Have you ever taken a test and been a nervous wreck until you knew that you had passed? Why do we feel the need to “measure up” to examinations? I submit that this part of our human nature is a God-given blessing and is one of the ways I know that God is real, the Bible is true, and that Jesus did indeed purchase my salvation.
In Romans 3, Paul reminds us of two reasons God entrusted the children of Israel with His laws.
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may be come accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)
Reason #1 – God’s laws make all the world accountable to Him.
The Old Testament law, specifically the ten commandments (Exodus 20), reveals God’s expectations of the people He created so they are without excuse. It exposes our sinfulness to God. It is as simple as a piece of paper with two columns. In one column is what God expects; in the other column is everything we do, say, or think. God is Creator; He is the One who made us and so we are accountable to “line up” with His expectations. His are the right answers to the test of what classifies as “righteous.” Nothing less than 100% is acceptable in His eyes, because He is holy.
Reason #2 – God’s laws expose our sinfulness to ourselves.
God’s laws show us where we fall short, where we don’t line up with His standard of righteousness. We know, instinctively, that our lives don’t have the right answers. We know we aren’t perfect, and that we can never measure up. We can never get it 100% right. This is why we fight against the law; if we can do away with the test, we think we don’t have to worry about it. But even if we tear up every copy of the Bible and change all the laws in our nation, God’s law still exists and still stands, accusing us of not making the grade. It exists, and it convicts us, whether we accept it or believe it, or not.
I’ll prove it. You are probably a “pretty good person.” You don’t lie, or steal. You don’t bow down to statues (although we could have an entire conversation about ‘other gods’). You don’t sleep around on your spouse, and you’ve never killed anyone. You aren’t jealous or envious of others’ stuff (mainly because you have the means to get pretty much everything you need). In your mind, you “measure up” pretty well to God’s laws and consider yourself a righteous person.
But have you ever said something to another person that you later found out hurt their feelings? Or perhaps in a moment of anger, you knew you were saying hurtful things? Afterward, there was this feeling of shame and regret (i.e. guilt)…a kind of nervousness that caused you to realize you needed to make things right, and that didn’t go away until you had apologized?
That’s because you are accountable to God.
That’s because the law of God, written not only in His word but on your heart, exposed your sinfulness to yourself.
The law of God is good because it shows us there is a higher standard, God’s standard. That moral conscience in you that tells you that there are some things that are right and others that are wrong is evidence that God created you, that He has a perfect standard of righteousness, and that you don’t, and can’t, and never will measure up.
The good news? God Himself kept the law for you. This is the whole and entire reason the Son of God became a human being, lived a perfect life and died on a cross. He fulfilled the law in two ways: He kept it perfectly, and He paid its penalty. We become righteous when by faith, we repent and ask God to move Jesus’ perfect score onto our test sheet, and God moves all our wrong answers onto Jesus’ account, paid for at the cross. All our wrong answers are wiped out by the blood of Christ, and in their place, we receive His perfect standing before the One to whom we must answer.
The law can bring you peace, but only if you trust Jesus to take the test for you. If you’re relying on your own score, you’ll never make the grade.
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
He [God the Father] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)