Summary: A look at how the Law is not there to get us to God, but to show us how far we are from Him.
THE POINT OF THE LAW: The Law doesn’t get us closer to God; it helps us understand how far from Him we are.
- Romans 3:20.
- The initial thought about the Law would seem to be: it’s to get us to God, therefore it’s for the righteous.
- The reality is that it’s there to show us how far we are from God. It reveals our need for grace.
- It is a signpost to God, but not a “come-this-way” one but rather a “go-toward-grace” one. The signpost says, “This is impossible” and “You’re not strong enough to make it this way.”
- Paul says that those focused on the Law as the way to get to God “don’t know what they’re talking about” (v. 7).
- It’s not that the Law is a bad thing. The Law is “good” but only if the person “uses it properly” (v. 8).
- As we look at the verses preceding our passage for this evening, we see that these teachers believed that their great insight into the depths of the Law put them closer to God. They knew the “secrets” that others didn’t and those insights proved they were closer to God. In truth, if you truly had a deeper understanding of the Law, it would not lead you to believe you’re closer to God, but to make you aware of how far away you are from Him.
- It’s not a “I know more about the Law therefore I’m closer to God” thing. It’s a “I know more about the Law, therefore I know we’re in trouble” thing.
- Biblical knowledge that creates pride within me is a false understanding. True knowledge is going to create humility within me at my predicament.
- Romans 3:20 says that the Law is not there to make us right, but to make us conscious of our sin.
WHY THIS MATTERS: To get to the Good News, you have to go through the Bad News.
- The gospel is the “Good News.” And it is enormously good news.
- But to understand how good the Good News is, you have to have a proper understanding of the Bad News.
- The Good News is that Jesus can save us; the Bad News is that we need saving.
- The Good News is that we can be forgiven; the Bad News is that we need forgiven.
- The Good News is that Jesus died for me; the Bad News is that I couldn’t have made it to heaven any other way.
- It’s essential that we grasp the Bad News so that we understand our larger situation. We’re in a mess. We desperately need help. We are sinners, condemned, guilty.
- This is essential because so much of what is believed about God today (and even preached about God today) is happy talk.
- “God loves you just the way you.” Well, He does love you as a person, but He doesn’t love your sin.
- “God has a plan for your life.” But then we don’t mention that plan includes repenting of your sins.
- “God is love.” Yes, but He’s also a God of justice and will bring righteous judgment.
- We pick and choose the parts of the truth that we like and tweak them to leave out the hard parts.
- In the end, though, the Good News only really makes sense if you take it with the Bad News.
- Why did Jesus die on a cross if I’m not a sinner?
- Why did God the Father send His only Son if I’m not in desperate straits?
- Why did Jesus suffer if it wasn’t necessary?
- Turning the gospel into happy talk is insulting to Jesus and to the truth.
- Isn’t guilt an outdated concept? No.
- Maybe find some Joel Osteen quotes or clips to show on the screen?
WHY IS THE LAW SO NEEDED?
- It is a long-standing problem that we presume we’re better than we are.
1. WE JUDGE OURSELVES BY THOSE AROUND US.
- Ultimately, the standard of holiness is Christ. It’s perfection.
- But we instead try to use the standard of the people around us.
- The beauty of that is that we can always find someone who is more messed up than we are. We can always feel like we’re in the top half. And we presume that the top half goes to heaven and the bottom half goes to hell (if there is such a place, we say to ourselves).
- TV and the news make this process easier since we have presented before us people who are especially evil or foolish on a regular basis.
- Jesus was perfect, though, and that’s what we have to be to earn our way into God’s presence.