Day 10

The Law of God Fulfilled

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan


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

BY Melanie Rainer

My first semester of college, a friend invited me to a teaching and worship service. I went, and was stunned by the beauty of singing old hymns set to new tunes and hearing the gospel preached like I never had before. I had always been a “good Christian kid,” but that identity was based on following the rules. I can specifically point to the moment when my heart changed, and I understood how wrong I’d been. It was when we sang this hymn:

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

It shook the foundation I had been standing on for so long: follow the rules, don’t sin, and then God will love you. It said, quite simply, the opposite of that: Come, when you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t, because He has done all the work for you… and wants you anyway. Even now, typing the words, my breath catches in my throat. Could this really be true?

Romans 8 tells us that “there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus … What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did” (vv.1,3). We stand before God, wearing the righteousness of Christ, not by our own doing but because of His life, death, and resurrection. Now, there is no condemnation. None. Not tomorrow, or the next day, or when we “figure things out,” or “do enough” to make ourselves worthy of His love.

Rereading the law in Exodus 20 today is sobering; I break those commandments by the day, and sometimes the hour. I covet as often as I breathe. I serve all sorts of idols, material and spiritual. I lie and cheat, in small ways and seemingly insignificant circumstances: “I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” I type, when my GPS says I’m 15 minutes away. I want them to think I’m responsible, that I have it together, I think to myself, trying to justify my actions.

My sin is double-edged: despite knowing the law, I break it, though I could never follow it anyway. The cycle of sin is endless, because we can never get out of the mire by ourselves. The law reveals our sinful nature, and we cannot do what it takes to follow it. We are sinful, and the law is a mirror that reveals our sin to us as if it were a stain on a shirt. But there is nothing we can do to remove that stain.

And so Jesus came and fulfilled the law perfectly, because of God’s great love for us (Ephesians 2:4–5). What Jesus says regarding the law in Matthew 5 is particularly important, because Jesus “did not come to abolish but to fulfill” the law (v.17). The law still matters, but it does not have the last word—Jesus does.

This is the hope we have during Advent, and all year long. Because our hope is in Jesus and not our ability to follow the law, we do not have to tarry or wait until we have it all together. That day will never come. But by His Spirit, we can come freely when He calls.

Post Comments (89)

89 thoughts on "The Law of God Fulfilled"

  1. Carol Marlin says:

    Amen! So good!!

  2. Lindsey says:

    If I’m completely honest, sometimes I think, what’s the big deal if I commit just a little baby sin,[such as little white lies, or yeah, “be right there” when I’m actually going to be “be there in a while”… but verse 19 in Matthew 5 clearly says otherwise: Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

  3. Sarah W says:

    The Lord is so loving and I’m thankful.

  4. Bonnie Cochran says:

    In the moments I am at my weakest
    In the daily tension of life
    In every failure and defeat
    I am reminded that Jesus has the last word, and not me.
    My soul can be at peace knowing that even when I do fail that it has no authority over me because Christ came to fulfill the empty space.

  5. Tracie Nall says:

    I keep thinking of the phrase “the weary world rejoices”…we are weary trying to keep the law, trying to be good enough, striving to find satisfaction apart from God, trying to fulfill our God given purpose sans God…we can REJOICE when we lay those self imposed burdens at the foot of the cross, come to Jesus for salvation and trust in His sufficiency knowing He fulfilled what we could not!

    1. Carol Marlin says:

      Amen! So good. The Lord is our answer to prayer

  6. Meredith says:

    Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Needed this today! Praising my Savior for what He has done!

  7. Allison Yorga says:

    I pictured my God saying these things to me specifically. As I listened to the words…I became ashamed while noticing where I’ve failed. But then I’m given hope when He says that HIS children have been set free from these things.
    What an awesome God we serve! One that did more than he had to, in order to save me…who really deserves nothing.

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