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. Angi K. says:

    God point Kristena! Satan is the accusing voice that tells us we’re not good enough. And he sneaks into our Bible study and twists conviction into condemnation. But we have God’s mercy and grace. It is our faith in Jesus that saves us. And with Him, there is no condemnation.

  2. Pearl Linn says:

    Dear SRT,
    Why did Jesus say what he said in Matthew 5:19? I have been struggling with this since yesterday (and quite honestly forever) when I read it. I break the commands even though I try really hard not to. I am a single mom with 5 kids. One about to be married, one in college, and triplets that will be driving in less then a year, therefore I work 7 days a week to make ends meet. That’s just one thing I do wrong. I know my sin is forgiven through Christ, but I don’t want to be one of the “least of these” in heaven. How can I ever be “great” in heaven if I still can’t even go one day without breaking one of the commands?

    1. Natalie says:

      I’m not sure that working seven days a week is “wrong.” It would be worse to not provide for your family, right?
      In Matthew 5:19, I think the emphasis is on one who sins “and teaches others to do the same.” Everyone sins. But the problem is with one who sins and thinks it’s ok to keep sinning. They even tell others it’s ok.
      We should strive for holiness, but it’s a bar that can never be reached by us humans, not on this earth anyway. Even Paul himself struggled with choosing the flesh over the spirit. In Romans seven, he talks about doing what he does not want to do, and not doing what he wants to do. We are earthly creatures, as long as our earthly bodies are alive, we will struggle with choosing the right thing.

      1. Eric says:

    2. Kristena says:

      Remember, the scripture is there to convict us but not for us to beat ourselves up with it. God wants our hearts and our worship. Prayer, songs of worship, reading scripture are all worship. Focus on that each day and your He will lift your heart

    3. Morgan Lancaster says:

      Praying for you Pearl! There isn’t a soul on this earth that won’t go a day without sin, other than Jesus. Don’t beat yourself up. You are loved, and you are worthy, and you are enough ❤️

    4. rebecca wann says:

      Hi Pearl! Every time I am struggling with whether something is “right” or “wrong” in the eyes of the Lord, I go back to what the Lord told Samuel when he went to Jesse’s house to anoint the new king. (1 Samuel 16) The Lord told Samuel that men look on the outside but He looks at the heart. This is the question that I ask myself in situations “what is the posture of my heart?” and “what is my motivation for doing this?” If Jesus knows my heart is in the right place that is what He cares about I think. I could (and still) can get caught up in whether or not something is right or wrong and the debate go on forever. So now I just use that perspective and try to look at everything through where my heart is in that situation. Praying you find peace and discernment in this situation.

      1. Melisse says:

        Love this perspective Rebecca! Thank you for sharing!

    5. Rebecca says:

      Hi Pearl, I have read this passage with similar concerns before. And I had a pastor help to explain it to me. It’s important to read this particular verse and passage in context. Jesus makes this statement in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. A message where he also states it is better for people to gouge out their eyes than to sin and says “be perfect, therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus is using extreme language to drive home the point that none of us are capable of following God’s law perfectly. That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus who, by Grace, makes us holy. If you have trusted Christ as Savior you are now holy. Not by striving not to sin, but through grace. The manifestation of that is that we live lives that are honouring to God and point others to him. Matthew 5:19 is just another way for Jesus to so clearly show our need for a Savior.

    6. Dancee says:

      The law points out why we need a Savior. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ that’s all you need. Though it is wise to follow the 10 commandments, keeping the big 10 is impossible. There is a difference in deliberalty disobeying and sinning vs seeking God’s heart and following Christ.

  3. Shannon says:

    The Old Testament shows the heart of God. God does not change from Old to New. Thankfully, our Salvation status does! Praise Jesus!

  4. YeshuasSoldier says:

    I understand the point that is trying to be made in this article, but cannot stand in agreement fully .

    1. Nothing and I mean NOTHING that came from the Father is weak! It is man that was weak and inadequate. The Law is perfect because of the Law Giver.

    2. The Law is still good for us to keep. It’s funny how we will use 9 of the 10 commandments when trying to show a sinner their faults and then turn around and proclaim that same law that just conivted them has been done away with.

    3. If you love Him keep His commandments.

    Please discover how the Old and New connects, so that you don’t wrongly divide the Word.

    1. steve c says:

      Faith in Christ Jesus plus and minus nothing,

    2. lisa says:

      I think they intended the wording “weak” not to mean God’s word wasn’t capable.. instead simply that the law itself can not provide salvation. Following the laws day in and day out will not make you clean and able to enter heaven. The law needed Jesus to come to make everything complete and to abolish the penalty of sin that comes from breaking the law.

    3. Amanda says:

      I think you didn’t quite read it correctly. You’re missing two things:

      1) SRT didn’t say the Law was weak. That’s what the Bible literally says in Romans 8:3. They weren’t making it up, just quoting Scripture.

      2) One of the verses from today’s reading was Matthew 5:17, which says Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. That’s the entire point — that’s how the OT and NT connect.

      I think claiming that SRT is “wrongly dividing the Word” is harmful.

  5. Kathy Martella says:

    The love of god is ours without condemnation. Thank you jesus

  6. Cori S. says:

    Does anyone else sing “The Perfect Ten” kids’ song in their head when recalling the Ten Commandments? Hehe.

    1. AKA-ART says:

      If your going to keep the 10 Commandments then you need to keep all the Commandments, all 613 of them which are all of the Old Testament commands. Unless you want to live under the New Testament, then you’ll also need to put all the 10 Commandments to bed with the 603 commands because we don’t live under the Old Testament because Jesus fulfilled the law when he nailed it to the cross when he died.

      1. April M. says:

        I understand your point and you are right in saying that Jesus completely fulfilled the Old Testament commandments, but I also see value in learning and teaching the 10 commandments because they guide us in knowing how to live a life that honors God. No, we cannot keep them perfectly and our ability to keep even some of them some of the time is not what saves us nor is it even possible that they could save us. However, as followers of Christ we are a new creation and we are to reflect Christ’s holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit within us, and the 10 commandments clearly show us what a holy life looks like.

      2. YeshuasSoldier says:

        So we can now murder , lie, steal commit adultery, covet, worship other gods, make graven images, disobey parents, take the name of the Lord in vain. And dishonor the Sabbath?

        Certainly not!

        No you are not required to keep all 613 commandments. If there were commandments for Levites and I was from Asher, then the commandments concerning Levites don’t apply.

      3. Lizzieb85 says:

        Jesus says to love the Lord with your whole being, & to love your neighbor as yourself. The former encompasses the first 4 Commandments, the latter the last 6 Commandments.
        So by loving God & loving others, we are keeping the 10 Commandments. Only Christ’s death fulfills the law, but we are to desire to keep them- with the help of the Holy Spirit. God does not change. His perfect law does not change. His standard of Holiness does not change. The only thing that changes is our actual ability to keep the law by trusting in Christ as Lord & Savior and through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. We will never be able to perfectly keep the law until we are resurrected with a new body. BUT sanctification is the process by which we say no to sin more & more than we say yes. The law, the 10 Commandments show us what we are to say no to.

    2. Kristin Barry says:

      Yes! Great way to remember them!

    3. Bethany Clark says:

      I was raised on that song!

  7. Jennifer Anapol says:

    We can’t be Christians on our own, we need God’s power to walk out our faith.

    1. Akua-Sodio Flanagan says:

      Jennifer that was a great way to sum things up

    2. Charlie Woodruff says:

      Amen and amen!

  8. Mary Burge says:

    We can keep the letter of the 10 commandment laws of God by the power of Christ living in us. His Spirit leads and guides us day to day minute by minute as we attend to the will of God in Christ, in all things pertaining to our daily life. Christ came to free us from sin = the transgression of His moral law, not freeing us to sin freely.
    By faith through His sufficient grace we are given the same strength to overcome as He had of the Father when He walked as we walk in human weakness.
    He could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Himself. but Christ made it though as our perfect example, telling us to “go and sin no more,” and “be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
    Jesus doesn’t lie. So if He said it can be done it can be done.
    We need to surrender self in a battle of the wills everyday. I choose His will, not my own. I look for the day when I will see Him face to face in perfect harmony, praying for His strength here so I will enjoy His kingdom to come, the New Jerusalem coming down from the Father of lights. Looking up! For my redemption draweth nigh. The dead in Christ shall rise first, then those who remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. And we will forever be with Him. Still serving Him as I did here on earth. and the faithful (John 14:15; Revelation 12:14) will put on immortality, and at that time never to hurt again. Amen.

    1. AKA-ART says:

      If your going to keep the 10 Commandments then you need to keep all the Commandments, all 613 of them which are all of the Old Testament commands. Unless you want to live under the New Testament, then you’ll also need to put all the 10 Commandments to bed with the 603 commands because we don’t live under the Old Testament because Jesus fulfilled the law when he nailed it to the cross when he died.

      1. Valerie says:

        In Christ you don’t have to worry about following every letter that f the law because the Holy Spirit will guide you. He convicts you when you are doing something wrong.

        1. Valerie says:

          Correction: we don’t need to worry about following every letter of the law, because the Holy Spirit leads and guides. This is the freedom we gained when Christ fulfilled the law. Yes we still have to abide by the law but the burden to always get it exactly right is no more.

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