“…through the law we become conscious of our sin” Romans 3:20
If you’ve ever approached our church in the daytime when the doors are closed, you likely know that they function as two large, full-length mirrors. I often check my hair or my shirt tuck-in as I approach to unlock the church, and the view from inside is even funnier sometimes. When the local high-school dismisses at 2:45 on weekdays, there is always a group of students waiting for their rides in front of our church. Without fail, there are people primping, doing their makeup, and checking their figures in the door-mirrors, unaware that someone inside can easily see them. If only these guys had an idea how silly they look!
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers in Rome, spends a good amount of time describing how the law is not able to improve/save us, yet it is not to be thrown-out completely. His conclusion is, in essence, that the law exists to serve as a ‘mirror’, letting us know our own filthiness and need of God. He says“…for surely I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said,‘You shall not covet’… And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” (Rom. 7:7,10) So, while Paul affirms that the law is perfect (v.12), he doesn’t see it as a solution to our sin problem. Rather, it is a revealer of it.
What do we do when we’re in the bathroom, and notice a smudge of some sort on our face or clothes? Do we try to use the mirror itself to wash it off? No way! Do we blame the mirror, or try to ignore it completely, attempting to convince ourselves that it is not there at all? (These options sound absurd, but it is in fact what people do with God’s law on a pretty regular basis!). No way! We go to the sink, the soap dispenser, the wash-cloth! While the mirror has given us bad news, it itself is unfaltered for showing us our true reflection. We, in fact, owe it a debt of gratitude for letting us know our condition! But we never try to use it itself to clean us. How absurd!
Through God’s perfect law, I discover, without fail, that I am a sinner in need of a savior – Jesus Christ; the merits of His blood washing over me. Even if I can keep my behavior under control for a period of time, I still find my thoughts deceiving me, and, don’t forget, there are plenty of laws regarding our thoughts! (Ex. 20:17, Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28). So I constantly run back to Jesus, my sink-basin and soap, to get washed-off. I have to do it frequently. I’m like a worker in a hospital, having to wash so often!
Sometimes I get distressed, debating whether the previous washing wasn’t entirely effective, or wondering if Jesus minds washing me for the same dirtiness over and over again. But I am comforted by the profoundly simple principle found in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus is happy to do it! I don’t think anything makes him happier than to see his children coming to him to get cleaned-up. So let’s do it! Let’s not be ashamed! Let’s utilize the tools God has given us access to for our salvation!
If we at the church provide a mirror to the high-school students that points-out their blemishes, bad hairdos, and fashion faux-pas, I suppose we’ve done them a small service. But it’s nothing compared to the service God has given us by allowing us to know our need of Him, and then providing grace and mercy to make us worthy! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith! Provider of the realization of our need, and the fulfillment. Let’s be ever grateful. Amen.
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El Centro SDA Church IVYouth
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