Laws vs. Morality in Romans 8

“You can pass all the laws, but you can’t pass a law that will create morality in a man’s heart.”

Those words from Pastor Rodney Thomas have been on my heart this week as I have scrolled news sites and social media and have seen everything from the plethora of calls for gun reform to questions on law enforcement response.

We are so focused on creating policies, laws, and revamping procedures … but we seemed lost on turning to God for advice.

While it would probably be beneficial to recap Thomas’s sermon, “Understanding Who God Is,” in it’s entirety, my heart has felt called to focus on the theme around that one quote. (Link to his sermon is below though for those wanting to hear it, and I encourage you to listen to it).

**** Romans 8:5-8 ****
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

The Old Testament had more than 600 laws in it for people to follow. But it was impossible for people to follow them. People were continually condemned for breaking the laws of the time and having to make sacrifices to receive forgiveness.

Outside of the Bible, how many laws do we have today. A quick Google search found this statement … “in 1982 the Justice Department tried to determine the total number of criminal laws. In a project that lasted two years, the Department compiled a list of approximately 3,000 criminal offenses.”

It took 2 years to find more than 3000 criminal offenses on the books. And that was 40 years ago.

We still have a crime problem, and we will continue to have a crime problem because we also have a Christ problem.

God created the earth and realized he needed a different plan. The multiple laws of the Old Testament and condemnation were not working. So he replaced all the laws with one law…

**** Galatians 5:14 ****
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That’s a tall order for humans who walk around self-centered and focused regularly on their own needs and desires.

God knew that, too, so he put the Holy Spirit inside of those who accept Him through faith to guide them to become more Christlike.

**** Romans 8:28 ****
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

What’s the purpose? To become Christlike.

What’s our ultimate good? To become Christlike.

Why does Romans 8:28 exist in the Bible?

To remind us that tragedies happen. No matter what tragedy we go through, God will work through it for our ultimate good (…to become Christlike).

Each of those statements could have entire commentaries about them.

My personal biggest “Aha” over the last 12 months in my journey back to Christ has been realizing that our entire purpose in life is to become like Christ.

Can you imagine how different this world would be…

1. If we all were focused on that purpose?
2. If we were all taught how to understand the Spirit inside of us?
3. If we all truly loved our neighbors as ourselves?

We can keep writing laws, but like Pastor Thomas said on Sunday, “You can pass all the laws, but you can’t pass a law that will create morality in a man’s heart.”

Only God can lead that development inside the hearts of others … and He can only do that when people know to turn to Him.

Maybe it’s time to focus our efforts on what we were also called to do …

**** Matthew 28:18-20 ****
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Link to Rodney Thomas’s Sermon at Trinity Baptist Church this past Sunday: