Last week I encouraged followers of Christ to be intentional gospel witnesses. Specifically, to find opportunities to share our faith with others in our daily lives. We generally call this the task of evangelism. God has chosen to use His people as the vehicle through which the message of redemption goes forth. However, God does not leave us without tools to achieve His desired outcome. Today, we’ll focus on one of the tools God has given to us in order that we may be effective gospel witnesses: His law.
How is the law a part of sharing the ‘good news’? Isn’t the law something that condemns us? Yes, the law leaves us helpless because we are all guilty of breaking God’s law. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) It’s one thing for us to say, “Sure, no one’s perfect.” But quite another thing to look into the perfect law of God and see exactly what “falling short of the glory of God” looks like. To see that falling short doesn’t mean we’re almost there, and we just need God to give us a little push. Rather, it is to see we don’t come close at all, that we are without hope by ourselves.
Hmm, the law may seem like a “downer”, but that’s the whole point. We talk about the “good news” of Jesus Christ (and we should); however, the good news is only “good” when you first understand the bad news. “I have some good news and some bad news…” (As the listener, we really hope the good news outweighs the bad.) Likewise, sharing our faith is not complete if we do not tell the bad news, as well as the good. This is where the law comes in.
The Apostle Paul says, “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” (Romans 7:7) Very simply, we understand what sin is by looking to God’s holy standard. Sin separates us from God and the law shows us what sin is. Some non-Christian groups, who claim to use the Bible, think that through following laws they can earn salvation. What’s wrong with that idea? It goes against what God has said is the purpose of the law! We were given the law so “that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3:19) Following the law cannot save us! Paul continues, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) If we understand God’s law, yes, we will understand our moral and spiritual failings, but we will never become righteous enough; we will always fall short.
That’s some bad news… No matter how hard we try, no matter how “spiritual” we become, no matter how good we think we are, we will always fall short of the glory of God. “But wait! I’m so much better than a lot of so-called ‘Christians’ I know.” You may be, but other people are not the standard, God’s law is the standard. “Well, I’ve never done any of the really bad things like commit murder or cheat on my wife.” Actually, Jesus says that if you’ve hated someone you’ve already committed murder in your heart and if you’ve looked at another person with lustful thoughts you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. (Matthew 5:22, 28) “Fine, but I’ve probably kept more of the law than most people.” Even if you kept every single one of God’s laws except one, you still fall short. (James 2:10) You see, God’s law not only leaves us helpless, but it also shows us how truly holy and glorious God is. He cannot allow any amount of sin in His presence. Not because He is bad but because He is so good! We can’t possibly comprehend the goodness and purity of God in this life, but the law gives us a glimpse. God is so good, He must punish all sin .This is some bad news for all of us indeed.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) Wow! Read that verse again. Do you see what God has done for us? God doesn’t wait for us to become “good people” before He begins working on us. No, God enters in while we are dead in our sins. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We can sing “Amazing Grace” because God’s grace towards us in Christ is amazing when we’ve seen, by looking to God’s law, the depths of our sin and what our just punishment should be. However, we don’t receive that punishment when Christ becomes our Savior.
In order to be effective in evangelism, we must use the law as the tool God intends it to be. The law shows the problem and the gospel shows the solution. The law brings death while the gospel brings life. The law is bad news for sinful people, but the gospel is good news for those who come to Christ in faith. So dear saint, take hold of God’s law and show people that by ourselves we are lost… then point them to the cross.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ