Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Christ is the Motivation, the Holy Spirit is the Power, and His Law the Direction

The church so desperately needs clarity today on teaching on the law of God. So many pitfalls to fall into, so much error.

With lack of clarity, there is a lack of understanding, and ultimately lack of love for God and for our neighbor. 

One area where clarity would help us greatly is in understanding the mechanics of obedience. By this, I mean the motivation for obedience, the power to obedience and the direction of obedience.

It is great error and perhaps even heresy to confuse these. For instance, if the law is our motivation, we may become Pharisees in our faith. Or, if we believe we can obey on our own power, self-righteousness is a danger, and so on.

So, let's quickly consider all three of the above. 

First, Christ is the motivation for obedience. (Again, we are only speaking of believers who are already justified by faith alone in Christ alone. For more on justification go HERE.) The motivation to obey the Lord is Christ!

The person of Christ and his glorious attributes (characteristics) are worthy and should produce a desire to obey him.  Leviticus 19:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. This is repeated by Peter in 1 Peter 1:16.

Jesus taught us this principle in Matt 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Pretty simple.  We should be because God is.

The works of Christ should also be our motivation to obey.  Psalm 116:12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. ... 16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. We serve the Lord (in the way that he wants according to his word) because he has loosed our bonds. 

He had mercy on us, was gracious to us and forgave us our sins, that we might walk in obedience to him. Psalm 130:4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.  To fear him means to believe in him, love him, revere him, obey him. We cannot and are not fearing him while we are disobeying him. He forgives sins, in part, that he would be feared by his people.

These two - Christ's person and his works, are more than enough motivation to walk in obedience to his law. If they are not, then perhaps we need to hear the gospel again. If we're having motivation problems wanting to obey the Lord, we should spend more time meditating on who Jesus is and what he has done for us - that should help us greatly. 

Second, the Holy Spirit is the power by which we obey the law of God. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) 

It is by the Spirit of God alone that we do anything in obedience to his word, starting with believing in Christ. 1 Cor 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit

We can no more obey the Lord on our own power than we can leap over the moon. John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. The Psalmist declared this as well. Psalm 119:32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart

We only obey by the grace of God, when the Spirit of God works in us to empower us to do his will. We should, therefore, seek his grace to understand and obey his law.

Third, the law of God is the direction. It has no power to cause us to obey, and should not be our motivation. When the law of God is our motivation to do something, we have become Pharisees. I am going to church because the law says to... etc...

Rather, the law of God informs us as to what we should do in light of who Christ is and what he has done for us. 

Because of Christ, we should do something. What is it? The law of God teaches us. 

It is a compass that always points in the direction of love, of holiness (in behavior), of peace (of mind), of joy in the Spirit and so on. If it were an app on our phones, we could plug in a situation and the law would tell us what we should do - to be loving, to obtain blessing and peace and joy in the Lord. 

God's law will do this every single time - teach us what the holy, righteous and good thing to do is...  It will never lead us to the wrong path. Because of this, the Psalmist loved the law of God. 

Psalm 119:97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me

Once we look at Christ for motivation, and to the Lord for power (from the Holy Spirit), then we look to the law to see what we should do.  

Keeping these three truths straight will give us clarity and help us to live lives in accordance with God's will.

For motivation - look at Christ and his works
For power to obey - pray to God to give you strength through the indwelling Holy Spirit
For direction on what to do - look to God's law, which informs us as to what we should do to live and love as Christians

May the Lord give us clarity concerning his law today, that we might walk in ways pleasing to him. Amen.

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