Saturday, March 24, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 32 ~ Love the Law?

Day 32 ~ Love the Law?

James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

In this short verse James gives a brief summary of the letter. The main argument of James' epistle is finished. Chapter 5 will constitute other matters James seeks to deal with. But what he has been discussing up to this point, the idea that the life of faith produces good works, is summarized here.

One thing that has been made abundantly clear in this letter is that we who are declared to be saints through the blood of Jesus are still sinners. We will be 100% sinners and 100% saints until Christ comes again. God's Law always accuses us of our lack of righteousness. So, if we are sinners, even as Christians, how can we ever do the right thing? How can we do the good we ought to do if we are still sinners?

There is a tension in the Christian life that we must be aware of: We who are forgiven for our sins by God have also been born anew. At the same time, we who are baptized into the faith are also going to battle sin for the rest of our lives. We have been raised to a new life wherein we are enabled, by the Holy Spirit who is at work in us, to do the good God wants us to do. As we have said ad nauseam , such works don't produce salvation, but they come from the saved. The Law of God, which always accuses the sinner in us, also guides the saint in us. We can actually hear the Law of God and rejoice in its directing effects! As it says in Psalm 119:47, "I delight in your commands because I love them."

Knowing that God has graciously and fully saved us through the righteousness of Christ drives us to ask, "What do I do now?" Since salvation has been completely accomplished and God needs nothing from His creatures, God directs us with His Law in how we should serve and love our neighbors. His Law which cannot save us does direct us in acts of righteousness. It no longer condemns the saint in us so that we are free to do the good we ought to do. Will we find ourselves sinning? Of course. Read Romans 7 to get a good picture of what the Christian life will look like. But the reality of sin is not an excuse to not seek the love of our neighbor. As Martin Luther said, "It is impossible for [faith] not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them." Faith without works is dead, but you have been raised to a new life with Christ!

Confession: Almighty God, your Law is good and wise. I know the good that you have called me to do. But, I confess, that I do not find my hands doing the very things my heart knows are right. In this, I sin. I thank you that through your Son's death and resurrection, you have rescued me from this body of death. AMEN!

Challenge: Everyday for the next week, pray that God would show you how to express His will towards someone you love. For example, pray that God would show you a new way to love your spouse every day this week.

Pastor Bob

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