Gleanings – Feckless Law

Romans 8:1-11

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.”

You have read it here before though not original to me. “The law has no power to achieve in us what it demands of us.” But what does that mean.

It means that the law of God, even a commandment, has no power to achieve in us what it expects of us. Forbidding us to commit adultery has no power to make us faithful in marriage. Forbidding us to bear false witness has no power to compel us to tell the truth. Due to the weakness of our flesh it actually works to the contrary. Forbidding fruit makes me, the sinner, want it all the more.

Now do not hear that the law is not good and that it cannot be achieved. It is good as it represents the thinking of a Holy God. And it can be achieved but not by us, at least not alone. First, the “just requirement” is satisfied in Jesus. Next, it is only achieved in us to the extent we walk in and “according to the Spirit.”

So let’s bring it home. “Love you neighbor as yourself.” Simple enough unless you rebel immediately and raise the conversation stopping wall, “who is my neighbor?” Can you love your neighbor as yourself? The command equips you no more than civil rights legislation equips you to love a minority (note: “weakened by the flesh” means minorities are just as capable of not loving are appreciating the equality of majorities. Sorry, no easy out!). You might love the neighbor on your right. But the one on your left? She is a curmudgeon on a binge. Get real. None of us, including you, love all neighbors equally.

However, the transforming power of the Spirit does have the power to cause us/you to meet the demands of the law. And that brings us back to the core of things. The whole story is about the power of God. When we make it about our strength (I’ll work harder, I’ll strive more), we’ve let go of grace and resumed fleshly living. Any time we do an inventory of the change in us, we’ve forgotten who brought it about. The law has no power except to show with a brilliant light where we are walking in darkness. But where the law fails, the Spirit excels.

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