Jesus sent him away …”Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing as a testimony to them. (Mark 1:14)”
Grace, sin and the law are such a hot topic these days. We know our righteousness is not a result of our goodness, it’s because of grace. So we disregard the law in favor of living a life of freedom in the Lord. Some churches even take the stance evident in the Corinthian church, that everything is permissible, and it is the Christian’s right to do whatever they choose because grace has set us free from the wages of sin. I’ve even heard leaders in the church proclaim, “I’m just enjoying grace” as an excuse to live whatever lifestyle benefits them.
I’ve been praying over this topic for a few years now. Because I don’t want to say anything that isn’t true regarding the word. I feel like this morning, the Lord finally cleared up a few of my questions with this one verse. Such as, if I am free to live however I like and everything is permissible, why am I convicted all the time? And when I do live freely as some suggest I should, why do I feel like I am feeding my flesh and dying in my spirit-man? What is it that draws me back to the law, which was the standards of God, which I know I am incapable of upholding but want to try anyway? Finally, I have found my answer:
In the above verse, which I added an emphasis to, Jesus tells the healed leper to go and show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifices commanded by Moses as a testimony to them. He was essentially saying, “because they need to see you doing this in order to believe.” Had he not fulfilled that law before them, they would have been so caught up in his irreverence for God (because in their minds, there was a process and a law that governed his healing), that they would not have even considered him clean. Even if his skin showed that he was, they would have never seen it, because they were blinded by the law and needed to see that first.
Scripture says that when Moses is read, a veil covers the hearts of the people (2 Corinthians 3:15). And the priests and Pharisees could not accept a teaching that was not in accordance with the law. Jesus himself upheld the law on many occasions just so he could get an audience with the very people who were blind to him. And once they were no longer blind, he challenged their beliefs about righteousness based on the law (remember his healings on the Sabbath, his touching the lepers, his disciples picking grain on the Sabbath and their disregard for ritualistic fasting). Many times, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being blind. What were they blinded by? The law.
And the law remains a blinder today. A stumbling block to many who look at the lives of Christians and say, “But doesn’t the Bible say you should be doing this?” And we who understand grace and accept it will agree that the Bible does indeed say that, but instead we choose to live in grace that Christ purchased for us with His blood. But we are talking to blind people! Blind people who are focused on the law. “For the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ … (2 Corinthians 4:4)”
How do we live among them and be the light and bring them to Christ? By offering the sacrifices of Moses … by adhering to the law for their sake, in front of them, to the best of our ability. Because when unbelievers look at us and we are indistinguishable from the world around them, they see nothing to compel them out of the darkness. We are supposed to shine in the darkness! We should be different! Our lives should cause people to say, “I want that.” Imagine the awe in the heart of an unbeliever when a Christian shows the ability to stand in the face of persecution instead of reacting. The awe of an unbeliever when a Christian chooses truth regardless of the consequences in a situation. Or chooses to say nothing in their defense when people slander and falsely accuse them. Because this is how Christ reacted. And although grace bought our freedom, the world will not accept our testimony unless we first offer the sacrifices of Moses … an adherence to the law that covers their minds. We have to get under that veil so that they can see us! We do this by sacrificing our rights for their benefit.
There are many scriptures in the Bible that verify this. Here’s a taste:
“be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)”
“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love…put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor …in your anger, do not sin … and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer … do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen … Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.(Eph. 4:1-2, 22-32)”
“…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13)”
“We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. (2 Corinthians 6:3)”
The beauty of grace is not that it frees us from restraint regarding the law, but that it frees us from the condemnation we would be living under because we cannot uphold the law on our own and be righteous before God. The Holy Spirit lives in us to help us to live lives worthy of God’s calling. To help us to control our wayward, sinful nature because it’s been bought and brought under the authority of Christ. So we are able to live a testimony before the unsaved that draws them to Christ. Not because he demands it, but because his heart desires it and we desire his heart.
“…whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:20)”