I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart (Psalm 40:8)
I read a lot of posts on Facebook, blogs, etc, that go back and forth about “the law”. Believers and non-believers alike will argue til blue in the face about what this means. I don’t think I really want to get into that argument, as I am no theologian or expert in what much of the text surrounding the law given by God to Moses means, should be interpreted as, whatnot…. But I will explain why I love the law. Or, I’ll attempt to……
First, I’d like to examine what the law was supposed to be. The “law”, in biblical terms, was given to the Israelites while wandering the desert. The law was given to a people who for generations were slaves to someone else. This meant a couple things – first and foremost, they were opporessed. Horribly oppressed. One can read the beginning of Exodus to get a glimpse as to how Pharoah treated them, and how he looked at them – less than human… Secondly, they had their every need in life provided for by their masters. Food, shelter, clothing. Their entire way of life, if even a horrible way of life, was provided for them. And for generations, so there wasn’t really anything to pass along to your kids, other than “Do this enough to not get beaten”. Not a great life.
So when God delivered them from slavery, they were a people who would have quickly died off without some guidelines and boundaries given to them. God knew this, as he’s a pretty smart God. So he gave a ton of rules. Rules that today we look at and think “man, this God is pretty harsh. No shell-fish? No mixing of threads? Kill your insubbordinant teenage son???” But we are forgetting that God is our Father, and we are questioning his reasoning and motives here. We are forgetting his motive was FREEDOM for us. Remember – HE GAVE US FREE WILL. He also knew that we’d use that free will to do, or not do, whatever it is we please, not considering how it might impact us and others. So he gave us a ton of rules. the “law”.
I don’t want to get into whether every rule is to be followed still today – I simply don’t know. And here is where most of the conflict comes in – most, not all, and I’ll get to that in a bit. But there are some who think that every rule is to be followed. And so maybe they try to do just that. Check it off the list, and I’m a good person. Better than you, because I saw you do that the other day, tsk tssk……
But then there was this guy Jesus, who came along, and took the law to a whole new level. If you look at a woman with lust – whether or not you are married or she is married – you committed adultery. If hate your neighbor in your heart, you committed murder. Ouch. That statement above, about being better than you? I’m sure I broke the law…….
But Jesus wasn’t saying all this to make us feel bad. No, he was showing us how we’ll never be able to follow the law, if that is all we want to do. He was showing us that without God, the law is useless. That God didn’t make rules just for us to follow them. he made them to protect us from ourselves and others – because he wants us to draw near him. Without that, the law is useless. And there is another piece of conflict – does that make the law useless, or irrelevnt, WITH Jesus in our hearts? Some would argue that is the case – that we don’t have to follow the law because we have Jesus.
But what does that mean then? Does that mean God was WRONG???? No – Jesus, said he came to FULFILL the law, not to abolish it. He even said so himself – look it up! From Matthew 5:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Now here is the tricky part – and bear with me, I know I’m bouncing all over the place here… – Jesus ALREADY fulfilled the law! It’s already done! He did it on the cross, there is nothing left for us to do!
But you see, he didn’t abolish the law, even if it’s fulfilled. He simply completed for us that which he commanded us to do. It’s HIS righteousness that makes us saints, not our own. It’s HIS glory that lifts us up from the grave, not our own. That is such a wonderful gift…. And when we consider that HE is the one who completes the good work in us, we just need to follow him. And if we do this – if we truly do this – we will see fruit in our lives. We will see our very attitudes change, in so many areas in life. We’ll no longer consider ourselves more deserving of grace than the drunk guy on the corner, or the guy who drives the hummer to show off for the ladies. We’ll no longer look down our nose at someone who lives a carnal life without shame. We’ll remember instead we were there, and in some ways still are if we’re honest with ourselves. And we’ll thank God that he delivered us, and that he’s provided a way out for everyone. That he’s already finished the work, and provided salvation for all who choose.
Now – what does all that have to do with the law? Well, let me show you this cool little thing a friend of mine is working on. Just check this thingy out, and come back when you are done:
OK – back? Yeah, pretty cool. I know. He’s not done, but he’s been working on this thing for some time. I’m impressed. I know you are too.
The point of his study, is to show how EVERY rule that God gave us was summed up in two little things, just as Jesus said! From Matthew 22:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
“Love the Lord, with everything you have”
“Love your neighbors as yourself”
If we can do that – REALLY do that – we’re following the law! And, as Jesus pointed out, this wasn’t something new. These were the commandments God gave to Moses, when he gave the other ten and the several others. These are the two that matter most. But I have a question to leave you with. What would it REALLY look like, what would this world be like, if we REALLY followed them? Stew on that one, and ask God to work in your heart there…….