The Rule of Law: First Things (29)
Click here to watch a brief video introducing this section’s study on the Law and the conscience. This week’s video is the same as for lesson 2.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10.12, 13
In this section in our study of the rule of God’s Law, we have been considering the importance of setting the Law of God as the defining factor in our souls – guiding our affections and what we desire, and lighting the path for our minds, concerning how we ought to think. Unless the Law becomes our burning desire and the lamp of our souls, we will not be able to realize the freedom and love that flow from living by the rule of Law in our lives.
The rule of God over His people is for their good, that is, that they might know Him and enjoy their lives within the context of His promised blessings, according to His eternal design and desire for His creatures. In a fallen world, where sin still exerts great strength, the Law of God, in the hand of the Spirit of God, provides a check against sin (Rom.7.7), a guide for good works of love (Eph. 2.10; Rom.7.12; Matt. 22.34-40), and the key to the good life God intends for His people.
The rule of God begins within, in the soul or the spirit of each person. God’s Law teaches us how to discipline our affections, so that we learn to desire that which God desires. This, in turn, provides a bridle and guide for all the affections of the heart. The Law also is designed to govern what and how we think, so that our minds will, increasingly, take on the character of the mind of Christ, and of His Spirit, which we possess by faith (1 Cor. 2.16; Rom. 8.5-9).
The final component or facet of the soul is the conscience, which functions as the keeper of priorities and settled values. In the conscience, or the will, if you like, we establish the guiding defaults which shape heart and mind into agreement over particular courses of action. And in the conscience, as we see in God’s Law, the governing valuemust be fear and love of God.
This is what the Lord requires of us. It is not merely that we should fear and love the Lord as the guiding affections of our heart and mind. Rather, we must cherish, guard, preserve, nurture, and strengthen fear and love of the Lord so that these values, these priorities, will give shape to all our feeling, thinking, being, and doing.
Anything which seeks to supplant fear and love of God as the commanding values of our wills – such as love of things or love of self – must be identified, anticipated, prepared for, and staunchly resisted so that the conscience, which arbitrates between the affections of the heart and the thoughts and plans of the mind, may serve its proper function in keeping our souls aligned with the purposes of God for our good.
We will not walk in God’s way if we do not know His way. The Law teaches our mind the way of the Lord.
We will not walk in God’s way if we do not desire His way. The Law shapes our hearts accordingly.
And we will not walk in God’s ways if fear of Him and love for Him are not the commanding rule of our wills. Thus, as we shall see, the Law teaches us to discipline our consciences so that we may know and enjoy the good life for which He has redeemed us.
T. M. Moore
The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.