Summary: God’s primary way of relating to His people is through His covenant of promise. The law was given to show us how guilty we are, not to make us right in God’s sight.
GREAT GRACE & FREEDOM #7: THE LAW: ON BACON, SHRIMP AND TATTOOS
INTRO TO SPEAKER: Love for the church – Jesus (Eph. 5:25), Paul (2 Cor. 11:28) and me. Love for my family. Liza and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage with four great children!
INTRO TO TOPIC: How many of you have ever read through the Old Testament? How many of you have been confused by what you have read? You’re not alone. Consider these questions:
• Is it okay for Christians to eat bacon or shrimp? (Leviticus 11 says eating those animals is forbidden). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love bacon and shrimp!
• Is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? (see Leviticus 19:28).
• Is it okay for Christians to work on Sundays? (see Exodus 20:10).
• Should Christians lobby for the death penalty in Canada? (see Exodus 21:12).
THE BIG IDEA: God’s primary way of relating to His people is through His covenant of promise. The law was given to show us how guilty we are, not to make us right in God’s sight.
1. THE COVENANT OF PROMISE:
“15 Dear brothers and sisters, here's an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement (covenant), so it is in this case. 16 God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn't say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child -- and that, of course, means Christ. 17 This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18 For if the inheritance could be received only by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God's promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a promise.” (Gal. 3:15-18, NLT).
• The Bible is full of promises made by a faithful, promise-keeping God:
• “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” (Psalm 103:2-5).
2. THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW:
“19 Well then, why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God's promise was made. And there is this further difference. God gave his laws to angels to give to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.” (Gal. 3:19).
• What do we learn about the law in this passage? What is the purpose of the law?
• 1. The law was to show people how guilty they are.
“20 Now a mediator is needed if two people enter into an agreement, but God acted on his own when he made his promise to Abraham. 21 Well then, is there a conflict between God's law and God's promises? Absolutely not! If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it. 22 But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God's promise is to believe in Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 3:20-22).
• 2. The law cannot give us new life or make us right with God.
• The law is like a mirror that helps us see our ‘dirty faces’ (see James 1:22-25), but you don’t wash your face with a mirror. It’s God’s grace – faith in Jesus – that cleanses us.
• The only way to receive God’s promise is through faith in Jesus.
“23 Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior. 24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. 25 But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” (Gal. 3:23-25).
• 3. The law was temporary until the coming of Jesus.
• 4. The law was to show us our need for a Saviour.
How then does the Old Testament law apply to our lives as Christians?
• Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17).