Thank God for the Law

Philip Ryken’s book “Written in Stone” opens with the following:

In their book The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim lay down the law for postmodern times.  They observe that today there is “absolutely no moral consensus at all. . . . Everyone is making up their own personal moral codes–their own Ten Commandments.”  Patterson and Kim proceed to list what they call the “ten real commandments,” the rules that according to their surveys people actually live by.  These rules include the following:

— I don’t see the point in observing the Sabbath;

— I will steal from those who won’t really miss it;

— I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn’t cause any real damage;

— I will cheat on my spouse–after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same;

— I will procrastinate at work and do absolutely nothing about one full day in every five.

These new commandments are based on moral relativism, the belief that we are free to make up our own rules, based on our own personal preferences.  The law is not something that comes from God, but something we come up with on our own.  And our laws usually conflict with God’s laws.  It is not surprising that what Patterson and Kim call the “ten real commandments” generally violate the laws that God gave to Moses: remember the Sabbath, do all your work in six days, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, and so forth.  We have become a law unto ourselves.

I have to admit that when I read the first postmodern law listed above regarding the Sabbath, it reminded me of the post I wrote about three weeks ago entitled Time To Worship, where I elaborated on Bill Gates statement, “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”  In contemplating what Mr. Gates said about the Sabbath, it occurred to me that probably a lot more would take his position if we had his wealth.  It kept me from too quickly climbing up on soapbox to think that removed from my dependence upon God, I might say the same thing.  Thank you, Lord.  Let my prayer be as your proverb:

Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
(Proverbs 30:7-9)

Ryken goes on to say:

One would hope to find that the situation is somewhat better in the church.  Surely God’s own people honor the permanent, objective standard of God’s law!  Yet the church is full of worshipers who d not even know the Ten Commandments, let alone know how to keep them.  This problem was documented in a recent report from the Princeton Religion Research Center.  The headline read, “Religion is Gaining Ground, but Morality is Losing Ground,” and the report showed how recent increases in church attendance and Bible reading have been offset by a simultaneous decline in morality.

How is this possible?  How can people be more interested in God and at the same time less willing to do what he says?  The only explanation is that the people do not know the God of the Bible, because if they did they would recognize the absolute authority of his law.  Respect for God always demands respect for his law.  And whenever people have a low regard for God’s law, as they do in our culture, it is ultimately because they have a low regard for God.

To elaborate on this thought, I thought I would repost a few words spoken by Conrad Mbewe that seem to fit nicely with what I believe Ryken rightly asserts.

Even when we hear that today there are those who are running to God, Adam and Eve ran away. They wanted nothing to do with him, because their hearts had become sinful.

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Here the whole of the human race are being divided into two categories, those who are living according to the Holy Spirit and those who are hostile to God, enemies of God. They may be religious people and church goers, but all you need to do is open the God of the Bible before their eyes and before long they will be hissing at you and will run you out of the church. They are worshiping a God of their own making

They are worshipping a god who doesn’t mind their sin and pleasure seeking. A God who tickles them in the midst of the sinfulness, that god they will worship.

But once you declare a holy and righteous God who is jealous for his own honor and who says you are to live for me and sacrifice to me and I am to be your all in all; that God they do not want.

This is the God that they are hostile toward. They will not submit, they cannot submit, they are totally unable to do so.

It is true.  Some people in our society are flat-out God-deniers.  Atheists.  And such a one once was I.  Then there are many others who say they know God, but they do not know the God of the Bible and do not love His law.  They worship a god of their own making.  They may call themselves Christians.  Or Buddhists… or wiccans, or occultists, astrologers, or some other variety of New Age pagan.  And such a one, again, once was I.  But if His grace has truly found us and given us the heart transplant Ezekiel describes–if He has truly gifted us with repentance and faith, then His law will be wondrous and beautiful.  We shall sing with David, “O how I love your Law!  It is my meditation all the day.”

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Filed under Devotions, Theology, Worship

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