Salvation and the Law

Neglect this, and you are neglecting your salvation.

Such a Great Salvation (17)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…
Hebrews 10.24

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3.31

Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
LORD, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight. Psalm 119.155, 166, 174

The neglect of God’s Law
By now you are well aware of the widespread but mistaken opinion that believers think they no longer have any obligation to learn or obey the Law of God. That was then, we are told; now we have a different law, a law of love and toleration and understanding.

Whatever that means.

The neglect of, indeed, among many who claim to be followers of Christ, the scornfor God’s Law does not correspond with the attitude of Jesus and the apostles, nor of the fathers and teachers of our faith down through the ages. Jesus condemned to obscurity those who refuse to learn, obey, and teach God’s Law (Matt. 5.19). The apostle Paul emphatically established the Law, not as a means of salvation, but as the path along which our salvation unfolds. The apostles James, John, and Peter affirmed the abiding validity and importance of the Law of God. 

Those preachers and theologians today who deny the Law’s relevance for our salvation are pushing a lie on the people they serve; and those who endorse and submit to their teaching are willfully blinding themselves to the truth that makes us free, leads into holiness, fosters righteousness, promotes goodness, and empowers us for love.

To neglect the Law of God, therefore, is not only to neglect our great salvation, but it is to encourage wickedness to flourish, to eviscerate our prayers, to deprive us of the favor of the Lord, and to cheat the world of God’s love (Prov. 28.4, 9; Matt. 24.12).

Realizing more of our great salvation depends on the extent to which we learn, delight in, love, obey, and proclaim the holy and righteous and good Law of God (Rom. 7.12).

The beauty of God’s Law
There is a simple reason why this is so. The Law of God is beautiful. That is, the Law of God refracts the essential beauty, goodness, and truth of God, showing us how, in social and cultural settings, to fill our world with the knowledge of God and His glory. Consider just these five characteristics of the Law of God. And as you do, please note that each of these characteristics is asserted in the New Testament:

The Law is the Law of liberty. The apostle James commands us to live in all our ways as though we were going to be judged by the “law of liberty” (Jms. 2.12), because we certainly will. By nature, we are slaves to sin and captives to the father of lies. Apart from Jesus and His Law, we only know how to sin, and we only tend ever to lie, because this, we assume, will be in our best interest. Only Christ can liberate us from this bondage; but when He does, He does not liberate us into a moral vacuum. Instead, He sets us free from the law of sin to live within the Law of liberty.

The Law is holy. Paul says the Law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12). It is holy because it expresses in human terms, and for all manner of social and cultural contexts, what the holy and perfect will of God looks like when human beings embody it. God has called us to be holy; Jesus insists we are to be holy; Peter declares that God has made us a holy people. We cannot possibly grow into the holiness of God, to which our salvation would deliver us, so long as we neglect the holy Law of the Lord.

The Law is righteous. Jesus is righteous. His perfect righteousness is the means whereby we are acceptable to God. Jesus calls us to follow Him, and the apostle John tells us that the way to do this is to walk the path of righteousness Jesus walked, which is the path of God’s commandments (1 Jn. 2.1-6). We are to be a people who are growing increasingly into the image of the righteous Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18), and we cannot do this if we neglect the righteous Law of the Lord.

The Law is good. We are called to do good, to be zealous for good works, to be careful to maintain good works, and to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works. The Law of God is good. In its goodness it speaks to the will of God for the flourishing, not only of His people, but of all creation and culture. The goodness of God can come to light in the land of the living if God’s people will study, learn, delight in, and obey the good Law of the Lord.

The Law is the Law of love. Finally – and this is merely introductory – the Law shows us what God means when He commands us to love Him and our neighbors. All the Law and the prophets can only be understood rightly when they are seen as beacons of love for God and others (Matt. 22.34-30) and pointers to our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the very embodiment of love (Jn. 5.39). When we neglect the Law of God, love grows cold (Matt. 24.12). The world will only know the love of God that makes all things new, as we His people learn and love the Law of love, which is the Law of God.

God’s Law and our great salvation
Here is not the place to elaborate on all the details concerning how we are to obey the Law of God, or which of the laws are still valid, and how we must interpret and apply the Law in our day. Suffice it to say that, if we wish to attend diligently to and grow more fully into our great salvation, we must make room in our walk with the Lord for daily reading and meditation in the Law of God; and we must reflect back on our day and plan the next in the light of that Law, that we may discover ways to know more of the Lord’s freedom, express more of His holiness and righteousness and goodness, and show more love to Him and our neighbors.

Our prayer is that this brief overview will liberate you from the lies of those who neglect and scorn the Law, and counsel you to do the same; and stimulate you to that quintessential good work, the good work of learning and obeying God’s Law.

For reflection
1.  Meditate on Psalm 1. To what extent does this psalm describe your relationship to the Law of God?

2.  Meditate on Matthew 5.17-19. Can we expect to grow in our great salvation apart from learning and obeying the Law of God? Explain.

3.  What can you do to begin giving a greater place to the Law of God in your walk with and work for the Lord? 

Next steps – Preparation: Lay out a plan for spending more time reading and meditating in God’s Law. Share your plan with a Christian friend.

T. M. Moore

You can learn to read and practice the Law of God so that all the promises that attend to such obedience abound more and more unto a greater measure of our great salvation. Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, shows you why the Law matters, which aspects of the Law we must continue to hold, and how to read and benefit from the Law for your walk with and work for the Lord. Order your copy by clicking here

Our salvation is as great as Jesus is great. But do you know how great He really is? Our book, To Know Him, can help you to see Jesus more clearly. Order a copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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