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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 02, 2008Printer-Friendly
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Living by the Rules of the Bible for a Year
AUDIO BROADCAST: Living by the Rules of the Bible for a Year
Let the Bible Speak Radio
Dr. Alan Cairns

A Jewish journalist who lives in New York decided to grow his beard, put on his vesture and walk in the sandals of his ancestors. New Yorkers were no doubt puzzled by his Old Testament appearance. They were probably more puzzled by his reasons for doing it. He wanted to find out firsthand what it would be like to live by the rules set out in Scripture. He stuck mostly to the Old Testament but for a few months gave attention to the New Testament as well. He reportedly found the experience enlightening and uplifting, even though he could not understand some of the rules. When asked which ones he found the most difficult he mentioned the ones that affect everyday life, such as not coveting and not lying. With a self-revealing honesty we do not usually associate with modern journalism, he said that the reason he found these so difficult was that the things they prohibited made up about 65% of his usual daily life! So much for objective journalism!

The journalist believed that his journey back in time did him good. He confessed that all his law-keeping did not make him a saint but I have no doubt it made him a better person in his earthly relationships. But it could never change the real man. It could never make him a saint. It could never make him right with God. It could never save him. He even tried to live by some of the sayings of the Lord Jesus. He found His teaching about forgiveness especially difficult but he tried to practice it nonetheless. But even that could not make him a saint.

There's an important lesson here for us all. The laws of the Old Testament were good and proper in their place. The moral law, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments and epitomized in the commands to love God and our neighbor, is still very much in operation for us all. This is what God requires. Many other Old Testament laws were intended to be temporary. These were the ceremonial and civil laws, i.e. the ones that dealt with the ritual of Jewish religion and the government of the Jewish state. Seeking to keep these laws may make a man a better person in his earthly relationships, but he will be aware that the real man has not changed.

Law can tell us what to do but it can never give us the spiritual power to do it. That's where the gospel comes in. Ultimately, the law condemns us, including the man who tries to keep it. None of us can measure up to its standard of perfection, as the journalist found out. So, to justify us-i.e. to free us from the condemnation of the broken law and establish us in perfect righteousness before Him-God sent His own Son to fulfil the law in our place. In life he fulfilled its precept and in death He paid its penalty. He wrought a perfect righteousness and He did it vicariously, that is, for us. We receive it "by faith without works" (Romans 3:28).

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