Tuesday, February 12, 2013

an unexpected bridle shower‏

Last night I was taking a shower after running on the treadmill and my thoughts gravitated towards this dilemma of grace and faith and good works and Law and Gospel.

Here is a thought that God organized in my mind in thinking about both:

Romans 3:28

For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.


Romans 4:5

But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.

This is the question that often arises:

“If the Law cannot save us, why should we still try to follow it?”

This demonstrates both the ignorance and arrogance of the asker.

I will try to illustrate by way of examples.


Imagine someone saying, “If an MRI cannot cure cancer, why should I get one?”

You would rightly reply, “You don’t get an MRI to cure cancer, but determine if and where you have cancer. It helps you see the problem more clearly. It gives you a place to focus your efforts. It tells you what is broken and what needs healing.”

The Law was not intended to save you. It was meant to show you the areas where you fall short of God’s perfection and provide you ample opportunity to fall devastated before the Law-Giver in humility. The Law cannot save you unless you keep it perfectly.


Imagine someone else saying, “If my wife already knows that I love her, why should I listen to her or do things that she likes? If she knows that I love her, I should not have to concern myself with what she wants from me.”

You would rightly reply, “It does not sound like you love your wife. If I were her, I would sincerely doubt that you loved her. You cannot merely say, ‘I love you’ and have that mean anything tangible if in every other way you demonstrate you do not love her. Love is not saying things that aren’t true. That is lying, not love. If you loved your wife, you would care about what she cares about. The fact that you so openly acknowledge that you do not care about her desires, demonstrates more matter-of-factly a disposition of flattery and deception. If that is love, I hope you never love me.”

The Law is what God desires for us. It is His holiness on display. This is the way things would be run if we all lived in concert with God’s will for us 24/7. How arrogant and obstinate are you to tell God that He can save you as long as you don’t have to love Him? How can you claim to love Jesus and so defiantly, intentionally distance yourself from any and every thing He loves?

We do not strive to obey the Law because we need to do so in order to be saved. We read the Law and ponder upon it and rely on it to reveal to us our sin and need for a Savior. We read the Gospel and hear that this atonement has been accomplished by the good works of Jesus who kept the Law fully. Jesus’ MRI was clean. Yet He voluntarily took upon Himself the cancers of our lives. The very things the MRIs reveal in us, He invited into Himself. He died, not because of His sin, but because of ours. If we receive this gift on our behalf, our MRI reads clean because Jesus grants us His results.

Anyone whose response to this is reject the honor and beauty of the Law does so to their own demise and demonstrates that they have not received the gift of salvation, the gift of God Himself. That person, like the fool, tells you that their only interest is self-interest. They tell you that their faith is not faith at all, but futility.


So why the pun about the bridal shower?

Well, smarty pants, I thought of this in the shower. So there’s that.

Why the bridle?

verb /ˈbrīdl/ 
Bring (something) under control; curb

Romans 3:19

19 Now we know that whatever the law says speaks to those who are subject to the law,so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment.

The Law was meant to shut us up. It was meant to make us realize our place before God without His intervention on our behalf. It was meant to show us that He is holier than we are and that we are more depraved than we would ever think we were without it. It reveals to us greater heights and deeper depths available to us through mere speculation. The Law is a diagnostic device: it is used for determining health and sickness, goodness and badness, holiness and sinfulness.

Psalm 119:25-32

25 My life is down in the dust;
give me life through Your word.

26 I told You about my life,
and You listened to me;
teach me Your statutes.
27 Help me understand
the meaning of Your precepts
so that I can meditate on Your wonders.
28 I am weary from grief;
strengthen me through Your word.
29 Keep me from the way of deceit
and graciously give me Your instruction.
30 I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set Your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to Your decrees;
Lord, do not put me to shame.
32 I pursue the way of Your commands,
for You broaden my understanding.

I would also be remiss to overlook the obvious Bride of Christ allusion being referenced by my puns-o-fun.

Paul summarizes my points in this way:

Romans 3:31

Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
The Law is the revelation of our awesome God. If you love Him and have been made anew in Him, you will desire to do what brings Him delight.

If your claim to love for Him is characterized by attitudes and actions in complete conflict with Him; it is very likely that you do not love Him at all.

The Law bridles our tongues and our lives. It keeps us silent before a Holy God and keeps our lives on the straight and narrow.

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