Sermon: The Christian and the Law

“The Christian and the Law”
Romans 3:31
March 19, 2017

If you’ve ever been frustrated with other drivers on the road — people going to fast or too slow or weaving too much or not getting out of the way, here are some traffic laws that are sure to frustrate you even more! These are some of the more unusual driving laws of the land:

  • In Eureka, California, it is unlawful to sleep in any public space. In addition to park benches, the law also specifically excludes sleeping on any sidewalk, alley or STREET. They have to tell residents not to sleep in the street. And the offense, should you live to be penalized for it, is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
  • In South Berwick, Maine, you will be ticketed for parking in front of Dunkin’ Donuts — specifically, the Dunkin Donuts on Main Street “to a point of 25 feet south.” The penalty is a fine of up to $175 and/or jail time of up to 30 days.
  • In Fort Thomas, Kentucky, it is illegal for your pet to “molest” a vehicle. Yes, that is the legal term used in the city ordinance for “animal-related nuisance.” The penalty is a fine of up to $500.
  • In Denver driving a black car on Sunday is prohibited throughout the city, and in Minneapolis, it is illegal to drive a red car on Lake Street at any time.
  • In Arkansas, it’s illegal to blow your car horn where ice-cold beverages or sandwiches are served after 9:00 p.m.
  • In Hilton Head, South Carolina, it is illegal to store trash in your car. Specifically, the law says it’s illegal “to place, leave, dump or permit to accumulate any garbage, rubbish or trash in any building, vehicle and their surrounding areas in the town so that the same shall or may afford food or harborage for rats.” A violation is consider a public nuisance and is subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 30 days.
  • In Minnetonka, Minnesota, it is considered a public nuisance, and therefore illegal for “a truck or other vehicle whose wheels or tires deposit mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter or other material on any street or highway.” All violations of the Minnetonka code are subject to fines up to $2,000.
  • In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a gorilla in the back seat.
  • In Oregon, it’s illegal to leave a vehicle door open on the side of traffic, pedestrians or bicycles “for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.” The penalty is a fine of $90 and possible jail time.
  • In Alabama, it’s illegal to drive blindfolded.

I think when believers sometimes read the OT, particularly the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses that begin the OT), they sometimes feel like they are reading something just as silly. With so many laws related to temple worship and diet, it just seems that the OT and the Law of Moses are completely irrelevant.

How many times have you broken these laws this week?

  • “Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you.…the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you. You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you. ‘These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you, and they shall be abhorrent to you; you may not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses you shall detest. ‘Whatever in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you.” (Lev 11:4–12)
  • “You are not to eat any blood, either of bird or animal, in any of your dwellings. Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people.” (Lev 7:26–27)
  • “You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” (Lev 19:19)

So if you have eaten a pork chop or bacon this week, or if you’ve eaten shrimp, oysters, or scallops, and if your steak was anything less than solid gray well-done, and if you have worn a mixed blend article of clothing or planted tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and peach trees in the same garden area (as we have), you have violated the Law of Moses and you are rendered somewhere between unclean and a rebellious sinner.

And then there are the laws which seem to make no sense to us, like the prohibition in Dt. 14:21 — “…You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” I can’t ever think of a good reason to boil any piece of meat, never mind meat boiled in milk. So why is that even there?

And those things all make us think, “the OT Law is just completely irrelevant. It’s of no use to us.” And then you come across a verse like Romans 3:31. After demonstrating the inability of the Law to save and affirming that salvation is only by faith, Paul says, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith?” And you and I fully expect him to say, “Of course — it’s completely irrelevant!” But instead he says, “May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law” (my emphasis). What? We establish the law? On what basis, and for what purpose?

That’s what we want to think about this morning.

The Mosaic Law is unable to save anyone, but it still has value for the believer today.

Four realities about the Mosaic Law:

  1. What the Law Could Not Do for the OT Israelite
  2. What the Law Could Do for the OT Israelite
  3. What the Law Cannot Do for the NT Believer
  4. What the Law Can Do for the NT Believer

Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 3:31.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.

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