By Elizabeth Prata
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were brought to light by the Law, were at work in the parts of our body to bear fruit for death. (Romans 7:5)
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Far from it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7).
Whattttt…? Romans is hard. Let’s look at an example that might make it easier.
I watch the TV program Border Security: Australia’s Front Line. In that reality TV show (a genre which is now called ‘factual television’ lol) different border control agents stationed in various locations of the Australian border detect illegal items being smuggled into the country. Banned are certain organic products that could introduce disease to Australia’s crops. So are weapons, and of course drugs.
The agents who are shown on the program work on the high seas, at shipping ports of entry, mailrooms, and in airports.
When the agents spot a piece of luggage, a nervous immigrant, or a package they suspect contains some contraband, based on certain indicators, they take the person, package, or luggage aside and give it a closer inspection.
When they open the item they suspect contains drugs, and it could be anything from a small statue to an engine piston to a picture frame, sometimes they discover a white powder. Is it drugs? Likely, but they have to test it to be sure. And it has to be an on-the-spot test so they know instantly whether to proceed to the next level.
They produce something called a NIK test. This is a Narcotics Identification Kit (NIK). It’s a field presumptive test kit, part of a drug identification system that is designed to rapidly identify substances of being illegal, or controlled substances.
They take some of the white powder, put it into a pouch that also contains some liquid in a separate chamber, and they break the chambers inside so the suspicious powder and the liquid will mix. If the liquid turns colors, it means the powder is presumptively a drug. Whatever color it turns is whatever drug it likely is. The agents then send the actual powder off to a scientific lab to determine its exact composition, but the NIK test was enough to arrest and hold the smuggler. Guilty!
The Law is a NIK test. It’s a mirror held up to the person’s thought, word, or deed, to determine what flavor of sin is lurking. It’s like a mirror.
The Threefold Use of the Law by RC Sproul:
The first purpose of the law is to be a mirror. On the one hand, the law of God reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. The law tells us much about who God is. Perhaps more important, the law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, “The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace.”
Like a mirror revealing wrinkles, blemishes, age spots, the Law-mirror reveals our sin, our defects, our spiritual condition. Based on the fact that humans all have a sin-nature, the NIK test simply reveals what is already presumed to be there: sin.
Are Christians still under the Law like the Jews of Israel were? Yes, and no. No in that we New Testament believers are under a new covenant. We are released from the Jewish ceremonial laws such as the dietary restrictions, feasts, and ceremonies. The Law doesn’t justify. It never justified us.
nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16).
A mirror doesn’t make you prettier, it only reveals what is there. The law doesn’t justify, but only reveals what is already there, which is a totally depraved sin-nature. It reveals our helpless state.
The Galatians verse states that the Law can’t justify a person nor make anyone righteous. This is why God sent Jesus, for Him to completely fulfill the requirements of the Law for all those who would ever believe in Him.
Praise God for Jesus! Jesus is God’s mirror. When God looks at Jesus He sees His exact imprint (Hebrews 1:3). If we are saved, we are in Christ. So when God looks at us, He sees His Son.
He came to save us from the burden of our sin, to make us clean, to possess an imputed righteousness of Christ. We will be able to stand before God on the Day when we meet Him. If you have been saved by His grace then pray in thanks. If you have not yet been born again into new life, then pray to Him in repentance for your sins, sins which the Law reveals – to your condemnation. Then turn from them and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25).
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