"These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth." (Deuteronomy 12:1)It is important to remember that many of the laws which the children of Israel received from God while they sojourned in the wilderness did not take affect until the actually entered the Promised Land. In fact, for some of the laws, it was impossible for them to keep them prior to their crossing of the Jordan river. Prior to entering the land, they were taught the laws of God, but after entering the land, they were expected to obey those laws.
This scripture reminds me of how, as Christians, we sometimes expect unbelievers to act like believers, and when they don't, we are quick to judge them as law breakers. The truth is, however, that as unbelievers, it is impossible for them to obey God and to keep His laws. They are as those whom Paul describes saying, "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romams 8:7-8) He goes on further to say that it is only after coming to Christ that we are truly free to live a godly life.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness... For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness... But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." (Romans 6:17-18, 20, 22)We should expect believers to act like believers and unbeliever as unbelievers. When an unbeliever willfully continues in their sin, we should not be surprised, they are simply acting according to their nature; they are showing that they are slaves to sin. Nor should we require unbelievers to first put away their sin before coming to Jesus, for their sin uniquely qualifies them for salvation in Jesus because, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15) We must always remember that Jesus did not come to reform us back to the law, but rather to reconcile us back to God. Only after having been reconciled to the Father can we find the grace and power to live like believers. This is the true Gospel message.
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