The General Ability of the Law
Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken . . . You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . . ( Deu 9:10 and Mat 5:27-2 8 )
Although the law of God is unable to justify or sanctify, it does have some strategic ability in God's plan for man . These verses from the Torah and the Sermon on the Mount help us reflect upon this matter. These two profound sections of the Bible pertain to the law of God. Torah (Hebrew for law) refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books give an extensive explanation of the message of God's law. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes Jesus' clarification of man's understanding of the law.
When these portions of the Bible are read, studied, or taught, the general ability of the law is at work. In these passages the very character and will of God are revealed. The message related to those "two tablets of stone" spoke of God's character , "I the Lord, your God, am holy ." The summary of this message expressed God's will for man, "be holy." The details of the message indicated what holiness would be like in conduct toward God and in relationships with others. Jesus' words would eventually extend this message of holiness even into attitudes of the heart.
The law of God is His standard for spiritual measurement. By His law, God measures holiness in people's lives by revealing His will, which is based upon His holy character. This is why all of us "fall short of the glory of God" ( Rom 3:23 ). We don't measure up to God's holy standard.
The measuring instruments of man are a helpful illustration of the law. When a tape measure is used to evaluate the height of people, it measures growth or reveals the absence of it. It does not produce human growth. So it is with the law of God. The law describes and measures what God wants lives to look like. It does not cause such spiritual growth to appear. Only God's grace at work in our lives is the sufficient dynamic that produces spiritual growth.
O Lord, my Hope, I give You praise for Your holy character, revealed in Your holy law. I agree with Your will, desiring holiness in my life. I also agree with You that I fell far short of Your glorious standard. Thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. Thank You for clothing me in the righteousness of Your dear Son. Now I place my hope in You for any and all progress in the path of righteousness. O Lord, have Your way in my life, working Your will, by Your grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.