a good person, that they can succeed at earning God’s approval through meeting the requirements, not breaking the rules and jumping through all the hoops. (These are usually the mean people who stay grumpy all the time ;)…) But something happens, the Law works just as God intended it to…they wake up one day and realize how exhausted they are and what a failure they are. At this point they do one of two things; in their disillusionment, they will give up and walk away and say things like, “I believe in God, but that religion stuff just didn’t work for me.” or “I used to be really involved in church but…..” or “I tried that, but I just can’t be a good person.” These are things someone says when have crashed and burned in spite of all their efforts.
If that describes you at all, I want to tell you what the better response is, instead of giving up and walking away when you realize you can’t do it, just admit it. Admit that you can’t keep all the rules and jump through those hoops. Surrender your life along with all your failures to Jesus.
This is the only requirement for having a relationship with God, not perfection because perfection is impossible.
So even though God knew we could never accomplish this perfection on our own, He gave the Holy law, which when held up next to us, would provide the contrast that was necessary for us to become aware of how sinful and hopeless we are when compared to Him and His holiness. The law was given to us to expose our need for a Savior. If it were possible to keep the law, then it would be possible to “earn” our salvation. But since this isn’t the case, He sent Jesus to do it in our place, so that if we would surrender our life to Him by faith, that HIS righteousness would be credited to us. This is what it means to be In Him…In Christ https://tracihaney.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/in-him-in-christ/
The law was never intended to be used as a tool of condemnation, but instead, it is a perfect standard that exposes our sin and as a result, leaves us reaching for Jesus. If you don’t know Him, but you would like to, or, if you know Him but are going through a difficult time in your life, I would like to invite you to reach for Jesus today. (You can go here if you would like to know more about giving your life to Jesus.) https://tracihaney.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/the-sooner-the-better/
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (trusting in Jesus)—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works (adherence to the law), so that no one can boast.