the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The third point in the Lord's prayer is the central component in the covenant sequence: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10b). This section concerns the ethics of those who live under the mediate representation of Jesus. If Christ is the master, we are required to live in a fashion pleasing to him and the only “moral philosophy” appropriate for the Christian is God's law.
Some Christians object to the suggestion that we are required to live according to the principles given us in God's written revelation. “We are not under law but under grace” they claim (Romans 6:14-15). “Not only that,” they cry, “Jesus said the whole of the law is summed up by the command to love God with our entire being and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39, Romans 13:8). These well-meaning saints are right – up to a point.
To be under law is to be in the natural state (unsaved) and subject to the condemnation of the law. To be under grace is to be free from the condemnation of the law and to have God's holy law written upon our heart. Hence, we are not forced by external pressure to walk in obedience but are compelled by an internal gratitude to show love to our Savior by walking even as he walked (1 John 2:6). Nevertheless, we still require the law of God, as understood in Christ, to guide our walk (Hebrews 7:12, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Colossians 2:6, Titus 2:12).
It is also true that the law is summed up in the commands to love God and our neighbor. However, it requires a thoroughgoing knowledge of the Word to properly define love. We have the tendency to define love as whatever makes us feel warm and fuzzy. All too often our view runs contrary to God's. For instance, many Christians believe it is loving to ignore another person's sin – to simply live and let live. After all, who are we to judge? However, the Bible says, Don't hold grudges. On the other hand, it's wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting (Leviticus 19:17, Contemporary English Version. See also, Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 27:5, 27:6, Matthew 18:15-17 etc.). This is just one example of how godly love can be very different from human love. Thus, it is critical to understand God's word in order to love as we ought. If love, as defined by God, is the measure of all behavior then we need to know how to love as a spouse, a parent, a child, a business owner, an employee, a customer at a store, a citizen in the voting booth, a doctor seeing patients, a mill worker running a machine, a housewife doing dishes, a janitor pushing a broom and so on. In short we need to know how biblical law applies to every facet of life.
At the consummation of all things the kingdom of God will be fully realized but in this age the only way God's kingdom will come on Earth as it is in heaven is through God's will being done on Earth as it is in heaven. Remember, the kingdom of God is the reign of Christ in the lives of his people. This lordship is manifest in the followers of Jesus as we show God's love in our arena of activity (again, as defined by his law). In this fashion the will of God is manifest on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore we must pray for a love of God's law, an understanding of its application in this age and a heart of obedience to carry it out (Psalms 119:97-104 etc.).
Next we examine the blessings enjoyed by the obedient and the penalties incurred by the disobedient.