Romans 7: 7 - 13, What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. NKJV
Whenever we read Genesis 1 and 2, we can get a glimpse of the love that God had for mankind before the fall. After God created man, both male and female, we're told that God blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful, multiply, and to have dominion over the earth. God provided for every need that man had. However, when we get to chapter 3, we see a drastic change. When mankind fell into sin, we lost the favor of God. God drove the man and woman out of the garden of provision; and they had to work for their food, instead of partaking of the fruit of God's labor. Nevertheless, when I say that man lost the favor of God, I don't mean that we also lost God's love for us.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see glimpses of God through the lens of holiness and the Law. When God introduced Himself and His Law to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, the presence of God caused the Jews to be afraid of God. As a result of the fear and unbelief in their hearts, they told Moses that they didn't want God to speak to them. Nevertheless, Moses told them God's purpose for revealing His holiness to them. Moses said, "God has come down to us to show us the fear of the Lord that we might not sin against Him." The fear of Lord keeps us from sin. God revealed His holiness to man after the fall, instead of displaying His love because He wanted mankind to learn, through their experience with God's holiness and His raw power, that they were sinners and in need of a Savior.
Nonetheless, if we study Israel's walk with God throughout the Old Testament, we not only see the holiness of God, we also see the goodness of God. Just look at how many times Israel (the nation) turned away from God and sinned against Him. Even so, after God corrected them, He reached out to them. The Lord allowed mankind to experience the consequences of their sin; however, at the same time, He offered them His goodness so that they might turn their hearts away from sin and back to Him.
After several thousand years, God brought an end to the old covenant because of the weakness of man's flesh. The Jews couldn't be saved by their own good works. Therefore, God sent His Son to be the holy sacrifice for our sins that we might receive the grace of God to overcome sin through faith in Christ. Jesus' arrival on earth was the introduction of a new covenant as well as the revelation of God's grace for the entire world. Jesus told the Jews that He didn't come to do away with the Law of God; He came to fulfill it.
Once Jesus had fulfilled the Law of God through His love for His Father, God could show mankind His unconditional love. In this new covenant, the focus is on God's love. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son." Out of God's love for fallen man, God reveals the plan of salvation through His grace. It is God's holiness and His goodness that lead us to repentance. However, it is our faith in Jesus and God's grace that saves us from sin. God introduced His holiness first in order to bring us to a place where we could see that we were sinners and were hopelessly lost. Now, we can freely receive God's forgiveness and the grace that is needed to live holy through His love in us, and not through the Law.
When you and I accepted Jesus, we didn't "get religion." We received a brand-new nature in our new hearts. As a result, we can live holy before the Lord through the love of God that has been given to us through the Holy Spirit. No longer do we have to "try" to live right and keep the Law; we can love God, and through His love keep the Law. Since man chose sin over God's will in the Garden of Eden, God first had to place man under the rule of His law so that He might bring us to the end of selfishness and self-righteousness. However, now we can have the power and liberty to live under grace through love. The more we love our heavenly Father, the easier it will be for us to please Him by obeying His will for our lives. Let's put God first in our hearts so that He can bless us, and in turn, we can be a blessing to the world.
God's Amazing Grace,
Pastor Asa Dockery