A Misguided Shortcut

Read Romans 8:1-11.

For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3

Shortcuts are nice. Few things bring a smile to a man’ face more quickly than trying out a new route only to discover you’ve saved time! Shortcuts can really help.

But you do have to be careful. A shortcut that would take you through dangerous or impassable terrain would not be a shortcut at all. Sometimes, what appear to be legitimate shortcuts are actually roads that won’t get you where you need to go.

Many people think that we need more emphasis in the church on teaching the moral laws of the Old Testament. They want to see society changed through emphasizing the commandments, and God as the judge who will punish us if we do wrong.

The New Testament clearly teaches that the commandments have a place in leading us to God. The commandments help us understand that we are sinners and need a Savior. The commandments help us understand the holiness that is at the heart of God’s character. But the commandments are not a shortcut to righteous behavior. Telling people the rules will not change their hearts.

To emphasize the commandments may produce a short term improvement in behavior but it will not create sons and daughters of God. Jesus says that our righteousness must “exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees” who were the most observant, rule-keeping Jews of His time.

Like the Psalm writer we will say “your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojournings” (Psalm 119:54). We will love the commandments of God, but we will love them because they are written on our hearts. The true believer knows the joy of praying daily, of loving church worship and of giving freely, not out of guilt and obligation, but from a heart of thanksgiving. We are set free from the condemnation of our law-breaking. We serve God because we want to!
Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

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