What Does God’s Law Require?
Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas on February 20, 2015
Last time we noted that a person comes to recognize sin from the law of God. God’s law — God’s Word, the Bible — shows us our sin and misery.
That raises another question: what does God’s law require? More specifically, what does God’s law require of us?
Jesus Christ gave this summary of God’s law in Matthew 22: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Many of us have heard those words before. Even if we haven’t, they probably don’t surprise us much.
What is more, each of us probably has a general sense of what those words mean, even without someone explaining them to us. We understand at least vaguely what loving God looks like, as well as what loving other people looks like. Thus, when we hear this summary of God’s law, our minds typically go straight into compliance mode.
We begin thinking about how our lives could or should change.
Today, however, let’s step out of compliance mode a moment and consider a more basic question: can we obey these commandments? Can we fulfill God’s law?
God’s law, as summarized by Jesus, requires us to love the Lord our God. Can we do that? Can we do that perfectly?
Notice Jesus didn’t say God requires us to try our best to love him.
God’s law requires us actually to love him with all our heart, soul and mind. Can we do that? Do we do that? Every minute of every day?
And how about loving our neighbor? God’s law, again as summarized by Jesus, requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Can we do that perfectly, every minute of every day?
The answer to all these questions is no. Even our best efforts to love God and our neighbor fall short of what God requires. Personal experience alone makes that clear.
Yet, more importantly, God’s Word makes that clear. Romans 3:10: “None is righteous, no, not one.” Later in verse 23 we also read, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Jeremiah 17:9 similarly declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
In short, here’s the diagnosis of God’s law concerning us and our hearts: by nature we do not and cannot do what God requires.
Think about that. Ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.
For further study, read Ephesians 2:1-3. For a word of hope, keep reading Ephesians 2:4-9.
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