Friday, June 23, 2006

A big difference

For the past several years, I've carried a little voice recorder along with me when I'm out on the road for my job. Thoughts come, and if I think it's something I want to remember, I record it. Two or three years ago as I was recording some thoughts, I realized that there is a phrase that I use quite often. A lot of times my thoughts have to do with living by grace vs. living in legalism. I say something about Old Covenant thinking, or trying to live the New Covenant life the Old Covenant way, and then I compare it with what the Bible actually says about the New Covenant. And I say, "there's a big difference!"

There's a big difference between how I used to live my Christian life and how I live it now! I used to take just about any verse out of the Bible and try to apply it to my Christian life and to the lives of other Christians. It didn't matter where the verse was found, who was doing the writing, who the intended audience was, what the purpose of the writing was, and so on and so forth. I would say, "it's in the Bible, so it's God's Word!" Yes, I do believe it's God's word, but I eventually came to realize that context is very important, and that, among other things, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between how man related to God under that first covenant, and how we relate to God now in the days of grace.

There is also a big difference between the purposes of the two covenants. Paul tells us that the first one had glory... but the second one has so much more glory! (2 Cor. 3:9). He even calls the first one "the ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" in the same passage and surrounding verses. There was a purpose for the ministry of death and condemnation: death and condemnation! The law was given for the purpose of condemning man for sin, and pronouncing the judgment of death. Through the law, man's sin was imputed to him. Sin had been in the world, but not imputed to man (charged to his account) until the coming of the law. It left man no way out, except to understand that he fell far short of God's glory and His holy standard.

It is glorious in that this ministry of death and condemnation would lead mankind to understand their guilt. God, in His grace, first provided the charge of guilt on mankind. The sacrifice of Christ would be of no effect if our sin hadn't been first charged to us, or put on our account. Romans 5:13-14 says that even before sin had been imputed to man (by the law) DEATH reigned. But in order for Christ to "become" sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), our sin had to first be charged to us. That is the purpose of the law!

Now, in Christ, we have become DEAD TO THE LAW, that we may be joined with Christ! (Rom 7:4, Gal 2:19)

Rom 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

Gal 2:19-21 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

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