The Bare Soul - November 6, 2011
Loving God's Laws

Psalm 119:159 - Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.

In our hectic world, it seems there are not enough hours in the day to get done what is needed. We might find ourselves rushing to and from work or appointments in a frantic rush to keep some kind of workable schedule. It's no wonder speed limits are rarely obeyed anymore. If, for instance, a traffic sign has a speed limit of 35 mph, most know they will not be ticketed unless they are going 10 miles per hour or more over the posted limit. Many find themselves setting their cruise control to eight or nine mph over the limit, knowing they are usually in a "safe zone" by doing so. However, what is most alarming in this regard is seeing folks with Jesus bumper stickers or an Ichthus fish decal on their tailgate compromising the law and driving over the speed limit. While some Christians would say this is benign and "what's the big deal?", it does have significance regarding the life professed by these making such objections.

The psalmist declares in our lead verse his love for God's precepts. A precept is defined as a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought. Synonyms include rule, instruction, regulation, law, or lesson. Whether we care to admit it, our lives are filled with precepts and laws, some of which we embrace with no difficulty and others we might resist, such as speed limits (or "rolling stops" at stop signs). Laws that are not difficult for most of us to observe are things like overt lying, or killing someone, or possibly stealing -- things that generally hurt others. However, what about those laws that don't seem to hurt anyone? They don't directly affect others and often we might regard them as mere "suggestions" rather than mandates. The examples of traffic laws are good instances of how we might rationalize our importance over the laws of the land. Or, possibly bending the law on our tax returns? As previously stated, many believe these are negligible. Nonetheless, when we disobey ANY law, we are going against God's plan for humankind. Both Paul and Peter tell us to submit to governing authorities in all things, for all authority has been established by God (Romans 13:1; I Timothy 2:1-2; I Peter 2:13).

Let me be clear here. Keeping the laws of the land or God's laws in totality cannot save us. Only through Jesus Christ and through His shed blood can we obtain forgiveness for our sins. Our acceptance of His great gift is what redeems us and this will always be outside the law, because we never could fulfill it as He did to save us. However, laws are still in place because God has ordained them for His good pleasure and our overall good. God will always bear witness with laws since they are ultimately ordained by the Creator. And, if indeed Jesus lives within us through the Holy Spirit, then we will allow Him the opportunity to rejoice in these precepts established by His will. In other words, we don't have to keep the laws of the land, we WANT to keep them because God is bearing witness to them as He lives and moves within us. Our duty as a good citizen now transcends our civic and national responsibilities. If we are truly born again from above, our heavenly citizenship has affected our earthly citizenship by rejoicing in all of God's precepts and laws, no matter how inconsequential we may believe them to be. We no longer wish to try to get away with anything! We only desire to reconcile our actions upon this earth with those which the Lord God has instituted from heaven.

To respect and obey all authority goes beyond simple traffic laws or tax codes. If all authority has been established by God, then who are we to speak against a governmental official put in power over us? In our democratic society in America, we have the right to vote those out of office whom we see as less desirable. However, we do not have the right to speak against them while they are in power. David understood the importance of not putting forth his hand in any manner against King Saul. Even though he knew God had anointed him to be the next king, he knew Saul was established by God as the reigning power over the land and that God would depose him when the time was right. (See I Samuel 24 for one instance of how David spared Saul's life.) As in David's time and also in Paul and Peter's, God has not changed regarding His contempt toward the sin of disdaining those in power and authority. Today, it is our responsibility to vote for those we believe to be best aligned with God's purposes, and then pray for those whom we have elected. It is NEVER our right to speak against these, either in spoken, written, or electronic form (e.g. supposed "political humor").

If we consider it strange that someone as the psalmist, or anyone else for that matter, could love God's laws then it might behoove us to reconsider who is living within. If we don't rejoice in keeping the commandments of the Lord and submitting our lives to His precepts, then we should probably reassess whom we have believed. As previously mentioned, keeping the law will never save us. However, it will confirm Whom we love since all laws inevitably proceed from God. Will we still break the laws of the land from time to time, or speak against a standing president? It is possible, but not necessary. For the grace that He has given us so freely will work within us to confirm His intent if we will but submit to Christ. May we all love the law of God here on earth, preparing ourselves for heavenly citizenship to come.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for our lack of zeal regarding your law and precepts. Grant us the joy of Your salvation by concurring with the Holy Spirit within that Your law is good, honorable, and just. Help us to become lawful citizens on this earth that we would one day be holy citizens of the world to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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