January 31, 2018

Topic Day|Law

Perfectly out of Control

Romans 2:12-14

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God's Judgment and the Law

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

Perfectly out of Control

Bio | Cliff Aldredge

Good morning. My name is Cliff Aldredge, and I hope to be a has-been because of Jesus.

I used to be a guy with whom you would not want to discuss law (among other things). I don't want to be that guy anymore. I'm a work-in-progress.

The people who would be best served by me doing daily work to be a has-been are my wife of 13 years and our kiddos: Jake (8.5), Kinsey (6), Ellie (2.5), and Melody (0.5).

Let's jump in and learn about some typical responses and the only right response to the law.

Central Truth

The law is the list of ceremonial and moral commands given in the first five books of the Bible. Ignorance of the law is no excuse; sin under the law has consequences. We're all sinners without hope. Jesus is the perfect way out of chaos and control and into freedom.

Devotional | Law

Have you ever done anything really, really wrong?

Let's pretend you got caught and know you are guilty of a very serious crime.

You can represent yourself, but your only strategies are to claim you didn't...

Have you ever done anything really, really wrong?

Let's pretend you got caught and know you are guilty of a very serious crime.

You can represent yourself, but your only strategies are to claim you didn't know any better or admit guilt and accept the consequences.

An attorney is willing to take your case. He is the favorite son of the judge you're up against, and he has a perfect record.

Those are our options. We can perish apart from the law (claim ignorance), be judged by the law (accept the consequences), or place our faith in the Son with the perfect record who can justify us with the Judge. Being justified means that we are not liable for the consequences of our sin under the law.

To be justified, we must admit we need His help, believe in the work He performed and confess that we are guilty.  

The story doesn't begin, however, when I know I need help.

When I've just blown it, I choose to represent myself with doomed strategies:

  • Self-justification: minimizing my offense or making my own law;
  • Performance: trying to offset my offense and earn my way to righteousness;
  • Rationalization: blaming circumstance or others;
  • Self-righteousness: finding people who are worse to make myself feel better.

I also wrongly hope that I don't get caught. When I get away with it, my heart rots even further. Getting caught is God's grace. Secrets make you sick. Life is found in the light, and confession leads to forgiveness and healing.

We can be out of the law's control by being ignorant or rejecting it, which leads to chaos and disorder. Or we can be under the law's control but subject to its consequences, and there is no hope.

The good news is that there is life available under the law in God's order and design but out of the control of the law's consequences by admitting guilt and taking refuge in a relationship with the Judge's Son.

We can move perfectly out of control and into true freedom by admitting defeat and pursuing relationship.

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Discussion Questions

1. What area of your life do you need to strive to be a has-been? What's your plan to be more of a has-been today than yesterday? Pick one thing, and do it. Build some obedience momentum over time.

2. Something is going to rule over you, and those who are truly free have selected the best master. Freedom is not found in independence but through correct dependence. Do you know what the master of your heart is today? Ask two people who know you well what is mastering your heart.

3. When you feel guilty, what's your go-to reaction? Maybe you're an awesome blame-stormer, good at hiding it, or are just explosive with anger. Perhaps you direct anger inwardly, and you feel like you punish yourself enough to pay for your sin. Whom do you have in your life to help you recognize and deal with unhealthy response patterns?

4. Do you realize that it's better to be caught than to continue in sin? If so, when is the last time you practiced confession (allowing yourself to be caught)? The best time to practice confession is today. Pray to God and confess so you can be forgiven, and confess to others who love you and love Jesus so that they can pray for you to be healed (see James 5:16).

5. Chaos and disorder are the result of someone living outside of the law. Shame, guilt, and hopelessness are found under the law's consequence. A regeneration of the heart and a desire to follow the perfect law that leads to freedom is the testimony of those who have trusted Jesus, who completely fulfilled the law and offers us His performance for our devotion. What holds you back from living in the freedom offered to us?

20 Comments available

Ken Stewart over 4 years ago

Thanks for your interpretation of the law. In mans terms, it can be something to run from or hide behind. In Gods terms it’s the same, with one difference. His Law is supreme and we can be assured that if we follow His law that we are covered. Jesus paid for all of our sin and defends us to the Father daily. That assurance is what keeps me going. To know that no matter how far I fall, there is one who loves me so much that all can be forgiven. That is true freedom.

Andi Guevara over 4 years ago

“Freedom is not found in independence but throught the correct dependence.” <<very insightful and true Q#3 When I’m feeling guilty I tend to be a blame-stormer, and then lashing out in anger. One of the few reasons I ended up in ReGen is my lack of responisiblity of my sin, shifting blaming and lashing out in anger. Thankfully I have a great group of women through community and Regen who can help point out inappropriate responses.

Arch Tignor over 4 years ago

“We can perish apart from the law (claim ignorance), be judged by the law (accept the consequences), or place our faith in the Son with the perfect record who can justify us with the Judge.” The law was from a perfect God to imperfect man. The law perfected sin and made us sinners. Christ perfected fulfilment of the law and made us righteous. This is so difficult to grasp as a self reliant prideful man. Raised believing I must be perfect to belong to God the law was in my heart but I knew I could NEVER achieve compliance or justification. Finding Grace 14 years ago changed my life. Watermark has perfected my ability to live out Grace. I thank God for Grace and for Watermark confirming the Grace Truth in my heart.

Hope Harris over 4 years ago

I am reading and grasping Romans two with the assistance of John Piper: “God is so committed to this dimension of his justice that he secures it by creating every human soul with the imprint of his moral law and with the capacity to know his glory revealed in nature. He writes eternity on our hearts. The moral law of God stamped on your being will give a tremendous gravity and solidity and stability to your convictions about God, about truth, and right and wrong.

Because you will see clearly that there are fixed truths and fixed moral standards that you do not make up. Life comes with profound givens. God exists. God is impartial. God is and knows the truth.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Hope Harris over 4 years ago

PT.2 “God has imprinted it on human hearts. It is knowable. We will be judged by it. Therefore, life is not trivial. Our convictions about God and morality gain gravity and solidity and stability.” (Piper)

The truth of God’s word has given me a whole new value system, transformed my world view, blazed a passion to uphold His intended design for sexuality, gender and marriage. This process brought a confidence of knowing who I am and why I exist. I am thankful eternity is stamped on my heart.

Elizabeth Lariscy over 4 years ago

Thank you, Cliff for your encouraging Devi today! The discussion questions were challenging, thought provoking and encouraging. God bless!

Aaron Young over 4 years ago

thanks for breaking down our response options and showing us there’s really only one good option!

greg jones over 4 years ago

With or without the law. Loving myself enough to care, how I am. Loving others enough to care, how they are-How I begin to love God with my heart, my mind, my soul-The nature of what the law ultimately requires.

Michael Scaman over 4 years ago

Paul said the gospel was the power of God in 1:16 and now steps back and Paul talks about ‘end times’ and final judgement here.

Just as the dead appear for judgement and the ark with its 10 commandments is seen in heaven with lightning, thunder, earthquake and hail, so judgement is spoken of here in Romans, the prognosis of the human condition dire and Paul’s point about being mankind under condemnation made

… but the door is left open for a category who are ‘inwardly Jews’ whose thoughts ‘excuse them’ who are in a sense ‘doers of the law’ and faith seen according to works is starting to be seen, the redeemed

Joy Blocker over 4 years ago

Cliff!!! So encouraged to see your devo this morning!

Kim Cummings over 4 years ago

Thanks for the devo this am!! And thankful for the peace that comes through relationship with Christ.

Michael Scaman over 4 years ago

The law shows us our need. The law is a reflection of God’s nature. The law is not bad as Psalm 119 leads off “Ooooh! How I love your law” so there is some sense ‘taste and see the Lord is good’ applies. The law is somewhat naturally seen in ideals of even fallen human cultures in history where lying or stealing is looked down on, marriage and parent and property respected.

In Revelation chapter 11, Jesus is given rule, Hallelujahs sung and judgement starts 18“And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” 19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, [representing the 10 commandments I think] and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

A great hailstorm during an earthquake paints a pretty sobering picture of judgement and there are also rewards but only God’s servants 'who fear your name" mentioned for that. It’s like Paul is giving a small preview and glimpse of that here in Romans 2

Caleb Graybill over 4 years ago

Thanks for the reminder Cliff. Slipping into my own morality and self-righetousness is something I do daily, so I need to be constatntly reminded to rest in the Son’s blood. Thank you for all the work you’ve done in my life as a small group leader! God used you in my life to demonstrate leadership, patience, and humility. My first semester is going great. I imagine my faith might have not been as strong in college if I didn’t have role models like you telling me to depend on Christ rather than myself.

Linda Aland over 4 years ago

I tried to comment today about self-sufficiency and it kept erasing my comment. That required me to write this 3 time in 3 different ways. That will imprint the reminder of that sin for sure.

Kaci Brown over 4 years ago

Great analogy! Thanks for that perspective.

Linda Aland over 4 years ago

i am guilty of the sin of self-sufficiency. I catch myself thinking i can handle something myself and realize that God already has the overarching plan and i am reminded that He is in control of everything, not me. Good to be reminded this morning that I am

Linda Aland over 4 years ago

I was convicted this morning of the sin of self-sufficiency. I find myself thinking that I can control a situation and do the “right thing.” But I find that I can’t control anything really and I am always depended upon

Sue Bohlin over 4 years ago

Hi Cliff! Great devo, brother! This morning I am marvelling at the incredible gift of justification, being declared righteous because of trusting in Jesus instead of myself. I’m thinking of the heinousness of Larry Nassar’s multiple sins and crimes coming to light, and thanks to Rachael Denhollander’s amazing proclamation of the gospel to him in court, he could trust Christ and be declared not only “not guilty” but RIGHTEOUS. That’s crazy. Crazy grace. Available to every one of us. :::shaking my head in wonder and worship:::

Lindsey Driscoll over 4 years ago

Cliff great courtroom analogy about the attorney who is the judges’ son and has a perfect record. Q2- the thing th can rule over my heart today is the anxiety of the undone. I can confess to the Lord that I have let anxiety rule over my heart, repent, and turn to the perfect attorney who frees us from all our sins.

Hugh Stephenson over 4 years ago

The Law. A bunch of rules. In most cases advocated by people who are hypocrites.

The Law. A set of rituals in which I can hide so I don’t have to show how lost and broken I really am.

The Law. What God tells me is best for me. He created me so He knows me better than I know myself. In His Law there is freedom.

The Law. How God shows me I am off track. How to see where I need to confess my guilt so I can experience His grace. In surrender to Him I have victory.

The Law. The path to die to myself and live for Him. The way to the peace that passes all understanding. The peace for which I have craved my whole life.

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