Insidious laws and dead works

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I once saw a child start eating her meal without saying “grace” first. When she realised what she had done, and incredible look of guilt came over her face, and she quickly gave thanks before continuing.

All kinds of “Christian laws” sneak into our lives without us realising it. A classic law is the quiet time – if we miss our time alone with God for several days in a row, sometimes a sense of guilt and shame comes over us, and we try extra hard next time to make up for it.

Another common law is spending a certain amount of time praying. Someone gets convicted about their prayer life and determines to spend twenty minutes a day praying. They soon run out of things to pray, they watch the clock and finally the twenty minutes is over – and then they feel better about themselves because they made it to the end.

All of these things we do to make us feel OK and to quiet our guilty consciences. What is it called when you feel OK because of the things that you do? Self righteousness. This is exactly what the law is all about: getting a “righteousness of your own” (Philippians 3:9) and trying to make yourself OK with God because of your good works.

Hebrews 9:14 gives a much better way to cleanse our consciences than our own dead works – the blood of Jesus. Revelation 12:11 says that we overcome the Accuser “by the blood of the Lamb.”

So what do you do with an accusing conscience (or the Accuser)? You don’t have to disagree or say “It’s not that bad.” You can say, “That’s true, and worse.” The enemy doesn’t even have to make something up when he accuses us!

It really is no news that we sin. We are broken but forgiven people. We are just as dependent on Jesus now as when we first came to him – we will never come to a point when we have our own independent “goodness” and we don’t need a saviour any more.

So when the Accuser comes along and says, “You sinned! You sinned!”, you can turn around and say, “Your point being ...?” Jesus’ blood has already taken care of that issue once and for all. God says you are righteous – so no one has the right to accuse you ever again (Rom 8:33-34).

For reflection:

God has not only forgiven our sins and taken away our guilt, he has even removed the very thing which defined our sins in the first place. If God asked, “Which law did they break?” when the Accuser accused us, he would have to reply, “Well, actually, as it were, in point of fact – no law has been broken”. If there is no law, then nobody can transgress it (Romans 4:15).

“He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14)

“... abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” (Ephesians 2:15)

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