Staff Corner: Greg Spires,Teaching Pastor
A graduate student was looking for a room to rent while he attended school away from home. He was able to find a room with a couple that was near his school. He signed an agreement with them to rent a room for a year and moved in. He soon regretted his decision to rent from the couple.
As soon as he settled in, they began to pester him with dozens of rules. He was only allowed to use the bathroom in the basement. He was not allowed to have a television in his room. He could only come and go at certain hours. He had to clean areas of the home he didn’t use. When he protested, they reminded him that he had agreed to the rules in the agreement he had signed. He told them he would begin looking for another place to live as the room wasn’t going to work out. They told them that was fine; however, he would need to pay the full year’s rent as he agreed to rent for a year.
He hadn’t looked closely at the agreement before signing it. He had figured it was a standard “pay rent on time” boilerplate agreement. He went back to his room and read every page of the agreement. The couple was right; the rules were clearly stated. The term of the agreement was one year with no provision to end the agreement early. But he did find one phrase that was to his benefit. The agreement said if he didn’t pay the rent by the 7th of the month, “this agreement is null and void.”
He realized that the rent clause for an agreement like his would usually stipulate penalties for late rent. However, the rent clause he had clearly said the agreement would be canceled if rent was unpaid by the 7th of the month!
So, he found another place to live, and on the 8th of the month, he packed up to move out. The couple confronted him, asking for the full year’s rent. He said no, the agreement was voided since he didn’t pay his rent on time, as per the rent clause. He handed them his one-day late check and walked out. He never heard from them again.
The student found himself burdened with a legal obligation. He was only able to experience freedom when he could get out from under the burden of the agreement. He knew he couldn’t live under the terms of the agreement. However, he also couldn’t afford on his own to break the deal. It was only by finding a way out of the agreement that he could experience freedom.
Romans 4:13-15 says, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”
Because of our sin, we are under the law. The law does not provide freedom. Instead, it is a burden no one can carry. There is also no way out of the law because nobody can afford the terms of freedom. But the passage above says that we become heirs of God through faith. Not only that, but through faith, we have righteousness. The law brings wrath and the curse of sin. Faith brings righteousness and God’s kingdom.
We can’t fulfill the law because the burden is too much. We can’t afford to get out from under the law. But Jesus paid for us to escape the law. We experience freedom from the law when we trust Jesus.
Since this is true, why do so many of us live as though the law and rule-following define our relationship with God? Many Christians feel this burdensome weight because they can’t carry the obligation of always trying to follow the rules. Shame, guilt, and failure become a weight on their shoulders as they try to be good but find it impossible.
The passage in Romans wants us to consider a better way. What if following rules did not define the Christian life? What if the Christian life was defined by faith? We trust God to become Christians. Then it follows (and the Bible teaches) that we trust God to live as Christians.
The question for each of us today as Christians is not what I will do (or not do) to impress God today. The question for each of us today is: Who am I going to trust? Trust God because He has grace and mercy for you again today!
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 4:13-25.
Praying with you,