Bible reading for Aug 17.
I Samuel 9.
"When Samuel saw Saul, the LORD told him, 'Here is the man of whom I spoke to you! He it is who shall restrain my people.'" (1 Samuel 9:17)
ENTER SAUL. He is handsome, tall, and wealthy (v 2). He will be the one to restrain (that is, rule over) the people and deliver them from the Philistines (vv 16-17). His appearance is impressive and at this point he seems humble. He will in fact be an excellent military leader. This is exactly what the people have been looking for. In the end, though, he will not be a very good king, but he will prepare the way for a better king.
REFLECT. How often do you make judgments based upon appearance and initial impression? If you are a U.S. voter, how do you get around the sound bites and the public relations hype to really know the candidates in an election? Or can you?
"So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." (Romans 7:12)
THE CHRISTIAN AND THE LAW. How does the believer in Christ now relate to the Old Testament (Mosaic) law? In chapter 6 Paul shows how, being united with Christ, we have died with him to the guilt and power of sin. Is this done merely so that we can seek to live holy lives under the Mosaic covenant? (I.e., become Jews?) No, according to Paul, we have died to the Mosaic law, as well. This does not mean that Christians are free to live lawless lives. "Teach them to observe all that I commanded you..." are the words of our Lord in the great commission (Matt 28:19; cf 1 Cor 9:20-21). He validated the authority of the entire Old Testament, which he himself would fulfill (Matt 5:17-19). What Paul means is that we no longer relate to God under that covenantal framework. One thing this means is that we are no longer under condemnation. But more, we relate to God under the new covenant, by grace, founded upon the work of our Lord Jesus, which is a better covenant. He, rather than Moses, becomes the central figure in our relationship with God. The moral standards of the OT, which reflect the character of God, are reiterated in the NT as being normative (having authority) for the believer today, but the motivation and the power are different (Jer 31:31-34).
THE STRUGGLE. One of the purposes of the law was to convict us of sin and failure, and so to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:21-26). Paul speaks of the impact that the law had upon him as a young person, but also the ongoing struggle he feels now as a believer. I don't think this means Paul was a carnal Christian, or a defeated Christian, but that he is aware of the conflict with the flesh (fallen nature; indwelling sin) that he experiences within himself. He is describing the same thing that he wrote about to the Galatian believers: "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do" (Gal 5:17). In chapter 8 Paul will tell us how the Holy Spirit helps us in this ongoing battle.
REFLECT. Can you identify with Paul in his struggle against indwelling sin? If you want to read more about how the OT law relates to the NT believer, check out some of the excellent articles by Douglas Moo here and here.
Image credit. Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.