Recently the Lord woke me up at 3:30 a.m. with the words, “I have raised you up to change people’s opinion of Me. That will change their lives, and then they will change the world.” Wow! That pretty much sums it up.
If people knew how good God is, they would love Him and live for Him. That in turn would solve all the problems of the world. But God has been so slandered that most people don’t know Him as the good God He really is.
Why is that?
One of the biggest problems is religion’s misuse of the Law. This has done tremendous damage to God’s image. The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The Law wasn’t inaccurate but incomplete. And if it is not properly applied, it gives a wrong representation of God.
Jesus was the perfect representation of God (Heb. 1:3). He said if we have seen Him, then we have seen the Father (John 14:9). He did exactly what He saw His Father do (John 5:19). Jesus showed us that God is love (1 John 4:8). Yet He was constantly accused of breaking the Law.
Of course, Jesus didn’t break the Law. He’s the only One who ever truly kept the Law. But the mercy and grace Jesus extended toward people was radically different from the “eye for eye” and “tooth for tooth” of the Old Testament Law.
Jesus forgave a woman whom the Law condemned to death (John 8:1-11). Jesus ate and fellowshipped with publicans and sinners, which the legalistic Jews of His day wouldn’t do (Matt. 9:11). Jesus touched the untouchable (Matt. 8:3) and loved the unlovable (Luke 8:2). He showed us grace and mercy, which the Old Testament Law didn’t do.
A wrong understanding of the purpose of the Old Testament Law leads to a misunderstanding of the nature of God. Most people believe God gave the Law to show us what we needed to do to obtain relationship with Him. But the Law was never intended to bring us into relationship with our heavenly Father. It was intended to show us our sin and our need for God. It was given to show us how unholy we were so we would despair of trying to earn salvation and just receive it as a gift by faith. It was to turn us from self-righteousness to a faith-righteousness that could only come through a Savior (Rom. 10:3-4).
Consider some of the things the Scripture says about the Law:
• The Law strengthened sin (1 Cor. 15:56).
• The Law was a ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor. 3:7 and 9).
• The Law gave guilt and knowledge of sin, not salvation (Rom. 3:19-20).
• The Law made sin come alive, and killed us (Rom. 7:9).
• The Law magnified sin and produced hopelessness (Rom. 7:13-25).
Why would God give us something with all these negative effects? It was because we were already beaten by sin and didn’t know it. Before we could be motivated to receive God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in a Savior, we needed to be convinced that we couldn’t save ourselves.
So, the Lord revealed His standard of holiness (the Law), which was infinitely higher than any of us could ever attain. We had to come to the end of ourselves before we could begin to find God. The Law was perfectly suited to do that. It shut us up to faith so the only way we could look was up (Gal. 3:23).
When the Law is used for that purpose, then it is good (1 Tim. 1:8). But when people are taught that God’s blessings are dependent upon our performance, that kills faith in what Jesus did for us. Religion has taught that we have to fulfill the demands of the Law in order for God to love us or use us. That’s totally wrong!