Tournament fisherman or those chasing world records know that you have to know and follow the rules if you want to be successful. How many potential world record fish have been disqualified because a mate touched the rod or the line tested stronger than the class? We can all recall tournament victories in dispute because of an infraction of the rules – sometimes; it’s as simple as a missing state license or the mutilation of the fish from the flying gaff. The fact is, rules help define our sport. They create an atmosphere of fairness where by all competitors have the same guidelines. Follow the rules and the polygraph test will go fine. Don’t follow the rules and whatever feat you just accomplished will be completely wiped away.
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
Many people look at the Bible as God’s rule book – a collection of commandments handed down by Moses, or a long list of civil, moral and ceremonial laws God imposed upon the Israelites in the Old Testament. Is Scripture nothing more than a list of restrictions that God has imparted for our lives? Does God’s law apply to us today? Is salvation only possible by keeping the strict commandments of God?
The churches in Galatia were dealing with heresies that had infiltrated their thinking and understanding of the Gospel. False teachers were adding to the message of salvation through Christ alone by teaching certain Jewish customs as additional requirements for salvation. These so-called “necessary works” were in reality nothing more than cultural customs associated with the laws handed down by God.
The Apostle Paul, speaking to the Galatians, dealt with the purpose God’s laws when he asked the question “Why then was the law given at all?” The purpose of the law was to demonstrate God’s holy character, thus revealing man’s sinfulness and inadequacy. By highlighting this sharp contrast, the law reveals to you and I the absolute need for a savior. God’s law defines our sin. God’s law also points us to Christ.
You may think of the Bible as nothing more than a list of do’s and don’ts – the ultimate rulebook for living a good and decent life. If that is your perception, then you couldn’t be more wrong. For it’s in Scripture that we find the story of redemption – a perfect God, his righteous demands and his grace through the life, death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. We have been set free from the law and declared righteous through our faith in Christ. Not because of anything that we have done, but because of what he did for us.
When we understand that simple truth, we can better understand the purpose of God’s law.
You guessed it – know the rules. If you’re competing in a tournament, review the rules with every member prior to its start. Just because the captain comprehends them doesn’t mean the mates and/or anglers understand them in light of every situation. Make it a point to keep a copy of the tournament rules on hand along with your collection of state/federal regulations, rules of the road manual and IGFA guidelines. (DW)