Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. [Romans 6:14 (NLT)]
Since Jews are prohibited from possessing any food products containing leavening (chametz) during Passover, a Muslim Arab-Israeli man in Abu Ghosh now owns most of the bread, pastries and beer in Israel. As they have for many years, Israel’s two chief rabbis sold all of the leaven food from state-owned companies, the prison system, and the national emergency stores to him. He symbolically purchased the chametz for the duration of Passover by making a small down payment. Having promised to pay an enormous sum at the end of Passover, at week’s end he will tell the rabbis that he can’t pay up, the deal will be canceled, his down payment returned, and Israel again will own its yeast-laden products. Here in the U.S., some Jewish families “sell” their chametz to non-Jewish friends and then put the food in an out-of-the way cupboard. Technically, while still on their property, it’s not really theirs because they’ve “leased” the cupboard to the Gentile buyer. After Passover, the lease expires and the food is sold back to its original owner. While this may circumvent the law, I’m not sure it’s what God had in mind when He commanded, “There must be no yeast bread or any yeast at all found within the borders of your land during this time.” [Exodus 13:7]
Finding ingenious ways to sidestep rules and regulations is not limited to Judaism; we all do it. Technically, we’re not texting while driving—we’re texting while stopping at a red light! In principle, the dog is on a leash even when he’s dragging it on the ground or carrying it in his mouth. In 2007, a Minnesota bar got around the smoking ban by using a technicality in the law that allowed actors to smoke in their roles. The bar announced their staging of a continuous improvisational play. Every customer of the bar would be an actor taking a role in the “play” and, therefore, smoking was permitted! Teenagers have a special knack for getting around parental and school rules. It’s part of their make-up to think outside the box to outwit authority. Mankind will find every technicality, loophole, ambiguity, and grey area to circumvent laws and regulations.
Imagine God’s frustration while watching his children sidestep and disobey His law. A covenant of law requires complete obedience and, frankly, try as we might, we just can’t make the cut. We see rules and regulations as an infringement and prohibitions seem to increase our desire to do just that thing. Fortunately, rather than a covenant of law, Christians are under a covenant of grace and freed from the Old Testament rules and regulations. In grace, our salvation doesn’t come from following rules or doing the right thing and God accepts the less than perfect. It is our sincere belief rather than our faultless behavior that saves us. We have no need for sidestepping, semantics, and technicalities because obedience to rules is not what gives us eternal life and sin won’t cause us to lose it. Grace, however, is not license to sin; it is a license to live as God intended and follow the spirit of His law through the power of the Holy Spirit.