The Rule of Law: First Things (31)
“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’” Leviticus 19.2
Love for God and neighbor constitute the twin inner-circle values fueling a healthy conscience. Just outside that is the circle of holiness.
That the pursuit of holiness provides the next level or circle of priorities and values is confirmed by our Lord’s repeating these words from Leviticus to His disciples (Matt. 5.48) and by their being confirmed by all the writing apostles, in one form or another (cf. 2 Cor. 7.1; Heb. 6.9-12; 12.11; Jms. 2.8-28; 2 Pet. 3.11-14; 1 Jn. 2.1-6; 3.2, 3).
Holiness is both the shape which love for God and neighbor must take, and it is the goal toward which we strive by thus carrying out these two great priorities of the soul. We must so embed the desire for holiness in our consciences that our thoughts and affections will entertain nothing which does not comport with it.
Holiness as the glow which shimmers behind and pervades each of the precious and very great promises of God. God has promised to bless us, and to make us a blessing to the world; He has fulfilled those promises in Jesus, and tells us that, through Him, we may enter into fellowship with God (2 Pet. 1.4; 1 Cor. 1.20). As we lay hold on the promises and enter the glory of God, the Spirit forms us into the image of Jesus, unto holiness and righteousness of the truth.
In the light of all that God has promised, we make holiness our priority, and strive to bring it to completion in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7.1). To fear and love God and to love our neighbors, we must be holy, as God is holy. The Law of God is holy, as Paul reminds us (Rom.7.12). Thus, the Law itself teaches us to value the Law as the way to pursue holiness and express it in obedience to our mandate to love God and our neighbor.
We will, of course, not bring holiness to completion in this life. We will not succeed at consistently realizing the holiness to which God calls us. But because Jesus is holy, and He ever lives to intercede for us (Heb. 7.25), we may always be renewed in Jesus’ holiness unto increasing holiness in our own lives.
It will thus be a high priority of each believer to study the Law of God, to learn, obey, and teach it to others, so that holiness becomes a default value in our consciences. Then we may expect true holiness to abound among the people of God (Ezra 7.10; Matt. 5.17-19).
We must make the time for such study and engage in it regularly. We will not learn holiness apart from the Law, and we will not learn the Law if we do not make the time to do so. We must be willing to be instructed by those who are experienced in the Law, and we must listen for the Spirit to guide us day by day in its proper paths.
The Law, as we have argued again and again, is a kind of cornerstone of divine revelation. We cannot understand the rest of Scripture, or know the life God intends for us in His Word, unless we know and practice the Law of God. So we must strive to make this a high value and priority in our consciences, or we will make no progress in bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
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.