Law and Grace
In these few moments, Gracious Lord, I praise Your name and long to be touched by Your Spirit.
Read DEUTERONOMY 8:1-20
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The way to prove our love for Christ is by obeying his commandments (John 14:21). The test of love is obedience and the reward of love is a self-revelation of Christ” (John Stott).
Moses insists on the importance of obedience to the Lord (1,6,11,19,20). The difference between this and the kind of obedience that Jesus denounces so passionately in Mark lies in the heart. The scribes and Pharisees developed a system of rules which would protect people even from coming near the possibility of disobedience to God: a whole series of extra laws like a hedge, fencing God’s commandments around. That’s great, but what had gone wrong?
In a nutshell, they fell into the trap outlined in vs. 17 and 18. In love and patience, God led his people through the wilderness, disciplining them and showering his goodness on them, bringing them into a wonderful new land, so that they might want to live in gratitude and covenant dependence on their gracious God. His whole action toward them was directed toward their heart (see vs. 2,5,14,17). The word “heart” occurs in all these verses, though obscured in some translations (e.g., v. 17: “Do not say in your heart …”). Will their heart be true to him in faith, love and gratitude for all that he has done for them? The evidence of a grateful heart will be loving obedience, and a desire to live as true children of the God who has carefully led them (5).
So God’s grace precedes the loving, obedient response of God’s people. The Pharisees would certainly have agreed with this but legalism is a subtle enemy, soaking into us before we’ve noticed. It’s the heart that says, “I’m doing pretty well at this Christian life thing! I think I’ve basically got it down. Praise God!” It sounds like gratitude, but basically the relationship has faded, and “doing” has replaced it.
Where is your heart, in the light of the challenge in Deuteronomy 8? Has legalism infected it? Turn your reflections into prayer now.
Forgive me, Father, when I lose sight of the truth that my salvation has been accomplished in Christ and in him alone. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
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