God has blessed me with the amazing privilege of teaching junior high and high school students the bible once a week. Over the last month this opportunity has been used to expose the students to the book of James.
While grace is touted in many churches, it seems the law is often ignored. Or, at least it isn’t used for what it was meant to be used for. The law can’t make us righteous, because we can’t keep it perfectly. In fact, we can’t keep it at all.
In the book of James one is shown the law, and one is practically beat up by it, or even killed by it as the bible says, if they consider the consequences of what James has to say regarding the law. He compares the law to a mirror. We can use the law to see what we look like spiritually, just as a mirror shows us what we look like physically. Paul says elsewhere that it is by the law that we come to a knowledge of sin.
Looking at the commandments we can see ourselves as we are before God’s eyes. We are idolaters, blasphemers, adulterers, thieves, liars, covetous, and even murderers. Lest we think we are somehow okay with some of them Jesus explained that to look upon a woman lustfully makes one guilty of adultery, and to be falsely angry with someone makes us murderers. To make matters worse, James says that to break even one of the commandments is to make us accountable for the whole law. It is clear, we are sinful, and that we have no hope of keeping the law ourselves. The bible says that we are dead in sin.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. God provided the offering needed to pay for our sin and to cleanse us from it. And then He even gifts us with the faith to trust in His Son whom He provided for us.
We are nothing but sinners dead in sin, already condemned, but God provided the way out. A healthy view of the law gives us a basis to understand God’s wrath against sin, and against us, sinners. And the law helps us to understand just how much we need God’s grace and mercy to set us free.