We’ve shown so far in this series, called The Law of God, that God’s law is to be observed – not in its Mosaic form, but its full spiritual intent as Jesus gave it to us in the New Testament and as its observance was modeled for us by Jesus and the entire New Testament church. We examined the contrarian view that we are under grace now, not law, and exposed that for what it is – deception.
Our position is, that being under grace, which we are, does not mean that the law of God is no longer to be observed. It’s law and grace, not law or grace. And we showed out of the Bible what parts of it today – that is, what parts of the law today – we are to observe – much of which has been abandoned by modern Christianity.
Today, as a conclusion to this series, we will show out of the Bible some of what God’s law does for us when we keep it. Let’s start in 2 Timothy 3:15 – Paul said to Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:15 – And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us – not just in the New Testament, but the Old as well – that the law makes us wise. Paul said that to a young minister who had grown up in the Christian faith, so there are a couple of things to notice here. The sacred writings Timothy was looking at were the Law and the Prophets – what we call the Old Testament today. Everything one needs to know about salvation can be learned out of the Old Testament. Two, the law of God does not make us wise about baseball or committing crime or nuclear science. It makes us wise about salvation through Christ. That’s what it’s for. Since the most important goal assigned by God in anybody’s life is that of attaining eternal life through Christ, an understanding of the law of God is critical for every Christian. So this is an important topic we’re working on.
Let’s think about how else the law might make us wise. Let’s go to Psalm 119:105.
Psalms 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path – famous song by Amy Grant, right?
So God has created an amazing system. There’s a universe with all the planets that all function by God’s laws of nature. There’s this planet and there are all the people that interrelate with one another that are on it. God’s laws show us how to navigate God’s system – what to do and what not to do in order to avoid problems and live a happy life, how to connect and work interactively amidst all the other people on the earth.
It’s sort of like – I could give an example – it’s sort of like the whole house generator that was a part of the house we bought recently. We never had one before. It just sits there, hooked up to propane and hooked up to our house’s fuse box. It’s just as quiet as a mouse until the power goes out. Well, that’s not quite true. Every two weeks it turns itself on and runs the propane powered motor for a few minutes just to keep it lubricated and make sure it’s functional. But we don’t even have to think about that. It just happens automatically. We don’t pay any attention to it. It just does what it does. But there’s this notice riveted on the side of it – on the back side of it, actually – that says: For things to run smoothly, the oil needs to be changed once a year. That’s how God’s law works. Some things would never think to change the oil, unless they were warned about it. And we are all completely ignorant of God, and all of His laws, and how His system works, all His working principles unless He reveals it that to us. That’s what law is – revelation from God about how His system works.
Now, in the physical realm, He only reveals stuff to us that we can’t figure out for ourselves. I mean, we’ve figured out a lot about how the universe works – probably not as much as still needs to be known – but He tells us the stuff we can’t figure out for ourselves out of His word.
I was watching a talk show once with Jeff Foxworthy and Alan Jackson as guests. The question the host put to them was: What was the value in keeping God’s law? Was it restrictive? Was it a blessing? And I was pleased to see that they both observed that obeying God’s law keeps one out of trouble. God’s law is a lamp that shows us where we can safely go to get to salvation and how to get there.
So this explanation doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the issue, but then, we only have thirty minutes, so that’s what we’re going to get about God’s law making us wise. Let’s move on.
Besides making us wise, the law of God helps us with our relationships. So, I guess you could say it makes us wise our relationships. But I wanted to focus on that part of it for a little bit.
Matthew 22:37-40 – And He said to them, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He also said that the whole law of God hangs on those two commandments.
So, the law of God is about relationships – relationships with God and relationships with others – namely, how to have them, how to be successful at them.
John tells us that we love God because He first loved us. And the same thing applies to human relationships. If we want to be loved, we have to extend love to others. If you don’t spend time with your friends, or make time for them, pretty soon you won’t have any. So, if we want to be loved, we have to extend love to others – parents with children, husbands with wives, siblings, friends. It even applies to business. We tell our business associates the truth. We don’t steal from them. But instead, provide good services and products when we said we would deliver them. And when we do that, then we have a good working relationship with them. Or, if we hire someone to work for us, and we pay them on time and threat them fairly, they appreciate us and work for us. You might say, “Well, it isn’t the way it works sometimes.” Well, that’s because sometimes people don’t follow God’s laws. But in the end, if you follow them, you’re going to be blessed for it. That’s a promise He makes to us.
So let’s look at a New Testament scripture about this. It’s in Galatians 5:22.
Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – against such things, there is no law.
Now, back up with me to fruit of the Spirit. What do you have to have to have the Spirit? What does that mean? When a person has the Holy Spirit, it means that Jesus and the Father have come to live with them in them. So, They keep the law. So, we would be keeping the law, because that’s the guide of the Holy Spirit – God the Father and Christ in us. The fruit – the fruit – of the Spirit – the fruit of God and Christ – law-keepers living in us – is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. So, when we observe the laws of God in their full spiritual intent, as guided by Jesus and the Father in us, these things are the fruit of it. It’s not just that we don’t steal from people. It’s that it makes us a peaceable, joyful, loving, patient, kind, good person. We all like to be around people like that, don’t we? We call them quality people. Well, God’s law leads us to these things. And as Paul said, “There’s no law against living this way.”
I know some people say it doesn’t matter about the Sabbath, etcetera. You just have to be a good person. Well, how does one get to be a good person? Well, when a person is good, it’s because they’re following the intent of God’s law. But how could that be, if a person is not a follower of God? I mean, don’t you know people that you would consider a good person – who don’t lie to you, don’t steal , who are kind and gentle, and all that? Yeah, you do. And some of them don’t know God. How does that happen? Well, in Romans 2:15, Paul says – and he’s talking about people that aren’t a part of the church:
Romans 2:15 – …they show that the work of the law as written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse them….
He says that the works of the law are written in everybody’s heart. No society says it’s good to steal from each other or to lie, for example – or to covet, for that matter. God’s law is written in everybody’s heart in a way. But these works of the law that he’s talking about – being a good person – do not necessarily lead to salvation. Why? Now, this is not my idea, but we’ve already read this. In 2 Timothy 3:15, he said:
2 Timothy 3:15 – …and how from childhood you’ve been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So, a person may excuse their lack of relationship with God by saying they’re a good person. And that may well be true – that they are. And I think we all know such good people. But the only way to enter eternal life is to obey the other part of the law, which is to love God. It’s got to happen for both. So, if you think that’s it’s unfair of God to be that way, just listen to or read our series called Life After Death. You can find it on our Website, liferesource.org, under the Presentations and Series menus. And if you do that, I hope it will come as a great relief to understand what God has in store for those who are good people, but don’t yet know Christ.
If we go to Psalm 119, and verse 1, it says:
Psalms 119:1-3 – Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. The law defines the way that we’re to walk. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways. In other words, people who obey His law.
So, rather than a restriction, the law of God is a blessing to us from God. It keeps us out of trouble. So, I think that’s pretty important. But it’s not the most important thing. Let’s go to John 14:21, Jesus said this:
John 14:21 – Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
So, it’s subtle, but it’s there. John tells us that God loved us first. Our response to being loved first by God, once we know Him and His Son, is to love Him back. That’s the appropriate response. God’s love draws us toward Him. And that love is demonstrated not so much by word – it’s easy to say, “I love God,” but it’s harder to live love for God. We demonstrate our love for God by obeying Him. That means that we do not necessarily – the reason I’m bringing this up – this means we do not observe the law of God to earn salvation, but to show our love for God for all that He has done for us. “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” We just read that. Who said it? Well, Jesus said it. So that’s definitely a part of the New Testament, isn’t it? – keeping His commandment.
Let’s read something else Jesus said in John 14:23.
V-23 – Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, He will keep My word and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
So, God loves everybody. It’s not an exclusive thing. And He hopes to live with everybody at some point. But right now, He only lives with those who love Him enough to commit to follow His law in its full spiritual intent, as followed by the original church and Jesus, while He was human. To say that we don’t need to observe God’s law is to say that we don’t need Him living in us. If we don’t know that, then we’re not very far along.
God’s law connects us to Him and it helps us in all our relationships. There’s another aspect of this – the final one we’re going to bring out today. It can be found in Psalms 19:7.
Psalms 19:7 – The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. Reviving the soul – that’s the way it’s translated in the ESV.
So, everything that comes from God is perfect. Right? So, the law is no exception. But what’s this about reviving the soul. Does that mean, if you keep God’s law, you’re never going to get tired? Or, you’re going to be more easily rejuvenated after a night’s sleep, or what? What’s that talking about? Well, I think the translation to revive misses the mark a bit. The word literally means to restore. And what does restore mean? Well, it means to return something back to its original state. So, that could mean, when you go to bed at night, then in the morning you wake up in the same state you were the morning before. But I think there’s more to it than that.
We know that when God created the human heart, it was, along with everything else He created, perfect. And we know, too, that after the devil talked to Adam and Eve, their hearts became defiled. Paul talks about the upshot of that – the result of that – down through history when he says in Romans 7:17 – he’s talking about sin, and he said:
Romans 7:17 – So it’s no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me – that is, in my flesh. Well, that kind of contradicts what God said after He created Adam and Eve, except that he’s only talking, really, about part of himself now – that is, “in my flesh.” …for I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
So, it kind of revolves what that word sarx means. Well, that’s referring to the part of Paul that was corrupted – the part that came to humanity through the devil in the Garden of Eden. That’s why there’s no good thing in it. Now, in Paul, there were a lot of good things. But, in that part of him, there was nothing good. That’s why there was nothing good, even after God looked at Adam and Eve and said they were perfect. It didn’t come from God. It was not there when He created them. If you want to see more on this, again, you can liferesource.org and search on Flesh-Spirit and you’ll find a presentation that was published on May 28, 2015, called Flesh and Spirit, and it will explain a lot more about what I just mentioned.
So, the law of God is the instrument that guides the restoration of our hearts back to the way they were before the devil talked to Adam and Eve. Did you know that? Did you know that – that that’s what the law does? Don’t get me wrong. That work is not going to be completed in any human until after they are resurrected. But, if you have the Father and the Son living in you, and you are following God’s law as the impulse that comes from Them, as you follow that, rest assured the reclamation of your heart has already begun. The King James translates it this way: The law of God is perfect, converting the soul. That makes it clearer. God has already started the change process in those who love and observe His law.
But how does that process work? Well, earlier in this series, and somewhat today, we have spent a lot of time talking about how God is love – we learned that from John – and love is God’s law – we learned that from Jesus – and so you’ve got equal signs between three words that all, really, are about the same thing. You can’t separate God from His law or His love. And you can’t separate love from the law or from God. So, it’s all hooked together inexorably eternally. So, there’s an eternal connection between loving and obeying God’s law. And when we talk about loving God, we’re talking about obeying Him, if we understand what the Bible is saying.
So, that said, let’s go to 1 John 4:14 – it’s explained right here:
1 John 4:14-17 – And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. Right? Connected. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. Now, the word love is used here, but you remember, the law is also connected to all of that. The way we express love to God is by obeying His law. Now verse 17: By this is love perfected in us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.
So, we can have confidence, because God is changing us. He is perfecting His own character – His love – in us. And because of that, we can have confidence for the day of judgment, because He as is so also are we in this world. We’re being changed just like Jesus – to become just like Jesus.
So, it’s by this process of God loving us and us loving God enough to obey Him that we are perfected. Of course, it’s impossible for a human to do this actually, but it’s about the struggle. And, as we struggle to become Christlike in this life, we can know that the process is at work. And even though the chasm is immensely great between us and how God is, God’s strong enough to pull that together. God is going to win out. And because of Him and Christ, so will we.
We could say that the law of God is the greatest gift God has ever given us, but that is the same as saying God loving us is the greatest gift that’s ever been given to us. It’s all the same thing. God is love. And His law cannot be separated. Nobody ought to look down on God’s law, because, if they do, they’re looking down on the love of God and on God Himself. It’s all the same thing.
Don’t forget to check out our Website, liferesource.org. Lot’s of stuff there about God’s love and everything else.