God's Law

If we desire to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk. 12:30), then we will want to be aware of 4 patterns of sin that are common when it comes to God’s Law. As you read, take one command God has given us and think about how each particular pattern of sin might take shape in relationship to that command.

1. We Forget God’s Law

Years ago I remember being put on the spot and asked to write out the Ten Commandments in order (try it!). I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t remember them all, and I certainly didn’t get them in order. I’ve done the exercise with various Christian groups over the years and found the results indicate the widespread reality of this pattern of forgetfulness. It’s not simply the Ten Commandments we forget though. On another occasion I was asked to give as many verses as I could think of, from memory, that would speak to an issue like depression. Fortunately I could remember a few, but when I compared my notes with Scripture I found I had misquoted several. I had the general idea but lacked the precision that God’s Word is worthy of. We so easily forget what God has so graciously revealed; however, let’s not be content to simply memorize. Instead let’s take the attitude of the Psalmist who speaks of “delight” and “love”:

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Psalm 119:16

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97

2. We Take Away from God’s Law

God knew that one of our enduring temptations would be to take away from what he has said. This is why in both Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19 God commands his people to neither add nor remove from His Word. It’s a dangerous thing to forget God’s Law/Word, but it’s even more dangerous to outright deny it.

There is, of course, a place for a serious conversation about matters like the place of the Mosaic Law in the life of the new covenant believer. But concerned theologians have noted that, while this important conversation continues, more and more Christians behave like lawlessness in general is acceptable (when clearly “sin is lawlessness” 1 John 3:4). The antinomian (anti-law) disposition of our age promotes “freedom” to do whatever we think best. But this kind of pride will only lead to our fall. God still has a righteous standard his people are to live by.

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19

3. We Add to God’s Law

In the very same verses that God forbids subtraction from His Law/Word he also forbids addition. Imagine how blasphemous it would have been for Moses, on his way down the mountain, to engrave an 11th commandment to deliver to God’s people? To put man’s words or ideas on par with God’s is in many ways unthinkable! Yet the unthinkable happens regularly (a recent example can be found here).

Most people reading this aren’t thinking about adding a 67th book to the Bible, but we need to be very careful that we don’t slip into the subtle danger of putting a few words in the mouth of God by misquoting/misapplying Scripture or creating an extra rule like Eve did in the Garden (Gen. 2:17, 3:2-3). The longer I live the more fully I’m convinced of these words:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8

4. We Pretend to Obey God’s Law

Perhaps the most dangerous of all, however, is when we pretend to obey God’s Law (aka hypocrisy). This pattern of sin gives the outward presentation of obedience but inwardly has a heart far from God (Matt. 15:8). It has more concern for the opinions and praises of people than the thoughts and commendation of God. It also has a uniquely deadly capacity to produce ungraciousness in response to the sins of others.

The reason hypocrisy is so dangerous is, in part, because of its undercover nature – it can slip into the most influential of us overnight and go undetected by others for quite some time. Even though it may be undetected it can still infect others and spread pervasively like yeast (Luke 12:1). Before long everyone is acting but no one dares to confront each other and pull the mask off for fear their own mask will be removed and their hypocrisy exposed. Yet we need to be warned:

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Luke 12:2

Now what?

We repent. We acknowledge what we’ve done wrong. We apologize to God for disregarding His eternal Word. And, by the strength of the Spirit, we turn from our foolishness ways and seek to delight in the law of the Lord.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Psalm 1:1-6

#insightinaminute

Keep your eyes on Christ! (Hebrews 12:1-2)