So, I'm a rule follower. Go ahead and make fun of me. I like rules. I like boundaries. I like guidelines. I was even nicknamed "Warden" at the office. Even my Strengths Finder assessment results indicate that "Discipline" is listed in my top 5 strengths. This particular strength has this to say about my kind:
"Your world needs to be predictable. It needs to be ordered and planned. So you instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines...Faced with the inherent messiness of life, you want to feel in control. The routines, the timelines, the structure, all of these help create this feeling of control." (Strengths Finder 2.0)
(Mom, does that sound like me or what?!)
Anyway, I say this to share that reading the Bible can be both a joy to me and a burden at the same time. A joy because, well, there's lots of "rules" (God's law) listed there...right? So I start to feel in control because I have a written list of guidelines from which I should live. But, it's also a burden because, well, who can really obey them all?! Surely not me - I probably would have already broken many of them before even finishing my quiet reading time! But something caught my attention today as I read Chapters 1-3 in Romans:
1) Rules are important to God. Obedience is just as important.
"For merely listening to the law doesn't make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight" (Romans 2:13) By the way, Paul is talking to the Jews at this point who could recite the laws and just as quickly sentence you for not following them, even though they were not "practicing what they preached." I was excited at this part. I was like, "thank you! Somebody is calling them out for not following the rules!" But then I was like, "wait. I'm pretty sure I fit into that category of people Paul was talking to." The only problem with reading this verse as a stand alone statement at face value without any surrounding verses is that it would be easy to assume that Christians need only be rule-followers to be right with God. But who can do that?!?! No one. So, no, that's not it...
2) God's law is to show us we are sinners in need of a Savior.
"Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are." (Romans 3:19-20). So, Paul just said that we have to obey rules to be right with God. But then he said that no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. So, what's a sinner (rule-breaker) to do then, Paul?!
3) God provides that Savior.
"But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26). Amen! and Amen! Did you catch that? We are declared righteous? We are freed from the penalty of our sins? And all we have to do is place our faith in Jesus and believe? Yes - that is Good News!
4) What's the catch?
I'm not gonna lie. I struggle in this area. Hello, I'm a rule follower!!!!! How can I possibly get by and make the cut to be counted as righteous by God if I have broken any of His rules? Paul, don't let me down now! Seriously, what's the catch? Then Paul slapped me upside the head when he wrote, "Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith, so we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whenever they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law." (Romans 3:27-31).
Whoa...mind...blown! It can not be any simpler, folks. The Good News for ALL is that God made a way for us to still be called His. The way is simple. It is free. I take that back. It came at a high price. It came at the sacrifice of one man who paid the ultimate price and who took every bit of my sin and my rebellion and my rule-breaking and my evil desire and my shame and my guilt and let it hold Him to a cross in order that He could carry out my sentence. He was the final sacrifice for my sins. Amen!
Yes, I am still a rule follower as much as I can be. Remember, I'm "discipline" by nature. But, I don't follow God's commandments and instruction now in order to gain favor in His eyes. Or to be able to boast about myself like Paul mentioned. I do it because it reminds me daily that I fail and need Him. It reminds me that, had he not sent His son, I wouldn't have made the cut. I have said before I have a "sin rebound" of like 3 minutes! So to me, this truly is Good News! Because of this gift that I accept on faith and belief alone, my heart has a new desire to be obedient to His word and to follow Him and to love him and please him. It is to bring Him glory through everything I do. Even as I write this I feel a conviction to confess that I am going to sin daily. And you who are closer to me will see it more than others. So thankful that each morning brings new mercies from God and thankful for all of you who show me grace and forgiveness, which you also understand because of your love for and faith in Christ. That's all. I just wanted to share my random 15-minute quiet time explosion of thoughts with you all!
- ▼ 2013 (8)
- Crystal C. McCall
- I am a local Charlestonian, born and raised in good 'ol South Carolina. I have only been to other surrounding states within a days drive since I refuse to fly in an airplane - so let's see - that includes NC, GA, FL, and I think I may have crossed the border into VA at some point. I've been to the Bahamas 3 times (since you can get there by cruise ship) but one day I hope to visit Mexico. After my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the second love of my life is my high school sweetheart, Matt. We were married at ages 19 and 21 (I'm the younger one) and in the past 8 years have acquired two amazing kids - Sammy and Maddie. We have a fairly new member of the family, Casey, who is a black lab/shepherd/pit bull mix and is very lazy. We "McCall's" have a family motto: "McCall's never give up" (for some reason this has stuck with us all). We all have a passion for music and treasure our family time. Every moment is a gift...