Loving the Law

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One of the traditionally American personality traits is independence. The desire for freedom from government oppression is good, but we must be careful that the same admirable quality that led to the war for independence in the 18th century does not also lead us to throw off the shackles of servitude to God. For example, Some people in the religious world view the New Testament as a mere “love letter” or criticize the claim that the New Testament includes a pattern for living.1 For the moment I will pass over the fact that every meaningful relationship occurs in the context of rules to which all parties consent and adhere, and that the New Testament claims to include a pattern (Romans 6:17). In this article, I merely want to observe that we should embrace God’s rules, because they are for our benefit.

If you search through the entire Bible, you will not find a single law from God that harms a person who obeys it. Instead, you will find the servants of God experiencing the joy of a relationship governed by immutable principles. Consider the words of the psalmist:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7-11).

This passage points us to a few important truths about the law of God.

  1. God’s law shows us our need to change (Romans 7:7, 13). We learn that God has requirements we must meet (Acts 2:37-38).
  2. God’s law as revealed to all in nature (Romans 2) and in its specially revealed form (the Bible) cooperates to bring us into a right relationship with Him (Romans 1:26-2:16)
  3. God’s law will make us wise and complete, although not immediately (Luke 2:52; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  4. God’s law is equitable (Psalm 89:14). It allows us to avoid hurting ourselves (John 10:9-10; Ephesians 6:1-2).
  5. God’s law gives us insight, showing us things as they really are (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It is the light that leads us to a destination (Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 1:7, 1 John 2:8, 2 Peter 2:9).
  6. God’s law will never cease to be in effect (Micah 6:8; Matthew 24:35; John 12:48). Jesus, as the Executor of God’s will, will be a righteous Judge (2 Timothy 4:8).
  7. God’s law will result in the rewarding of those who keep it (James 1:25; Genesis 26:4-5; Matthew 7:21-23).

In Galatians 5:16-24, Paul compares the works of the flesh (sinful activities/qualities) with the fruits of the spirit (Christian virtues). The list of the fruits of the spirit includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. At the end of the list, Paul tells us that there is no law against these things (Galatians 5:23). This makes perfect sense: Who would be crazy enough to outlaw peace or faithfulness? An honest study of biblical ethics reveals that God affirms all of the qualities we think best in people.

 


  1. E.g., “God’s Love Letter,” http://360church.net/gods-love-letter-keys-to-understanding-the-bible/ (2012); Dallas R. Burdette, From Legalism to Freedom (Xulon, 2008), 85. 

- 2017