“For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.” (Romans 4:13-15)
For as long as people have organized themselves, there have been rules. If we did not have rules we would have chaos, which is pretty much the way the world was before God started creating. But let me tell you, there is a big difference between the rules of nature and the rules of humanity. God created the rules of nature, but humanity created their own rules to live by. What God gave us through the Ten Commandments were guidelines for how we should relate one to another, and how we should relate to God.
“For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Verses 16 & 17)
Faith is stronger than rules, and more enduring than rules. Rules can change under different circumstances and generations. But faith is passed from one generation, binding us all together into one people.
“Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Verses 18 – 21)
Now here the writer of Romans “waxes poetic” glossing over Abraham’s human attempt to bring about God’s promise according to human rules. But God’s guidelines take over where human rules fail. Abraham did eventually see that God’s way was better. And as Abraham grew into that truth, he grew into faith.
“Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.” (Verses 22-25)
Here again God’s way pushes aside the rules we believe that we should live our lives by. And accepting God’s way is the beginning of faith. The season of Lent is one of the times when we remind ourselves that we are to live as God would have us live, and not according to our own rules and agenda. Which will be strong in our lives? Our rules and agenda or our faith in God?