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Allison Althoff
Allison Althoff
Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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July 18, 2011

Written in Our Hearts

I’m beginning to understand the powerful purpose of God’s law

My husband and I have been thinking a lot about children lately (we’ve enjoyed nearly three years of marriage without them and have each felt the pull toward parenthood).
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Pondering the responsibility of raising another person in the fear of the Lord has been a catalyst to my growth as I’ve realized more the importance of my obedience to God and relationship with Christ. I think about my propensities toward perfectionism and control. I think about the subtle sin in my life that so easily goes unchecked. While these things are just as important without the prospect of children, I’m thankful for any call to attention that God has chosen to use.

So what matters to God? Who does he want me (and you) to be? We know through history in Scripture, as well as through the overt teaching of Jesus, that legalism (another word for perfectionism) is not what God desires; in fact, he condemns it. We also know that righteousness is of utmost importance to God; he requires righteousness of us, and that is fitting with his nature.

It’s terribly hard for us to walk in the righteousness God requires without falling into the legalism that Christ condemns. Romans 2 sheds some light on this. Paul is talking about judgment and the law and says, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts accuse or tell them they are doing right” (vv. 14–15, italics mine).

Paul contrasts these Gentiles with the Jews who know the law through and through, preach it to others and judge others by it, yet they practice the very things the law condemns.

Although God’s law serves many purposes, one of its primary purposes is to show us how utterly impossible it is for us to fulfill it. Legalism is the truly pathetic attempt that we still try to make to please God (and make ourselves look good) by fulfilling his law perfectly; we all can tend this way. But God doesn’t want us to be slaves to this set of rules outside of us, or to hold it above the person of God himself, as the Jews Paul refers to seem to be doing. He longs to write the law on our hearts (such an intimate image!); he wants us to have a relationship with the perfect fulfillment of the law, Jesus Christ. And in that intimacy, we, like the Gentiles who had not even yet heard of Jesus, but who knew in their spirits the God of the universe, hear the words of promised and powerful correction that will continually bring us around again to repentance and praise for Jesus’ great might and mercy.

We fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Every day and in many ways. It’s ugly, and it’s not who we are called to be. But what matters right now is less the absence of this ugliness in us and so much more what we do when we see it. When the law of God is written on our hearts, we will have conflicting thoughts, and it is that tension that shows we are alive in Christ. We will sense the accusation, and with the Spirit, we can say, “Yes. There was pride in how I just acted. I’m so sorry, Lord. Thank you for your true forgiveness; please uproot that ugly weed in me.”

Praise our intimate God who corrects our inevitably crooked paths. He is so good to us!

Related Tags: grace, Law, mercy, relationship, righteousness

Comments

Oh, my! perfect timing! Thank you.

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