“Law & Grace”

[My message in the California prisons.]

“Grace friends at Network 220, Plano, TX”

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”—John 1:17
How do you see the LAW? What is the purpose of the LAW? Think of the CROSS: the horizontal line relates to the earth and the vertical line relates to God. Don’t push the cross over on to its side!

LAW.pdfThe LAW is NOT a LADDER to God.  It’s not a stairway to heaven. We cannot achieve a right standing with God by strict obedience to the Law. Jesus was a friend of UN-Righteous sinners, but called the SELF-Righteous Pharisees (those who tried to live by Law) robbers, hypocrites, brood of vipers, white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones (Mt. 23). He told them, “you make [your proselytes] twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Saul/Paul had quite a resume:

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today…” (Acts 22:3) “…circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless” (Phil. 3:5),
yet all this he considered rubbish in comparison to the righteousness he found through faith in Christ (8-9).
In my own life, I thought I’d BE more by DOing more for God; until at age 33, I burned out. I was always leaving, never arriving, because doing more work for God does not achieve the work God did for us. In the Garden of Eden was a GOOD/BAD tree. While I was busy climbing the good side of the tree, you were hanging out on the shady side of the same tree. You may be UN-Righteous, but I am SELF-Righteous. Either way, we’re both eating from the wrong tree: Death!
James 2:10—For whoever keeps the whole law and                          NO
 stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”                 MERCY

Rom 3:20—because by the works of the Law no flesh                        NO
will be justified in His sight; for through the Law                           JUSTICE
comes the knowledge of sin.”
Gal 3:21—Is the Law then contrary to the promises of                         NO
God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which                   LIFE
was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed
have been
 based on law.”

Did Jesus die so we could work harder or rest in His finished work; so we would try more or trust more? Recently, I visited a Jewish museum in Prague. I was reading about “Sabbath Rest” and it hit me that Jesus was in the grave doing His greatest redemptive work while we are commanded to rest. If it were up to us to make ourselves right with God, we would live in constant defeat. If the Christian life is about climbing a ladder to God, then I give up! I rebel to God not because I want my way, but because I can’t live His way!
WAL.pdf The LAW is not a WAL(L) to keep us from being free.
Is God a “Cosmic Kill-joy?” Is He trying to keep us from having any fun?
Or is the Law a wall of protection?
Remember: The LAW is of the earth and for the earth so man doesn’t destroy himself. The Law, although established by God (Rom. 13), relates only to the earth. It is a means of executing what is just and right in the world.
Rom 4:15—for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”
I just learned that the blue line on the black American flag represents “the thin line between order and chaos.”
1 Tim. 1:9—law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners…”
An inmate once told me: “The institution doesn’t make the rules here; we do!” What do you think he meant? He was saying that every time an inmate did something out of order, a rule had to be made in order to penalize him. So the rules came about because of the misconduct. You’ll always find that the more rules there are, the less relationship there is. The more rebellious the heart and behavior becomes, the more laws there will be to try to control them. Does it ever dawn on you that the more you rebel the more you’re confined? In one sense, the law is a wall…to protect.
Rom 5:20—The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”
Rom 7:7—What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
The Law never lifts a finger to help you do the right thing; it only points out the wrong things you are doing.
Rom 7:5—For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.”
What do you want to do when you see a sign that reads, “Don’t walk on grass?” Of course, walk on the grass. No one’s gonna tell you what you can or can’t do. Rules reveal who rules: you or the authority that is charged with protecting you. Funny things is, rules cannot tame the flesh, only reveal it.
Col 2:23—These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
How is the Law good then? Find out next month…