Here’s a riddle: What keeps a herd of cattle from trying to break through pasture fences?
Answer: Plenty of food, water and shelter inside the fence.
You’re right. That’s not funny. But it is true.
If you read much in the New Testament epistles, you’ll find a frequent theme among Paul’s letters. It’s all about the Law and the Spirit, and love’s grace and forgiveness. Now isn’t that lovely? But what does it all mean?
Let’s go back to that herd of cattle(if you can stand the smell). Smack in the middle of the pasture is a nice, warm barn with all the alfalfa and sweet, fresh water they could ever want. The farmer opens the gate and drives the cattle into the pasture.
What happens if he leaves the gate open? They wander back out, of course, even though the warm, inviting barn waits just a mile away. So the farmer closes the gate and locks it securely.
With the open gate no longer an option, the cattle put their heads down to forage on the rough, barren earth. Eventually, some of them find the alfalfa-filled manger and water trough, with soft, clean straw for their beds–everything in the world they could want. Will those cattle return to the fence to forage? Not likely. They have something far more satisfying.
The other cattle, however, continue stretching their necks through the fence, trying the reach the meager blades of grass just outside. They push against the fence until they manage to loosen a rail here or there. Eventually, they weaken the fence enough to break through to freedom, and the wild predators that wait in hiding.
The farmer would love to go out in search of those wandering cattle, but he has to remain close to feed and water the ones who stayed. And he has to guard them from the predators that stalk them.
Did the fence keep those satisfied, comfortable cattle inside the pasture? At first maybe. But now they’re unlikely to wander. So what did the fence accomplish for them? It enabled them to find what the farmer provided for them. It didn’t keep the other cattle safe, though. Because they didn’t find the farmer’s provision, they will wander until they perish.
In the same way, the Law doesn’t save anyone. It only points us to the Savior, who provides all our needs out of His abundant love. We who stay close to our Savior forget all about the Law. It has no bearing on us because we’re happy where we are. And if we know what’s good for us, we’ll not go back to the fence. See Galatians 5:16-25