One thing I consider myself to be pretty good at is making tasty food. My grandmothers were good cooks and so is my mom, and so there are a few things I picked up being around them. Let’s be really honest, a lot of it comes down to two things: use real butter, and don’t skimp on the salt. And obviously, if you can follow a recipe you can generally put together a decent meal. But when it comes to being a good cook, knowing how to follow a recipe alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at it; it may simply mean you’re good at following instructions.
And this is Paul’s point as it relates to the law. You may know it, and follow it, and you might be really good at it. The best even. But that doesn’t mean your heart is any different than any other pagan, even if you keep every rule. What the law cannot do is make you right with God because being better than any human is still falling dramatically short of God’s standard.
The law is attractive because it’s black and white. It’s attractive because it’s very close to a formula, or a recipe, for a decent life. But it is also a prison of sorts because it cannot make allowances for straying outside the boundary. The law doesn’t live in us, it has no spirit and therefore any authority it has over us is external. Jesus however, lives in each of us who call him our Savior. We live, not trapped within a boundary, but in the freedom of Christ’s love. A love so complete and perfect that we have nothing to fear from our sins and mistakes. And people who know they have been set free tend to be people who have no desire to become trapped again.
Questions for reflection:
- How has Jesus rescued you from the prison of trying to measure up?
- What does it mean to you that the Spirit of Christ lives in you? Is that something you agree with in your life? Why or why not?