A Matter of Style

…the law entered that the offense might abound.  Romans 5:20

Well, there seems to be a recurring theme the last few posts.  It’s been a study in contrasts, I’d say.  Contrasts of natures, contrasts of perspective, contrasts of styles.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:9

A phrase I heard in a sermon recently sparked this post.  “The law entered.”  The law, as in the Ten Commandments.  Those 10 seemingly innocuous rules to live by, that if we’re honest, bite us in the behind every time.  That is, if you appreciate their perfection.

The verse above tells us why it entered, to bring our hidden impurities to the top.  By enticing self-effort, it highlights our sin nature, and more importantly, our need for the Savior.  It is a holy tool, but only for its intended purpose.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  Galatians 3:24-25, KJV

The Lord drew my attention to a different aspect.  “How did it enter and how did its entrance differ from His grace?”  To be clear: God gave both, but there’s a marked difference in the style in which they were given.  Would you agree that the sentiment behind a thing is as much reflected in the manner given as the thing itself?

Well, the word ‘enter’ in the original Greek means stealthily or secretly.  God gave the Law second-hand to the children of Israel through His servant Moses.   Moses received it atop a quaking Mt. Sinai, shrouded in fire, smoke and a thick cloud with its lightning and booming thunder (see Exodus 19:16-18).  The law came in a manner creating great fear and distance between God and His people.

Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Exodus 20:18-19

Grace came quite a different way, hand-delivered through a virgin—by God Himself.  Grace came in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, not a servant.  Grace came unassumingly in the night.  The angelic host lit the sky and filled it with praises.  The rich, the wise and the humble drew near the God-Child (see Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11).

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”   So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Luke 2:13-16

The law makes the earth groan and grace makes the heavens dance and rejoice. Praise God for Jesus who made it possible, for those who believe, to live under God’s unclouded favor!

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