“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” — 1 John 1:8
About two decades ago, I was visiting Australia. I arrived there at the end of December. I was driving into the city of Sydney, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, while thinking of my wife and children sitting in the cold, wet, miserable winter back home in England. My conscience was clear.
Suddenly, somebody stepped onto the road in front of me and held up his hand. It was a policeman, and he was carrying a radar gun. I pulled up and he asked, “What speed were you travelling at back there?” I answered, “I am not sure.” He said, “Take a guess.” I dodged, “Well, we measure in miles in England.” He said, “Well, guess in miles. I’ll convert it to kilometres.” I guessed 100 km/hr. He responded, “You’re not even warm.” Then, he showed me the radar and it said 130 km/hr. He questioned, “What is the speed limit of this road?” I defended, “I don’t know, because I live in England.” He noted, “We put up signs.” I acknowledged, “I’m sorry. I didn’t notice them.” He said, “It’s 100km/hr. Now, may I see your driver’s license?” I said, “I don’t have it on me.” He said, “Did you know that is against the law?” I explained, “No, I didn’t. It’s not against the law in England.” He retorted, “This is not England!”
In the space of two minutes, I suddenly felt like a common criminal. Although I am an English man, completely unaware of the traffic laws while driving on Australian roads, I was not exempted. The police officer did not make me do anything; he exposed me for what I was and fined me right on the spot. But the truth is neither the law nor the officer made me a criminal; the officer simply exposed my breaking of the law by asking me difficult questions. The law has that effect: it exposes our shortcomings.
Is the law simply there to embarrass us, expose us, humiliate us and condemn us? In order to understand the law, we must also understand “sin.” The word “sin” literally means, “to miss the mark.” The word comes from archery. If we take an arrow, shoot it at a target and miss, it is called “sin.” Whether we miss it by a centimetre or a kilometre, it is still “sin.” We never know what sin is until we know what mark we have missed. John tells us, “Everyone who sins breaks the law...” (1 John 3:4).
The law in itself is not a bad thing; it is the immovable standard that reveals our deep need for a Saviour because we have all missed the mark.
PRAYER: Dear Lord God, Your law shows how far I have missed the mark. Thank You, Lord, for sending Jesus to be the Saviour of the world from sin.