Ever have that experience where you hear something you know, but this time the speaker phrases it so that you feel as if a light has come on and you see other things clearly. I’ve been listening to lectures on Paul from Covenant Seminary’s Dr. Hans Bayer recently. As he was working through the themes in Romans, he pointed out that God’s pattern for dealing with human sin is not to restrict it but to remove all restrictions. This is the meaning behind the verses in Romans 1:18ff which refer to God’s handing people over to their depravity. When human beings worships false gods, God does not divinely intervene to restrict us. Rather, Paul indicates that he has handed humanity over to its sinfulness, and humanity became increasingly darker and dirtier. Anyone who’s read Romans even slightly carefully knows this, but the way Bayer phrased it was spectacular and helped me to better understand the function of the law. If the consequence of sin is the removal of restriction, then the giving of the law and the restrictions therein is a manifestation of God’s kindness. No wonder the Israelites were proud to possess the oracles of God, it meant that he had not abandoned a relationship with him. We know that the law functioned to restrain sin. But we don’t always think of the restrictions as positive and helpful. What we don’t consider is that if the restrictions were removed it would be the sign of divine judgment.
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