Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Mark 10:17-22
“For if the ministry that brings condemnation [the old covenant, the Law] has glory, how much more does glory overflow in the ministry that brings righteousness [the new covenant which declares believers free of guilt and sets them apart for God’s special purpose]! Indeed, what had glory [the Law], in this case no longer has glory because of the glory that surpasses it [the gospel]” [2 Corinthians 3:7-10 Amplified Bible].
Over the next few days we are going to consider two words from this passage of Scripture – condemnation and righteousness.
The old covenant was based on the law, but it brought condemnation because nobody could fully keep it. Isaiah clearly addressed this when he said, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind” [Isaiah 64:8 NLT].
Paul explains this further in the context of God’s law, “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are” [Romans 3:19-20 NLT].
Recently I have been asked to speak to a fantastic group of young people on the subject of “You cannot earn the love of Jesus.” Sadly that is exactly what people do when they try to find God’s acceptance through good deeds and obedience to the Law.
One day a rich, young ruler came to Jesus, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” [Mark 10:17]. Jesus told him that he knew the commandments [verse 19], to which the young man answered, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth” [verse 20]. He thought that he had done good enough, but then Jesus challenged him to give his money to the poor. Jesus put his finger on the real issue, his god was money – in direct opposition to the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me” [Exodus 20:1]. When you break one law you stand condemned as much as the person who breaks all the laws.
There is no way that we can gain God’s favour and be saved by our works – if that were possible then there would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross. It was precisely because we couldn’t save ourselves that Jesus died on the cross!
Why do people who try to earn God’s favour by good works actually make of no effect the cross of Christ?
Can you explain why the law brings condemnation but in Christ there is now no condemnation?