Don't suppose that I came to do
away with the Law and the Prophets
I did not come to do away with them,
but to given them their full meaning. (Matthew 5:17, CEV)
The law of the Lord is perfect
converting the soul. )Psalm 19:7, KJV)
The Cross was Hell
The Laws of Physics and the Law of God
Jesus, the Law Unfolded
The U.S. Constitution and God's Law
The Ten Commandments Written in our Hearts
They Shall not Hurt or Destroy
The Ten Commandments of Love are Unchangeable
A Two Part Harmony
Jesus Lived the Law. He Didn't Condemn.
An Enemy of the Law
The Law is Life. Sin Brings Death.
The Law and the Gospel
The Sabbath Rest in Christ
The Laws of Physics and the Law of God
The bright spring sun casts a rosy glow as it streams through the tinted windows of Tom's new luxury car. He is a new Christian, a new member of Bill's steadily growing, small-town church. Bill has been explaining to him his understanding that the law was nailed to the cross. We are not under the law, but grace, Bill informs him. Christ kept the law so that we don't have to.
Just then they hear a brief siren and see flashing red lights behind them. They both get that sinking feeling in their stomach. Bill asks Tom, "How fast are you going?" "Forty" he says. Bill groans, "Forty? Oh no, and this is a school zone." As Tom pulls to the side of the road, Bill silently prays. To Bill's relief and slight embarrassment the police officer turns out to be Jessica, a Tuesday night Bible study partner that they both know.
Tom lowers the window as Jessica approaches the car. The three of them exchange greetings. Then Jessica crosses her arms and asks, "Tom, did you realize how fast you were going?" "No, " Tom responds, "I just got this car and it's a little quieter and smoother riding than what I'm used to. Also, I was a little distracted by our conversation. We were talking about being under grace and not having to keep the law." Bill's face begins to feel a bit warm and he knows that his cheeks match the glow from the tinted windows.
Jessica frowns and smiles, "Hmmm, as an officer of the law I do not agree with that! But I'm sure that a verbal warning will be sufficient. Please be more careful." "Thank you, I certainly will," Tom responds, "and by the way, we're going to continue this conversation at that new café, just down the street from the church. Would you like to join us before the study this evening?" Her eyes sparkling her interest, Jessica agrees, "I can be at the Half-Moon Café about 5:30." Bill and Tom nod their agreement.
The three of them choose an outside table, and place their orders. "Judging by the smells coming from the kitchen this café is going to be a success," Bill quips. Tom and Jessica laughingly agree. Bill has prayer for the conversation and study. Jessica mentions that she has been reading about cosmology recently. She feels that some of the things she has been learning have given her a new perspective on the law of God. Curious, Bill asks Jessica to share what she has learned.
Jessica pauses to collect her thoughts and then begins, "The sun, planets, moons comets, and asteroids in our solar system, the billions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, the billions of other galaxies each contain billions of stars. All these follow the laws that God has established. God has delicately and precisely balanced the laws that govern the incomprehensibly massive galaxies and the tiny atoms." Bill and Tom both nod in agreement.
"One of the books I have been reading is A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking. Listen to what I found starting on page 129:
"'The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron.
The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars either would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have exploded... it seems clear that there are relatively few ranges of values for the numbers that would allow the development of any form of intelligent life ... One can take this... as evidence of a divine purpose in creation...'"1
Jessica continues, "I see you brought your Bibles. Lets hear David's song about the glory of God's laws that govern his creation. First he praises God's natural laws, the laws of physics. Tom, would you read the first six verses of Psalm 19?" Tom opens his brand-new New Living Translation and begins:
"The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.
The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat."
"Thank you, Tom," Jessica smiles and then explains, "Psalm 19 is a poetic parable. The sun, moon, and stars unerringly follow Gods physical laws bringing us light, warmth, ocean tides, as well as joy, and a sense of awe."
Tom interjects, "Yes, God has designed the laws of physics that govern the universe to support life. So, Jessica," Tom asks, "How does this relate to the Ten Commandments?" "Well," she answers, "If the physical laws were even slightly different the universe would be unable to support life. Any change from God's laws would bring death.
For example, if the force of gravity were stronger by the smallest amount, the universe would have rapidly collapsed upon itself and life couldn't exist. If the force of gravity were weaker by the most minuscule amount, the environment of the universe would not be suitable for life. If the forces that govern the nucleus of atoms were stronger or weaker by the tiniest amount, the universe would be left with only hydrogen atoms, or conversely, only extremely massive atoms.
Either way life could not exist, as we know it. Our kind, loving, heavenly Father delicately and precisely designed the laws of physics to support life. As far as humans have been able to observe, these intricate, finely balanced laws are perfect and unchanging. What a testimony for our Creator God! He is perfect and he never changes. When he establishes something, it will stand. Praise God, his laws are unchanging! Our heavenly Father designed the universe and it's laws perfectly.
If any scientist were to claim that the laws of physics were no longer necessary for life, no one would believe him. In any case, whether or not a person is aware of the laws, or principles of physics, one's life and happiness depend on them. In Psalm 19, David makes the case that the Ten Commandments are just as important for life and happiness as the laws of physics that govern the universe. To more specifically answer your question, God's grace does not extinguish his law, but rather puts it in its proper perspective."
"Bill," Jessica asks, "Would you read the rest of Psalm 19?" Bill puts on his glasses, opens his well-used King James Bible, and begins to read:
"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 for ever: 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 honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
"Thank you, Bill," Jessica said, her eyes sparkling, "David uses the sun as an illustration, an analogy to show the parallels between God's laws governing the physical world and his Ten Commandments governing our spiritual and relational life. Just as there is an underlying principle that can describe each of the four basic forces of physics, so also, there is an underlying principle that describes each of the Ten Commandments."
Tom's face brightens as he catches the direction Jessica is heading and he interjects, "I see, you are talking about the Grand Unifying Theory that would explain, or unify the basic forces, the force of gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. You are pointing out that as Christians we also should examine the spiritual laws of God to see if we can find the grand unifying law or principle of the Ten Commandments."
"Yes." Jessica confirms, "Look at what James 2:10 declares: 'For whoever shall keep all the law, but stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all' (GLT). In Matthew 22:36-40 The Holy Spirit has led me to understand this principle to be self-sacrificing love. Jesus summarizes the Ten Commandments as love for God and love for man. Unselfish love is the foundation principle that governs all healthy, successful relationships. Our kind, loving, heavenly Father has delicately designed the laws of human interaction to nurture happy, loving relationships.
Any deviation from God's Ten Commandments is sin and leads inevitably to unhappiness and death. As far as humans have been able to observe, these intricate, finely balanced laws are perfect and unchanging. What a testimony for our Creator God! He is perfect and he never changes. When he establishes something, it will stand forever. Praise God, his laws are unchanging!"
Jessica continues, "The light of God's character of love, his 'Ten Words' shed light and joy to all who understand and obey the deep spiritual principle found in them. Jesus, through his life and death demonstrated and confirmed the unchanging, the eternal beauty of God's Ten Commandments, his law of love." Then Jessica muses, "I wonder if Jesus had Psalm 19 in mind when in Matthew 5:18 he said: 'Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen'" (CEV).
Bill looks up from his Bible and responds, "I think you might have something there."
The physical food arrives and the conversation changes to Tom's search for a house.
I invite you, dear reader, to join me in continuing to search the laws that govern our heavenly Father's universe, keeping in mind the message of Christ's sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
The Ten Commandments, God's law, also called the tables of the testimony, express the principle of altruistic love, the essence of God's holy character, the law of life, the very foundation of his government. The letters, the words of the Ten Commandments, are only a beginning point in understanding our heavenly Father's holy character, his law of love.
Jesus, the Law Unfolded
The law of God is the written expression of his character of love. God keeps his own law. God wrote the Ten Commandments with his own finger, on tables of stone. God is love. 2Timothy 2:13 "If we are not faithful, he remains faithful, because he cannot be false to himself" (TEV). The cross proves that God would rather die than set aside his law of self-sacrificing love. The principles of God's law extend beyond the heights and depths of infinity. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his life and especially in his sacrifice, reveal and demonstrate the deeper things of God's law. Christ showed that in order to keep the law we must be willing to value the salvation of others more than our own eternal life.
Matthew 16:24, 25 Then Jesus said to the disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. (NLT)
Those who have God's law of love written in their hearts and minds will follow in Christ's footsteps. As Christ was willing to die the death that sinners deserve, those who know God well are also willing, even eager, to trade places with perishing sinners. Listen to Jesus. Luke 12:50 "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" (RSV). The apostle Paul understood the message of the cross. Paul too, came to love his fellow Israelites, even the ones who were trying to kill him. He loved his enemies more than his own life, even more than his own soul.
Romans 9:1-3 In the presence of Christ, I speak with utter truthfulness-I do not lie-and my conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm that what I am saying is true. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed-cut off from Christ! -if that would save them. (NLT)
Moses knew God as his personal friend. Moses had spent so much time with God that his feelings and thoughts came to resemble God's thoughts and feelings. Exodus 33:11 "Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (NLT). Moses knew God well and understood his law of self-sacrificing love.
Exodus 32:30-32 The next day Moses told the people, "This is a terrible thing you have done. But I will go back to the Lord to see if I can do something to keep this sin from being held against you." Moses returned to the Lord and said, "The people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a gold idol to be their god. But I beg you to forgive them. If you don't, please wipe my name out of your book." (CEV)
Moses had spent so much time talking with God that his character had become changed into the image of God's character. Like God, Moses loved his rebellious, sinful brothers and sisters so much that he was willing to be cut off from life, to be blotted out from God's book of life!
God's Law, his Ten Commandments, have a deeper spiritual meaning than most religious people have begun to appreciate. Romans 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin" (NKJ). Our self-centered, carnal nature cannot by itself ever hope to come into harmony with God's law of love. Still, we are instructed to keep the law, not the mere letter of the law, but rather the deep spiritual principles of the law of love.
The gospel without the law is just as meaningless as the law of God without the gospel. The gospel is the law lived out and the law is the gospel in written form. If God's law, the law of Heaven could have been changed, Jesus would not have had to die. Jesus did not die to set aside or diminish the claims of God's law, but to reveal it more fully. Even here on earth one can see the importance of the rule of law.
The U.S. Constitution and God's Law
God has richly blessed the United States. It is a democratic, constitutional republic. The actions of our nation and its government are guided and constrained by a body of law. The foundation, the cornerstone of that body of law is the constitution. The constitution recognizes and guarantees certain God-given rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. Our republic, based on the rule of law, is far superior to a pure democracy.
In a pure democracy a mere 51% of the people could trample on the freedoms, rights, and privileges of the other 49% of the people. A pure democracy is a dangerous and potentially tyrannical form of government. Our republic, on the other hand, is constrained, required by the constitution to protect the weak from the strong, the poor from the rich, and the minority from the majority. In theory, all receive equal protection under the law. Praise God for our republican form of government!
Praise God for inspiring our founding fathers to create our noble and beautiful constitution. As long as our great country conforms to the grand principles of liberty and justice for all, it will continue to receive God's blessings; religious liberty is most important in our Father's eyes.
The government of Heaven is a monarchy with a republican form of government. Heaven too, is governed by the rule of law. Heaven too, has a constitution-the law of unconditional, unselfish, noble, self-sacrificing love. God himself designed the constitution of Heaven. It is a description, an expression of his nature, his character, and his personality.
God shared the constitution of Heaven with humans. He wrote Heaven's constitution with his own finger, on tables of stone, and gave them to Moses. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, expresses, demonstrates, fulfills, and establishes the eternal law of God. Jesus, on the cross of Calvary ushered in, proclaimed, and established the grace of God. The grace of God is an expression of the saving power of God's character of benevolent love, his law.
God's grace through the death of Jesus elaborates and clarifies his eternal law, his unchanging character of unselfish love. God's grace and God's Law are not antagonistic, opposite, or contrary to one another. Rather, they are different modes of expression of the same principle, which is an expression of the nature, the eternal character of God, which is self-sacrificing love.
Jesus' life and death displays God's love for humanity. It is the means of restoring his kingdom on this earth. Our Creator, Jesus, the King of Heaven, became a Man to plant this seed of love, to reclaim his children. How he longs for his commandment to be fulfilled. John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (MKJV).
When we love people as Jesus loves them, then his image will be restored in us. Then his kingdom will be established. Then all things will be accomplished. We will have entered into eternal life. We will be ready for Heaven, for we will have heaven's eternal principles in our hearts.
In the light of God's self-sacrificing love, the dry, dead, letter of the law, written in stone, shines as a precious gem of great brilliance and beauty. May the Holy Spirit open to our hearts and minds a broader view of our gracious heavenly Father's law of love.
The fullness of God's Law of love, the truth, the beauty of Jesus can be experienced, but not fully explained by words. Its height soars past our knowledge. Its breadth exceeds our capacity to grasp it. Our imagination can only dimly visualize the shadowy forms of a love that is infinite and beyond the reach of mere words.
Isaiah 55:7-9 Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; he is merciful and quick to forgive. "My thoughts," says the Lord, "are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. (TEV)
The Ten Commandments Written in our Hearts
Our heavenly Father longs to re-create his beautiful, holy, merciful, self-sacrificing love within each of his rebellious children. If we give Him permission, the mighty Creator God will write his eternal law of love in our hearts and minds.
Ezekiel 36:26, 27 And I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do them. (GLT)
We cannot give God our permission with a mere set of words. Our permission must come from a deep desire in our hearts and minds, which can only happen as we see the beauty of Jesus' character of self-sacrificing love, fall in love with Him, and long to be like Him. By beholding we become changed.
When from the heart, we desire to be like Jesus, our mighty Re-creator God, through the power of his Holy Spirit, will begin to change us into his image. That is how God writes his law in our hearts. In our character we will begin to resemble, to imitate God. Imitation is the highest, the sincerest form of praise and worship. It is worship acceptable and pleasing to our Father.
Worship that does not come from a heart changed by the Holy Spirit to become more like God is an empty form; it is not of faith, but has slipped into presumption. Presumption gloats, "God, I'm so glad that You have decided to save me as I am, but I can never be loving, forgiving, merciful, kind, and unselfish as You are." Faith sighs, "Father, thank You for showing me your incredible love, save me, heal my self-centered, sinful heart; empower me to love and forgive others as You do."
Although we are finite humans, we can grasp the underlying principles, the beauty of God's law, his character of love. From experience I can relate to you that God knows how to exchange the bitter tears of contrition and sorrow on account of self-centeredness and sin for the soaring sweetness, the soft peace, the bright joy of entering into the presence of the One altogether lovely.
The Holy Spirit will give us an understanding of the right relationship between his law of love and the gospel of salvation only as we more deeply appreciate his sacrifice and the reasons for it. And only as we choose to follow in Jesus' footsteps. As we humbly study and meditate, searching the Bible for an understanding of the glorious theme of salvation, the Holy Spirit will open our hearts and minds. Wise king Solomon in Proverbs 4:18 observed, "The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day" (NLT).
I urge you, dear reader, stretch your heart and mind, seek to expand your understanding of the height and depth of God's self-sacrificing love. Do not let the things of this world distract you. The foundation of Heaven, God's law, the principle of self-sacrificing love is the mystery of God; it is the truth, the plan of salvation. Please do not be satisfied with a shallow understanding of salvation, but seek to behold it in all its greatness. Behold the love of God.
They Shall not Hurt or Destroy
In our search for a deeper, purer understanding of the principles of God's law of love, let us consider the order of things in the new earth. Isaiah gives us a lovely vision of what God has in mind for us. Isaiah 65:25 "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent-its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD" (NRSV). Again Isaiah declares:
Isaiah 11:6-9 Also the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the cub lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (MKJV)
The reason that nothing will "hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain..." is because in Heaven everything and everyone will know God and his perfect law of love! Everyone will live in God's law of love. Far from doing away with God's law, grace honors, and expands our understanding of it. Grace enables God's law of love to be written on our hearts.
Humanity's dominion over the earth will be fully restored. Animals will respect and trust us, lions will be gentle, hummingbirds will delight to be near us, and skunks won't stink! Everything that smells bad is a result of sin; it is Satan's doing. All parasites, all molds, all decay, disease, death, destruction, and damnation are perversions, a departure from God's design, a result of sin. All these are part of Satan's supposed improvements on God's perfect, orderly, and loving plan.
God is King, but he is not a dictator. All humanity must be free to choose between God's law of love and Satan's perverted law of selfishness. In order for that to happen, God must allow humanity to see and experience the ugly, deceptive, and destructive results of Satan's rebellion in full contrast with the principles of Heaven, which are harmony, peace, mercy, and justice, all springing from the pure fountain of self-sacrificing love.
The Ten Commandments of Love are Unchangeable
In the first chapter, "War in Heaven," we saw how Lucifer tried to force God to change his law, the foundation of his throne. Lucifer, having fallen, has become Satan, the Adversary. He still attacks the law of God. If Satan can convince Christians that the law of God has been changed or set aside, he will have won a great victory. Even so, God through Christ fulfilled and established the eternal nature of his law. Mere man cannot change God's eternal law.
God's grace is a living expression of his character of self-sacrificing love. God's law is a written expression of his character of self-sacrificing love. How could one be contrary to, or set aside the other? It is impossible! Man's keeping the law of God has never been a means of salvation. Though perfect and beautiful, God's law, in its written form, cannot save us. Yet God's law, expressed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ does have saving power. Beholding the power of God's benevolent love, our faith rests securely on Jesus. Our faith in Jesus is the means that God uses to pour out his saving power, his grace. He saves us from both the guilt and the power of sin.
Paul, in Hebrews, chapter 11, informs us that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Rahab lived before the law was given in its written form. Yet he asserts that they were all saved by faith, faith that looked forward to Christ's sacrifice.
Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel, and unnumbered others, lived after the law was given, but before the time of Christ. Nevertheless, all were saved by faith alone.
The works of the law saved none of these! Animal sacrifices saved no one. Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (KJV). To be under the law does not mean to be saved by works, for no one has ever been saved by their works. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only path of salvation for any human being that has ever lived, or ever will live.
A Two Part Harmony
Jesus kept the Ten Commandments perfectly. Our Saviour gave us beautiful insights into the two-part divine harmony of his Father's law.
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
Jesus here explains that the first four of the Ten Commandments are summed up by "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Love for God is an everlasting principle. The cross of Christ did not do away with that principle. No. The cross established, or fulfilled that principle. The Father and the Son are one; they are in harmony. John 10:30 "I and my Father are one" (KJV). The Father did not establish the law in order for the Son to do away with it. Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them" (RSV).
The second part of the law is "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The last six of the Ten Commandments delineate the principles of human relationship and interaction. These principles will never pass away.
The apostle Paul uses different words to restate the same principle, in the book of Galatians and in the book of Romans. Galatians 5:13, 14 "For you have been called to live in freedom-not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (NLT). Again, in Romans Paul voices the same concept:
Romans 13:8-10 Love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (RSV)
Christ's life and death unfolded the beautiful principle of benevolent love that is the essence of God's Law of life, his "Ten Words." Jesus went from place to place healing all who came to Him. He raised the dead. He fed the hungry. The people were attracted to Jesus because he showed as well as told them that their heavenly Father loved them. Today, we as Christians will find our witness more effective if we can demonstrate God's love in real, practical ways. Religion is more than learning and speaking the right words and doctrines; it is living out the principle of self-sacrificing love that gives life to our profession of faith.
Jesus Lived the Law. He Didn't Condemn
Jesus explained that he had not come to condemn the world, but to save it. Prostitutes, thieves, murderers, sinners of all classes, and innocent little children, felt loved and comfortable in his presence. Jesus' eyes revealed to those in his presence that he could read their heart and soul. His eyes also revealed that he loved them, and did not condemn them. Consider the woman at the well. Jesus told her that she was living in sin, yet she knew that he loved her. She called the whole town to come and hear Him (see John 4:4-42). Jesus' life, work, teaching, death, and resurrection broaden, deepen, and correct our understanding of God's law of love.
John 3: 17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (KJV). Jesus did not, does not, and will not condemn the world. Nor does God the Father or his law condemn. Jesus is the unfolding of the written law, the law of love.
Many of the scribes and Pharisees felt condemned by Jesus' presence, but Jesus did not condemn them. Their sense of condemnation came from their love of sin and darkness, their refusal of Christ's forgiveness. Jesus spoke in sorrowful tones when he gave the church leaders of his time these powerful rebukes.
Matthew 23: 23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." (NKJ)
Matthew 23: 31-39 "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' " (NKJ)
In these passages Jesus is not seeking to condemn the church leaders of his time, the scribes and Pharisees. But he does reveal to them their lost condition and the horrible fate that awaits them. Jesus' loving motive is to awaken these leading men to their true need. Jesus' lament is not so much for any specific evil deed of these leaders, as it is for their refusal, their unwillingness to accept Him, their only hope. They would not believe. Jesus also showed them that they did not understand that the deep spiritual principles, the essence of the Ten Commandments, "mercy and justice" form the heart of the law of God. Keeping the letter of the law of God entitles no one to Heaven. But, no one will enter Heaven who willfully disregards the Ten Commandments.
An Enemy of the Law
Matthew 5:19-22 So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires. "You have heard that people were told in the past, 'Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.' But now I tell you: whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, whoever calls his brother 'You good-for-nothing!' will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. (TEV)
"Least in the Kingdom of heaven" means least in heaven's opinion. Therefore, those who teach that the law has been done away with will be viewed as enemies of God and his law. Lucifer tried to change God's law in Heaven. Being confined to the earth, he now tries to enlist men on his side to battle against God's perfect law of unselfish love. Satan subtly attacks God's law. He clothes his deceptions in lofty, grace-filled words. He twists the concept of God's grace to thwart its very purpose.
Satan has won the hearts of untold millions in this manner. Some Christians will argue that they are under grace and that the law has been done away with. However, God's law of love is from everlasting to everlasting. No matter how slick Satan's arguments, he cannot change or annul God's law. God is the rock of our salvation; the stone tablets, the table of the testimony; the Ten Commandments are a written description of God's character, the constitution of Heaven, and the foundation principle that grace builds upon.
Before the end of the world all people will be brought to the point of decision; all will have to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Those who choose man's laws over God's laws will receive the mark of the beast. All will have to choose between light and darkness, selfishness and unconditional love, eternal life, and eternal death. This decision will not be made with mere words. Those who worship God will reflect his character. Our words and deeds flow from our character. We are saved by grace that changes our character. Our works, works that flow from a heart of love, will judge us. Those who reject God will reflect Satan's character. Sinners will be judged by their works.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (KJV)
God's Ten Commandments describe the path of life. All other paths lead to death. God's law is pure, holy, beautiful, eternal, and practical. Our loving heavenly Father is not like a spoiled child who demands that all others play by his rules or else. God does not say that it's my way or the highway. Our Father gently, humbly, but firmly and clearly points and leads each of his beloved children to the path of life.
His Son, Jesus, is the only man that fully walked the path of life, that is, he obeyed the Ten Commandments. The life of Christ is our example. We must walk even as he walked. The death of Christ reveals God's forgiveness of sin; it also provides the power and the grace to overcome sin. We may be weak, we may falter, stumble, and fall into sin, but as Christians we must not excuse sin. To excuse sin would be to join with Satan in alleging that God is unjust.
God is just. His character of love is the foundation, the very structure, and substance of law in Heaven. He never changes. James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing" (CEV).
God's character is the law of Heaven. It cannot be changed, set aside, or safely ignored. Jesus' death on Calvary shows us that sin (transgression of the law) leads to death. Jesus did not die so that God's law of life could be set aside. No, Jesus died to reconcile us back to God and his law of life. If the law of life, God's character, the law of Heaven, could have been set aside, Jesus would not have had to die. It is because God's law of love and life cannot be changed that Jesus had to die in order to rescue us from Satan's dominion of sin, selfishness, and death. God is love. Love is not arbitrary, but practical. Love does not look for a way to punish, but to restore.
Our heavenly Father is not an arbitrary dictator. He grants freedom of choice to all his creatures. He reaches out to each individual, giving each person light and opportunity, warning and encouragement. But those who persistently harden themselves in unbelief and disobedience, he will give over to the inevitable results of their solemn decision. The wages of sin is death, eternal death.
The Law is Life. Sin Brings Death
Nevertheless, it is not God's law that brings death. No. God's law of love describes the path, the way of eternal life. All other paths, even though they may seem right to a man, lead to eternal death. Paul shows that God's law is not responsible for death.
Romans 5:12-14 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (KJV)
Adam brought sin into the world. Sin brought death into the world. Death does not come from God or his law, but rather from sin. "Sin is not imputed [counted] when there is no law." Paul reasons that God could not have counted men's sins against them before the law was given through Moses. "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses."
Paul's reasoning further implies that the letter of God's law did not bring death, as death reigned before the letter of the law was given. Trying to earn salvation by keeping the letter of the law results in death.
The principles of God's law were known from the time of Adam and Eve. Remember that God justly expected Cain to know that murder was wrong. Yet God's law did not bring death to Cain. Sin brought death to Cain.
God seeks to shield us from the evils that result from transgression of his Law of life, love, and liberty. These evils are a natural, inevitable consequence of rebellion against love. Love brings life, joy, and meaning. Sin and selfishness bring sadness, suffering, and death. Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have those who love thy law; nothing can make them stumble" (RSV).
Our loving heavenly Father has given us everything that he has and is in order to draw us back into harmony with his perfect law of life and love. Sadly, many unwittingly unite with Satan in charging upon our Creator the woe, sin, suffering, and death that are the result of our rebellion and Satan's rule. Amazingly, in this time of great light, many are still entangled in Satan's lies. For them, Jesus' life and death have still not unveiled Satan's false accusations about the character of God. They worship a mixture of God and Satan, of good and evil, of light and darkness. They cannot keep the law of love because they have not let go of the fear that results from the misapprehension of God's character.
The Law and the Gospel
We can be brought into harmony with God's perfect law only by understanding God's love and allowing it into our hearts. Only by looking to Christ can we understand, and by faith receive, the perfect character of God's love. The law and the gospel are both describing the same thing, God's love, which is his character, the foundation of heaven's government. Jesus demonstrated God's love, mercy, forgiveness, and justice.
Christ's sacrifice is not a divine legal maneuver designed to satisfy the broken law and still allow the Father to forgive sinners. Christ's sacrifice reveals that God had already forgiven sinners. The law does not condemn sinners. Neither does Christ condemn sinners. Jesus, through his life, does present the lofty standard (Ten Commandments) of unselfish, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. By contrast with Christ we see that we are sinful, selfish, and destructive. That is not really condemnation at all! Rather, when we look at Christ we see both his goodness and our dire need. "If I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself." The law and the gospel are the same eternal truth.
1John 2:3-6 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (KJV)
What an incredible God we serve! What a high standard of love! Christ experienced the second death in order to reveal to us the height, the depth, and breadth of God's law of love! Jesus does not condemn us, but shows us his incredible love in order to attract us, to draw us into a saving relationship with Him.
Have you ever tried to win someone's friendship by condemning him, remarking how awful and sinful he was? It wouldn't work, would it? On the other hand, if you got to know him, his hopes and desires, his strengths and weaknesses, his flaws and foibles, and still made him feel comfortable, accepted, and loved you would almost certainly succeed in winning his friendship. If he knew that you loved him, he might even listen to your gentle suggestions in matters of a relationship with Jesus.
God is wise and practical. He accepts us and loves us. By this powerful, loving acceptance, God begins to change our hearts. Love generates love. God's heart is love. The reason that God's law of love could not save us is because we could not understand it without a Person demonstrating it. We needed to see Jesus living out its principles and expressing its depths through death.
The life and self-sacrificing death of Jesus Christ unfold the principles of God's Ten Commandments. In this sense God's moral law, the ten Commandments does save us, as its principles are unfolded, glorified, exalted, made visible in the person of Jesus. By beholding we become changed. By beholding Jesus our faith is strengthened.
The Sabbath Rest in Christ
Each of God's Ten Commandments instructs and blesses us. God designed the Ten Commandments to prevent us from falling into the black hole of sin. Gerald Schroeder teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In The Hidden Face of God, he asserts:
Time is the continuing reality of life. The relativity of time, discovered by Einstein, was the first of the steps that moved physics into the realm of metaphysics. I find it intriguing that time is also the first item that the Bible makes holy, holy, in the biblical sense of being separate from the remainder of existence. Not a place, not a person, but totally abstract, intangible time - the seventh day, the Sabbath. The Sabbath predates Moses, Abraham, Noah. Only Adam and Eve, the biblical parents of all humanity, predate the Sabbath. Long before the ritual of religion made its way into theology, the Sabbath was established. The Sabbath is the Bible's gift to all humanity; the crown of the six days of creation. It is the undersold superproduct of the Bible. It ritualizes contemplation, fits it into a timely rhythm, superimposing its cycle onto the other cycles that nature has imprinted through light and dark, satiation and hunger, phases of the moon.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew shabat, meaning to rest, to cease from work. The essence of the Sabbath is rest. Erich Fromm, in The Forgotten Language, described it perfectly: "Rest is a state of peace between man and nature. Rest is an expression of dignity, peace and freedom."
The Bible understands the human psyche. It realizes that harmony between the two lives we live, the temporal wants of the body and the transcendent needs of the soul, is rarely a spontaneous happening. Without a ritualized, established routine there is always a reason for the tangible immediate demands of life to take precedence over our more abstract spiritual desires.2
God does not demand that we go to a specific location, such as the North Pole, or Mount Everest, in order to worship Him. Although meeting together for church is a blessing. In the beginning, God made a special date with all mankind. He continues to be there for us each Sabbath, waiting to bless us with a double portion. All that we have to do is meet God at the specified time. Through the Sabbath, God comes to each person once a week. The Holy Spirit and the Sabbath both are a sign or seal of God's people.
Ephesians 1:13, 14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (NKJ)
Exodus 31:13 Speak also to the sons of Israel, saying, Truly you shall keep My sabbaths. For it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. (MKJV)
Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work, you nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it. (MKJV)
The seventh day Sabbath is the seal of God's law of unconditional, benevolent love. We can only keep the Sabbath holy if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and have God's noble law of love written in our hearts. Only as we are willing to sacrifice our time, possessions, money, pride, lives, and even our immortal inheritance for others, even for our enemies, can we enter into true Sabbath rest. Then we will be able to delight in the law of God's love. Then we will bring forth fruit and prosper.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (RSV)
Jeremiah 6:16 So says Jehovah, "Stand by the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls." But they said, "We will not walk in it." (GLT)
James 2:8, 12 If you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. So speak and do as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty. (MKJV)
Only as we understand the incredible depths of God's love for us can we fully open our hearts to Him so that he can write his law in our hearts. Then we will receive the seal of God's law of love through faith and the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. Then we will be ready to stand in the judgment.
When we love others as Christ has loved us, we will be ready to face persecution. With Christ filling our hearts with his benevolent love, we will love our persecutors more than our own lives. Then our interest in the salvation of men will exceed our interest in food, water, security, safety, or any worldly comfort. Then our faces will shine with the glory of God's law as Moses' face shined from the glory of God's law. It is God's law, his character of love that motivated Him to sacrifice all to save us. What an awesome God we serve!
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