Peel Off the Layers

Romans can feel so turbulent to read as Paul goes back and forth about the law of the Jews vs the covenant of the New Testament Christian Gentiles. Obviously, Paul had grown up studying the law. He was extremely educated in it and and his previous passion for the law had pushed him to persecute the early church so severely that he also carried a deep passion and understanding of the Jews and he desired so deeply for their salvation after his own conversion to Jesus. In Romans he is fighting hard to show them that the law that they grew up in had not been invalidated by salvation. In fact, the complete opposite is true. Paul explains that the law of God still exists because the law is God’s actual nature. God cannot turn from the law, nor can he ignore it’s violations. God Himself IS the law. Because of this, His complete and total justice is completely required at the full extent so God’s dismissal to any part of the law would be a lie and a contradiction against Himself. Paul acknowledges that our sin emphasizes these unmet requirements and puts a wall and an offense between us and God. Knowing this, Paul brings up the fact that not one of us is capable of fulfilling this law perfectly. Neither the Jews who grew up walking it out nor the Gentiles who were added into the kingdom of Jesus were ever going to be capable of fulfilling this. It is completely required but simply not possible because literally the only way to fulfill this law would be for us to become God ourselves. This is why the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to fulfill this. As Jesus followers, we have this understanding that our sin was covered by Jesus in our inability to do so for ourselves, but that also comes with the tension of responsibility to pursue righteousness to the fullest degree in our lives. Not because we’re trying to earn something that was already given to us, but because our obedience to pursue righteousness honors the sacrifice that was given to us out of our inability. Jesus gave to us freely what we couldn’t pay for ourselves, and in return we have given ourselves to Him so that we can spend the rest of our lives discovering his nature so that we can be like Him. When we are able to see the beauty of the law as our pursuit to becoming more like Jesus, I think it removes the resentful and obligational attitude of hating ourselves for what we are not. There should always be a tension inside of us that understands that we will never make the mark, but our lives are a daily, living sacrifice of shedding the layers of our selfishness so that every day we peel off another layer and every day we look just a little bit more like Jesus.

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