The Divorce of Love and Law?

“How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.” Psalm 128:1, NASB

For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:9-10, NASB

“RT @OmegaFaith You cannot live the Ten Commandments, nor were they intended for you to live, they are a tutor to teach you your need for a Savior: Christ.”

Ok, I had to respond to this tweet by @OmegaFaith. I know it’s a reference to Galatians, and I know Paul says in Romans that we are not under law but under grace. However, does that really mean we aren’t expected to keep the Ten Commandments?

I’m afraid there are too many plain, straightforward, no-nonsense Scriptures that teach otherwise.

The law of God is always associated with love in the Bible. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” and, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” in John 15:10.

Just as by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), by the law is the knowledge of love. We don’t know what love is until God defines it for us in the Ten Commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:2-3.

Here, John says that God’s commandments are not burdensome. But doesn’t saying that we cannot and were never meant to keep them logically contradict this verse?

What’s more, we see that the love of God requires keeping His commandments. Jesus said it is by our love for one another that the world will be able to identify us as His disciples (John 13:35). We therefore must understand that in order to keep the commandment to love each other with a divinely inspired love, we must also keep the Ten Commandments. (Or, is it really possible for me to love my neighbor while stealing from, lying to, and betraying him?)

In fact, Christ said that the whole law and the prophets can be summed up in loving God with everything we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). Loving God’s way and keeping His commandments are inseparable.

This is not to say we are saved by works, but rather that the verity of our salvation is demonstrated by our bearing the fruits of the Spirit, of which love is foremost (Galatians 5:2223). This point cannot be over-emphasized: we can NOT keep God’s law of our own efforts – we can do so only when we are in Christ. Peter tells us that God gives us divine power to walk in obedience (2 Peter 1:3; see also Ezekiel 36:26-27).

It is by His power, not ours, that we can love His way. We can only love His way by obeying His commandments; and only by putting our faith in Him can we obey them (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

The more we love God, the more His law will become our delight, and the more we will seek to please Him even in the thoughts of our hearts (Psalm 19:14). Our obedience becomes the ultimate love song to our beautiful Creator.

What do you think? Are you comfortable saying that God never intended for people to keep the Ten Commandments?

The World Outside Your Bubble – Review of Max Lucado’s NEW book, Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado (published by Thomas Nelson)

The challenges humanity presently faces are of a magnitude that defies comprehension. The sheer scale of global crises such as poverty, hunger, disease, and human trafficking can easily numb us into hopelessness. After all, what can one person really do to turn back the tide of human suffering?

In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado reminds us of what’s possible. Using the historical narrative found in the New Testament book of Acts, Lucado highlights the way the first century Christian church put their faith into action, and how the results profoundly changed their world. Drawing lessons from their lives, he shows us how we too can do the kind of good that will outlast our own lifetimes.

I brought this book with me to Starbucks on my lunch break one weekday. On my way in, I brushed off a boy who was selling products to raise money “for a good cause” just outside (I was the second consecutive person to do so). Honestly, I hadn’t even considered helping him, and before I could blink, I was already safely inside. As I sat reading, though, I realized that I hadn’t allowed myself to truly see or empathize with him. I lifted my gaze and noticed several other people coldly ignoring his pitch as they passed him by. I was so inspired by what I had just read that I had an instant change of heart. Suddenly, I felt compassion on the boy and recognized that God had given me an opportunity to let someone know that He loves him. As I passed him the second time, I stopped and handed him a five dollar bill. When he asked me which one of his items I’d be taking, I told him, “Nothing. I just wanted to tell you that Jesus loves you.”

I walked back to my car overwhelmed with emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I know I didn’t save the world. I just listened to the voice of God, and afterward, I could feel that a powerful current of love had just passed through me, from the heart of God, to that boy.

Often, people say they want to lose themselves in a book, to turn their gaze inward. This is one of the rare books that does just the opposite – it turns your gaze outward. In a culture where everyone lives in their own bubble, Lucado encourages us to take an honest look at how we respond when we see someone in need. This is just one example of the epiphanic moments I had while reading Outlive Your Life. I highly, highly recommend it.