Recently my wife, Amy, and I had an appointment with our attorney to sign some important papers regarding our will. As we sat in the conference room waiting for our attorney, I couldn’t help but to notice all the law books on the bookshelves. These shelves went from the floor to the ceiling and there was not an empty space on the shelves. We were literally surrounded by laws. I turned to Amy and said, “Can you believe what started as God’s ten commandments has turned into this? There must be thousands of laws here.” When our attorney and his paralegal joined us, I took the opportunity to open up a conversation about the Lord by sharing how it seems as though we have taken The Lord ‘s Ten Commandments and stretched them. What was written on two stone tablets, by the finger of God, now fills books and covers entire walls of rooms. I began thinking … what was the purpose of the law in the first place?
It may seem hard to believe but it was actually never really about the law. It was about LIFE and always was, right from the very beginning. There it was in the Garden of Eden, staring Adam and Eve in the face. The TREE OF LIFE which is the righteousness of God and the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL representing our own self-righteousness apart from God, leading to sin and death. God gave Adam and Eve one law – not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why? **** When they broke that law, they chose the law over God. The sin was disobeying God and their sinful act separated them from God. Mankind, to this day, struggles with keeping the law. Paul knew this struggle personally and wrote about it to the church in Rome. Paul discovered that there are two laws at work in him and in every believer, the law of the Spirit and the law of the flesh.
Romans 7:7 -13 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet. ” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the.
commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
I think, Paul like so many of us can identify with Adam and Eve’s sin against God by their eating of the forbidden fruit.
Just this past Sunday I took my family to Ci Ci’s Pizza for lunch after church. We got our food and started to eat when my daughter, Emma Grace said, “Daddy, can I ask you a question? Why did God make the Tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil if he knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him and eat from the tree?” You see, Emma and Ella had sat with us for our adult Sunday worship service and they both heard the pastor’s message on wisdom that comes from heaven and how seeking knowledge absent of God’s presence was evil. The pastor went on to tell the story about Adam and Eve and the serpent; which is what sparked Emma Grace’s question. As I was attempting to answer Emma Grace’s question, Amy thought this would be a great opportunity for her to share the gospel in pictures to explain to our girls the origin and nature of sin. The week before, Amy had given a presentation on this for the Children’s Ministry teachers at our church so the story was fresh in her mind. Amy searched her purse for a pen and a piece of paper to draw the pictures. When she couldn’t find either, I remembered that I had my iPad. As Amy was drawing pictures with the stylus on the iPad Emma Grace said, “If I was in the Garden of Eden, daddy, I wouldn’t have eaten from the tree of knowledge. I would have eaten from the Tree of Life instead. Why would they do such a thing? Didn’t they know that the could have lived for ever?” I reminded her of the times that her mom and I had told her not to do certain things, things for her own good, but there were times she still disobeyed us …dead silence! It’s easier said then done I told her. It’s amazing how often we give the right answers, but do the wrong things, until we get caught doing the same thing ourselves. We all like to believe that given the opportunity to do the right thing we would find ourselves doing what’s right.
Paul was totally honest, when by the power of the Holy Spirit, he shared this passage of scripture to the church in Rome. Romans 7:10-12 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Can’t you imagine Paul reflecting and identifying with Adam and Eve in how God’s very command to not eat of The Tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil stirred up desires in Eve to covet that which was forbidden and she disobey God.
Genesis 3:6-7 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
It was their act of disobedience that was sin against God and by their sinful act they chose a life apart from God rather then a life with God. As I said earlier, it was not ever about the law, for the law is good. The purpose of the law was to show us how much we need God’s Grace and mercies … for it’s impossible for us to keep the law. The law was given to point us toward God and to have faith in the promise, God’s only son Jesus. That we, being convinced of our guilt and the law’s inability to place in us a righteousness, might be persuaded to believe in Christ and so obtain the benefit of the promise which comes by faith in Jesus.
When I think back to sitting in that law office surrounded be all those laws, I can’t help but be so thankful that God knew we would never be able to earn our way back into a right relationship with Him by being “good” and keeping all the law. It is because of His grace and mercy … We’ll take a closer look at that next time …