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The Ten Commandments command us to live a righteous life, a life in faith toward God and fervent love toward our neighbor. This command never goes away. It doesn't stop once we are baptized, nor does it's demand depart from us whenever we go to church. God demands perfect righteousness. The problem with this for us is that we don't keep any of the commandments. As St. James declares, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it" (James 2:10). Jesus' command to be perfect as His Father in heaven is perfect is not an option for us, but a God-given command for us to obey and treasure. Seeking to live according to the righteousness of God is a noble and good life, and it is the new life we live in Jesus Christ. At the same time, we still sin and still are sinful beings who fail at walking the path of righteousness. In these failures, weaknesses, and short-comings, Jesus forgives us and acquits us our transgressions against the law. Does this mean that God is a wishy-washy God who ignores our law breaking? Does this mean that God is a push-over parent who caves in every time we throw a fit? Does this mean that the law really isn't that big a deal, because we know in the end that God will forgive us anyway and save us? No, the law abides and its demands never go away, but rather endure forever. We can never escape the law's demands, as the hymn goes, "The Law is good, but since the fall its holiness condemns us all. It dooms us for our sin to die and has no power to justify" (LSB 579.5).
The law demands perfect righteous and because of the fall it condemns us. We can't justify ourselves by using the law, because we will never keep it whole and undefiled. However, the hymn continues singing, "To Jesus we for refuge flee, who from the curse has set us free, and humbly worship at His throne, saved by His grace through faith alone" (LSB 579.6). So, the Law never stops making its demands, however, who receives the punishment for breaking the law is what changes. Outside of Jesus, we remain in unrepentant sin and therefore receive the full wrath of the Father and the condemnation of the law. However, in Jesus, we receive forgiveness, the full mercy of the Father, and acquittal from the law's condemning word. On the cross, Jesus died under the full curse of the Law because He was found as The Sinner of the world. He was found as the cursed one, the one who took upon Himself the entirety of man's fallen condition. The Law demands perfection, and Jesus lived it. The Law condemns sin, and Jesus became it. This is our comfort. Not that God will ignore certain things we do, or get over our sins eventually, but rather that Jesus, on the cross, was reconciling us to the Father, fulfilling the Law's demands for perfection for us and dying our death as a consequence for bearing the sin of the world. The same God that demands perfection in the Law, also gives the answer to that perfection in the Death and resurrection of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. And now, we receive the benefits of that death in the proclamation of the Gospel, the forgiveness of our sins.
My friends, this is why it is such a blessing to be gathered by the Holy Spirit in the Divine Service and Bible Study on Sunday mornings. It is a blessing because you hear and receive in saving faith the forgiveness of your sins that Jesus purchased and won for you on the cross. Every service at Zion, on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Feast Days, is a time in which you are placed into Jesus and therefore receive the mercy of the Father, rather than His wrath in the condemnation of the Law. The Law never stops accusing you, but in Jesus it no longer condemns you. So, come this Sunday, hear the good news, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, receive Holy Absolution, and depart Church filled with joy that abounds through every trial you will face the coming week.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam drowned anew, so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.