January 10 I Thursday
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets…” —Matthew 5:17
Ever since God gave Israel the Law of Moses, their history had been defined by failure. The Old Testament records, mourns and teaches about that failure, but now Jesus was on the scene preaching good news. Those listening to the Sermon on the Mount might have expected Jesus to announce a softening of the Law. Maybe they hoped He would cut the Ten Commandments down to six. Whatever they were anticipating, Jesus did not come from heaven with an apology for a Law they had been unable to keep. Instead, He affirms the Law.
There are two criteria in Scripture that determine why the Law is what it is. The first is, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The Law represents the target we miss when we sin. Paul clarifies that this target is far from arbitrary with the second criterion: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Together, these verses indicate that the Law of God and the glory of God equal the same thing.
The glory of God is His moral character. His glory is revealed in Christ, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3). We see in Jesus’s words and actions what God is like, a likeness that was also intended to be true of us. God created us in His moral image, meant to reflect His character, but because of sin, we now fall short of the glory of God. This is where the Law comes in. God gave the Law to reveal His character because in so doing, this reveals what we are supposed to be like. The Law does not say, “You shall not steal” because stealing is unkind, though it is, but because God is not a thief, which means we who are made in His image are also not to steal.
The effect of the requirements of the Law being so high, so demanding, so unreasonable humanly speaking is that it reveals our failure as human beings. The Law does not make us sinners; it merely exposes where we are missing the mark of how we were created to live. God does not expose our failure to humiliate us or rub our noses in the dirt but so that when we recognize our sin, He might clean us up and change us. We have to accept the diagnosis before we can experience the remedy. Only when we accept the depth of our need—our utter failure to live up to the moral character of God—do we take the first step in realizing we need a Saviour.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You for the Law. Though it can be difficult to own up to my sin, I am thankful because this revelation of the Law reveals how desperately I need You.