Summary: This sermon answers two big questions: 1. Why do I need the Law to make me aware of my sin? 2. Why would I want the Law to make me aware of my sin?
A Question: “If it can’t save us, why did God give the Law?”
- To clarify as we begin: when Paul here speaks of the Law, he has in mind the Mosaic Law given to Israel by God.
- By extension, we could make similar point about the truth of God generally.
- The Law does not save us, but it is through the Law that we become aware of our sin.
- This is important because our tendency would be to say that if the Law does not save us then it was a mistake or a mess. It serves a key purpose, though – just not the one we might have thought.
- Here Paul teaches us that the Law is there to make us aware of our sin. This is something that many of us haven’t thought much about, so I want to answer two basic questions on this subject: why do I need the Law to make me aware of my sin and why would I want the Law to make me aware of my sin?
Why Do I Need The Law To Make Me Aware Of My Sin?
1. Cultures become numb to certain things over time.
- On a whole host of subjects, sometimes different for each culture and sometimes strikingly similar across cultures, we get numb to certain things.
- We often presume that if everyone else is ok with it, then it must not be a big deal. We look around and figure that surely everyone is not way far off base. But we often are.
- Probably the most obvious example of this in American history is Southern slavery.
- Because of this, we need a standard of truth that is not more fixed than the ever-changing thoughts of a culture.
- Some people today want to argue that what a culture says is the ultimate truth, but that pegs “truth” to opinion polls.
- My experiences in China with how different the culture was and how we often presume that everyone thinks the way we do.
2. Conscience is not a reliable guide.
- We’ve been talking about the societal level, but let’s bring it down to a personal level. Here, we rely on our conscience. It is often a helpful guide. But it is not infallible and is often quite inaccurate.
- Sometimes people act as though our conscience is a perfect moral arbiter, allowing us to always know what the right thing to do is. Sure, we may not always follow it, but it’s always there helping us know what is right and wrong. Only that’s not true.
- Our conscience is affected by the Fall and therefore cannot be perfectly trusted.
- This is proven by people who say they are doing the right thing while doing something the Bible tells us is wrong. This is proven by people doing things the Bible says is wrong without feeling bad about it.
- Our conscience can be impacted by what we want to be true, what we wish to justify, what we don’t desire to change, and what we find comfortable, just to name a few.
3. We can justify just about anything given the right circumstances.
- It’s worth noting before we move onto the next big question that our ability to do wrong things literally knows no limit. So much of the horrors that the world has seen have not been shamefully done, but accomplished with eager participants believing they were doing good.
- “These people need to be extinguished because of what they’ve done to us.”
- “A woman has the right to choose what happens with a fetus inside her.”
- “Our society can’t succeed if we’re burdened with people like this.”
- “We need to make sacrifices to appease the gods.”
Why Would I Want The Law To Make Me Aware Of My Sin?
- Now we turn to the question that applies the truth to our own lives – why do I want to be aware of my sin? Won’t that just result in me feeling worse about myself? Why would I welcome that knowledge?
1. Being conscious of my sin is the first step toward change.
- If I want to be a different person than I am now, I need to know what the wrong things in my life are. It’s only as I know where I’m off track that I can begin the process of moving in the right direction.
- This is a difficult step, though. We don’t necessarily want to know what I’m doing that’s wrong. It’s hard to make changes
- Repentance is the first step toward salvation, but we can’t repent if we are unaware of our sin.
2. The gospel offers us freedom from our sin.