I’ve never been one to play with cards. Blackjack, Texas Hold‘em, Spades, War, 52-Card Pickup – none of those ever did much for me. I remember going through a phase of trying to build “card houses.” It was fun for a little while, but the frustration was fairly intense. You know as well as I, a house of cards is a disaster waiting to happen. One misstep, one bump of the table, one gust of wind and the whole thing comes tumbling down. A hot glue gun goes a long way to eliminating the frustration of a house of cards, BUT the intent is long lost!
When we read the Old Testament, we find out that God’s standards for us are much like that house of cards. We are on very shaky ground in our efforts to try to keep the law. Take the Ten Commandments for instance. We’re not very good at keeping them. And much like a house of cards, you break one and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Adulterers tend to bear false witness. They also tend to make idols for themselves out of their desires. Thieves – they’re probably liars too. Don’t forget coveting; it can easily lead to adultery or theft. Bearing false witness is a great way to dishonor mom and dad. Lying is the sin that most children recognize that they’ve committed. And most would agree, we break commandments 5-10 because we’ve got a problem with commandments 1-4.
King David was not only the Monarch of Israel – he was also the Commander in Chief of Commandment breaking. In his tryst with Bathsheba, he coveted, he lied, he stole, he committed adultery, he murdered, by virtue of his actions, he certainly dishonored his father’s reputation. You get the picture. One could make a good case that this one event led him to break at least 8 (and possibly 9) of the Big Ten.
The truth is that our righteousness is not determined by how well we’re doing in keeping the Ten Commandments. The Bible makes it very clear, the our righteousness is like a house of cards, break one law and you’re guilty of being a lawbreaker. The house comes tumbling down. James 2:10 makes this very clear, “For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” In our culture, we’ve allowed our legal system to influence our understanding of God’s legal system. In our legal system, a petty shoplifter is handled differently from a corporate embezzler. In God’s legal system, they’re both lawbreakers and come up short of God’s perfect standard.
To keep us humble, the Bible reminds us that ALL have sinned and fall short of the standard God has established. We desperately need help. Thankfully, God has made a way for our lawlessness to be replaced with His Righteousness. Where we brake the law, Christ kept the law. And where we are due the just punishment for our lawlessness, the Bible says that Christ became sin that we might know the righteousness of God. For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. The house of cards is replaced with a house built on a firm foundation in the righteousness of Christ.