A Devotion for 16 April 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:13-14: all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
At the slightest mention of the Law of God, many begin to back away as if offended that such Law still exists. Whatever would convince any God-fearing Christian to believe that God’s Law has been annulled or done away. Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us and even saved us under the terms of the Law of God for He satisfied the demands of the Law that the “wages of sin is death.” We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; therefore, we were condemned under the Law. But Christ paid that death penalty vicariously on the cross for us. Only our Lord was qualified to pay satisfy that debt since all others were under the penalty of sin.
Perhaps it would be wise to ask, “What is Law?” at the outset of our discussion:
“Law, in its most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action; and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. Thus, we say the laws of motion, of gravitation, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of nature and of nations. And it is a rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.”
Sir William Blackstone SL KC (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780)
The Laws of the Kingdom apply to all within the Kingdom whether citizens or strangers. The stranger comes and goes, but the citizen abides in the Kingdom. As Christians, we belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and our conduct must comport with the Law of the King. The stranger who disobeys will be deported without where the fires of Hell are kept ready.
How is the Law of God an instrument of Love in its full expression? Mr. Blackstone, in the definition above of Law, did not express the PURPOSE of Law since it is generally commonly understood. The purpose of Law is to protect, maintain order, allow civil discourse and commerce, and provide for the general welfare of a people or nation. Can you imagine a nation with no laws? Impossible, for there could exist no nation without laws defining boundaries, allegiances, and some framework for society to function. Otherwise, it is simply a mob of savages doing as they please without moral or legal restraint.
God gave Adam only one Law in Eden, and He gave him a choice of two trees at the center of the Garden. “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. . . . And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:8, 9 & 16) Observe the great freedom Adam had in the days before his fall! There was only one Law to be observed – do not eat of the One Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He could eat of every other tree (including the Tree of Life symbolizing the pre-Incarnate Christ). But Adam chose the very tree he was commanded of the Lord not to eat. When the dog bites, we must shorten the leash! Adam died from the moment he tasted the forbidden fruit. Those who are in the fallen state of Adam are all dead in trespasses and sin. (see Eph 2) Disobedience of the one Law laid down at Eden resulted in all the hurt and misery of our world today. That Law was given in love to Adam, but the love of Adam for God was not sufficient to command obedience.
God found it necessary to expand the Law to cover every area of life. Man was incapable of the degree of obedience motivated by love and kindness, so the Law was written on Tables of Stone to compel obedience. God knew man would be unable to obey His Law in spotless compliance expected by a Holy God. It was to teach our primitive fathers to obey God first, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deut 6:5), and to love others as themselves, “. . . . thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18) It was these two summaries of the Law pertaining to our duty to God and our duty to others which our Lord stipulated in the Summary of the Law: “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
I have heard the great error preached that Jesus was issuing a new Commandment to replace the Ten! How wrong and ignorant to read the counsel of our Lord in such wise. Jesus was simply revealing the Law of Love in bringing the two Tables of the Law together in summary. The first Table of the Ten Commandments informs us of our duty to God; the second Table informs of our duty to others. It expresses the only means whereby we can be obedient to God and observe our responsibilities to others – that means is defined in one word only – LOVE!
There are two dimensions of the Law of God – the Letter of it, and the Spirit of it. NO matter how diligently we strive to obey every Commandment, without LOVE, we have failed miserably. It is only when our Love is combined with our obedient desire can we be obedient to the Commandments of God. Love is the Spirit that enables us!
God can in no wise brook sin in His midst; therefore, we must stand guiltless before God on the last day. How can we do so when all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death? It is by means of the IMPUTED righteousness of Christ that declares us righteous – not our righteousness but His in satisfying the terms of the Law.
In effect, our Lord gave only ONE new Commandment. It is altogether appropriate that we read that new Commandment in the Gospel of the Beloved Disciple, John: “34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35) Ahh, so, this is also a Law of God and one which we MUST obey personally for without love, we nothing. But it is LOVE itself that enables us to keep all of the other Ten Commandments of God. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity(LOVE), it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)
We see our nation becoming more and more distant from God in its secular pursuits. It has forgotten the Love of God and her heart has grown cold. It matters not what leader we send to represent us if our own hearts are devoid of Love and Truth. Read below my favorite quote on the Law which I have shared many times in my writings – many times because it is profoundly true!
“Power and law are not synonymous. In truth, they are frequently in opposition and irreconcilable. There is God’s Law from which all Equitable laws of man emerge and by which men must live if they are not to die in oppression, chaos and despair. Divorced from God’s eternal and immutable Law, established before the founding of the suns, man’s power is evil no matter the noble words with which it is employed or the motives urged when enforcing it.
“Men of good will, mindful therefore of the Law laid down by God, will oppose governments whose rule is by men, and if they wish to survive as a nation they will destroy the government which attempts to adjudicate by the whim of venal judges.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 B.C.