There are so many New Years Resolutions that were broken already that one wonders why we try. My favorite talk show host on the radio says that he has broken all of his New Years resolutions and 7 of the 10 commandments. That is a great line and it is funny. At the same time it is a stunning statement about the ineluctable force of the Law. The Law of God summed up in the 10 Commandments will always work its way and accuse us even if we don’t believe in it. Christians always must be on guard against the stunning nature of what the Law will do to them especially in times of trial and on the death bed.
When we are in trouble or sick; when the news from the Doctor is as bad as it can be; when a loved one dies; that is when the “terrible Ifs accumulate”. If only I had tried harder; if only I had been a better husband, wife, child, friend; if only I had taken better care of myself; if only I had said good bye before they left; if only I had said “I love you more”; if only I had stopped them from (you fill in the blanks), if only I had gone to church more; if only I had prayed harder; if they would have listened to me; if they would have listened to the doctor; if they would have listened to me; if only; if, if, if, …….
“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18
The old story and the terrible Ifs accumulate. If you keep the Law perfectly you will have peace and you will be righteous. You can’t do it – no one can and so God gives you his righteousness through faith in Jesus and now we get his peace.. But often even that is not good enough and we want to go back and reiterate what we should have done and instead of peace in Christ we want the peace of our self righteousness which is death.
It is not an “if” when we think of our hearts condemning us, it is a “when”. When the terrible Ifs accumulate God who is greater than our hearts give us the peace of Christ like a river because he know all about us and loves us anyway (1 John 3).