The True Gospel Part 2

Acknowledging Sin and Law

By Jim Allen

The True Gospel: The Series
Part 1: Recognizing One's Depravity
Part 2: Acknowledging Sin and Law
Part 3: Continuing in the Word
Part 4: Going to the Cross
Part 5: Believing Unto Salvation
Part 6: Examining Our Faith
Part 7: Walk in the Spirit
Part 8: Reviewing the True Gospel

The idea of sinfulness is no longer acknowledged by the vast majority of people in our society. One reason for this movement away from accountability for bad behavior is that society views sin as an old fashioned idea that will die out with those who uphold it. Another reason for the fading idea of sin is the Ten Commandments are relatively unknown or remembered by many who once knew them, and in some places they are even outlawed. As a result, society has no comprehension of holiness, which means they have no benchmark for distinguishing good behavior from bad behavior. Today, living together is an acceptable lifestyle even though the Bible teaches fornication is sin (Galatians 5:19). Even more disturbing is the teaching of "situational ethics and cultural relativism" in our schools and universities, to make us believe there is no right and wrong. In other words, institutions teach you to believe that whatever is right for you at the moment is what you should do. The harmful impact from the adoption of liberal social norms is wide ranging, further obstructing the true gospel and Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

If sin is a meaningless and outdated norm, the act of repenting from sin is meaningless too. The non-believer will think "What nonsense!" and go on with his or her life (1 Corinthians 1:18). Of all the people who believe in hell, only a small percentage believes they will go there. Why? It is because they do not see God as absolutely holy and humanity as totally depraved (unholy) (2 Peter 4-11). What is even worse, the idea of Jesus dying on the cross to save them does not make sense or warrant any further consideration. Whenever a society looks upon sin as normal human behavior, the need for Christ and the church goes away.

The apostle Paul said, "God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were" (Romans 5:20). Paul went on to say of the law, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). Clearly from these verses we extract two purposes of the law, one of which is to show us our sin and the other to show our inability to keep the law. One perfect picture of this truth surfaced in the gospel of Luke when Jesus said to the young rich man who had kept all the commandments from childhood: "'There is still one thing you lack…Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' But when the man heard this, he became sad because he was very rich" (Luke 18). Why did the young rich man become sad? He became sad because he treasured earthly wealth more than God, and herein broke the first commandment within his heart: "Thou shall have no other god's before me" (Exodus 20:3). The young rich man kept the first commandment outwardly but then inwardly failed to do the same, and herein lies our dilemma as well. In verse 27 Jesus said to His disciples about this young rich man, "What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God."

Here is my point: Jesus' ministry was all about "doing" a great work on our behalf in order for believers to "receive by faith" the benefit of that work (fulfilling the moral law). Jesus came to do what no person could do, pay a ransom no person could pay, and die a death that no person could die. His death, burial and resurrection changed everything and set up our redemption. Jesus came to Israel under law for the purpose of keeping the law and then to impute the righteousness of that completed work to all who would believe in Him (Matthew 5:17). The apostle Paul picks up on this theme in Galatians 3 when he says, "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [law]" (Galatians 3:24-25). Moreover, Paul is not saying we ignore the law but that now because of our faith in Christ we are empowered to keep the law (Romans 3:31), and even go beyond the law as did Christ.

How does faith in Christ empower a believer to go beyond keeping the law? A few examples are that genuine believers will not steal but give; they will not kill but protect; they will not lie but share the truth of God's word; they will not covet but rejoice in another's good fortune, and so on. Genuine believers will do the works of Christ when He sits on the throne in the kingdom of their hearts. These wondrous truths overshadow the bad news of sin and our inability to keep the law.

In my next post on The True Gospel series, I will write about the need for endurance in the faith.

Image Credit: winnifredxoxo; "balance scale"; Creative Commons

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Published 11-15-11