Just last week I took my two stepsons to the batting cages. My youngest, Eli has been playing baseball for the first time this past fall and his older brother Scott of course get’s to tag along. Scott and I had found a perfect spot where we could watch and encourage Eli safely behind the cage. I leaned back on the cold concrete wall and firmly pressed against it while slowly sliding down until I was sitting on the floor.
Scott found a comfy spot on a really big industrial sized storage box with two locks on it. One was a lock that required a key, the other was the key box that required a code to unlock. For several minutes Scott messed with the key box taking his best guess at the possible passwords.
After a few minutes he threw the the lock against the box and with his hands in the air he exclaimed “I JUST WANT TO UNLOCK THE BOX!”
“Why?” I asked. I could see in his facial expressions that he didn’t really know why. Feeling a little like the Oracle talking to Neo in the Matrix, I challenged him asking, “If there was no lock would you have wanted to open the box?”
He crinkled his nose and laughed. He knew that if there wasn’t a lock that he probably wouldn’t have even bothered with the box. It was the lock that made it interesting. It was the lock that sparked his curiosity.
I mean how many of you have seen a sign that says “Don’t Touch, Wet Paint” and in that moment you just felt like you had to touch the wall, just to see. Me too. It’s where you do one of those look over your shoulder make sure no ones watching and then quickly touch the wall. I know that if the sign wasn’t there in the first place I never would have considered touching the wall.
The Law out of scripture (including the 10 Commandments) creates the same tendency that the Wet Paint sign creates. Scripture points this out in Romans 7:8
But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
In other words where there is law, there are more opportunities for sin to sneak in and cause us to stumble. However if we recognize that we are free from the law then we can have victory over sin.
Similar to the wet paint post this has also been the case with any kind of diet I’ve ever tried. I remember a few years ago I took the Whole 30 challenge. I prepared diligently and studied recipes that were “Whole 30” approved. When day 1 finally arrived something happened. I had the most intense cravings for things like Taco Bell, (which I never eat) Soda, Candy, and a bread bowl from Panera! These were all things that I never even ate regularly, but because I had laid down law, the cravings flooded my brain for several days.
I believe this happens when we decide that we want to repent and change and fix our lives. From now on I’m going to ________ in order to make me a better person! Whatever you fill in the blank with, when you make it law- you are setting sin up for a way to find opportunity in screwing up your plans.
Paul in Romans 7:5 reveals
For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
We can’t be saved by our behavior or our ability to keep the law, because quite frankly it’s impossible to keep. But why then do so many of us thank Jesus for saving us by grace, and then insist on living by the law the rest of our Christian life?
I lead a group of high school girls on Tuesday nights and we were talking about their thoughts on if they think God liked them. Most of them had a religious answer on why they know God loves them. Then I asked them “on a scale of 1 to 10 how do you think you rank in God’s eyes?”
“2” one girl said. “6” another replied. “Depends on the day 5 usually, sometimes maybe an 8.”
How did they come up with those answers? How many times they read their bible? How many times they didn’t sin that day? Or maybe how many times they came to youth group and church this past month?
I giggled and revealed to them that whatever rating system they’re using, they can forget about it. God doesn’t save us by grace and then ask us to perform in order to be good behaving Christians. He gave us grace to save us, and then he heaped on more grace by giving us a new life, his life.
It’s true, the law was brought to us by God so that our sins would increase, not decrease.
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. (Romans 5:20)
Have you ever considered that our struggle with sin might be directly tied to the religious shackles we place on ourselves?
So we can either exhaust ourselves trying to perform for God. Or, we can join Him and recognize what it says in Romans 7:8 as truth- that apart from the law, sin is dead! We can have freedom from sin if we choose to let go of religion. Once our problem of being spiritually dead is healed and we have Christ as our life, we are free from the grasps of sin. We are called Kings and Queens and more than conquerors.
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)