For the most part I find that Christians are very anti-Law. I don’t mean anti-laws, as in they prefer chaos and don’t feel the need to obey the rules their government has set up. By and large we are very committed to following laws. But I find most Christians to be anti Law (capital “L”). Meaning they have a large dislike for the Old Testament Laws of God. A real disinterest in studying them or talking about them or embracing them as part of our story as God’s people.
The dislike is not without good reasons. Most of us have known too many Law worshippers who still trust heavily in human effort and judge others accordingly. It can also feel anti-Jesus to appreciate the Law. It can feel like an appreciation for the Law and its place is a slap in the face of the sacrifice of Christ.
But I would argue that we should actually appreciate it deeply. And that this appreciation will only deepen our love for Jesus. Maybe the problem really lies in the fact that we don’t know—or don’t remember—how to appreciate the Law appropriately. Maybe we’ve forgotten the context of why the Law was even given.
It’s easy to think of the Law as God’s failed experiment. As if God were saying, “Let’s see how much these people can handle on their own…well that didn’t work. Time for plan B.”
But Jesus isn’t plan B. He isn’t God’s recovery after a failed attempt at Law-following. Jesus was the plan from the beginning—before the beginning. So why should we appreciate the Law? What was the point anyway?
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Galatians 3:19
The Law was always intended to be an example; to be proof. We need a Savior. Doubt it? Try following the Law. Try earning your place. The promise Paul says it was given alongside of is the promise of Jesus. Jesus and the Law aren’t opposite extremes or opposing forces. They work in tandem., The Law shows us we are sinners. The Law proves God’s point that no one is righteous. And then Jesus steps in and says, “I have made a way for you.”
The Law should be appreciated by us. We should recognize the role it plays, the message it sends. The Law shows how righteous God is and how he demands that same level of rightness and holiness form his children. And in sometimes painfully real ways the Law shows us how epically we fail to be right before God.
Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:21-22
Next time we find ourselves reading through God’s Laws in the Old testament, perhaps we should guard against writing it off simply as something for other people before Jesus came and instead see it as a clear message to all of us.
If we want to earn our place or be counted worthy of God’s love, this is what it takes. There is no greater reminder of our desperate need for Jesus to save us than trying to follow the Law on our own. If you make it a few minutes you’ve done well!