Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT
"'. . . that He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.'
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of God from Jerusalem."
Micah's promises of a day when people would seek God's commandments is surely one of the most beautiful of God's promises, and as we survey similar prophecies, we begin to understand why the age that denies the abiding validity and importance of the Law of God is the same age that neglects or abuses the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit: The Scriptures promise that the great work of the Holy Spirit would be to change people's hearts and make them love God's Law! The same prophets who upheld and applied the Law of God in Israel prophesied of the work of the Spirit:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:25-27
The very purpose of the giving of the Holy Spirit was to empower the saints of God to resist the idolatries of Empire in obedience to His Law! The New Testament confirms that the distinctive mark of the New Covenant believer would be his changed heart with the statutes of God written upon it, even as the prophet Jeremiah had spoken:
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put my laws into their mind and write them upon their hearts. And I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for all shall know me from the least to the greatest.
Jeremiah 31:31-34, quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12
Some have the mistaken notion that Jesus overturned the Law of the Old Testament by initiating a new ethic, one that had its source in the heart, which stands in stark contrast to the Old Testament Law, which, we are told, was concerned only with external actions, not with the heart. This is utterly false. The idea has its historical origins in those called "antinomians" ("against law"). These people would excuse all manner of sins in their lives by saying "Well, my heart is right" or "He is sincere" or "That's how the spirit led me."
The Old Testament was emphatically concerned with the heart. A quick glance at a concordance would reveal many more verses than the following: Deuteronomy 4:9,29; 5:29; 6:5f. + 30:14; 10:16, 11:18; 30:6-10; I Samuel 16:7; I Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 6:8; 12:14; 25:2; 31:21; Ezra 7:10,27; Nehemiah 9:8; Psalms 51:6,10,16-17; 37:31; 40:8; 119:11,32,34,36,69,80, 112; Proverbs 3:1-3,5; 4:4,21; 6:20-23; 7:3; 16:2; Isaiah 1:10-20; 51:7.
This is why Jesus can rebuke the Pharisees and hold them guilty for their hypocritical "legalism." If the Older Testamental Law is viewed (wrongly) as lacking the inward Spirituality provided by the "higher righteousness" of the New Testament, then Jesus is being terribly unfair in condemning the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees as being merely external. After all, they would then be living up to the righteousness of God as far as it had been revealed to them.
But, of course, the Prophets had been condemning pharisaism for hundreds of years. The Israelites loved to claim full obedience to the Law by obeying only the most visible and easiest commands, such as the sacrificing of animals and acts of ritual cleansing. But they ignored the weightier matters of the Law. Jesus' message was thus very much that of the Prophets, only incomparably clearer and stronger. This is why He was put to death. This is why His followers must obey the Law and the Prophets.
In the political realm, the politicians and jurists claim to be defenders of "law and order," or the "Rule of Law," all the while reducing law to fascism and waging war on peace. Their devotion to secular humanistic codes of law is idolatry. In their "separation of church and state" they neglect the weightier matters of God's Law - Justice, Mercy, and Faith - and this political pharisaism produces ever-increasing lawlessness and disorder.
Not only did the Old Testament command obedience from the heart, but it commanded obedience to the same kind of commands as the New Covenant. With the coming of the Messiah-Savior the Commands of God are clearer to us, but they have not been qualitatively changed. The Spirit, as we have seen, writes the Law of God on the hearts of the believers. He who walks after the Spirit seeks to obey the Law fully and whole-heartedly.
Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT
(37)There is little doubt as to which "spirit" was leading many of them (I John 4:1-3).
(38) cf. Matthew 5:20.
(39) Matthew 23:23 - Justice, Mercy, and Faith; 1 Samuel 15:22; 2 Chronicles 30:18-20 (cf. Mark 12:33); Psalm 40:6-8 (Hebrews 10:4-9); 51:16-17; Proverbs 15:8; 21:3; 28:9; Isaiah 1:11-17; 58:6-7; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Hosea 6:5-6 (Matthew 9:11-13; 12:6-7); Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8.
(40) Matthew 23:34-38; 21:33-46.
(41) 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Matthew 5:17-20.