Jan 21, 2011
The Base for Grace - part twenty-six in a study of the book of Hebrews
By Mike Gaudet
We all know what a “guilty conscience” feels like.
Is God the One who makes us feel guilty?
Does God activate our consciences in order to turn us from the “errors of our way?”
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4
The law given through Moses and the sacrifices stipulated by it were “only a shadow of the good things that are coming.” They were like coming attractions before a movie or the exhibition games before the season gets under way. The coming of Jesus Christ was the “main event.”
The Bible draws a sharp distinction between the influence of the Law of Moses and the influence of Christ.
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” John 1:17-18
The law is like a “shadow.” The shadow a person casts reveals features of that person’s form. It cannot, however, reveal facial expressions.
The law reveals God’s shadow.
Jesus reveals God’s face.
The Ten Commandments don’t fully reveal God. God expresses Himself through “grace and truth” not “law.” Jesus Christ “has made him known.”
If the law doesn’t reflect God clearly, why did He give it to us in the first place?
“Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Galatians 3:23-25
We assume that God gave His law to us so that we would sin less. The opposite is true. “The law was added so that the trespass might increase.” Romans 5:20 When we are “under the supervision of the law” the influence of sin in our lives increases. The law of God stimulates the very behaviors it prohibits.
Why would God cause sin to be more of a problem?
In order to “lead us to Christ” to receive the solution!
The law is like a truant officer. It “was put in charge to lead us to Christ.” When students are reluctant to go to school, the truant officer escorts them there. “Officer Law” escorts us to Jesus. While under the law’s supervision, we come to see our need for a savior.
God uses the law to teach us to stop relying on what we do for Him and to start relying on what He did for us on the cross. When we ready to trust in Christ’s efforts, we are “no longer under the supervision of the law.” The law’s purpose is fulfilled.
There are those who assume that guilt is a sign of God’s influence. When they look back and see lingering guilt feelings, they consider this a sign of spirituality. The opposite is true. Those who have truly come to understand God’s forgiveness, “no longer have felt guilty for their sins.”
God doesn’t use the fear of condemnation to generate obedience.
God uses the promise of no condemnation to motivate His children to obey Him.
Lingering images of divine displeasure are not from God.