You know, before they told me that I’m sure I had looked at the sun before but not necessarily because I really wanted to. Never did I have a strong, intentional desire to look at it — not until they told me not to, that is. Once they told me that, something rose up on the inside of me that made me want to look at it. I remember being outside and wanting to gaze at the sun so bad, and I think I might have for a millisecond a time or two. I wasn’t a very rebellious kid, but when that commandment came it brought about this desire to go against what I was told not to do.
Did you know that is exactly what the old covenant law did? Contrary to popular belief, the law didn’t stop sin but actually was meant to strengthen the desire of sin. Yes, you heard me right and I’m thinking you may want to sit down and have your Bible ready so you can look these verses up yourself.
1 Corinthians 15:56 says, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”
Romans 5:20 states: “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
Romans 7:8-9 states: “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
Can you see from those scriptures that the law stirred up sin to make us see our need for a Savior, and how worthless we are in our own strength in the fight against sin? Even if I hadn’t snuck a peek at the sun that day, the commandment still produced in me a desire to do so and I was still guilty. Jesus came along and said even if you think it, it is the same as breaking the commandment. He said that if you lust after someone in your heart, even if you don’t commit the outward act, you have committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). Or if you don’t actually murder someone but harbor anger toward them, you have broken the commandment (Matthew 5:21-22).
I heard a story of a guy who began getting revelation of these truths and how the law actually strengthened sin and he wanted to test it out. He was at home working in his office and his kids were playing outside with some of the other neighborhood children. He went outside and said, “Whatever you do, thou shall not spit on that flower,” and pointed to a flower near the house. After that he went inside and watched. Immediately a few of the kids went up and spit directly on the flower. Others stood there not doing it, but he could tell they wanted to. They had never given that flower any thought before, but once he said that the desire to spit on that flower came alive in them. That’s exactly how the law worked.
Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also … for you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Jesus let them know that their law following was not producing a true change in them. It may have curbed some outside sin, but it did nothing about the issue of the heart, which the Pharisees obviously struggled with.
I know the fact that the law stirred up sin is a hard concept for people to grasp because we have been taught the opposite for so long. I know many are thinking, “Can we just go live however we want? And if we don’t preach the law at people, what is going to keep them from going out and sinning?” Stay tuned until next week when I address those questions.
Amber can be reached at email@example.com, www.ambermiller.tateauthor.com, or through her AmberRiceMiller Facebook page.
Published: April 25, 2016