This past Monday, only one day after celebrating Trinity Sunday, I listened to a talk by Dave Desforge on a topic that you may find hard to resist (wink): the law.
Even though God’s law is not a topic that typically has gravitational pull, Dave showed how our thinking about God’s law comes into play early and often in our lives. And he pointed out that we actually tend to place our hope in the law rather than the Trinity.
This issue is not that the law is bad, rather that we misuse it. We take a gift that was given by God to lead us to Him and guide us in paths of righteousness, and use it as something to stand on apart from God.
Here’s how he broke it down. We want the law to be:
On a basic level, we turn to the law to prove our own righteousness and thereby to save us. Yet as we put the law in its proper place—a place of showing us our unrighteousness, we cry out for rescue. Only Jesus can save.
“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24
We think that knowledge of what is good is the same as power to do good. Knowledge is power, right? Not exactly. We look to the law for a power to change us. But the law has no power in itself to help us obey it. Conversely, when we look to the Lord the giver of life for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, He will supply.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
This one gets a little tricky because the Law is from God and is therefore implicitly authoritative. However, we have a human tendency to divorce the law from its Giver. We want “principles” to live by instead of moment-by-moment need. In the talk, Dave likens this to wanting the authority of the Father without the Father Himself.
The good news in all of this is that, although we have a tendency to look to the law to do what it was not meant to do, we have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And even a misplaced hope in the law cannot separate us from the love of the Triune God.
So, as you are going about your day today, consider where you have placed your hope. Do you want to be righteous? Look to Jesus. Do you need power and wisdom, ask for the Holy Spirit to give you what you need. Do you want to be under life-giving authority, submit to God the Father and he will lift you up.
“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5