The Purpose of the Law


Aren’t laws and rules supposed to make people live by justice and fairness –so that good prevails over evil? That’s what we’ve been taught and what we mostly wish was true. But can following the ones listed in the Bible really make God pleased with us?

Two Kingdoms

In the introduction I said that the two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden depict the two laws –the only two laws– that God uses to determine if we are acceptable to Him or not. Let me explain…

Laws describe how things work through actions and results (causes and effects). Those two laws identify two, non-overlapping spiritual kingdoms –or realms. We choose between them for our eternal residence by whom we believe in –put our faith in –rely on –trust.

Death…

The tree of death corresponds to the law of sin and death. I call it the “tree of death” because God said “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” –from Genesis 2:17. (The name of the law comes from Romans 8:1-2.)

The kingdom of death is for those who are separated from God. It’s where we all began.

You see, being the Judge over good and evil was reserved for God. Yet Eve exposed her envy by eating that tree’s fruit. She wanted His position of Judge. We were all like her. It’s proved out by our lingering judgmental ways.

Remaining in that kingdom is the result of continuing to rely upon ourselves –justifying our own innocence (good) and assessing others’ guilt (evil). It’s what Job did in his first 41 chapters.

Life…

The tree of life corresponds to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (also from Romans 8:1-2).

The kingdom of life (or the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven) is the eternal home for the bride of Christ –she is flawless and perfectly pleasing in His eyes. She’s been forever joined with Him –living in His loving presence (from Ephesians 5:25-32).

Entering His kingdom as that bride is the result of trusting God –realizing our initial separation and accepting His merciful gift of life. That’s what Job did when he was saved –it’s in Job 42:1-6.

Those two laws describe how to recognize our original condition as citizens of death –and how to obtain eternal life as citizens in the kingdom of God. You either belong to yourself –or you are forever His.

Judgment or Faith

It’s your choice. Are you going to continue judging –evaluating who (and what) is good and evil– even using Scriptures as your justification? That’s natural for citizens of the kingdom of death. Or will you –as a citizen of God’s kingdom– let Him do the judging while you represent Him to those you meet?

That’s what Jesus was asking His disciples in the parable of “The Unrighteous Judge” –sometimes labeled “The Persistent Widow.”

It begins with “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (from Luke 18:1-8). Most of the time this passage is used as motivation for us to keep asking God for what we want –hoping that He’ll eventually relent and fulfill our desires. But there’s more to the story.

This time let’s start with Jesus’ heart-probing (and often overlooked) question. “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

The parable goes something like this…

There was a judge who really didn’t care about anyone except himself –not even God. And there was a widow who went to that judge begging for help against an opponent who had been pursuing her. Finally, after tiring of her begging, the judge agreed –not for her good– but so that she would quit pestering him.

Then Jesus equated her begging that judge with God’s chosen people begging Him to solve their problems by judging against their oppressive adversaries. He concluded the parable by saying that God will judge –“He will bring about justice for them quickly.”

This is the crucial point in His message –and we can’t understand it if we allow those added titles restrict our attention to the first part of chapter 18. Let’s back up to where His message began –at Luke 17:22. That’s where He was telling them about His return on Judgment Day –when justice will be finalized. The parable about the widow and the judge was to provoke the disciples’ thinking.

Would they allow God to transform them using adversity? Shortly they would see their beloved Jesus crucified by the Romans and they’d be betrayed and persecuted by their own people. Could they trust Him to be the Judge –realizing it might be a long time before His reckoning? Or would they decide for themselves who and what were good and evil –like the widow did?

The parable began with “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” So what was it that they were to pray for if it wasn’t for God to take away their adversaries?

Surely, it was to have faith in Him –to trust that He knew what He was doing. They were to pray “Thy kingdom come… Thy will be done… Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding…” His imminent crucifixion (followed by their own mistreatment) would memorialize the gate-opening to His kingdom –the kingdom of life.

When the Son of Man comes, will He find you being the Judge of good and evil? Or will He find you living by faith –trusting God to be patient and merciful with everyone just like He was with you?