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Jesus Shortens The Long Arm Of The Law

Freeze! Police officers!

If those words aren’t a criminal’s worst nightmare, they’re contenders. Getting caught crossways with the law is somewhat akin to swallowing a fish bone–not a pleasant experience. How could a criminal be set free from this predicament? Simple. Just obey the law. But, he feels that the potential reward is worth the risk. How can we fix him? Give him a new heart that delights in obedience. If government were capable of doing this, the criminal might ultimately become a cop! But, law never changes hearts.

God created humans with needs to be satisfied and part of His job description is to satisfy these needs. [1] Satan tempts us to sin by depending on ourselves to supply our needs. God says, Sin shall not be master over [Christians], for you are not under law, but under grace.[2] How can removing the exterior control of the law possibly fix our sinning problem? It seems like that would exacerbate it. But, God avoided this potential problem by giving us a new, godly, interior control center. He changed our desperately wicked hearts to godly hearts by crucifying us, then rebirthing us in Christ! Here’s the prophecy: I will give you a new heart and put a new [godly] spirit within you; and I will remove your [old] heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh [teachable], and I will put My [Holy] Spirit within you and cause you [by this new motivation] to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.[3]

This desire to obey Him is our new heart that our loving Father implanted in us.[4] Look carefully and you’ll discern your new desire in this verse: I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.[5] Do you see your new heart? Although Paul confesses his inability to life out his godly desire, his heart longs to obey God, and God says that Christ is in us to empower us for obedience by faith.[6]

The ascended Jesus revealed this truth to Paul, but the twelve disciples were still under the Law when Jesus taught them. So, like many uninstructed modern Christians, it seems Peter and James lagged behind Paul in comprehending Law’s true purpose. It radically changed everything they’d believed about the Law since childhood! Ultimately, Paul boldly confronted Peter for siding with men from James who sought to put the Galatian Christians back under the external control of the Law.[7]

Let’s examine the marvelous revelation that Christ taught to Paul, that God’s Law is to point the lost to Jesus, not to motivate Christians to obedience. We’ll begin with God’s promise to Abraham.[8] God granted righteousness [acceptance] to Abraham by means of a promise.[9] No Law had been given. Abraham was simply to believe that he had been declared righteous by faith.[10] Abraham didn’t do anything; he believed that since God called him righteous [all right], he was righteous. So he began to act like this was true.[11] As my Sunday school teacher says, Faith is acting like God tells the truth.[12] Your Bible reads the righteous man shall live by faith, but an equally valid translation is he that is righteous by faith shall live [eternally].[13] God is saying Christians, like Abraham, are righteous by faith.[14]

The Law’s Purpose

Then, why did God give man the Law? It came 430 years following the Abrahamic promise[15] for the sake of defining sins until Abraham’s Seed–Jesus–would come to save us.[16] The Law is God’s tool by which He defines sin and convicts man that, apart from God’s mercy through faith, he is eternally damned. The Object of such faith today is Jesus Christ.[17] Pre-cross man, however, could gain eternal life via the same faith Abraham employed.[18] But, many of them believed Satan’s lie that eternal life must be merited by keeping God’s Law which they subsequently expanded into hundreds of do’s and don’ts. Law was a terrible burden to them.[19] They were kept in this condition until the revelation came that, by faith in Christ, sinners could be crucified and spiritually reborn as sons of God–saints by calling![20].

Need-deprivation motivates us to seek closure to a problem. Just as hunger motivates us to seek food, a lost man must believe he’s lost to become aware of his need for a Savior. Law accomplishes this; its condemnation leads man to Jesus.[21] Hey, why would man want to fix something he believes ain’t broke? Once the Holy Spirit convicts man of his need and he embraces Christ as Savior and Lord, he’s removed from Law’s condemnation.[22] Law, the tutor, served its purpose of pointing him to Jesus.[23]

Today, many well-meaning Believers, not understanding the Law’s purpose, fall prey to Satan’s snare by seeking to motivate Christians through law. Do this, don’t do that, you ought to, you must, you should/shouldn’t, etc. But, this produces the opposite of the desired response! Law yields a legalistic relationship based upon fear. God says, The power of sin is the law.[24] Look at that! God says that misusing His Law is actually the fuel that energizes sin. Here it is again, We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully[25] But, use Law unlawfully (to motivate Christians to obedience) and it’s not good; it’s counter-productive.[26] Recite "keep off the grass" twenty times each morning and you’ll be tempted to walk on grass you’d hardly noticed before! The way to fix a grass walker is to change his heart…give him a supernatural love for walking on sidewalks. This way he’ll begin to overcome evil with good.[27]

This how our new grace-heart works! God has given Christians a passion for Him, and a longing to please Him.[28] Only our loving Father could have thought up such a gracious, wonderful, transforming, revolutionary plan! Embracing God’s truth puts amazing back in grace.

[1] Matt. 6:28ff

[2] Rom. 6:14

[3] Ezek.36:26-27

[4] Heb. 10:16

[5] Rom. 7:15

[6] Rom. 15:18; Jn. 15:5

[7] Gal. 2:14ff

[8] Gal. 3:6

[9] Gal. 3:18

[10] Gal. 3:16

[11] Heb.11:8-19

[12] Jas.2:18-20

[13] Rom. 1:17;Gal. 3:11

[14] 2 Cor.5:21; Gal:3:7

[15] Gal. 3:17

[16] Gal.3:16,19

[17] Gal. 3:24

[18] Gal. 3:7

[19] Gal. 3:10

[20] Gal.3:23-26; Acts 2:2ff; 1 Cor. 1:2

[21] Gal. 3:22-24;2 Cor. 3:6-10

[22] Gal. 3:25;Rom. 6:14; 7:6

[23] Gal. 3:25

[24] 1 Cor.15:56

[25] 1 Tim. 1:8

[26] Rom. 5:20

[27] Rom. 12:21

[28] Heb. 10:16

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.