By Mark

There are times when I think my Mongolian is coming along pretty good.  I understand what someone is saying, they understand me- we joke, I explain quantum physics with my new found vocabulary (ok I’m pushing it).  I feel good, I think I’ve got it all together.  (I imagine myself in my alternate persona of  “Grammar Man”! and yes I do picture a flowing cape) Then comes language school.  The same sentence that I used so easily at the store isn’t making it past my teacher- it’s full of mistakes.  My pronunciation is wrong.  It begins to dawn on me that my grammar and pronunciation never were right when I was speaking before.  The problem was that I had no means of knowing how off I was.  There was nothing by which to measure it.

This is why I need the law.

In my life as Christian I have those times when things are going good.  I’m reading, I’m praying, I’ve got it together- I feel good about how I stand spiritually; a little too good.  Even unconsciously I begin subtle comparisons with others and think I’m doing alright. God must really like me- He made a good decision to save me.  I’m just a bit off- but that’s all it takes for heresy, a bit of self-righteousness.  I’m half-way right, God does really like me- in fact he loves me, but not for the reason I think.  He loves me because of His son, Jesus the Christ who died in my place and bore the brunt of God’s punishment that I deserved for my rebellion.  The only person that I can compare myself with is Christ.

But God has given us a means to measure ourselves by-this is what the law is.  The law is God’s standards- the expectations for how people are to meet with Him.  To put it another way they are God’s terms.  (In light of this it’s little wonder that Leviticus was the most quoted book by Jesus.)  The law shows me that I am lacking and that no matter how good I may feel, or think I am that is not enough to be accepted by God.  It’s not that I’m wrong by just a little bit- but by miles and miles.  The more I read of the law I realize there is no hope of keeping it.  The law is like a gigantic arrow and it points to the cross.  The law shows me my failure but points me to the truth that it is only because of Jesus who is in my place that I am accepted. The law reminds me of how far I will always be because of who I am but how accepted I can be because of who Jesus is for me. In light of the law I can only fail.  In light of Jesus who stands in my place- my Christ I am accepted.  The law increases my failure and separation from God.  Jesus secures my acceptance.

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Rom 5:20-1 ESV)

Language class is the law-I need it, it brings me back to reality.  It reminds me of where I really stand.  And it also reminds me of who stands in my place and called me to do His work.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.