Later tonight I was reading Stephen Covey's book The Speed of Trust. For those of you not familiar with Covey's book, it's about trust and ethics. It is not written from a Christian perspective. For all I know Stephen Covey could be an atheist, Christian, or Hindu. His spiritual beliefs have not come into the discussion in the book yet (and likely never will). Yet he unintentionally hit on a point very similar to what we read in Romans.
Covey quotes Alan Greenspan (former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve), "Rules cannot take the place of character."
This is a good summary of our Roman's discussion tonight. At the time of Paul's writing, the rules of the Old Testament had been around for centuries. Yet there was very little difference between a culture that had access to The Law and those that did not. Rules can't change a person's heart. Each of us is fallen and sinful. That's why we need Jesus.
Of course, Jesus did not come to institute a new set of rules. The Law needs no revision. It does its job with the perfection God intended. Measuring tape can show you if a piece of wood is the right shape, but it can't cut it for you. This does not mean it is bad. It does what it was intended to do. The Law is a measuring tape. Jesus is the carpenter. He came to change hearts. He came to free us from the rules.
Covey hit on this point as well when he quoted Albert Camus, "Integrity has no need for rules."
Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death. His work on the cross not only saves us from Hell and grants us access to Heaven. It cleans our hearts and makes us a new creation. Jesus frees us by making us people of integrity. I wish the process would happen faster. I tire of seeing flaws in my life, and I look forward to my final liberation from sin on the day of His return. Yet there is undoubtedly a change happening in my life. I am not the man I once was, and I am not the boy I was before that. The medicine has been given. The cure is taking effect. Jesus has freed me from my sinful life, and He continues to free me.
He can free you too if you believe.