the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Last week's article ended with the claim that obedience to God's law helps develop a strong assurance of salvation in the Believer. We will discuss additional benefits of obedience in the next article but this week we consider which commandments we are required to keep. Clearly the laws of sacrifice have been fulfilled in Jesus along with dietary and land based laws (Mark 7: 19, 2 Corinthians 1:20 etc.), but what about the remainder?
Well, Jesus said the law and the prophets hang on two particular commands: love for God and love for our neighbor (Matthew 22:35-40). So all we need is love, right? True but what is love? Is it a special feeling we have? Are we keeping the law when we have affection for a brother or sister even as we fail to call them to account for their misdeeds? Are we loving if we make no effort to preserve the property rights of our neighbor? Do we love God when we claim he has no jurisdiction over civic society? How do we really know if we are loving as we should? In short, how do we define love? The answer is clear; we define love according to the Bible.
The Bible says, You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him (Leviticus 19:17). The Scripture also says you shall not steal (Exodus 20:15) and if you see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself (Deuteronomy 22:1-3).
God's word says we must protect weak and vulnerable members of society but the lack of civil sanctions for failing to do so tells us charity is a matter between God and the individual (Deuteronomy 15:7-10, 24:19-22). Moreover, Scripture reveals that a civil government exacting taxes equal to God's tithe is tyrannical and seeking to usurp God (1 Samuel 8:11-18).
The problem with some Christians is that they claim Christ as Lord and Savior, say they love God and others but “love” in a fashion ignorant of love's biblical definition. The result is a love that is either negligent or legalistic.
“Love” that looks the other way or makes excuses for bad behavior confirms sin. “Love” that is shrinks from preserving property rights is powerless. “Love” that shrugs while civil government imposes a total tax burden exceeding nine percent and redistributes wealth in the name of charity is unavailing.
Moreover, “love” that drives a struggling brother out of the church under the guise of biblical consistency is not love but legalism. “Love” that endorses eminent domain as a means of pursuing the greater good is not love but power religion. “Love” that looks to the State to make sure everyone has their fair share is not love but idolatry.
Thus, if we hope to love truly, we must know and obey God's law. For, we are certain that we have love for the children of God, when we have love for God and keep his laws. For loving God is keeping his laws: and his laws are not hard (1 John 5:2-3).
Next week: further benefits of obedience.