After Moses came back, he summoned the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. Then all the people responded together, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken.” So Moses brought the people’s words back to the Lord.” (Exodus 19:7-8, CSB)
I read this verse this morning, and it made me stop and consider the times I’ve said the same thing. After how many poignant sermons, powerful worship nights or refreshing quiet times with the Lord have I felt the power of His spirit and said, “I will do all that the LORD has spoken”? In those moments, I have the purest and most sincere intentions, and yet, inevitably, I soon find myself again struggling against sin.
I am a recovering perfectionist. Since Christ called me, I am familiar with the temptation to live out my faith by obeying a set of commands. And I am unfortunately intimate with the sense of failure that comes from the realization that I just don’t measure up; I always fall short. I find myself trapped in legalistic thinking, running down lists of “shoulds” that, while originating from Biblical truth, fail to capture the real spirit of what Jesus desires for His children.
When I try to live my life this way, I am attempting to live up to God’s standards through my own strengths, which will always result in failure. Israel is a shining example of the weakness inherent in a life lived under obligation to the law. Out of heart-felt conviction, they promise, “We will do all that the LORD has spoken” and yet they turn around and immediately sin. Moses points out the unfortunate reality of the Israelites rebellious hearts, underscoring the misplaced arrogance in trying to obey God out of their own strengths.
“You have been rebelling against the Lord ever since I have known you“ (Deut 9:24).
It is a simple truth, that I have been rebellious against the Lord from day one. My flesh actively rebels against the Spirit of God within me. As long as I am in this world, I will experience the war between Spirit and flesh. And I try to make it an effort of my own will and strength, a goal to be achieved. It’s no wonder I find myself discouraged and disheartened when I live like that. The blessings of the Mosaic Covenant depended on the Israelites’ performance. But when Jesus died, he freed us from that law and covered us with His grace “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2). Thank God for His covering of grace; a relief to this struggling perfectionist.