Shot for Freedom. Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (7:13)

Checkpoint Charlie

"'Does that mean I can't even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?' No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God's good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own." (Rom 7:13, MSG)

Last time we discovered how prone we are to sneaking into the forbidden. Somehow it fascinates us, even though some will fall to their death, like some of those who trespassed beyond the safety of the fences in Niagara Falls. We often rationalize: "This would never happen to me!" Still, danger is out there, one moment of inattention can be fatal, whether we think we are safe or not.

Something good, like the commandments, that were created for our own good, turned into an attractive temptation. Just like the "Do not trespass" signs, the temptation to breaking the law has become our reality. That's what sin does! Hiding behind the good, it tempts us and brings us to our own destruction!

Only One did the impossible. He did the opposite of what most of us do. He never sinned, not even once. Instead he went a step further: He fulfilled the law! "(Jesus said:) I have not come to abolish them (the commandments) but to fulfill them." (Matt 5:17b, NIV2) According to my dictionary, fulfill refers to: "to meet the requirements of" and "to bring to an end" and "to complete". In other words, Jesus met the requirements of the law. He completed the law fully!

The One who never broke the law died on a lonely cross on our behalf, so that we lawbreakers, who truly deserved death, would not have to pay the price of our transgression. Jesus paid it all, fulfilling the consequences of the law so that we wouldn't have to go through that. Instead we are completely forgiven. He died so that we could live!

There are many who have died for others. Take, for example, Dieter Wohlfahrt, a twenty-year old Austrian student attending the Technical University of Berlin. Since August 13, 1961 his goal was to help the Eastern Berliners escape to the West, away from the heavy yoke of the Russians. He used the sewage system to do so. It seems the Russians discovered his tactics, as one day when he went back to help East Berliners escape, he discovered that the sewage system had been blocked off.

That didn't stop him from continuing to help these poor Eastern Berliners. December 9, 1961, Dieter, with some of his friends, cut through the Eastern barbed-wire barriers at Staaken with the purpose to help the mother of one his friends escape. He was unaware that someone had betrayed him, and the border patrols were on high alert to get him. As soon as they saw Dieter and his friends, they started to shoot. His friends were able to escape, but unfortunately Dieter was hit in the chest.

He was bleeding to death. No one dared rescue him on that death strip, not even the British military police. He died because he wanted to save as many Eastern Berliners as possible from the yoke of the Russians.

That was the goal of Jesus Himself: To bring as many as possible to freedom from the oppression of sin. His death, however, though he never broke the law, gave the opportunity to anyone, even East Berliners, to be freed from the yoke of sin and experience real freedom fully: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." (Luke 4:18, NIV2)

We can be free through the merits of the Risen One. Wow!

Who in their right mind would prefer to remain a prisoner? Come to Jesus and experience His abundant grace. You, too, can be freed. Imagine that! This is too good to be true, but it's real. He freed me. He freed many of my friends, and He will free you too, if you so desire.

Good news: You won't have to go through barbed-wires! Whew!

Rob Chaffart

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