but the scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ may be given to those who believe. [galatians 3:22]
two little words pointing to an amazing reality. these two little words mean that the promise and the work of Christ could not have been given if not for the law! why is that?
- the law sets an objective standard by which we could determine right and wrong, and gives clear consequences for breaking it.
- the law sets a standard we will never be able to live up to.
- the law therefore puts us in desperate need of a savior, one who himself is able to follow the law perfectly—otherwise he would stand just as condemned as us!
as long as we’re able to “explain away” some bad thing we’ve done, we aren’t put in a position of desperation. think back to the last time you accidentally stood someone up or had to cancel last minute. did you give an excuse? did you lie? while that excuse or that lie makes you feel better and look better, it does not erase the fact that you wasted somebody’s time. when was the last time you simply apologized, realizing you had no real excuse? when was the last time you truly put yourself at the mercy of another, waiting to see if they’d forgive you? in that moment of honest, no excuses apology, you are made aware of your need for that person to “save you” from the consequences.
it is in that same “position” that we stand before God for every wrong action or thought. what excuses are in the way of true repentance? how are you “selling short” your sinfulness before God?
this may come across a bit harsh, but paul is telling us that without the law bringing us to our knees in desperate realization that we need a Savior, Jesus’ work on the cross—given by a promise—would not have been given. and until we realize our desperate need for our Savior, we cannot receive His promised forgiveness individually either. but, praise the Lord, our father turns and runs to us with joy when we repent! he has promised that He will!
Lord, make us more aware of our desperate need for you, and of your amazing love that calls us beloved in the middle of our unloveliness. thank you for running towards us when we repent, and teach us to share that same love with those around us.
~ stephen hall