Depend on God
Tuesday After the Baptism of our Lord
15 January 2019
The law always accuses. The law's main purpose is to show us our sin. The Ninth and Tenth Commandments take aim at the seeming pious, those who appear externally righteous. We humans can be deluded into thinking that we are right before God if the world considers us pious or holy. The Ninth and Tenth Commandments destroy this delusion by pointing out that sin is much greater than mere external action. Sin is also a thing of the heart and mind. And since the imagination of man is only evil from his youth (Gn 8:21), it is a devastating realization that that inbred evil is damnable sin. This realization should lead each person into repentance and deep sorrow over his sin.
 
This is the precise function of the law: to accuse. Only those who have had this realization of their own hopeless position in the presence of God can have experienced the fullness of God's grace in faith. The law remains God's instrument of destruction; destroying our righteousness and self-confidence in His presence, that Christ might be our whole and only hope. And so although the law's accusations are devastatingly painful, the law is functioning as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:24) by giving us no choice but to depend on God only.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"We allow these commandments (Ninth and Tenth Commandments) to remain in their ordinary meaning. It is commanded, first, that we do not desire our neighbor's harm, nor even assist, nor give opportunity for it. But we must gladly wish and leave him what he has. Also, we must advance and preserve for him what may be for his profit and service, just as we wish to be treated (Mt 7:12). So these commandments are especially directed against envy and miserable greed. God wants to remove all causes and sources from which arise everything by which we harm our neighbor. Therefore, He expresses it in plain words, 'You shall not covet,' and so on. For He especially wants us to have a pure heart (Mt 5:8), although we will never attain to that as long as we live here. So this commandment will remain, like all the rest, one that will constantly accuse us and show how godly we are in God's sight!"

 Martin Luther, 
Large Catechism,
1.309-310
Galatians 3:21-29

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
 
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (ESV)
Prayer
O Lord God, who commissions the faithful company of the preachers, send faithful preachers to proclaim the devastating word of your law, so that I might never depend on my own righteousness in your presence. Compel those same preachers also to disclose the holy gospel of Christ by which the law's accusations may be silenced, that I might be set free from sin and the fear of death. Amen.
 
For those who are traveling, that the holy angels would guard their ways
 
For all preachers of the word, that they might proclaim both law and gospel
 
For Pastor Charles Wokoma, that the Lord Christ would continue to bless him and strengthen him as he serves the Lutheran Church of Nigeria
Art: RENI, Guido  Baptism of Jesus  (c. 1623)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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