I watched The Pirates of the Caribbean with the kids last weekend. I found it interesting the emphasis the pirates in the movie placed on “keeping the code.” Have you ever noticed that even people of low morals have a code by which they live. – as if to think that adherence to a certain code or set of rules, regardless of how low or high they may be, makes everything ok. They console their heart with their code, while at the same time, they’re wretched and wanting of life.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “…If a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (Galatians 3:21).
I find Thomas Schreiner’s comments on this Scripture instructive:
Only the gospel truly transforms our hearts… When I was a child, I hated eating beets. I thought they were absolutely horrid to eat. No command could make me like beets, for I hated them. So too, God’s commands can’t transform those who hate God.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
The law can’t produce life. It can’t change our nature. We cannot by rules and commands produce life. Let’s remember this with children. Rules and commands with immediate punishments can civilize children, and they need civilizing. We can teach them manners and insist that they obey and do the right thing when they are small. But let’s not equate that with the changing of their hearts.
I heard somewhere this analogy: the law is like a cage. If it has bars, it can keep a lion from eating the lamb, but it can’t prevent the lion from wanting to eat the lamb. Let’s not think that a polite child (which is a good thing) who says “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am” is the same thing as a child who is born again.
All of this might cause us to think that the law works against the promise, since it brings death and kills us. But the law is like the stick that drives us to the promise. (Schreiner, Galatians, 251-52)
It’s not about the rules or the “keeping of the code” but about the heart. Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
It’s not about keeping rules, but it’s about your heart. Turn your heart toward the Lord today, confess your sins, and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior today!