Day 9

The Law of God We Cannot Keep

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan

Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:17-19, Romans 8:1-4

BY Kaitlin Wernet

Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:1-17, Matthew 5:17-19, Romans 8:1-4

Are you an innie or an outie?”

Belly buttons thrive in the economy of middle school locker rooms. As if zits and parents and slow dances weren’t enough to make our lives as dramatic as we thought they were, navels had to get involved. And although we’d lived with the same inward or outward belly button postures our whole preteen lives, suddenly, it mattered. We became expert navel-gazers, which is just as strange and gross as it sounds. I was (well, still am) an “innie,” but when we discovered that my friend Tiffany was the only “outie” in our class, her reign as 7th grade queen began. Who knew that was all it took to gain power?

“Innies” and “outies” are created by the leftover scars of our umbilical cord—the one that once connected us to our mothers. The difference in their shape matters much less when we remember they all once served the same purpose—keeping us alive. We all need to be connected to something else to live. We cannot sustain ourselves.  

But all too often, we are quick to look down at our own flesh and see power instead of need, strength instead of weakness. And when we do that, it’s easy to think that all we need to become better is a nice set of rules. The law was a pretty great set of rules—the best around!—except, while it could keep us in line, it couldn’t keep us alive. Minister Matthew Henry described the law like this: “It could neither justify nor sanctify, neither free us from the guilt nor from the power of sin, having not the promises either of pardon or grace. The law made nothing perfect: It was weak.”

The law was weakened, not by the strength of our flesh but by the weight of its sin (Romans 8:3). We’re all born sinners, after all (Romans 5:12).

But one person wasn’t. One child was born into weak flesh to bear sin’s weight for the rest of us and do what the law could never do. Jesus Christ came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). He did not come to leave us in death, but to give us life.

Regardless of whether we’re “innies” or “outies,” we are united to Christ by faith. When this happens, theologian John Stott said that “something so tremendous happens that the New Testament cannot find language adequate to describe it. It is a new birth, yes, but also a new creation, a resurrection, light out of darkness, and life from the dead. We were slaves, now we are sons. We were lost, now we have come home. We were condemned and under the wrath of God, now we have been justified and adopted into his family.”

The law of God we cannot keep. But the love of God is ours forever, without condemnation. May we live and breathe this truth today. Amen.


Post Comments (105)

105 thoughts on "The Law of God We Cannot Keep"

  1. Kezia Goodman says:

    Christianity isn’t solely based upon a walk of ‘splitting hairs’ erring on the side of caution

  2. Heather says:

    Like Songbird I too am awake in the wee hours. But it’s a glorious time to read my bible study. I loved today’s lesson and am reminded, so often, of the story of Martha & Mary. Trying to make everything perfect & right vs just sitting at his feet and loving him.

    1. Kristine L says:

      Your Mary and Martha comment really connected with me, Heather!

  3. Whitney Moore says:

    It’s so easy to focus on obeying the rules… sometimes i lose sight of becoming like Christ bc I’m so concerned with doing the right thing. Law-focused instead of Christ-focused

    1. Kristine L says:

      Your comment reminds me of the cheesy but still timely message of “what would Jesus do?” After all, Jesus was a law-breaker, a law-rewriter. To be Christ-focused means just that to me. To stop and think, really think, how would Jesus have handled this?

      1. Suzanne Shirley says:

        Just to clarify Jesus may have “broken” the laws or traditions that the religious men set up but he was the only One who could and did keep God’s law perfectly, which is why only he could die in our place.

        1. Kristine L says:

          Thank you for clarifying. Yes, I meant that Jesus broke the power of the law over us through his death in our place. He rewrote the rules of salvation for us.

      2. Jamileh says:

        Jesus was none of those things.

  4. Rachel Nordgren says:

    “The law can keep us in line, but it cannot keep us alive.” Oof, that hit home.

    1. Crystal Mendez says:

      Me, too, Rachel. Right to the heart!

    2. Emily B. says:

      That was one of my favorite lines, too!

    3. Julie Waldvogel says:

      Yes, that did hit home bc I’m one of those “good girls” who always likes to follow the rules. What a wonderful truth to know that God alone keeps us alive.

  5. Melissa says:

    Love the quote by John Stott. How easily we forget what an incredible and transformational thing our salvation in Christ really is.

    1. Kelly R Smith says:

      Same! I read it several times, hope and joy growing with each word. We have a reason to celebrate this Christmas. Not just a little—an all-out, throw your head back, let it all go, dance ‘til you drop kind of celebration. We live in the light! We are sons and daughters! We are home! Amen!!

      1. songbird says:

        Thanks for pointing it out. I reread it too?

  6. Courtney Renee says:

    Thank you, God, for your unceasing love for us. We are nothing without You.

  7. songbird says:

    Hello ladies, wow being so far east from most women in this community often makes me one of the first. Especially when I wake up so early. So a week ago I shared that I had some (albeit exciting) uncertainties coming up making me in need of the Christmas holiday rest. Sadly I seem to have started to enter a cycle of insomnia which I really can’t use. I just don’t fall asleep easily and then I wake up much too early. Even if I could do with some extra sleep rather than a little less. Not sure how long this will keep me upright… So I could really do with some prayers. Basically just for the right hormones to let the tension go and the sleep come…. There is one upside on being in such insecure and unstable times like this (I’ve gone through it before) and that is that I feel more drawn to putting trust in God’s word, turning to him in prayer and bible reading (and anyway I wake up early enough these days to have time to read SRT ;) )

    1. Melissa says:

      Just lifted you up in prayer. May you find your strength in the Lord today and may He give you sweet sweet sleep tonight. I’ve experienced many months without rest due to a cholic baby and I know you need the Lord to give you what you need each day.

      1. songbird says:

        Thanks very much! We need God and our Christian sisters :)

    2. Mari says:

      Prayed for you as well songbird. I know the feeling! I try to drink Sleepytime tea about an hour and a half before bed. Praying for sweet dreams tonight sister

      1. songbird says:

        thank you Mari. Yup I’m a fan of it too. With lavender, valerian, camomile etc. And some valerian tablets… Thankfully there’s a lot in nature ;)

    3. Christina D. says:

      Praying for you songbird. I know how elusive sleep can be and how it takes a toll on you in every aspect of life. Praying that this season of insomnia would just end and sleep and rest would be restored. Also praying that you would feel sustained by the Lord and your sisters in prayer.

    4. Psalm 127:2 says He grants sleep to those He loves! Trust in the Lord, He loves you and desires to grant you sleep. Praying for God’s peace, the one that surpasses all understanding, to cover you tonight. May you rest in Him and be overfilled with his grace and peace. Xo

    5. songbird says:

      Thanks ladies for your overwhelming support!

      1. Jamileh says:

        This article says we cannot keep the Law (which Paul calls good)..why not?? The Law is love!

    6. songbird says:

      I had a blissfully deep and uninterrupted sleep last night :)

      1. Julgvogan says:

        Yes!! So pleased for you! Good sleep is such a treat! May you have many more!

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