10 January 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22 (see also James 1:23-25)
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)
Some time ago, I wrote a devotion on the sins of commission and omission; however, after further thought, I believe a greater emphasis in our day should be upon that sin most often committed by professing Christians, and those are sins that relate to what we SHOULD do, and not what we have done.
We all have known those in our churches who appear very morally upright and whose garments are nearly spotless of outwardly sinful lives. They attend church regularly, they know the Bible quite well, they dress modestly, their households seem to be in good order, and they may even tithe; however, many such professing Christians have a total focus on the world of success in business, politics, society, and the mundane things of the world. They may not openly sin habitually, but they have committed thousands of sins in the covert of their minds and hearts.
The Jewish Pharisees, and teachers of old, tried very hard to keep the Law of Commandments as well as the ordinances of Moses to which they added proliferative burdens from the cellars of their imaginations. They did so with menial pertinacity but with the one resource that would have validated their obedience – LOVE. The Scriptures clearly proclaim this one resource to be the one quality that is essential to obedience to God. Moreover love never dies – it is the one possession we can claim beyond the grave. (see Romans 8:35-39)
Perhaps you may grow tired of my continual writings concerning the key to keeping both tables of the Law, but “repetition aids recall,” if I properly remember my principles of learning. The Scriptures, too, repeat important truths over and over to emphasize their importance in our frail memories. You will recall that the Lord Jesus Christ hung BOTH Tables of the Law on that one Word – LOVE! “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (the First four Commandments regarding our duties to God) This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (these are the last six Commandments referring to our duties to our fellow man). On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) It is impossible to be obedient to God, or to keep His Commandments, without love for Him and your fellow man. This is the Summary of the Law given by our Lord, and it relates to the Ten Commandments in summary form.
There is an excellent explanation of love in 1 Corinthians 13 which tells us that no matter our good deeds or sacrifices, those are worthless without love (charity). The secret and noble deeds we do in helping others, in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked – these are our direct deposits to our account in heaven.
“I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) The full impact of this statement may, at first, pass through one ear and out the other; but closer inspection reveals a greater truth than first meets the eye. The world would look at this statement and consider them to be the presumed righteous exception of all sinners. But that is not the point – there are NONE righteous – only confessed sinners and those who have the arrogance to presume righteousness. The Pharisees were among the most egregious of sinners who would stone a woman to death to make a point. Pride and arrogance has condiment the multitudes without true faith in Christ. Whatever righteous deeds we do are not our own, but that of Christ working in and through our members. This principle is repeated in Hosea 6:6 – “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” It is not enough to have knowledge ABOUT God and His Word – we must come to LOVE God and His Word, and our obedience will be accounted for righteousness.
Do not omit the weightier requirements of the Law of God else you will find yourself a left-winger at the Judgment – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:41-46)