I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)

(This is a p.s. from last Sunday’s message on legalism from Mark 7:1-13, available to listen to on this site!)

Should a Christian get a tattoo?

Maybe that isn’t the best way to phrase that. Let me try again…

Is it okay for a Christian to get a tattoo?

Wait, that’s not great, either. Because you are like, “A tattoo of what? Donald Duck? A flaming demon skull?”

Is it a sin for a Christian to get a tattoo? (we‘ll go with this one.)

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for keeping their list of unbiblical rules, but doesn’t the Bible say something about tattoos? Yes, Leviticus 19:28 does. So obviously it is a sin, then, right?

Actually, no. 

Here is where people get confused. Christians are not bound by the OT Law. God gave Israel the Law for a season, and for a reason. God gave Israel the Law to show His standard of righteousness - and man’s inability to keep the Law.

Why would God give a Law that He knew we couldn’t keep perfectly? It was to show us our universal and absolute need for grace. If I want to be righteous, totally righteous in and of myself, I need to keep the Law perfectly. How is that working out for you? Just looking at the 10 Commandments (See Exodus 20)…

  1. Is God always #1 in your life?
  2. Have you ever had anything else be a priority over God?
  3. Have you ever used God’s name in vain?
  4. Have you always taken a day of rest?
  5. Have you always obeyed your parents?
  6. Have you ever murdered? (According to Jesus, Hatred = Murder.)
  7. Have you ever committed adultery? (According to Jesus, Lust = Adultery.)
  8. Have you ever stolen anything?
  9. Have you ever lied?
  10. Have you ever been envious of someone having something you want?

If you have ever broken any of these, even once, you are guilty of the whole Law, because you have rejected the giver of the Law (James 2:10).

So if you want to keep the Law, you have to keep ALL of it, and never violate ANY of it, not even once, or you stand guilty and condemned.

That’s bad news for me, how about you?

The good news is Jesus abolished the Law (Hebrews 10:9)! He fulfilled the Law by being perfectly obedient, died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

So keeping the Law, any Law - Old Testament, man-made, church-dictated… will not and cannot save you (or keep you saved), because you will fail. Only belief in the work of Jesus on your behalf will save you, and keep you saved (Romans 3:28), because Jesus will never fail.

So… rest, and live in Jesus‘ grace. You fought the Law, and the Law won. It isn’t a sin to get that tattooed on your face, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

p.s. - If that song is stuck in your head now, I apologize.