May 24, 2018

Inconspicuous Idols Defeated by a Conspicuous Savior

Romans 7:7–8

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The Law and Sin

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Inconspicuous Idols Defeated by a Conspicuous Savior

Bio | Amanda Ritchie

Hello, fellow Journeyers. Amanda Ritchie here. Ten years ago today, I walked down the aisle at the ripe old age of 21 and said "I do" to Justin. My favorite thing about him is how chill and low key he is. He balances my crazy well. We've had to learn how to mature together, and might not be here today if we hadn't surrendered our lives to Jesus. Thankful for a Savior who shows us how to love and what a marriage should look like. We love our two girls (Clara is 3, and Hazel is 1) and the Food Network.

Central Truth

We could never fulfill the law wholly, so God sent Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice and fulfillment of the law. Still, the law is useful to reveal where our lives do not align with God's holiness. He has great plans for us!

Devotional | Romans 7:7–8

I am currently attending re:generation at Watermark, a Christ-centered recovery program, for my pride and control. They had become idols in my life, leading me to break the first commandment of God's Law (see...

I am currently attending re:generation at Watermark, a Christ-centered recovery program, for my pride and control. They had become idols in my life, leading me to break the first commandment of God's Law (see Exodus 20:3). I let these things become "other gods" in my life. Sometimes, it looked as harmless as anxiously overthinking situations or just wanting to be "right." But Psalm 10:4 (NIV84) says, "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." This misplaced worship led me down a path to anxiety and a hardened heart.

God gave us the law not only so sin would be revealed in us, but so we could know how to glorify Him. Matthew 22:37 says the greatest commandment of the law is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." It's impossible to love the Lord this completely when your mind is distracted with thoughts that aren't glorifying to Him. And let me tell you, going down this path does not lead to a life marked with the peace of God, but to one marked with toil and unrest.

Thankfully, our God's plans are better than a (former) control freak like me could ever dream up. 1 Peter 5:6-10 tells us to humble ourselves, cast our anxieties on Him, and He will restore us. He knows we cannot wholly keep the law, and that is why He sent His Son to live a blameless life and be the sacrifice for our shortcomings. This sacrifice was made before we ever had a chance to earn it. Titus 3:5 reminds us that God "saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit."

The Law is useful even as we live under God's free gift of grace. It reveals God's perfect character to us and how we can bring Him glory. The law has been fulfilled through Christ. Have you accepted that free gift?

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Discussion Questions

1. While just as offensive to God as all other sins, my pride and control weren't as easily identifiable because our society tends to "accept" those sins and sometimes even glorifies those sins (i.e., your control is just you taking care of your family and wanting what you perceive as best for them). What "acceptable" sins are in your life that might not seem so bad on the surface, but prevent you from fully surrendering your life to God?

2. God gave us His law to reveal His character to us and show us His perfect standard for our lives. Why do you think it could be to our benefit to heed the law, even though we are saved by grace?

3. Matthew 22:37 says to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." What thoughts are consuming your mind that prevent you from keeping the greatest commandment of all?

4. Are there parts of your life that seem broken? Check out Watermark's re:generation ministry.

8 Comments available

Hope Harris 10 months ago

Hello comments and thanks to the JTJ team for working hard from behind the scenes.

From Adam Clarks commentary: "The apostle shows that the law had authority to prohibit, condemn, and destroy; but no power to pardon sin, root out enmity, or save the soul.

The word επιθυμια, which we render concupiscence, signifies simply strong desire of any kind; but in the New Testament, it is generally taken to signify irregular and unholy desires. Sin in the mind is the desire to do, or to be, what is contrary to the holiness and authority of God."

Sue Bohlin 10 months ago

Amanda, your first paragraph is worth its weight in gold. One of the best explanations of idolatry I’ve ever seen, bless you!

Paul’s teaching on the evil sneakiness of sin–using God’s good and holy commandment to leverage even more sin–is so enlightening. It’s so easy for us to consider our own sin no big deal; after all, it’s so comfortably familiar, right? But we need to view it like insidious spiritual cancer that consumes and poisons and kills us inside. And not resent the Holy Spirit for using the “thou shalt nots” to point out where we fall short of the glory of God. The fact that we would resent Him for shining the light of truth into our darkness shows how deceived and twisted our sinfulness is.

greg jones 10 months ago

Great light shed today. The law reveals what is within me, Christ reveals what is apart from me. I can’t be “this” and “that” at the same time. Christ reveals also I can be forgiven of “this” “so that” I may have a newness of life. In other words a life that is changing. This and that of life is how I see the person of God. Moses had a burning bush and holy ground…this and that with a conversation. I haven’t shared the details of what Moses experienced, but I’ve had conversations about this and that with what I know as, the person of God. Excellent devotional showing how new you happens.

Michael Scaman 10 months ago

The law is good in the sense it shows (in some sense) God’s character, shows right and wrong, and also points to heavenly realities (says Hebrews)

But it also stirs up sinful passions in the old nature or in an unsaved person. The old nature is in rebellion and it throws fuel on the fire?

The new nature may say with Psalm 119 “Oooooh how I love your law”

Justin Bibb 10 months ago

Q3: There is a looping thought in my head lately of wanting the approval of others. Not only that, but wanting to be held in high regard. I do not want to be seen as a “failure”, and at the same time I want to be seen as absolutely great. It is my wanting to be elevated among men, so there is my pride (and shame when I feel I fall short). So I need to interrupt that looping thought with the truth about who God is and about who I am in Christ.

“I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance… I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:12-13

Ronnie Oldfield 10 months ago

Happy anniversary Amanda, thanks for gifting us with today’s Journey.

The world provides “righteous living” boundaries which would lead everyone to death. Those who encounter the “law” by gaining knowledge of the Ten Commandments while cruising through life now have knowledge different boundaries exist.

Perhaps one tries to live up to these new boundaries. One can then begin to convince themselves they are doing a pretty good job at righteousness. Relying on self control and being “right” in their own eyes.

I am so thankful Watermark is leading me deeper into my understanding of God’s view of righteousness and how all my hope is in Jesus.

I pray for humility so that I fully accept Christ’s love for me so that I can live others as He loves me.

Hugh Stephenson 10 months ago

Today I am reflecting on the horrific results of my sinful nature “apart from the law”.

The truth of the bridge diagram shows me a stark picture of the law. Way, way on the other side is God and His perfect law. There am I, so far away and getting farther away. Seeing this distance as an ever widening chasm is an immense blessing for me. More and more I feel driven to know Him better.

It counterintuitive to my sinful nature to see that the more I see my sin, the more I need Him. Sin’s pull can still be really strong on me. In many ways, its all about the chasm that the law helps me see. A more accurate understanding of Jesus is the only truth that bridges that chasm.

I am reminded of this saying:

No God, No Peace Know God, Know Peace

Gordon Burgett 10 months ago

Hello Friends!

I’m pleased to say that comments are working again today! Thanks for your patience.

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