Day 9

The Law of God We Cannot Keep

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan

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

“These commandments are impossible to keep!” says the honest Christian.

“But they are divine imperatives!” he contends with himself.

And so goes the honest Christian’s internal conflict with regard to God’s law. To make matters even more difficult, when we pursue a life under God’s law—”the impossible imperatives”—it becomes oh-so-clear that our ability to sin remains. This, my friends, is the perplexing internal dialogue that Christians like me have deep in their hearts.

As Christians, we affirm that God’s commands are good. However, a quick read of the Ten Commandments reveals that we are all inadequate to fulfill the demands of the law by our own moral effort. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that we are guilty of these sins in our hearts, where sin begins (Matthew 5:21-30). God’s law, by itself, carries a righteous burden that crushes all of humanity under the weight of His holiness.

Even the self-righteous know in their hearts that the Ten Commandments do not have the power to transform them or liberate them from the power of sin. We cannot earn our righteousness.This is a truth the rebellious who deny Jesus will one day find out, when it’s too late. We will all stand before God and give an account (Romans 14:10-12). There is no way to avoid it.

In many ways, all of us—both the self-righteous and the rebellious—are running from God. But the good news of the gospel is that we do not have to run from God in light of these impossible imperatives. We are implored to run to God, who sent His own Son to condemn sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled for us in Christ Jesus (Matthew 5:17). This is the real reason Christians celebrate Christmas.

When we understand the law through the lens of the gospel, everything changes. The law is like a teacher who shows us God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and our need for salvation. By faith we receive the gift of Jesus’ law-keeping, which was perfectly achieved on our behalf, and in Him we become righteous.

Therefore, we turn our backs on our own warped efforts to uphold or ignore the law by trusting in the One who satisfied all the law demands on our behalf. “What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did” (Romans 8:3). The law of God, which we cannot keep, has been satisfied by the love of God, which we do not deserve. That is the beauty of the gospel.

Written by Matt Capps

Post Comments (6)

6 thoughts on "The Law of God We Cannot Keep"

  1. Bryce says:

    Run Bryce run the law demands, but gives neither feet nor hands. Better news the Gospel brings, it bids me fly and gives me wings.

  2. Jeff M. says:

    YES! Wow. This is such a great and necessary devo today…I feel a sense of “that’s right!” that wells up within me when someone really does preach the Law. After a trip to Israel in 2016, it became abundantly clear to me that the Jewish men at the Western Wall had 1 thing very correct about God – in our sinful state, we stand condemned. They revered the Lord like I had never seen before in our American Christian culture. Sad as it is, most of us (even professing believers) treat God like he’s a box office to heaven and they’ve purchased their ticket. They may be “saved” but have no real desire (seemingly) to enjoy Him! To know Him, to know You Jesus. Goodness, I lived in that camp for a long while and what a miserable existence it is.
    Gods perfect Law doesn’t go away because of Jesus. Gods holiness doesn’t go away because of grace. It only serves to HIGHLIGHT the beauty of His grace. The Law, as the devo puts it, continually shows us Gods holiness, our sinfulness, and our need for salvation. To put it another way, the Law shows us that we stand condemned to eternity in hell without a saving work by God Himself. Gods holiness demands perfection; nothing less. So if we believe we aren’t perfect, why do we think God will accept less? We are kidding ourselves and cheapening the law of God.

    In walks the Messiah.

    Jesus, our Messiah, the Savior of the World has come and reached us from this condemnation under which we stand without Him! Goodness…as it’s been said, the good news apart from the bad news is just news. The bad news is yes, you are NOT enough. NOT good enough. NOT moral enough. NOT ______ enough to get into heaven on your own. We can’t do it…and when God presses into that within us, it is crushing.
    But God…the 2 sweetest words. He doesn’t leave us like this. From clothing Adam and Eve in Genesis all the way to when He will return in Glory and all the saints will rise, God comes for His beloved. He pursues us, in His love. The payment for our sin was death forever, Jesus paid it. And when we believe in Him, believe in the work He has done, trust in Him for our salvation and with our lives, we can’t help but SPUR up in joy and praise. At the moment of our deepest greatest need, Jesus steps into humanity.

    Jesus, help us to feel this weight and fall to our knees in praise and thanks to You, our rescuer and Savior! May we live lives of joy in light of the Gospel – that You fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law on our behalf, something we could never do!

  3. Andrew says:

    Thank you Lord for your grace and truth!

  4. Stephen Perry says:

    “The law of God which we cannot keep has been satisfied/fulfilled by the love of God. That’s the beauty of the Gospel.”

    I love today’s reminder. Whether the struggle is self-righteousness or self-defilement, the message is the same. God did something we could not do on our behalf through Jesus Christ. That is Christmas.

    Thank you Lord. I pray today that you would help me to rest in the truth of the Gospel message. Help me to rest in the simple thought; my relationship with you is foundationally built not on what I do but on what you’ve done FOR me through Jesus. I’m so grateful for this truth today.


  5. Colt Duppen says:

    Wow, such a powerful lesson to learn from today’s studies. It has opened my eyes to something I had never noticed before. It starts with the Christians internal conflict towards the laws of God.

    The fact that anyone of us has broken one of the Commandments or that they are impossible to keep, but yearning to keep them to be a “good Christian”.

    God took care of this dilemma. He knows that as man, we are sinful creatures. We are guilty of these sins in our hearts, as Jesus tells us. God’s law crushes all who are not holy underneath it.

    Before reading this, I know Kristen told me before, but I had always wondered why people can’t be considered better or worse believers? After reading this, it moves the blinders that we’re in front of my eyes and shows me that it’s clear we can’t earn our righteousness. We are all sinners and Jesus was put here, by God, to condemn sin so that we may “live through him”.

    The reason that this switches up what I had thought for so long is that it changes the way I look at God‘s rules or Commandments.

    I now don’t see them as unbreakable rules, I see them as a list that shows how sinful mankind can be and why we need God and salvation. We must trust that Jesus is satisfying the law on our behalf.

    “The law of God, which we cannot keep, has been satisfied by the love of God, which we do not deserve.”

    This is an incredibly powerful quote that has laid the scripture out in a way that I can finally understand.

  6. Pastor JB says:

    This is the gospel at it’s core; that God did for us, through the person and works of Jesus Christ, what we could never do for ourselves. The law, which shows us just how wicked our hearts are, could never be kept by sinners. So Jesus, the sinless one, kept and also fulfilled the entirety of the law on our behalf. So for us, there is nothing left to do except to trust in the saving works of Jesus on our behalf and rest in His grace! What a truly amazing and wonderful God we serve!

    “How deep the Father’s love for us.
    How vast beyond all measure.
    That He would send His only Son
    To make a wretch His treasure.”

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