Thursday, November 29, 2018


In Romans 5, Paul talks about men who lived without sin, for they lived also without the law, which would have imputed sin to them. We saw yesterday how without the law to hold us accountable to a certain standard of conduct, we could not be responsible for sin - we would not have a clear definition of what it is.

We find ourselves living in much the same place today, the place of those who lived between Adam and Moses - we no longer live under the law, which would impute to us our sin. In fact, we know that our sin is not imputed to us; it is borne by Jesus Himself to absolve us of it.

But neither do we live in a time where death reigns, either, as it has since Adam's first sin in the Garden. Rather, we know that life reigns, and life abundant, and life everlasting, by the resurrection of Christ.

In other words, the entire game has changed.

And this raises an interesting question, perhaps conundrum, for those of us who seek to live the faithful life in times such as these. What is the faithful life? What is God-pleasing? If we have not the law to guide us, given that the law has been fulfilled and that we no longer live under it, and death no longer reigns, how then shall we live?

Indeed, it's the question we're all trying to answer.

We still talk about sin and righteousness, as though they are real things (and they are), but we have more trouble today determining what is sin and what is righteousness. Some might point to the law and say that sin is sin, as it has always been so it shall always be - it is wrong, therefore, to do such things. But we recognize that in certain places, we have broken with the law and declared that what was once unrighteous is neither harm nor foul today. For example, tattoos. We're not getting into knock-down, drag-out fights over whether tattoos are sinful or not, despite the old Law declaring that they are.

Yet we will put our righteousness on the lines when it comes to, say, murder or homosexuality. These are still sins, we say, because the Law declares them to be sin. Never mind that it is the same law we dismiss when it comes to tattoos or to putting an enclosure around the roof of your home so that no one falls off. Those outdated laws are totally different, we say, from the law of moral conduct like murder and homosexuality. Totally different, even though they were written on the same parchment.

Still others will say that since we have not the Law, we have only the example of Jesus, and the example of Jesus is to love. So we should not worry about right and wrong, about sin and righteousness, but we should worry only about love. This has led us to embrace a Jesus who requires nothing of us, who doesn't care what we do, who affirms our every breath and being as though all things are equal before His eyes, and we know that that's not really the case, either.

In fact, we know that has never been the case. For even those who lived without the law, those whose time was between Adam and Moses, were concerned with righteousness - their own, in particular. They did not, of course, have grace, but they also didn't have Law, so grace would not have made much sense to them. There is something about righteousness, then, that is valuable beyond what either law or grace can give us.

Paul says very plainly that just because we do not live under the law, this does not mean that we should just go about sinning since it is no longer imputed to us. By no means! Paul declares.

Which brings us back to the question: how, then, should we live?

In righteousness.

The challenge is figuring out what righteousness is when it does not depend upon law nor upon grace, in a place where life, not death, reigns even though death lurks, with nothing but the example of Christ - which we cannot take out of context and cannot twist into something lesser than it is - to guide us.

Paul has a word for that, too. (Stay tuned.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment