The Law of God and Public Policy: Begin Here (6)
“For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?” Deuteronomy 4.7, 8
The Christian understands that the chief end of every human life is realized in knowing God and living for His glory. This is that full and abundant life—eternal life—which Jesus accomplished and, by His Word and Spirit, bestows freely on all who believe in Him (Jn. 14.6; 17.3).
Believers are called to live as Jesus did—learning, doing, and teaching the Law of God, and all the Word of God, as the definition and outworking of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God (1 Jn. 2.1-6; Matt. 5.17-19). We are citizens of a new realm—the Kingdom of God’s own dear Son (Col. 1.13). We are indwelled by a new Spirit, the Spirit of the living God (Jn. 14.15-17). We understand and approach the world, not with the mindset of the times, but with the mind of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). As Christians walk in the Spirit, Who gave and teaches the Law (Ezek. 36.26, 27), we discover new depths of love for God and neighbor which the Law defines and the Spirit empowers (Matt.22.34-40; Gal. 5.22).
This is why it is so important that, before Christians think to bring the Law of God into the public square, we must be practiced in that Law—the spirit, not just the letter of it—as the embodiment of all our hope. Unless we can point to the benefits that come from obedience to God’s Law within our own communities, we will be hard pressed to persuade our unbelieving neighbors that such can be true for them as well.
Our hope in so living is that by our good works, works outlined in the Law of God (Eph. 2.10; Rom. 7.12), we will bring glory to God (Matt. 5.13-16). In everything we do, the glory of God must be our pre-eminent concern (1 Cor. 10.31). God is working to make His glory known throughout the world, so that people might be drawn to His beauty, goodness, and truth, and find in Him the way of full and abundant life (Hab. 2.14; Mic. 4.1-5; Jn. 14.6).
When our neighbors, seeing our hope, approach us to ask about the wisdom, understanding, and hope they observe in us, then we must glorify God by explaining what He has done for us through the work of His Son, our Lord and King Jesus Christ. Thus is God glorified in our witness, lived and spoken.
The more we live this way, the more we can influence the shape of public policy.
In Psalm 81.13-16 God explains how the obedience of His people brings Him glory even from His enemies: “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” Here is our most basic calling as citizens of the Kingdom of God’s Son and the people of God through Jesus Christ: We are called to hear and obey His Word, beginning with His Law. We cannot expect the benefits of God’s Law to flow through us to the surrounding world unless we are committed to reading, meditating in, and studying the Law of God.
Then follows two astonishing promises: “I would soon subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries.” This we may understand, in the first instance, as a reference to the spiritual warfare in which Christians are continually engaged. As we live in obedience to God’s Law, we may expect to gain ground against the enemy of our souls, even as Jesus did, by falling back on the Law to resist the devil (Matt. 4.1-11).
But there is more: “Those who hate the LORD would pretend obedience to Him, but their fate would endure forever.” An earlier version of the NASB is more accurate here: The enemies of the Lord would “feign obedience” to Him—just as, in many ways, they do this day.
Unbelievers may hate God, but they are happy to have the State protect them against thieves, slanderers, libelers, and murderers. They emboss Moses on the front of their Supreme Court building, acknowledging, at the very least, their need of the last six of the Lord’s Ten Commandments. Those who do not believe in God or His Son nevertheless seek the benefits that come from obedience to His Law. They may not like to be reminded of this, and may, indeed, insist that such precepts and statutes are only “common sense” or the product of evolutionary trial and error. All the same, they cannot disagree that conforming their behavior to aspects of the Law of God is the way to a just society.
The more God’s people are faithful in knowing and living the Law of God, the greater will be the “feigned obedience” of those who have no regard for the Lord or His will. Such “feigned obedience” does not save those who thus “keep” the Law of God; their divinely-appointed fate is yet upon them and will “last forever.” However, such obedience does honor God by bringing a modicum of justice and neighbor-love to society.
“But He would satisfy you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” God’s people will want for no good thing as we follow the path of obedience to His Law. And the more consistent we are in obeying the Law, and the more we live in the love of Jesus Christ, the more we will be able to bring the benefits of obedience—even feigned obedience—to our communities.
Believers have the duty of making known the glory of God by reminding our neighbors of where justice, wisdom, understanding, and goodness have their origin (Hab. 2.14; Rom. 7.12). Moreover, we must work, by the Law of God and all the means of persuasion, to bring more such blessings to our communities, in ways appropriate to the spiritual and policy needs of the day and the readiness of the community to submit to the wisdom and understanding of God.
Christians must be exemplary in conduct, informed regarding the issues, and wise in promoting public policies that line up with the holy and righteous and good counsel of the eternal Law of God. If we will do so, God’s astonishing promises well begin to be realized in our midst.
1. What are the two astonishing promises God holds out to His people?
2. What are the conditions for realizing those promises?
3. What does this teach us about the place of God’s Law within the believing community?
Next steps—Preparation: How many different ways can you identify the promise of “feigned obedience” already at work in our society?
T. M. Moore
What is the place of the Law of God in the Christian’s life? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, answers this question and shows us again why Jesus taught us that keeping the Law is an indispensable part of our calling in God’s Kingdom. Order your free copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.