Grace great enough to handle an unknowing rule-breaker

 

Yesterday was my first Monday physically back in the office since the UK trip. It was a very pleasant day. I got a lot done. And just as I was getting ready to leave and I was packing up my stuff, I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. I remembered I had left it sitting on the table at home. That morning, I’d driven to work without my driver’s license, and I was getting ready to drive home without it. So you can bet I was extra careful to observe all the traffic laws on the way home last night.

That’s just one example. I’m sure I’ve broken many other laws without really realizing it. I can’t name them because I don’t know them, obviously. But I know it happens. Like yesterday morning. I drove in to work without a license. That’s a big no-no, but I didn’t realize I didn’t have it until later in the day. And of course that can lead to all sorts of discussion about the differences between sins of omission and sins of commission and other sorts of churchy topics, but the bottom line is the fact that I broke the rules yesterday (once unknowingly on the way in and once on purpose on the way home).

Rule breakers are supposed to be punished. Law breakers are supposed to face justice. Granted, I was very thankful I didn’t get stopped, but if I had, I would have accepted a ticket or any fee they levied against me. After all, I broke the law by driving without a license. But as I was driving illegally yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that if this is true in our world that we can see, how much more true is it in the world that we can’t see?

Jaguar parked at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Jaguar parked at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Today’s verses are Romans 3:21-24.

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.

If you can’t keep the law, you aren’t worthy. That is the basic concept behind the law that God established with His people after He rescued them from Egypt. Maybe that sounds harsh, but there was a purpose for it.

When Christians talk about the Law, we usually think about the Ten Commandments. And, yes, those are a part of the law, and they are challenging. But God’s Law is bigger than the Ten Commandments. It’s like the whole book of Leviticus. I don’t even know how many rules there are, but there are too many to keep track of. But that didn’t keep people from trying because they lost sight of the purpose of the law. God wanted them to understand that no one can keep His law all the time.

That’s where grace comes in. That’s where faith comes in. By faith, we trust Christ, and God gives us grace, undeserved kindness and favor. That whole “being made right with God” part? That’s grace. And the awesome thing about God’s grace is that it’s big enough to cover all our sins, even the ones we don’t know we committed.

It’s not that the law doesn’t matter. Don’t misunderstand. The law is a part of Scripture, and every piece of Scripture is necessary, no matter how insignificant we think it might be. The law is essential. The law tells us who God is and what He expects, but if you’re a Christ-follower, you won’t be judged by the law. If you’re a Christ-follower, the law doesn’t apply to you. Grace does. Grace is a part of God’s New Covenant, the better Covenant through Christ, as Hebrews puts it.

I’m so thankful for grace. Maybe you’re a better Christian than I am, but I can’t go any length of time without doing something I shouldn’t, thinking something I shouldn’t, or failing to do something or think something I should. I’m not going to give up trying to live that kind of life, though, because God promises that keeping His rules will bring blessings into our lives. But I’m not depending on the rules to save me. Only Christ can do that. I’m not good enough, and the law isn’t big enough. But Christ is.

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