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A Heart for Learning the Law?

We have it. Are we using it?

Educating for Godly Policy (5)

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live… And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today. Deuteronomy 30.6, 8

Israel’s problem solved
The story of Israel throughout the period of the Old Testament is one of islands of faithfulness surrounded by a sea of rebellion. The outline for an economy of justice and love which God provided in His Law rarely got traction among the children of Abraham. They ignored God’s Law whenever they could and sought to follow the ways of the surrounding nations rather than that of the Lord. They lacked a heart for God, a love for Him that overrode all other interests, attractions, and options. Even as the LORD gave His Law to Israel a second time, He decried the fact that they did not have a heart to keep His commandments and thus to know His blessings on themselves and their children (Deut. 5.29). And even after the conquest of the land, when God proved His faithfulness in delivering the people into the land of promise, the people’s hearts were ever prone to wander from Him (Jdgs. 2.10-17).

But God promised a day when He would give His people a new heart, a heart to know, love, and serve Him, and then they would begin to learn His commandments and to keep and do them, establishing policies and practices for every aspect of life that would manifest the goodness of the Lord and bring justice and love to light in the world.

At that time, the Spirit of God would be at work within the people of God, not merely among them, doing from the inside-out what they could not manage to accomplish from the outside-in: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36.26, 27).

That day has come, and we are the people Moses foresaw in Deuteronomy 30.6-8. The Spirit of God has entered the hearts of all who believe in Jesus, and He is working there to rewrite the Law of God, teach us to delight in it, and empower us to live by it (Gal. 4.6; Ezek. 36.26, 27).

Which means that we are quenching the Spirit of God (1 Thess. 5.19) if we do not take up the Law of God for ourselves, our children, our communities, and our world. And if we quench Him at this most foundational level, we cannot expect Him to unpack His fruit, gifts, and power within and through us.

Search your heart
The heart is the seat of our affections—loves, desires, longings, aspirations, hopes, and so forth. From the heart, Solomon explained, all the issues of life flow through us into our world (Prov. 4.23). Solomon would say that we are only keeping our heart “with all diligence” when it and everything about us is devoted to fearing God and keeping His commandments (Eccl. 12.12). We do not seek to keep the Law of God because we believe that doing so will save us. No amount of good works will accomplish that gracious end.

But we keep the Law—and seek to apply it for justice and love—because we are saved, and the Law contains that pattern and template of good works, given from of old, that God intends all who are saved to learn and do (Eph. 2.8-10).

But this generation of believers seems more like the Israelites of old than the people Solomon, Jesus, and Paul describe. We are neglecting the Law rather than learning and keeping it, and we consider this to be most fashionable and in order, given that ours is a time of grace and not Law.

But the grace of God has come to us in Jesus Christ unto righteousness, and the Law of God marks that path that we should walk, since it was the same path Jesus walked (Rom. 7.12; 1 Jn. 2.1-6).

Each of us must search our hearts to determine whether we can say truly with the psalmist, “Oh, how I love Your Law!” (Ps. 119.97) The righteous person is so grounded in the Law of God that it continuously irrigates their soul, bringing forth the fruit of righteousness to meet the situation at hand (Ps. 1).

And as John the Baptist expected the secular authorities of his day to get in line with the Law of God (Matt. 14.1-4; cf. Lev. 18.16; 20.21), so we, as we grow in understanding and obedience to God’s Law, must work to have its holy and righteous and good precepts pervading whatever issues of public policy are before us in our time.

Cultivating a heart for God’s Law
How can we do this? What will it take to nurture a heart for God’s Law? Let me offer a few suggestions.

First, if you have not memorized the Ten Commandments, do so right away. They provide the core convictions from which all other laws, rules, precepts, judgments, and testimonies of God’s Law derive. The Holy Spirit is working to inscribe the Ten Commandments on our hearts, and we must join gladly in that effort by fixing those foundational statutes in our mind. Then our hearts can begin to delight in and love them.

Find some time to meditate on some aspect of the Law of God every day. The righteous person, the one in whom the righteousness of Christ is increasing, meditates on the Law of God day and night (Ps. 1). This is a deliberate effort not only to increase in understanding of all the Law of God, but to think clearly and carefully about how, through obeying the Law, we may increase in love for God and our neighbors (Matt. 22.34-30).

Talk often with others about the Law of God. The more you let the Law of God dwell in you richly, the more clearly you will see its great value, delight in its great wisdom, and realize its power to shape you for love. And the more this happens, the more you will want to share with others and to listen as they, in turn, talk of their love for God’s Law as well (Col. 3.16).

This much is clear: Without a vibrant, loving, and committed community of people who are growing in love for God and neighbors through learning, obeying, and teaching the Law of God, there will be no leaven in the public policy loaf to transform the social fabric of our land and bring more Kingdom greatness to light in our midst (Matt. 5.17-19).

For reflection
1. Why do you suppose the Holy Spirit considers it His primary duty to write the Law of God on our hearts?

2. Would you say of your church that you are a community of people who love, learn, and teach the Law of God? Why or why not?

3. What can keep you from beginning to nurture a heart of love for and delight in the Law of God?

Next steps—Transformation: Commit your way to the Lord, that you will henceforth determine to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through greater devotion to God’s Law. Begin today to make that happen.

T. M. Moore

Our bookstore offers three resources to help you grow in knowledge of, love for, and obedience to the Law of God. Please check out The Law of God (click here), The Ground for Christian Ethics (click here), and A Kingdom Catechism (click here). The Law of God arranges all the statutes and commandments of God under one or another of the Ten Commandments. It can be a useful guide for reflection as part of your daily time with the Lord. For The Ground for Christian Ethics and A Kingdom Catechism, read the table of contents and listen to the audio excerpts to learn more about each book.

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ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

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.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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