At church this morning, the pastor read to us from Eugene Petersen's rendition of Romans 8 in The Message. You can read it here. The following passage especially stood out to me:
law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep
healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't
deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts,
simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us."
I appreciated the
statement that the law was a Band-Aid on sin rather than a healing of
it. I realize that I'm looking at the Torah here from a Christian
perspective, but the law does appear to me to be a way to help the
Israelites to adapt to the reality of sin: to offer certain sacrifices
on account of sin, to establish penalties that punish sins, etc. But
does that cure sin? Not really. It seeks to atone for sins temporarily
or to restrain them, but that's not a deep cure.
I guess where I
struggle is that I'm doubtful that Christianity is much better. The way
New Covenant advocates talk, we don't have to redouble our efforts, for
the Holy Spirit within Christians makes obedience to God a whole lot
easier, or more natural to them. Maybe that's true for a lot of
Christians, but it's far from true for all of them. Why else do
Christians blab on about how they're not perfect, but forgiven?
I can ask God for help on a daily basis to, say, help me to keep my
resentment in check, or my shortness of temper in check, and God seems
to do so (according to my experience and my interpretation of it, for
what that's worth). But I hardly feel "cured". "But that's because you
don't believe, James", one can say. Well, even in times when I did
believe, I didn't feel "cured".
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