The Blessed Path

Loving the Kids: School Bonds or Bondage

We have officially entered into a change of seasons.  If you are like me you can appreciate almost everything that comes with fall; from the cooler weather, to the anticipation of the holidays, or to thosebeloved November elections….hey, I said almost.  As much as I hate to admit it even the political cycle seems to return every fall.  Sadly, it doesn’t matter who wins for nothing seems to change.  After some reflection about what difference any investment of my precious time was making, I decided this year to pay closer attention to local politics.  For me, this meant focusing my attention on what was happening from Liberty to Austin, TX.  Changing Washington is beyond me and probably beyond changing outside of an act of Providence.  It is in this mindset that I recently stumbled across the wickedness of a school bond that will be on our local ballot in November.  This bond is not only fiscally ignorant, but morally evil.  Lest you think I am being too harsh in my opinion of this bond allow me to make my case.    

First we need to ask, “what exactly is a bond?” According to Wikipedia, “a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. Thus a bond is a form of loan: the holder of the bond is the lender (creditor), the issuer of the bond is the borrower (debtor), and the coupon is the interest.”[1]  In short, a bond is a loan or new debt.  In this case, the bond being sought after is the school district seeking to borrow money they do not have on behalf of the citizens upon the promise of future taxation.  Allow that statement to sink in for a minute.  The fact that most school districts regularly take advantage of bond debt should not cloud our understanding to the dangerous nature of taking on new debt.  Any household, business or community that wants to financially survive would be wise to consider the full implications of taking a loan before making their decision.  A few questions to ask might include: what do we need so urgently that we must take a loan to get?  What is it going to cost us?  Do we have the ability to repay this loan?  What happens if we can’t afford to repay it?  For Dayton ISD the urgent needs include 6 lighted tennis courts, concrete parking for buses, a new auditorium, a new practice gym, and a roof for the rodeo arena, etc.[2]   This particular loan for the citizens of the small rural community of Dayton, TX is to the tune of $87 million.  Once the interest is accounted for the total debt climbs up to neighborhood of $150 million.  Apparently the “community advisors” for Dayton ISD either didn’t ask these questions or came up with answers not based in reality.   Either way, they were led to the conclusion that this was indeed a wise decision for the community to get this loan.  One has to wonder if these folks would make the same decision on a personal level if it was exclusively their money being spent.  Would they personally take a loan to pay for lighted tennis courts?  Not likely.  So why do they think this community should?  One answer they give is because of the projected future growth.  What happens in the likely scenario[3] that the projected growth doesn’t reach their expectations?  Will the debt be forgiven? No!  The taxpayers and businesses of this rural community will be faced with a financial train wreck that is unavoidable.  They’ll be forced to split the bill.                

 Aside from being an unwise decision it is also an immoral one.[4]  While the Bible does allow for debt under certain circumstances, it is always to be done God’s way.  This means following the restrictions and limitations He has put in place when taking on debt.  Taking a loan is a voluntary act of submission that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As Proverbs 22 states, “the borrower is the servant to the lender.”[5]  To voluntarily take on debt is to make oneself a servant or slave to the debt and debt holder.   Paul said to the slave “if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.”[6] The inspired Word of God is clear that when there is a choice between economic freedom or slavery we ought to choose freedom.  God never expects His people to go into debt for their desires.  Extreme debt should only to be taken on in an extreme need.  I am confident in my assertion that tennis courts do not fall into the category of extreme need, but are rather a desire.  Another limitation on debt is: it must be a voluntary act.  It can never be forced on people that don’t want it.  How anyone could think that God would be pleased with people forcing their neighbors to take a loan is beyond me.  The fact that a local pastor would advocate such a position reveals his poor understanding of scripture.  To forcibly take something from your neighbor that he is unwilling to give is theft.  It is a violation of the 8th commandment.  For any group of people to vote to take other people’s money for their own purposes is simply theft by mob.  It is disregarding Christ’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves”[7]  Sure it may be legal, but it is against God’s law and therefore is wrong.  The legality of abortion never made it the right thing to do.  This debt is not being sought on behalf of the school board, but instead on behalf of the taxpayers and their children.  Remember our description from earlier, “the bond loan being asked is the school district borrowing money they do not have on behalf of the citizens upon the promise of future taxation.” 

What about the children?  Do we not have a moral obligation to our children?  Yes, actually we do and this bondage is not it.  The Bible states that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”[8]  Those that are pushing for this debt are literally leaving an inheritance of economic slavery to the kids all while doing it in the name of “for the kids.”  Shouldn’t we love our children?  Of course, but one has to ask, “what does that look like?”  Romans 13:8 says we are to “owe nothing to any man, but to love one another.”  Here is a two fold instruction.  First owe nothing (i.e; avoid debt) with the exception of love.  What is love?  The passage continues, “for he that loves another, has fulfilled the Law.”  To love is to keep God’s law in regards to your neighbor or your children.  To break God’s law by forcing debt upon them, robbing their inheritance, stealing their future income, and inheriting to them an economic slavery is anything but love.  It is in fact a wicked act.  

Will the people of this community consider this debt in light of God’s Word?  I truly hope so, but if their pastors don’t know better they probably don’t either.  We will try our best to change minds, but chances are things will remain the same until people return to God’s Word as the true source of all knowledge and wisdom.  I look forward to that season with a greater anticipation than I do towards fall.                                    


[3] 2003-2013 has shown decrease in population by 1.8 %

[4] As a Christian I base all morality on the Bible

[5] Proverbs 22:7

[6] 1 Corinthians 7:21

[7] Matthew 22:39

[8] Proverbs 13:22

Disqualified Civil Rulers

The last few months have been an awakening of sorts for me in a variety of ways. In early January, the primary election season in Texas began to kick into second gear.  It was at this point I began to become awakened to how much, dare I say it, evil was in my midst.  As a Christian, I knew I was to be a light to the world.  What was new to me, however, was the realm in which I was entering into, to shine my light.  I was venturing into the realm of politics.  Fully aware of the adage “politics is dirty”, I knew there was truth to it.  What I did not know was the source, depth, and acceptance of this “dirtiness”.  I say “dirtiness” but that actually is not the right word.  Dirt doesn’t sin.  It isn’t incompetent, dishonest or corrupt in practice.  Many of those in or seeking places of power are much worse.  They are, in fact, engaged in evil.

Lest you think I am over exaggerating, allow me to explain. Evil is, by definition, that which is immoral or wicked. In other words, evil is that which is contrary to righteousness, justice or truth. Now evil can be manifested in a variety of forms and degrees.  It can be diabolical, which leads to mass murder and such.  We immediately conjure up images in our heads of Stalin, Hitler or even millions of aborted fetuses.  This type of evil is usually obvious to spot or rather it should be.  But there is a much more subtle form of evil, the kind that masks itself under the guise of good.  This is the form employed far more frequently in my local political scene.  The corruption, lawlessness, and depravity that are seemingly on every level to one degree or another are nothing short of well… evil.  “This is politics”, you say, “of course there is corruption in politics.”  Yes, but the most surprising and offensive part of this corruption is that it is coming from the very people who claim to be “unashamed of their Christian faith” or even “the conscience” of their party, and on and on, ad nauseam.

Here are just a few examples though plenty more could be listed.

– The County Clerk requiring filings that the law does not require.  I’m not sure if it’s incompetence or otherwise, but it took under 30 minutes of research to discover the law.  Upon bringing this to the clerk’s attention, she persisted in “adding to” the law by continuing to require more than the law states.

– Republican Party Chairman intimidating my wife and kids at the polling places because she was promoting his opponent.  She was harshly warned of a supposed rule (not a violation of any law) that had been continuously broken by all the other candidates while she was complying with the rule 100%.  It was a passive aggressive intimidation move, plain and simple.

– US Senatorial Candidate and current US Representative, Steve Stockman, using manipulative polling, deceitful surveys, fake newspapers, crony endorsements, and several possible ethics violations all in his quest for another office.  This is documented here and here and here.

– A grassroots organization claiming to be the “conscience of the party” and the group standing up for “principles” decides to honor their endorsement of Rep. Stockman.  They did so even after becoming aware of his shenanigans and sleazy political schemes.  Apparently their “principles” include overlooking deception for a good old fashion back-scratching session.  After all, the ends always justify the means, right?

I know this to be the “standard operating procedures” for political campaigning, but that does not make it right.  Not only do these candidates reveal their hypocrisy, but they have actually disqualified themselves, Biblically, from the very offices they are seeking.  The Bible gives specific instructions when electing men as civil magistrates.  According to Exodus 18:21 it says you shall “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of the thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”  Note these simple requirements carefully.

1. Able men (competence)

2. Godly men (righteous character)

3. Trustworthiness (honesty)

4. Men who hate a bribe (i.e. not for sale)

We could stop right here and have enough to condemn most of the candidates that are seeking political office. However, the Bible has much more to say about our civil rulers.  When giving a clear explanation of the purpose for civil government and its rulers[1], Paul refers to civil rulers as “a minister of God to you for good.”[2]  Civil rulers (i.e. legislators, judges, etc) are ministers.  There is an important principle here that we need to understand.  We expect a certain quality of character in our ministers.  We should expect the same in our civil rulers for they are also ministers of a different jurisdiction.  We don’t though.  We expect them to cheat, lie, steal, and everything else that is contrary to righteousness.  What we ought to expect of them are the same qualifications that the Bible expects of ministers and deacons.  We should expect them to be above reproach, temperate, prudent, respectable, dignified, not double-tongued or greedy and so forth.[3]  God has a certain standard for men that serve in this ministerial role of civil ruler, however small or large.  Notice the qualifications are focused far more on character and worldview than on pedigree or privilege.  We should do the same.

While I don’t expect any candidates to remove themselves from any races or even offices, there is one thing we can do.  We can start raising the standards on the quality of men we are willing to put in positions of power.  We can find those candidates that are qualified and offer them our support.  We can dedicate our time, money, and energies to getting these men in office.  We can and must have the courage to call out those that have disqualified themselves.  We must be willing to call evil, “evil.”  We must refuse to vote for the “lesser of two evils” just because they are our friends, in our party, or benefit us the most.  We must stop sacrificing our principles on the altar of pragmatism.

This may lead some to the all too common conclusion that “Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics.”  This is the wrong conclusion.  What we must remember is that light is far more powerful than the darkness.  Light overcomes darkness.  What we need are more brave men willing to step down into darkness in order to expose it.  We must be willing to get our hands dirty and keep our souls clean before God and men.


[1] Romans 13:1-6

[2] Romans 13:4

[3] 1 Timothy 3:1-10

Preserving Life, Obeying Law

It was several months when I first ventured out into one of the most hostile places in the country.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I generally do not go seek after confrontation.  It was, however, inevitable at this place.  It was only a matter of time before I would be challenged on everything I believe.  I knew it would not be easy.  I knew there would be some opposition to my presence.  I had no clue as to how much… or by whom.  To be honest, the only reason I was even there was due to some mixture of obligation and peer pressure.  That would change very soon. This is an issue that until recently, I confess, I hadn’t thought much about.  I am speaking of the ever polemic discussion on abortion.  There can be no better example of how one’s worldview matters than at the doors of an abortion center. (I refuse to call them clinics.)

It is to be expected in a culture that hates God for there to be a great chasm between how the unbelievers and Christians will respond to this topic.  This is no surprise.  We would expect those that have no respect for the Author of life to have very little respect for life itself.  There are plenty of these people that frequent the abortuaries around the country.  Many hate God.  They will tell you so with an evil smirk on their face.  They are not the focus of this post.  Ours is an examination of the Christian culture.  It is introspective.  How are we, as Christians, to think about this issue?  What are we to do?  More importantly, how does the Bible present the issue of abortion?  I suspect most Christians are like I was, and think very little about this issue.  Now having been involved in this ministry and discussing my experience with many professed Christians, I have noticed some common attitudes towards abortion.  Most would agree with me, in principle, that abortion is wrong.  They might even agree that abortion is murder.  However after I press the issue a bit, I am likely to get a response that will fall into one of two categories.

Exceptions

The first, and most common, response I noticed was the need to allow for exceptions.  They would always preface this with an agreement that abortion was wrong.  That would be quickly followed by a plea that “we can’t be so firm in all cases.”  It is always in the name of compassion.  The most common reason for allowing an exception is the case of rape.  It seems so uncompassionate and cold to force a rape victim to have her assailant’s child.  We, rightly, look at these women who have gone through some traumatic experience with sympathy.  We want them to heal quickly.  We want them to move past this violation that has been forced upon them.  We can’t understand how they can heal with the constant reminder of a child.  We feel compassion as to how these children will be raised.  This leads us to another common reason for allowing exceptions.  We think it is compassionate and wise to consider what kind of childhood the baby would have.  We assume that if a mother is considering an abortion, she isn’t ready to be a parent.  If she isn’t ready, what kind of mother would she make if she did have the baby? It isn’t fair for the child to grow up in a family that doesn’t want him, is it?  We think of all the cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse, poverty, etc.  We don’t want to see children live that kind of life, so we allow for exceptions in our own heart.  It is the compassionate thing to do, we think.  There is one argument for exceptions that doesn’t even have a hint of compassion.  It is the case that we should allow for exceptions because the children will probably end up dependant on the state.  Since the state can’t afford many more dependants, we need to allow for abortions to save the state and those funding it.  This is by far the most offensive reason I have heard.  Sadly, I have heard it though.

Excuses

The second type of response is generally an excuse from being involved.  These are the people that agree abortion is murder.  They know it is wrong.  This is a large majority of the Christian culture.  They know it is wrong, but it remains distant.  They remain silent.  There is no reason for them to get involved because they personally would never have an abortion.  They are against it, but it doesn’t really affect them.  They think they have done their duty when they voted for a “pro-life” candidate for political office.  They stand in support of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  Perhaps they even send them a nice donation once a year.  They fool themselves into thinking that they are involved in the fight.  I can sympathize with this position.  Whatever the reason may be, we provide excuses from being personally involved in any significant way.  We vote Republican and assume our duty is over.  We may rationalize why we aren’t doing more, but the truth is we don’t want to do any more.

This is the sad state of our Christian culture.  We have come to a point where we are so self-centered that we just don’t care about an issue unless it invades our personal life.  We stand ready to be bold and make a statement to the world in defense of Chick-fil-A, but too busy to be bothered by the slaughtering of innocent babies.  I think it is safe to say, we have blindly wandered down the path to destruction.  We have allowed our friends, our culture and, yes, even our pastors to determine what is and what isn’t worth fighting for.  They ignore abortion and we don’t mind.  If we want to live a life blessed by God, we MUST return to the Bible.  We must return to the Law of God.  We must examine what God’s Law has to say about abortion.

Law

As it turns out, the Bible has much to say about the issue of abortion.  We will only look at four principles that can help guide us.  They should help us to start thinking more Biblically.  The 1st principle can be found in the Ten Commandments.  In Exodus 20:13, we find the sixth commandment,. “You shall not murder.”  It seems clear enough.  God is against murder.  It is wrong to murder according to His standard of righteousness and justice.  No Christian I know would advocate in favor of murder, but this only begs the question.  Is abortion murder?  Thankfully, God gives us examples on how to apply the Sixth Commandment.

 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”[1]

Here God gives a law covering the case of accidental abortion (murder).  A pregnant mother and her baby are unintentionally harmed by a man, who was in the midst of a fight.  He is held liable.  RJ Rushdoony points out several important implications of this text.  “First….the text cites, not a case of deliberate abortion but a case of accidental abortion.  If the penalty for even an accidental case is so severe, it is obvious that a deliberately induced abortion is very strongly forbidden.  Second, the penalty for even an accidental abortion is death.  If a man…unintentionally bumps a pregnant woman and causes her to abort, must suffer the death penalty, how much more so any person who intentionally induces an abortion?  Third, even if no injury results to either the mother or the fetus, the man in the case is liable to a fine and, in fact, must be fined.  Clearly, the law strongly protects the pregnant woman and her fetus.  Fourth, since even a mother bird with eggs or young is covered by law (Deut. 22:6-7), clearly any tampering with the fact of birth is a serious matter: to destroy life is forbidden except where required or permitted by God’s law.”[2]  This law makes it clear that to harm an unborn baby is an assault on the baby.  Anyone who inflicts such harm is guilty of a crime.  They must be punished in proportion to their crime.  The Bible is clear that abortion is indeed murder, for the same penalty is required for a case of accidental abortion as that for intentional murder.  Both are capital crimes.  This is the 2nd principle: abortion is murder.

Application

The first, and most obvious, application of this law is that God’s forbids us to participate in the practice of abortion.  He condemns all forms of abortion, even the accident.  The Christian who goes to get an abortion does so in rebellion to God and His Word.

The second application is that God expects His people to actively oppose abortion in their midst.  In order to understand the full weight and duty of this second application, we must understand a crucial principle for applying God’s Law.  It is the two-fold nature of the law.  “The proper meaning of the law involves both the negative and the positive application.”[3]  Where a sinful act is forbidden, the opposite righteous act is required.  For example, God not only gave laws of restriction between the Israelites, but He gave laws requiring an innocent bystander to get involved when he could render aid, even when it meant helping his enemy.

 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”[4]

It was a sin for the Israelite to pretend he didn’t see.  He wasn’t given the authority to ignore it. God required that he actively pursue righteousness.  In short, he was obligated to help.  Jesus reiterated this with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  God’s law commands that we not only “not do the negative”, but we must also “do the opposing positive.”  This is an important truth that has been lost in our day.  Men in the past understood this.  Calvin once said that we aren’t “satisfying God’s Law by merely abstaining for doing injury to others.  The opposite affirmation is also to be understood; else it would not be… consistent.”[5]  Or as the Westminster divines put it in the Westminster Larger Catechism;

 “That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded…”[6]

It is not enough to avoid the sin of abortion.  The duty to preserve and defend life is also commanded.  This is the 4th principle.  We haven’t fulfilled our obligation to the law if haven’t done all that is in our power to protect innocent life.  Solomon in the book of Proverbs puts it this way:

 “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.  If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?”[7]

As one pastor notes, “We are commanded to do what is necessary and what is Biblical to “rescue” and “deliver” them from their oppressors.  If the civil government or we as citizens, stand by in apathy or fear when the defenseless are being harmed and do nothing, when we can do something, we too are guilty of breaking the 6th Commandment, being accomplices to their oppression and violence.  He Who weighs the heart and Who will render to all what is due them on Judgement Day accepts no excuses.”[8]

An understanding of these 4 principles should be enough for us to examine our hearts and see if we are closer to the culture than we are to Biblical law.

1. You shall not murder.

2. Abortion is murder.

3. The Law requires a 2-fold application, forbid the negative and commanded positive.

4. The 6th Commandment requires that we preserve life.

If we want to walk down the blessed path of obedience to God’s law, then we have to ask ourselves some tough questions.  What have we personally done to preserve life?  Why are we so silent on this issue?  Why don’t we care more about this?  How are we going to change?  I’ll close with one suggestion.  Pray about how God wants to use you to preserve life.  He does want to.  He has commanded it of us.  If we are to be blessed we must obey, even if it means being uncomfortable.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Exodus 21:22-25, ESV

[2] RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p263-264

[3] Ibid,

[4] Exodus 23:4,5 ESV

[5] Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p219

[6] Westminster Larger Catechism, Q99, principle 4

[7] Proverb 24:11-12, ESV

[8] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol. 4, p640-641

A Case for God’s Law

In my first post (here), I made the claim that the majority of Christians today make most of their decisions without any serious regard for what God’s Word has to say about it.  I pointed out that most decisions are made on the basis of “community consensus” or “vague principles” that never enter the realm of the specific.  These decisions are made on this basis because the basic ethics and view of the average Christian is flawed.  They are out walking aimlessly about.  They will end up on the path to destruction.  I concluded with the claim that the problem that plagues the average Christian is a neglect of God’s Law.  I suggested that the only solution is the return of obedience to the Law.  This is not what most pastors in this country would suggest.  They might agree with the problem.  I suspect that if you polled 100 different church leaders, you would get 90 different answers to what the solution is.  They would all have one thing in common.  None would utter the word “law” as a part of the solution.  So how can I make such a claim?  Why do I suggest a return to the law as the solution?

First and foremost, it is not I that is making such a claim.  I am only attempting to discover and communicate what God has already revealed to us in His Word.  [Disclaimer: I confess that I have much to learn in this area.  In many ways, this blog is a reflection of my continuing efforts to live the simple life of faithfulness and devotion.  I am by no means an expert.]  That aside, I do not write or claim this on my own authority.  My claim that Biblical Law is the solution to our careless ways of decision-making is based on the authority of my Lord and His infallible Word.  It is reinforced by many heroes of the faith that were far removed from our time and culture.  If we desire to walk on the path that the Lord blesses, then we would be wise to listen to both.  I humbly present to you three reasons why God’s Law still has validity over your life as a Christian.

Duty

First, it is our duty to obey God and his Law.  He is the creator and ultimate authority over all things.  He makes the rules.  As created beings, we are subject to Him and His rules.  We are to obey them simply because they are His rules.  Psalm 95:6 expresses worship for God that is rooted in this Creator-creature relationship.  “Let us worship and bow down; and kneel before the LORD, our Maker!”  We are to obey Him, and all that He has commanded, as a consequence of the nature of this relationship.  He is our Creator.  We are the created.  This is reason enough for us obey all His commands.  A good example of this can be found in the very beginning of time in the garden of Eden.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”[1]  

God gave Adam a command.  He gave Adam a law.   He also gave Adam a punishment for disobedience.  Adam had a duty to obey God’s command.  God didn’t make a deal with Adam.  He didn’t give Adam the option to opt out of this arrangement.  Adam had to accept and obey the terms presented because God commanded it.  It was an act of grace and love that God even offered a reward for obedience.  Adam was obligated to obey because of the nature of this Creator-creature relationship with God.  It was his duty to obey.  Of course, we know the outcome of this testing of Adam.  Let’s just say, Adam hasn’t been invited to come speak at any of our Christian conferences.  He didn’t get the opportunity to make the tour telling of his “garden experience.”  Why???  He died.  “He surely died!”  Adam had a duty to obey.  He had an obligation to obedience.

Lest you think that was a one time requirement, this point is made plain in the book of Deuteronomy.  Repeatedly throughout this book echo the warnings of Chapter 8:19-20,

“And if you forget the LORD your GOD and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.  Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.”  

God had made Israel His special people.  He loved them.  He brought them out of slavery from the land of Egypt.  He led them to their promised land.  He gave them food (manna) for their journey in the wilderness.  He gave them promised victory in conquering.  He gave them specific instructions on how they were to live.  He gave them His Law.   He also gave them a promise.  If they didn’t obey His commands, they would “surely perish.”  Again there is a duty to obey His Law.   

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God…”[2]

Yes, but that’s the Old Testament right?  Well as Pastor Joseph Morecraft wrote, “Our obligation to obey God is rooted in our creaturehood before our Creator.  However, our obligation is intensified, not lessened, by virtue of our redemption in Christ by grace Having been bought with the price of Christ’s precious blood, we are not our own, therefore we are now to glorify God in the entirety of our lives”[3]  In other words, now that you have been freed from the penalty of God’s judgment, you are not excused from obeying God’s law.  Quite the opposite is true.  You are now expected to obey it, though not perfectly, because you have been bought with a price.  Let us not forget the words of Jesus, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”[4] It is our duty as Christians to obey the commands of God’s Law.  Although most modern “pastors” may deny this, consider the words of Reformer John Calvin, “Because there is only one Lord and Master who has dominion over our consciences, and because his will is the only principle of all justice, we confess all our life ought to be ruled in accordance with the commandments of his holy law in which contained all perfection of justice and that we ought to have no other rule of good and just living..”[5]  The obligation to obey remains.  Jesus said,

“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.”[6]

Direction

Secondly, the Law of God is a direct reflection of the character of God.  It defines for us what is right vs. wrong, righteous vs. evil, justice vs. injustice, etc.  It gives us some specifics on how to act in a way that honors Him.  It is tells us what is good and what is bad.  It provides us with direction.  “Biblical Law guides our sanctification.  God’s Law offers positive, infallible, and specific directions for Christian living.  He has not left us to our own subjective feelings to determine right and wrong.  The Law is the ‘tracks’ on which sanctification and spiritual growth run.  Do railroad tracks hinder or help a train to reach its destination?  What if a locomotive said, ‘I want to be free to roam as I please.  I want to be free from these tracks for they limit my freedom?’  Without the railroad tracks, a train has no freedom, no movement, no progress.  So it is with the relation between the Law and the Christian.”[7]  Or as Calvin wrote, “The law is the best instrument for enabling believers daily to learn what that will of God is which they are to follow.”[8]  Consider the fact that, God’s law will actually have a role in eternity.  There are different levels of punishment in hell (Luke 12:45-48).  It is determined by the level of rebellion to the Law of God.  Whether we walk in his direction or not has real consequences.  It matters now and forever.

Delight

Lastly, it should be our delight to obey the commandments of the LORD.  David in Psalm 119 gives us insights into how we should feel about God’s Law when he writes,

“Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.  Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” [9]

In this Psalm alone, David uses the term “delight” ten times in reference to God’s law or commands.  It is his joy to know, to understand, to keep and to share God’s law.  David cherished it.  He longed for it.  “Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day”[10] was his heart’s cry.  David’s heart was inclined to God’s law because this is the natural effect of receiving the Holy Spirit.  As the prophet Ezekiel explains, God will put His Spirit within us and cause us to walk in His statutes.[11]  The Holy Spirit had come upon David[12] and wrote the law on his heart.[13]  He delighted in it.  As Greg Bahnsen writes, “The Holy Spirit works in the believer to bring about conformity to the inspired law of God.”[14]  It “does not oppose that law to the slightest degree but, instead, empowers obedience to it.”[15]  The Spirit makes obedience a joyful task.  It turns a duty into a delight.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:2-3   

Another work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer is that it should drive him into heartfelt gratitude for his salvation.  A “believer’s awareness that salvation is by sheer grace and not by the works of the Law and that they are eternally secure in Christ not only provokes intense gratitude in them, but that gratitude stirs them to greater care, greater determination, diligence and perseverance in conforming themselves-inside and outside- to God’s Law as their rule for obedience, for when Christ became their Savior He did not cease to be their Sovereign.”[16]

In other words, the Holy Spirit uses the Law of God to drive us to Christ.  This need of grace then produces gratitude in the believer.  This gratitude then drives the believer to greater obedience to the Law.  It is an amazing ministry of the Spirit that is rarely taught in our churches.  The Holy Spirit can stir in us obedience from the heart that is joyful obedience.  He gives in us new hearts that long to comply with His commands and by so doing He turns the Law of God from a burden into a delight.

Conclusion

It is out of a duty to obedience, a direction for holiness, and a delight within our soul that should drive us to understand and appreciate the Law of God.  If a Christian community has a disregard or apathy for God’s Law, it says more about them then it does about His Law.  I close with a warning for those that consider themselves Christians.  If when you read of the Law of God, you immediately begin to “check out” or dismiss it, you need to honestly re-evaluate the state of your soul before God.  One who does not concern himself with God’s Law is defined in the Bible as a fool.  “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but the babbling fool will come to ruin.”[17]  It is the sign of a rebellious heart and you are fooling no one but yourself.  If, however, you have a heart that longs to please the LORD, but you know you have neglected this area of your life, you are not alone.  Repent and purpose yourself to change.  Pray.  Ask God to help you love His Law.  Read God’s Law.  Connect with fellow Christians who love the Law.  Next post we will begin to examine and apply God’s Law.

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Genesis 2:16, 17

[2] Deuteronomy 11:26-28

[3] Joe Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p517

[4] John 14:15

[5] RKS Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises, p26

[6] Matthew 5:19

[7] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p625-626

[8] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion,2.7.12

[9] Psalm 119:34,35

[10] Psalm 119:97

[11] Ezekiel 36:27

[12] See 1 Samuel 16:13, Psalm 51:11

[13] Jeremiah 31:33

[14] Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard, p47

[15] Bahnsen, By This Standard, p50

[16] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol.3, p621

[17] Proverbs, 10:8

The Path to Destruction

A Christian is faced with hundreds if not thousands of decisions everyday.  Most are instinctively made with little to no thought.  They are habit decisions and we often don’t even realize we have made them.  Others require a little more attention.  They require a quick pause and an internal evaluation.  In the span of a few seconds the decision is made with little to no pain.  Then there are the rarest of decisions, the really big ones.  These require much of us.  These are ones we can fret over.  These are the ones that we seek counsel in making.  These are the ones we worry about making the “wrong choice.”  In this category are the decisions like whom to marry, jobs to take, whether to move or not, college major, etc.  These are the life changing kinds of decisions.  These are the times when the Christian will finally ask, “what does God want me to do here?”  Here in lies the problem with the American Christian.  I suspect it is the same all over the world.  The average Christian makes most of his decisions without even thinking about it.  He spends little to no time considering what the Word of the Lord has spoken regarding the details of his life.  He lives on autopilot, an autopilot that was set with no regard to where the Lord has destined him to go.  How is the Christian to live his life and make his daily decisions in the light of his salvation? Sadly, this most basic of questions has either been ignored or poorly answered.

The Christian culture in America has failed to answer this question from a thoroughly Biblical basis.  The most common method is an appeal to “community consensus.” The answer to what is right and wrong is defined by the group. The “Christian community” tells us how to feel about abortion, work, marriage, war, politics, money, education, and every other topic under the sun.  A Christian will find a “Christian community” that is most compatible with the ethics that he already holds dear. There is very little change needed in his life.  He is comfortable.  If his life is mostly in line with his “Christian community” then he tends to feel at ease with his Christianity. The problem is that communities can get it wrong, even covenant communities.  Israel did on several occasions.  The history of God’s covenant people is filled with a record of the community doing “evil in the sight of God” or everyone doing “what was right in his own eyes.”  This is the echo throughout the book Judges.  You don’t think that is a problem today?  Christians are engaged in the same activities as their pagan neighbors.  They are encouraged by fellow believers to worship sports, have small families, send their kids to government schools, have debt, and yes someday retire.  Their community has confirmed that these things are Christian.  The problem is if the community does not turn to God’s Word and law it will not provide the right direction.  Our “Christian communities” rejected God’s law long ago.  The path they lead us down leads to rebellion and disobedience.

There is another way that a believer seeks to deal with the question of what should be his guide to his lifestyle and his personal decisions.  He knows he should live for God.  After all, we are talking about a true Christian with the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He desires to live a life pleasing to God.  He knows the Bible is the only source of truth and direction.  The problem with this believer is, he does not know how to apply the scriptures to his life.  He wants to live for God, but in the details of his life he doesn’t know how to apply God’s Word to the specific decisions he is faced with.  The sole guide for his ethics is vague Biblical principles that have no teeth on them.  Allow me to give an example.  Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.[1]  It is indeed the greatest commandment.  The command to “love your neighbor as yourself”[2] is a command that must be taken to heart, for it is “like the first.”  However, these commands are not useful if kept in the realm of generalities or overarching principles.  Yes, these commands are absolutely binding upon all Christian behavior, but to obey them takes more information than is found in these commands alone.  The principle to “love your neighbor” can and has led to all manners of unbiblical behavior.  “Love your neighbor” has been used as a carte blanche for all sorts of sins that the Lord hates (i.e. welfare, socialism, infidelity, penal system, etc.)  Well meaning Christians desire to fulfill the command to “love your neighbor.”  What they do not realize is that these two great commands are a summation of more specific commands found elsewhere in the Bible.  They do not know their Bible.  The details of what it means to “love your neighbor” that have been defined and spelled out in the Old Testament are not consulted.  They are left forming their personal ethics (making daily decisions) on the basis of very broad principles.  They have not seen how God has put teeth on these principles.  It is another path that leads to destruction.

So what is the solution?  We must turn the God’s Word for instruction, divine instruction.  R.J. Rushdoony pointed out that “torah means instruction, authoritative direction.”[3]  Torah is the Hebrew word for law.     

“The Biblical concept of law is broader than the legal codes…It applies to the divine word and instruction in its totality.”[4]

Thus it follows that if we want instructions from God on how we are to live, we must have some understanding and insight into Biblical law.  We must be honest about how we make our decisions.  Do we follow our Christian communities?  Do we follow some great high level commandment without the knowledge of how the Bible fleshes it out?  If we want to live a life that is pleasing to God, we must know what pleases God.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”[5]  The Blessed Path is a path of obedience to God and His commands.  Next post we will examine the usefulness of the law in guiding our decisions.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Matthew 22:37

[2] Matthew 22:39

[3] R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p.6.

[4] Ibid, p.6.

[5] John 14:15

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