What Is the Point?

Daily Reform, Day 218

Galatians 3:2 and John 7:53-8:11

From the Reformer

Long before the time of Moses, God justified men without the Law. He justified many kings of Egypt and Babylonia. He justified Job. Nineveh, that great city, was justified and received the promise of God that He would not destroy the city. Why was Nineveh spared? Not because it fulfilled the Law, but because Nineveh believed the word of God. The Prophet Jonah writes: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth.” They repented. Nowhere in the Book of Jonah do you read that the Ninevites received the Law of Moses, or that they were circumcised, or that they offered sacrifices.

All this happened long before Christ was born. If the Gentiles were justified without the Law and quietly received the Holy Spirit at a time when the Law was in full force, why should the Law count unto righteousness now, now that Christ has fulfilled the Law?

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Many times in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy especially, one reads that unholy people are to be cast out of the community or even killed. The effect of this capital punishment was that evil would be purged from among God’s people. (Deut 13:5) God’s people are to be a holy people. Anything unholy comes under the Law’s provisions—even if it means death. This is why the scribes and pharisees brought Jesus a woman who had been caught in adultery. The Law of Moses called for her to be stoned to death. (Deut 22:21) Yet Jesus forgives the woman. How could he do such a thing when the point of the Law was to purge such evil from the people of God? How could Jesus offer grace to the unholy when the Law was required to make people holy?

Jesus was able to forgive, to offer grace, and to seemingly break the Law of Moses because he had come to fulfill the Law’s purpose. Now it would be Jesus alone who makes people holy. No amount of stonings, no measure of clean living, no quantity of law would ever make people holy before God now. Only Jesus who wholly satisfied the demands of the Law for all people can make us holy. That was the point of his death. Because of his death you too, like the adulterous woman, have no legitimate accuser. When Satan brings his charges against you, admit your sin and remember that Jesus has already accomplished your righteousness. At that point, the accuser will have left and you and Jesus alone will remain. (John 8:9) No one will be left to condemn you; and neither will Jesus.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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