Is Christianity "love" without "obedience"? ...

Loving God versus Obeying God's Law

Bill Faith: Surely every Christian loves God the Father Almighty! Surely all Christians love their Savior, Jesus Christ! Surely every Christian wants to "live by every word of God" (Luke 4:4)!

The reference point for Christians is the Bible, the revelation of God to mankind and source book for God's commands to us, known as the divine Law. God's laws are holy and righteous (Romans 7:12). They are the instructions for the way we should conduct our lives. Yet throughout history we see people trying to side-step the laws of God. Even today many Christian churches do not place as much emphasis on observing God's law as they do on `love'. But the fact is, we need both!

Jesus the Lawgiver

Writes the apostle John: "If someone says, `I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20). As we can see, God condemns those who claim to love Him while they hate their brothers. Again in 1 John 3:14 it states, "...he who does not love his brother abides in death." Such statements we need to seriously take to heart especially in these days when we see communities dividing into factions.

Concerning the observance of the Law we find the following, "He who says, `I know Him.' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4). How can anyone claim to know God yet teach that it is not necessary to obey His laws?

Heart Religion

Many fail to understand that the `New Covenant' includes a better way to implement the same set of laws that were given on Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments:

`Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, `when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,' says the Lord. `But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days,' says the Lord, 'I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people' (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Notice that the law was not prophesied to be done away, but rather to be put into our hearts and minds.

In Isaiah 42:19,21 we find another prophecy concerning Christ and the law. It reads,

My servant [Jesus] ...will magnify the law and make it honorable." When you magnify something you enlarge it and bring it out more of its detail and richness. Jesus revealed the fulfillment of this prophecy when he explained, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not commit adultery.' (one of the Commandments) But I say to you that whosoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

By magnifying the law and making it honorable, the spiritual intent of the law is now emphasized which goes far beyond the mere the physical intent. God has raised His standards, not lowered them!

All God ever wanted was what was best for us! He designed us to be His children. We are happiest when we love and obey Him. He is a God who is totally righteous and holy. God cannot sin. And He wants us to follow in His footsteps. That person "who says he abides in Christ ought himself also to walk just as he walked" (I John 2:6).

False Teachers

There are those who believe that because Christ overcame sin and kept the law that now we don't have to keep God's laws. But what do the Scriptures tell us? Here's what Jesus said:

"Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

Jesus came to fulfill, to fill to the full (Gk. plereo). He fulfilled many prophecies - but not all. There are many in the Book of Revelation still to be fulfilled. He kept all of the Law that he could - but that was not all! He was not a Temple priest. He was not a woman. He could not keep the laws intended only for priests and women. No matter how you think about Jesus, there is still much to be fulfilled! So not even the smallest part has yet passed from God's Law!

Jesus made it quite clear that anyone who would break even the least commandment and teach people that it is alright would be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.

The fact is, God did not find fault with His laws but rather with the people who did not obey them.

"For if that first covenant had been faultless. then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them [the people], he says, `Behold the days are coming,' says the Lord, `when I will make a new covenant... (Hebrews 8:7-8)

The writer of Hebrews then proceeds to quote Jeremiah 31:31-34, quoted above. Under the New Covenant we now have a living High Priest, Jesus Christ, who can make intercession for us. One who was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. He is an intercessor who understands our weaknesses because He lived as a human being.

The Last Judgment

Jesus Christ is the ultimate judge - all judgment has been committed to Him (John 5:22). And He will judge righteously. He cannot be bribed or tempted as a human judge can. And, as we read in Numbers 15:15-16, He treats everyone alike.

"One ordinance shall be for you of the congregation and for the stranger who sojourns with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you."

God does not make one set of rules for one group of people and another set for another. He is not a respecter of persons.

In Revelation 20:11-12 is a reference to the final court appearance for everyone who has ever lived on this earth. It reads:

"Then I saw a great white [i.e., righteous] throne and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books."

The word "books" is the Greek word from which is derived the English word `Bible'.

The final ruling to be handed down from the highest court that exists will be holy, righteous and unbiased. The Lord will judge everyone according to their works as defined by the Bible. That final ruling will be in accordance with the spiritual Law of God - and that will include, but go far beyond the Ten Commandments.

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Vol. 5 No. 2, March-April, 2001. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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