Myth 4. People who preach the law of God are legalists.
The Apostle Paul didn’t think so. In the book of Romans he says:
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."(Romans 7:7).
I recently had a pastor tell me that he would not preach about sin because people already know that they are sinners. I suggested he pay a visit to the nearest prison and conduct a survey on the inmates to find out how many of them have been wrongly convicted. It is popular to suggest that everybody knows that they are sinners. But do they really? Scripture teaches us that "every man is clean in his own eyes" (Proverbs 16:2) and "proclaims his goodness" (Proverbs 20:6). Sure most people will concede to doing a few wrong things but grace is never amazing to them because they've never contemplated the severe depth of their sin. A give away for this point is that these people often ask the question how can a loving God send people to hell and why is there evil? If they understood that they are really sinful they would ask how could God possibly forgive me? They would be relieved that God has not yet fully dealt with evil, particularly the evil that they have perpetrated themselves.
We can destroy the biblical meaning of grand concepts such as grace, love, forgiveness and salvation by failing to preach law, wrath, sin and hell. Their very definition hinges on a correct biblical understanding of these truths. This is highlighted in the interaction between Jesus, a sinful woman, and a Pharisee in Luke 7. Jesus shows that the more we are forgiven then the more we love. If we don’t see the depths of our sin then we won’t see the depths of God’s forgiveness.
If you really want to love God a lot like the woman who washed Jesus' feet then perhaps you need a deeper understanding of your own depravity and unworthiness. This in turn will serve to magnify Christ's redemptive work on the cross.
God's law serves four functions for those of us in the New Testament era:
1.It stops the sinner's mouth from justifying itself;
2.It helps the whole world realize that they are guilty;
3.It brings the knowledge of sin; and
4.It acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
(Romans 3:19,20, Romans 7:7, and Galatians 3:24).
When preaching God's law it is important to remember that it is a mirror and not a stick. It shows us our utter inadequacy and inability to please God. It is designed to drive men to complete surrender rather than improved behavior. To bring us to the point where we are through with ourselves, where we seek a substitute, where we hunger and thirst for righteousness - it is then that God's grace becomes wondrous. It deepens our gratitude and sense of wonder at how amazing grace really is.
Truth 4. The law preached rightly kills all legalism because it shows our total wretched depravity and need for righteousness from a righteous substitute. To preach the law rightly we must preach it not as a stick to alter our behavior, nor as a carrot to entice us to a better life, but as a mirror to destroy our self righteousness. To not preach the law is cruel.
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Weekend A La Carte (January 31)
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