“What we need to do is get code 318 passed this week, but OBAAAAAMA won’t stand for it. Thinks it’s too ‘Christiany’ and imposes on people’s rights,” bellows out one older man at a neighborhood coffee shop. “Shame too. If only we had that law in place, all these hooligans would straighten up, and the world would be a better place.”
It’s a common thought among most, that the way to govern people is by an endless set of rules, placing the decision of whether to do wrong or not based on the possible legal ramifications that can exist from such. If there is a law against every immoral action that can be performed, in other words, then man would be inherently good, and we would all love each other. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.”
Many have tried to apply this same reasoning towards the Bible, especially the New Testament, turning the different epistles that Paul and others wrote into a sort of “rule book” for our lives, and escaping the very personal element with which they were written. Now, while I would never, for one second, insinuate in any way that the New Testament is “not authoritative,” or “not necessary to follow,” you and I would both agree that the book of Colossians looks very little like the book of Leviticus. This new dispensation is not one that lists offenses and punishments in a line by line format, but rather “reproves, rebukes, exhorts” us all into a standard of living that is what God desires for His people, and cannot be written down in less than a million pages. “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it’” (Jeremiah 31:33). Though there are several tenets of our faith that are spelled out very clearly in the Bible, a great deal of responsibility falls on the individual to “have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The code of standards, more or less, starts with the heart.
Take the laws that Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount for instance. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus tells us that, “everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Even if a system of laws were in place to govern the deepest, most intimate forms of our walk with God, how would anyone be able to discern such a sin exists in the first place? How would anyone besides the individual be able to spot that? It would truly be something that was “between you and God.” There must then be a responsibility of self to govern self, not relying on their walk with God to be a result of unconscious map following, but a deep, abiding attachment to the Word of God, and a correct and doctrinal application of it to our lives.
The responsibility of self to govern self places more responsibility on the individual to make their life right with God. “Working out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) applies to making sure wherever you are with God, your obedience is taking the front seat. YOU are constantly monitoring YOU, and not relying on a line by line system of rituals to do it for you. And when we read the New Testament, isn’t that what it seems the writers were after anyways? The epistles are packed with a feeling not of, “do this, do that,” but with a “you should already know this.” But make no mistake brethren, this in no way nullifies obedience. Rather it enhances it, making the following of the Bible not a system of obligation, but a system of thankfulness. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).Last modified: January 24, 2019