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“The Life with Breath” 02.18.16

I have terrible allergies - most of all to cats. When I find myself in the room with a cat, (I try to avoid this like the plague, but sometimes I’m caught off guard) within minutes, my lungs begin to tighten and I have the feeling that 10,000 lbs. of rocks have just been set on my chest. Though for many a cat is a harmless and maybe even cute household pet, for me it’s different. My physical response is quick and frightening. I literally feel like I am suffocating while I sit there in a chair…that’s covered with cat dander. It’s very scary. It causes me to panic, to look around for the nearest exit and to completely lose touch with whatever’s going on around me. When Joe mentioned the weight of sin on each one of us this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but think of how that allergic reaction feels to me.

When we hear the phrase “God is Holy; you are not,” we should actually hope for a similar reaction. It’s the weight of knowing that we are completely helpless to live the way we were created to live and unable to escape the eventual suffocation that our sins demand. In some ways, we should feel out-of-breath every morning we wake up. We are doomed to panic and fear without living in light of the life-changing antidote of the Gospel. Theologically, the statement that the Law of Moses makes to you and I is a reminder of our great overwhelming need for an antidote. It places us firmly under the weight of God’s justice, and condemns us. It is a compilation of 613 commands and prohibitions that amasses an insurmountable weight and piles it on us. And it seals our doom to eternal punishment with the rest of rebellious creation. The Law does that.

However, there is relief available for every soul!

“Behold you are made new, full of righteousness and restored to a right relationship with God.”

That’s the glorious statement of God’s grace found in the Gospel to you and I. It removes the weight of God’s justice on us and puts it upon our precious Savior, Jesus. And then, by grace, He gives us His perfect righteousness. It removes our need to scale the law, and somehow remove that weight ourselves and frees us to live as a new creation, setting us apart from the rebellious creation and restoring a perfect relationship with God. What incredible, undeserved, grace-filled, God-fueled relief!

So here’s the thing, the somewhat counter-intuitive truth. When we take the weight out of Moses’ law, we lessen grace. On Sunday, Joe talked about the full spectrum of our salvation (from, from, to, for), and about how we can never truly appreciate what Jesus has done on our behalf until we understand the unbearable weight bearing down on us. This is the issue Paul had in Acts 15. If we subject people to the law (as if they can stand under it) in order to somehow bestow righteousness on them, we misunderstand the law and the Gospel. The law is “an insurmountable weight” that “seals our doom.” Frankly, it is not a bearable burden (Acts 15:10). Jesus had to do it! We need by day by day!

So….how have you been diminishing the weight of the law on your own chest, and in so doing, cheapening grace? In what ways are we down-playing our sin and fallenness and trying to diminish our need? In what ways are we working to remove a rock here and there from the massive pile we are under? Get with someone who you trust and love today and ask them to pray for that awareness. Ask them for God’s help to stop trying and surrender. Trace your daily fears and panic back to the things you are thinking, doing and trusting in to try and prop up a suffocating life. And then, with joy, turn to Jesus again and again and again for the relief of knowing he took on that weight for you. Only in that relief can you truly live and serve and be fruitful in Kingdom of grace!

Jeff Walser