Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Glory of the Law of Love

Dear Father,

You have always been glorious. You have saved Your people while bringing destruction on all who oppose You in order to put Your glory on display. Your Law has been given to us so that we might live within Your glorious Presence. There is more to be written here than I could ever understand now. Please help me to convey a small piece of the supremacy of Your Law over the laws of men, the accountability of mankind with regard to Your Law, and the revelation of Your glory that results from our obedience to the Great Command. Our spirits are in Your Hands, our Sovereign Father.
In Jesus Christ's Name,

We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. I John 2

     God's purpose in this letter is to show us the glory of His Law, summed up in the single command to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Rom 13:9). The glory of God (הָדָר) is the revealed splendor, majesty, honor, and beauty of Himself. The glory of God is His revealed HOLINESS, the perfection of His righteous character. The glory of God is the object of the view of Him Who is the irresistable essence of perfection from which on the day when we see Him Face to face we will never be able to remove our gaze. His glory is the beauty of His perfect goodness, love, mercy, justice, and Truth. 

     His Good and Righteous Law was put into effect so that we may walk forever in the Light of His glory. His Law supercedes the laws of men because they are able to distinguish between the "holy and the common" (Ez 22:26) and because when they are obeyed mankind is able to "live" (חָיַי or to be quickened, revived, restored, and preserved; Ez 20:21). God holds mankind accountable to His Law with regard to the needed rejection of the sin of our ancestors which dwells within our flesh and the blood of those who need to hear the Truth of the Gospel. And finally His message is that our obedience to His Great Command to love our neighbors as ourselves will result in the removal of the blindness that had prevented us from viewing the great love of God for each member of our Spiritual family. Obedience to His Great Command, though temporarily painful, results in the promised revelation of His glory, which will transform our souls into His likeness.

The Supremacy of the Law of God over the laws of Men

     God has given us His Law in order that we might remain within His Presence. For the moment the evil root of rebellion grew within our hearts and we stumbled in even one point, we would have been cast out from His Presence as Adam and Eve were cast out form the Garden of Eden and the perfect Union with their Creator. He has purposed for us to to remain within His Presence where His glory would be displayed before our eyes. If we had beheld His glory we would have been filled with awe and worship. In the midst of our complete adoration and exaltation of Him, our spirits would live. We would thrive and our hearts would leap for joy in the splendor of His majesty and the brightness of the Light of His Face. For those who have seen glimpses of His glory, their hearts cry is '"Seek His Face", Your Face, Lord, I will seek' (Ps 27:8). His Law was given in love. By obedience to His Law alone would we live in the Light of His Presence and see the glory that would command our joy and our worship for all eternity. For God has told us that "the man who obeys them [His Laws] would LIVE BY THEM" (Ez 20:21).

     But we know that we have broken His Law from the moment our souls were formed and we have been cast out from His Presence and He had become to us as the One who "lives in unapproachable Light" (I Tim 6:16) and the One who tells us "No one may see Me and live" (Ex 33:20). Our great rebellion and fear has caused us to form our own law derived from the requirements of the Law which are written on our hearts. The making of our own laws had been our blind attempt to deceive ourselves into thinking that we could escape the coming wrath.

     14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. Rom 2

     The laws which we had made for ourselves were not able to keep us within the Presence of God. For we had already been cast out from It and there was no hope in our sinful souls for us to every return to it with our self-righteousness. Our own laws were not able to distinguish between what was truly righteous and what was unrighteous. Even the religious leaders among the world could not discern the Truth. Our laws could never "judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart". Our laws could not "divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow" (Heb 4:12). The laws of men had no clarifying power or purpose as the perfect Law of God did. Our laws were altogether useless and could never define the Truth. 

26 Her priests do violence to My law and profane My holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.  Ez 22

     Furthermore, our own laws resulted in the development of all kinds of false religions and our worship of created things. We could not live by these laws that we had made. We could not see His glory. Our worship of created things and our belief in falsehoods led us to atrocious acts which further defied the perfect Law of God. We were even deceived to the point of sacrificing our children to the demonic forces of materialism, entertainment, the occult, deceitful teachings, and the flames. The result of our instituting of our own laws was that we were filled with horror.

21 “‘But the children rebelled against Me: They did not follow My decrees, they were not careful to keep My laws —although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they desecrated My Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out My wrath on them and spend My anger against them in the desert. 22 But I withheld My hand, and for the sake of My name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Also with uplifted Hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, 24 because they had not obeyed My laws but had rejected My decrees and desecrated My Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their fathers’ idols. 25 I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; 26 I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord. ’ Ez 20

     Knowing that we would refuse to keep His Laws, the Sovereign Lord had still delivered Them to us. He has delivered His Law to us in order that we may come to believe in His Gospel through which He intended to reveal His glory. 

23 Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. Gal 3

     It became apparent to us that none of us "could be justified by observing the law" (Gal 2:16). As we saw our helpless estate and writhed in the agony of our weakness and incompetency, "we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to the people of the world" (Is 26:18). He was then pleased to reveal His glorious Gospel: the wrath of the Father poured out on the Son, Jesus Christ, the tremendous sacrifice of love of the Trinity, the omnipotence of God who has raised Christ from the dead, and the judgement of God against "everything that causes sin and all who do evil" (Matt 13:41). Now His glory is revealed in part to those who have believed for salvation and have the Spirit of God. His glory may be revealed because Christ has satisfied the Law. He has condemned our sin so that the righteous requirements of the Law are fully met in us. Furthermore, the indwelling Spirit allows us to live within the Presence of God and in obedience to His obedience to the Law of the Spirit of Life.

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man,in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.Rom 8

Two Areas of Man's Accountability to God's Law

     As we behold the degradation of our society, we ought to consider who it is that is to be held accountable for the great "flood of dissipation" (I Peter 4:4) that we behold in the world around us. As those who have been brought from death to life, from darkness to light, and from bondage to sin to the freedom of righteousness, we understand that "it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God". We know that our "judgment" refers to the Father's discipline and the acts of the refining Word of God. For "When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world" (I Cor 11: 32). Our Master has commanded us to take the lowest place. In this case, our most favorable state is to be broken, contrite, and assuming of much responsibility for in this manner we "submit to the Father of our Spirits and live" (Heb 9:12). For ultimately we cast the burden of our responsibility onto Christ who bore our due punishment. God reminds us of two areas in which we are held accountable as His children:

1. We are accountable to God to reject the evil conduct of our ancestors that dwells within our flesh. 

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect. I Peter 1

     When a child refuses to repent of and renounce the sin of an ancestor, there is a sense in which the guilt of the ancestor is passed on to a child. For the refusal to repent of this sin reflects a hardened hearts which harbors the very same motives and carnal desires which resulted in the ancestral sin. God reminds us that "sin came into the world through one man, Adam, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all men have sinned" (Rom 5:12). In the Spiritual realms, the child takes on the character of the father for Jesus Himself was the "exact representation" of the Father (Heb 1:3). We come into this world loaded with the sin and guilt of our ancestors. Many of their idols and weaknesses lay hold on our flesh. There is a bent of our flesh towards the sin of our ancestors. Without the Father's quickening intervention, we would be prone to walk in the "aimless conduct of our forefathers". And yet the justice of God commands that "the soul who sins in the one who will die". We are accountable to God for the sin of our ancestors. We are commanded to openly renounce and repent of the sins of our forefathers, to claim that they have no hold on us in the Name of Christ, and to decide for ourselves this day that we will follow the Lord. 

“Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. 
20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.
21 “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. 22 None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
24 “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.
25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust?26 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. 27 But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. 28 Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?
30 “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent!Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! Ez 18

2. We are accountable to God for the blood of those who need to hear the Gospel.

26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9

     As Ezekiel describes the watchman who is accountable for the blood of those whom he had refused to warn of the coming danger, we are accountable for the blood of those who need to hear the Gospel. We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every one (Matt 28:16-20). It is not as though we will not be forgiven for each missed opportunity or for the momentary sins of the flesh that prevented us from walking with the Spirit in boldness with our feet shod in readiness with the Gospel of peace. For if this were the case, there would be no one who would not be condemned with the blood of many souls on their heads. But our belief in the Gospel is accompanied by our obedience to His call to preach. Our love for and belief in the Truth is evidenced by our great boldness and longing to preach Gospel. True belief is accompanied with the heart's cry, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (I Cor 9:16). We are held accountable for failure to preach because the failure to preach reflects that we had never truly believed in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the new Life in Christ. For if we had truly believed unto salvation, we would have seen His glory through the Spirit. We would have been changed forever so that we may obey the Gospel and Its Great Commission. When we know the Truth and refuse to preach, we are accountable for the blood of those who need to hear the Gospel in the same manner that we are accountable for hearing the Gospel for ourselves and not believing unto salvation. For if we had believed unto salvation, we certainly would have preached. If we are saved, we are being transformed so that we may be bold and effective witnesses of His glorious Gospel. Refusal to preach the Gospel indicates unbelief in the Gospel for which the hearers of the Truth are completely accountable.

The Word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die, ’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
10 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live? ”’11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord,I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
 Ez 33

Obedience to the Law of Love Results in the Revelation of God's Glory

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true Light is already shining. I John 2

     If we had been able to keep the Law of God we would have never departed from His glory. Though we had been utterly rebellious, as we believe in the Gospel, the righteous requirements of the Law are met in us, and we are able to obey the Law. We are able to obey the law because we are following the New Command of love. For the Spirit has poured the love of the Father into our hearts. This love of the Father has granted us knowledge of the Father's love for all of His children revealed in the Gospel. This knowledge has filled us with the same love for His children. As we think, feel, and live within this love, we are at the same time walking in obedience to the entire Law of God. All of the commands of His original Law are summarized in the New Command to "Love your neighbor as yourself". LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW. As we love, we are contained within His Presence and not cast out from His glory. As we love, we are able to see His glory. We are able to rejoice in the perfection of His revealed holiness. We are able to exult in the splendor of His exalted Name. Our souls are able to drink deeply of the Water of Life and to be nourished by His Word. We are able to approach Him with freedom and confidence with our "hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience" (Heb 10:22). 

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Rom 13

     As we love as Christ loved, we are "doing right". We are commanded now to speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom. The Law that gives freedom is His command to show mercy. For if we loved others as we loved ourselves, we would show others mercy. For we ourselves would ask for mercy. We would have nothing to be said in our defense. It is not as though we had a perspective that needed to be understood or explained so as to justify our souls. There was only One God who understood our perspective in Truth. He understood that we were altogether wicked in every motive of our hearts apart from Him. And yet He has showed us His merciful salvation. We are eternally redeemed through this revelation of His loving kindness.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! James 2

     The new Law commands for us to show the same mercy to the family of God. Our showing of His mercy and love is yet again evidence of our true receiving of His mercy and love. In this sense we are called to speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom. We press on to know His love and mercy so that we may deliver what we have known from the Father and so be assured of our inheritance in our knowledge of Christ.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him. I John 4

     Our disobedience to the New Command of love results in the blindness of our hearts towards God's love to our own souls and His love towards the souls of His children around us. Our refusal to love and to forgive effectively blocks our vision of His glory. Our sight of Him is diminished and blurred through our refusal to love and forgive. This would be fatal considering that the revelation of His glory is what transforms us into His likeness and what brings us the inexpressible and glorious joyful hope that allows us to stand firm until the end and so be saved. If we do not continually see His glory, we would surely fall away. Our refusal to love and forgive blinds our eyes and prevents us from seeing others as God sees them. 

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.1 John 2

     We must remember that His call to love is a call to faith and a call to forgive. For often our Christian family is walking more in the flesh than in the Spirit and thus we will be forgiving very often. We know that Christ is, even at this moment, doing the same for our own soul as He intercedes for us before the Father. For those who do not yet believe, the call to love them is the same. In the case of unbelievers, we are facing the devil (the accuser). For these unbelievers had not shown us the grace, forgiveness, and love that our heavenly Father has shown us. The only disposition left to be held in the soul of another towards us is that of the devil who came to steal, kill, and destroy. We can never be loved by those who walk in the flesh as Christ loved us while we were still sinners. Those who walk in the flesh could never bring any rest to our souls. For even their admiration or flattery was based on the fading glories within us which would make our hearts so very insecure if we trusted in them. And in their ignoring of us or accusation against us, they had refused to remind us of our Father's loving gaze which forever remains on us. In this sense, we are facing the devil in those who walk in the flesh, those who "do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Mark 8:33)...the very people whom Christ commands us to love. His command to love by doing to others as we would have them do to us, is a command to forgive them for walking in their flesh. And our obedience to this command is a choice that we make in faith. There may be nothing at all in the person that we deem lovely and there may be no feeling of tenderness and compassion in our hearts at the moment of decision. Yet we are called to suffer in our obedience to His command to do to them what we would have them do to us. We would have for God to forgive us and to show us His mercy. And so in faith, we deny the irritation and agony of the flesh, and we die. Yes, we crucify the turmoil of the flesh with the all-surpassing faith that He has given us in His glorious Gospel. His command to love was for the good of the objects of our love and for the good of our own soul. For as we suffered in the flesh in obedience to His command, we are putting to death the most hard parts within us. We are tearing off the blinders that remained over our eyes. The glory would soon come. The suffering of the flesh would only be for a short time. 

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit,you are not under law. Gal 5

      The result of our crucifying the flesh and the "putting to death the misdeeds of the body" is that "we will live" (Rom 8:13). We will be conformed to the image of Christ. We will be "transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18). As we experienced the excruciating death of our own flesh involved in the loving of the other person who walked in their flesh, God soon removes the veil of our blindness and we behold the glorious love of God. 

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed whenHhis glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4

24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the Word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1

     We acknowledge that God had loved that person and that He has loved us. In this manner He reveals His glory as we walk in faith and in obedience to His command to love. The glory of His revealed love far exceeds our expectations. "He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us" (Eph 3:20). The joy that we receive when we behold the love of God for the other person humbles our soul and causes us to denounce the former hardness of our flesh that had resisted our initial outpouring of love. Just a single sight, dear family, of the glory of God will captivate us and perfect the attitudes of our heart. This sight will fill us with the joy of His Presence. As we behold His glory we are transformed into His image. On the day when we see Him Face to face, we will behold His glory in full, and then we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is (I John 3:2) We must obey His command to love for "without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). Believe that there is something that exists called "The Glory of God" and that if you trust and obey, He will surely show His goodness to You. He will hide you in the cleft of the Rock of Jesus Christ and He will pass by you. His loving kindness is immeasurable.

22 I have given them the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one as We are One: 23 I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent me. 26 I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”
John 17

Excellent Testimony of the Glory of the Law of Love: The Story of Ian and Larissa

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