Inscribed into our Hearts
His obedience inspires our love
Some time ago I saw the caricature of a man descending from a mountain, with two stone tablets in his hands. He looked tired and worn out and was introduced as a modern Moses. Seeing himself surrounded and jostled by eager media personnel, he began his statement with the following words: “Because of the sensitive nature of this matter, my source wishes to remain anonymous.”
How do we think about God’s law and the Ten Commandments today? Is this a “sensitive” issue (or doctrine) that we prefer to pass by quietly?
In contrast to this caricature Moses, the real Moses of days past, begins his message by referring immediately to the true source: “And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God’ ” (Ex. 20:1, 2, NIV).1 God clearly distinguished Himself (from the other gods) as the author of the Ten Commandment. It’s quite easy to say that “the Ten Commandments are no longer binding.” But how many Christians would be able to say, “The divinely inspired Ten Commandments are no longer binding”? The source of a text tells us something about the content of the text and is closely linked to its authority. When we neglect the supreme source of the commandments, we carelessly deny their authority (Ex. 31:18).
The Main Point
Salvation is centered on Christ alone. If there is no sinner, there is absolutely no need for a Savior. But the plan of salvation was made because humanity disobeyed God’s commandment. In consequence, we became sinners and needed a Savior. The Godhead made a plan—and His name was Jesus. His saving grace was our only hope, and it was to transform us. The Bible makes it clear: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6, NIV). Earlier, in verse 4, John has already defined sin: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (NIV).
We sin by breaking the law, which means that we destroy our relationship with the Lawgiver. Even by way of definition, lawlessness is having no respect or regard for the law. If we believe that Jesus has saved us from sin, we must believe also that in Him is the power to obey God’s commandments, since in Him is no sin (verse 5). This obedience is not based on legalism, but is wrought by the grace that produces love in us (1 John 5:3).
Romans 3:20 reads: “Through the law we become conscious of our sin” (NIV). Paul later on further elaborates this by noting: “Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, ‘You must not covet’ ” (Rom. 7:7, NLT).2 He continues: “But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes” (verse 13).
As we open the Word, God’s Spirit convicts us of sin and reveals to us its awful consequences. As a reminder, God’s law drives us to focus on Christ. It drives us to yearn for a Savior. Hence we thank God that He wrote the law on the tablets of our hearts and minds (Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:10).
The Testimony of Love
A lawyer once asked Jesus about the greatest of the law, and this was Jesus’ answer: “ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these’ ” (Mark 12:29-31, NIV).
No one should presuppose that this is a new commandment of the New Testament. Jesus quoted directly from the Pentateuch—something He often did while teaching (Deut. 6:4, 5; Lev. 19:18). God’s people knew this law of love from the beginning—only they had neglected it.
I can imagine the lawyer nodding with a smile, saying, “Well said, teacher!” (Mark 12: 32, NIV), as Jesus continued: “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (verse 34).
We too are not far from the kingdom of God when we come to realize the true nature of God’s law, and, more specifically, the Ten Commandments. It is through the law that we can learn how to love God and our human neighbors. We realize that God must be first and foremost. We understand the importance of obedience and respect between children and parents. We appreciate the sacred love relationship between husband and wife. God’s law, written in our hearts and minds, helps us find access to the unlimited pool of divine love, which we, in turn, are able to share with those around us.
The Cross and the Law
Ultimately it is important that we realize that the cross defines love (John 3:16) while the law demands love (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2). We keep the law (which appears in tandem to the testimonies of Jesus in Revelation 12:17). Only true understanding of the cross and the law makes a complete Christian. The testimony of Jesus Christ and God’s law go together and are a marker of God’s end-time people.
God has given us His commandments to guide our moral behavior. They are the only legal principles that God has provided to rule our lives. They are meant to govern our mind and conscience; and when they rule our nations they are a blessing. Yes, at times we may stumble, but His grace is always sufficient for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. We obey because we love. That’s what He lived in His life, and that’s all that He demands from us as well.
1Texts credited to NIV are from theHoly Bible, New International Version.Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from theHoly Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.