Man’s mentality from the very beginning is that of legalism. We naturally think that if we keep a set of rules, it makes God happy. That is wrong. It’s wrong, not because we should not obey the rules, but because we are morally broken and can’t keep the rules at God’s level of perfection.
You can’t make God happy through trying and failing to keep the Law. Even if it were just the Ten Commandments, you have still already failed. At God’s level of absolute perfection you must keep the Law from the first breath you take as a child all the way through the end of eternity future. That’s impossible!God’s Commandments are like a long chain. If you break one link, that means you have broken the entire chain. As a fallen creation, it’s impossible for us to keep the Law. That means we can’t have a relationship with God by keeping the Commandments.
Dead to the Law
Galatians 2:19, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”
As long as you’re alive to the Law, it’s to that extent that you’re dead to God. As a law-keeper, you’re trapped in legalism. If you have one foot in law-keeping and the other foot in God’s grace, you’re not experiencing the full impact of what Jesus has for you. In fact, you’re frustrating the grace of God. We must become dead to the Law to be free.
Why Did God Give the Law?You may wonder, if we do not please God by keeping the Law, why would God give us the Law? Because we’re stubborn and sometimes arrogant.God gave us the Law so that when we fail, it proves that we can’t keep the Law. There is no one who can credibly say he has kept all of God’s Commands, other than Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” A schoolmaster is a teacher who is helping you learn a specific topic. The Law was given to teach us that we have no hope within ourselves of satisfying God through legalism. The Law was given as a tutor to help you understand that you have failed.
What Is Wrong with Me?
One day you lied. Then you said, “Oh man, I’ll do better!” The next day, you lied again. Year after year after year, you break the Commandments. At some point, you wake up and realize you’re incapable of obeying the Law perfectly. In Romans 7:19 it says, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Paul is saying that it’s his heart to live holy and righteous before God. However, the very things of righteousness that he wants to do, he does not do consistently. But those things that he does not want to do, he does do consistently. At the end of the seventh chapter, Paul came to a place where he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” That is when the light turned on for him. He realized that he couldn’t deliver himself. He went on to say, “I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the one who did it!”
You can’t have a full relationship with God by trying to keep the Word of God in your own strength. You have a relationship with God by the blood of the Lamb and by following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God will empower you. So then it’s not you keeping the Word of God – it’s Christ in you, walking out His lifestyle. In doing this, you automatically keep the Word of God.For example, my wife went out of town one time. It never once came to my mind, “Thou shalt not commit adultery!” I do not have to worry about keeping that Commandment. I am operating in love so there is no struggle in that area. In fact, there is not even a thought of infidelity.The biggest part of every problem is you. It’s the heart of the individual which is the biggest part of the problem. Paul was a Pharisee – a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was a legalist of legalists, so much so that he persecuted the Church. But when Christ took hold of his heart and began to reveal to him the true meaning of God’s redemption plan, it changed Paul.Before, he had tried to please God through his law-keeping efforts, but it did not work. Such religious calisthenics only proved to Paul that he was a failure. Jesus said it this way in John 15:5, “Without Me you can do nothing.” So, our relationship with God is not through the Law. But through Jesus our hearts are changed and the Holy Spirit helps us to walk upright daily.