Thursday, February 18, 2016

Learning to Love God's Law

Do we as Christians delight in God’s commandments? And if not, how can we come to do so? Scripture does speak of delighting in God’s law (Psalm 119:97-104; 19:7-10; 1:1,2). Granted, this probably implies the Old Testament as a whole and not just the commandments. But these are clearly included. However, this is not the standard human response to any commandment. Our natural response is to disobey. That is because we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and cannot keep God’s law (Romans 3:19,20; 7:14-25; Galatians 3:10-14). I recall the first time I tried to read the Bible and started in Matthew and reached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). My immediate reaction was, “I cannot live up to this,” and I closed the Bible for many years. How do I get from there to delighting in God’s law? 

God resolved the issue of the guilt of sin by becoming a man (Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1-18; Hebrews 2:9-18) to pay the price for sin (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He therefore offers salvation freely to all who put their faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9), apart from anything they can do to earn it (Galatians 2:21; Titus 3:5,6; Romans 11:6). This forms the basis for a new perspective on God’s commands.

We have a new motivation for wanting to live for God: love for Him because of what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Titus 2:11-14). This is rooted in the fact that God has sent Christ to die for us (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16-18; 1 John 4:9,10). Christ’s coming also upholds God’s commands as the reasonable and appropriate requirements for human behavior (Romans 7:7-12; 6:15-23; 3:31). Christ’s dying for our sins not only shows God’s love, but also upholds God’s standard (Romans 3:24-26; 8:3,4; 1 Peter 1:17-19). It also means that God now works in His people to change them (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:19). The power to do this is the result of our being in Christ (2 Peter 1:3; Colossians 2:10; Ephesians 1:13). 

This brings us around full circle so that we can delight in God’s commandments. Therefore, far from encouraging people to go out and sin, grace makes it possible for us to approach God’s commandments with the right attitude (John 14:21: 1 John 5:3-5; Galatians 5:13,14). But it is possible that believers may neglect to cultivate this work of God in their lives (Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Galatians 5:16,17). I am convinced that this is because they have forgotten God’s truth and what He has done for them (2 Peter 1:9; James 1:22-25; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). There may even be a point where it must be questioned if they have genuine faith (James 2:17; 1 John 2:19; Matthew 7:21-23). But genuine faith loves God, His people, His Word, and even His commandments.

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