We make a big mistake when we conclude that the law is the answer to bad behavior. In fact, the law alone stirs up more of such behavior. People get worse, not better, when you lay down the law.  — Tullian Tchividjian, It Is Finished

Some scholars suggest the law is “provocative.” It not only names our sins, but also causes sin to increase. I agree.

When I was a little boy, we lived in the countryside of England. One day, as my friend and I were playing in the yard, my dad came outside and said, “Pete and Andy, come here!” We ran over. “Do NOT go over the wall at the end of the yard.”

Andy and I had never even noticed the wall at the end of the yard until that moment—the moment it was forbidden. As soon as my dad left, we launched ourselves over the wall to the other side.

As we were frolicking in our disobedience, we heard a terrible grunt. I looked at Andy, “Was that you?” Andy shook his head.

We turned around to see a new addition to the neighborhood—perturbed bull. We launched ourselves back over the wall, only to find something more terrifying on the other side—my father.

The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. (Romans 5:20)

Listen, I’d never wanted to cross that wall until Dad told me I couldn’t. Then I wanted nothing more than to disobey (not realizing there was something harmful on the other side of disobedience).

The law operates in just that manner. God gave the law because of the sinfulness of mankind. But it was never intended to put a stop to sinfulness. In fact, according to Romans, it actually caused us to sin even more.

Was the law flawed? No. The problem wasn’t in the law—God’s perfect standard for humanity. The problem is in us; the problem is the “power of sin.” (See Romans 7)

In His sovereignty, God allowed us to sin to a point of desperation—to a place where our souls cry out for our need for a Savior. The law works when it points us to Jesus! Have you gotten to that point? Are you there now?

God Who Sees, I thank You for calling right, right and wrong, wrong. Today, I make no more excuses for my sin. Today, I stop giving it fanciful names that make sin sound nicer and tamer than what it is. I praise You for using the law to show me my need for Your mercy. I thank You for the covering of grace. I pray Your indwelling Spirit suffocates the desires of the power of sin today, so I can dance the hours away. Amen.