Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

Law vs. Church Doctrine

Moses made it clear to the children of Israel that God’s law must be obeyed and never modified:

Moses said: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God with which I am charging you.   (Deuteronomy 4:1–2)

A danger in the New Testament Church is the thinking that the Law of Moses can be modified or lessened because Jesus Christ has set aside the requirements of the law. Certainly Jesus does not suggest this:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.   (Matthew 5:17–18)

While it is very sound and true to say that Jesus has paid the price for all our sin, does that mean that we are no longer accountable for our sin once we have professed him as Savior and Lord? Some church doctrine might suggest that. But we will not find this doctrine in the Book of the Hebrews:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  (Hebrews 10:26-29)

Thus, it may be wise for us to read the final word at the end of the Book of Revelation:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Church doctrine does not fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. Only Jesus Christ working within us by the power of the Holy Spirit can accomplish what God requires of us. Jesus has born the cross for us to pay the price of our sins. We still have the responsibility of taking up our own cross and following Jesus daily.

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Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, Year C

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