The Law is Holy

“ … So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.
Romans 7:10-12 NLT

Imagine trying to live our lives only by following a list of rules and regulations. Without any opportunity to vary what we do. So imagine if there is a rule about when to get up in the morning. And another rule about what to eat for breakfast. A rule about the route we must take to get to work and the mode of transport to be used to follow that rule. Before we know it we might as well be a robot, programmed by a higher power who has designed a system within which humans can live, removing from them the right to decide what they should do for themselves. A system with boundaries so tight that there is no opportunity for any individuality. The problem comes when a scenario develops that has not been thought of and no rule applies.

Many years ago we fostered a boy who initially needed rules to establish structure in his life, a life previously blighted by disfunction, a lack of structure, and chaos. I remember a time when he was asked to go to the local shop and purchase some baking potatoes. When he didn’t return my wife went to look for him, to find him standing by the greengrocery section of the shop totally at a loss, because they didn’t have any baking potatoes. We forgot to add another rule – if the shop didn’t have any baking potatoes then to just come home. Thankfully that young lad flourished in our family environment and he is now in his late twenties, with a steady job and a family of his own.

But having said all of that it is a fact that all human beings need boundaries. And that was what God had in mind when he issued the Law. His intention was that by following the Law, His creation would live in a way He desired, a way that was close to Him. The list of rules and regulations started with two important laws, that Jesus spoke about to a Jewish leader. We read his question in Matthew 22:36-40, ““Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”” It is from the position of loving God “with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” that we understand the Law is holy. And that is true when we read the Laws that God gave the Israelites all those years ago. None of them is wrong. We can drill down into each commandment and distill the last drops of what they mean, but nothing will be found that I is unholy. Surely the commands of the Law are righteous and holy.

To be holy means to be set apart. We Christians are in fact living in a sinful, secular, world, but we are not a part of it and its customs. In John 17 Jesus prayed for His disciples. He said, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do” (John 17:15-16). God’s Law was designed to keep the Israelites “safe from the evil one” in a world populated by nations who were wicked and evil. They were set apart. They were holy (if they adhered to His commandments of course).

Are we pilgrims a holy people? Do we conform to what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9a, “ … you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession …”? That was the intent of the Law, but we live by the Spirit, set free from the very Law that was supposed to bring life but instead brought spiritual death.

As I write this, the Scottish government is electing a new leader. One of the candidates is a young woman who is very open about her Christian faith. In an interview, which touched on her opinion of marriage, the interviewer wrote in his news article, “As a Christian, she explained, she believed marriage to be between a man and a women but she insisted she would defend the law as “a servant of democracy””. She is operating at the cutting edge of being in the world but not of the world. The issue of holiness in a secular world needs the wisdom of Solomon to get right. I’m thankful I’m not in that position.

Dear Father God. We need Your help to live as a holy people in this evil world. We echo Jesus’ prayer for safety from the evil one. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s