Scripture tells us that even Gentiles who were not raised under the teaching of the Law understand in their hearts and consciences the moral claims of the Law.
“They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them” – Romans 2:15 NIV
For the Good News of the Kingdom to become operative in one’s life, one must experience the requirements of the law (God’s instructions) which judge that person before he can receive the good news of grace in Christ, who forgives and frees him.
Consider the story of Zacchaeus. He was the chief IRS agent of his day; a man who profited by extorting his fellow Jews. One day he climbed a tree to see this Jesus he had heard so much about as the Messiah passed through the streets of Jericho. What happened when this shrewd moneymaker encountered Christ?
“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’ 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ 9 Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost’” – Luke 19:5-10 NLT
What motivated Zacchaeus’s conversion?
It obviously was more than curiosity. Zaccheus’s decision to restore fourfold shows that he not only knew the law of God but his conscience was pricked by what he had done wrong. He knew from the Law that fourfold was the required penalty for theft. “If someone steals … a sheep… the thief must pay back four sheep for each sheep stolen.” – Exodus 22:1 The law or “instruction,” served as the tool to bring conviction of sin, which led to repentance for his sin and obedience to that law, which then led to his salvation! This is rather profound because not only did he recognize his need for forgiveness but he was also acutely aware of his failure to obey God’s standard. His saving faith was demonstrated by his willingness to obey by making restitution. Jesus said, “SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOME TODAY!” Notice he did exactly what James defines as genuine faith:
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” – James 2:22, 24 NIV
About 100 years ago certain scholars decreed, and it became accepted in the evangelical movement, that the Law had no relationship to the proclaiming of the Good News (the Gospel). This was a tragic mistake for it deprived the Holy Spirit of His work of convicting the unbeliever of their sin. John makes it completely clear that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convince the “world” (those outside of Christ), that they are sinful.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” – John 16:8 ESV
So how do we integrate the law while presenting the claims of Christ to those outside of the faith?
Here are some questions you may consider:
- Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments?
- Have you ever stolen something?
- Have you ever coveted something that was not yours?
- Have you ever dishonored your parents?
- Have you ever lusted after another person?
- In your heart have you ever felt even the smallest amount of guilt or remorse for such actions or thoughts?
- Why do you feel guilty about such behavior?
- Have you ever thought that perhaps God is trying to get your attention by allowing you to feel guilt?
- I know I have felt guilty about plenty of things. How do you deal with your guilt?
- I am a follower of Christ, and I have discovered that when I admit my guilt, turn away from my sin, and ask Christ to forgive me, I find that I feel clean. I also know from what the Bible says that I AM forgiven which allows me to have a clear conscience and I begin to act the way I know is the right.
Hey gang, can we give this a try?
Information without integration leads to stagnation.
Integrating Christ with you,