17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
We live in Florida, the land of hurricanes. When big storms blow through and buildings are damaged or destroyed, rebuilding can take months or even years. It seems strange, then, to think of rebuilding as destructive. But when it comes to the law, that’s exactly the case.
Let’s look at today’s passage in the New Living Translation:
17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down.
Religious thinking will try to convince you that by braving grace, you are in sin because you abandoned the law. You stopped trying to measure up to God’s righteous standard by your own performance. Is this truly sinful as some would have us believe? Paul’s answer is pretty clear – “Absolutely not!” Instead, he says, we are sinners if we try to rebuild a law system.
One of the most challenging concepts to get into our thinking is that attempting to re-establish a legal system for relating to God is sinful. Rebuilding the system that has been torn down doesn’t draw us closer to God. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me.” The moment that we suggest that we must also keep certain rules to come to God, we try to add to the work that Jesus did. If we believe that we must add to His finished work, then we are saying that Jesus isn’t enough. What an insult to God!
It is important to understand that God is building His church on the Chief Cornerstone of His Son. He is not rebuilding a legal system. If we are trying to rebuild a legal system, we are working against what God is doing. Speaking of construction, it was the law that provided the hammer and nails that put Jesus on the cross. But when He rose again, the whole performance-based system came crashing down like a flimsy shack in a hurricane. Today, being on God’s construction crew means abandoning legalism and partnering with Him to build the church. Brave grace, and leave the rubble of religion behind.