Sunday Thoughts: The Letter of the Law Versus the Heart (Spirit) of the Law

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The New Year begins and I have some thoughts:

So much of the world today seems to revolve around the judgment of others. Today, humanity reduces and categorizes us by ideology and the tenets of wokeness. I wonder just how fair or effective it may be for a Christian to judge another based on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. How many are missing out on the meaning of God’s righteous path to a new heart ( spirit)?

Today, our political discourse and daily interactions involve either hiding our true thoughts, going along to get along, or choosing sides. When we declare we’re faced with the daunting task of persuading the other they are wrong, and that it is our side that is right. No matter which side of the divide, both form judgment upon the other which stops any effective dialogue and we hold the other to the letter of the law.

Beyond our back and forth, beyond our sitting in judgment of others, is God.

For Christians to follow the exact letter of God’s law would mean consistently adhering to all 613 Commandments or laws in the Old Testament. Truth be told the majority have a difficult time enough keeping the Ten Commandments much less all 613.

The letter of the law reveals the righteousness of God. By the letter( the word) God demands 100 percent righteousness and holiness for he is righteous and Holy God.

What does scripture impart about the righteousness of God?

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • Psalm 11:7: “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
  • Romans 3:21: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—”

The Commandments reveal his holiness and act as a school teacher to instruct us all we may indeed fall short of his glory in our fallen state ( first Adam), and are in need of our Savior. God provided a way for us to receive his righteousness, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, in which God would provide himself a Lamb.

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosever believeth on Him, who He has sent, should not perish but have everlasting life. “

Jesus, Emanuel, God with us, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the word made flesh, emptied himself (of his Deity) and became like we as a man. As a man He that knew no sin took our sin upon himself and nailed it to the cross. As a man, he was tempted in all manner as we yet without sin that we now have a God that can be touched by our weaknesses and have empathy and compassion for the sinner and fulfill all righteousness on our behalf as a man to become the last Adam. Who now is at the right hand of the Father as our advocate and High Priest. In the first Adam, we died and in the last Adam, we are made alive in Christ Jesus, our Lord, and our God. No greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for another. No one could take His life he had to lay it down freely.

This is the love of God that the Father would send his Son and that his Son would lay down his life for us all while we were yet at enmity with Him. This is where we learn the Heart ( Spirit) of the Law.

Jesus gave the ultimate summary of the Heart (Spirit) of the law when he said this:

Matthew 22: 37-40:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ” Love your neighbor as yourself” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love God and Love people sums it up.

One must be born again, and receive his Holy Spirit of promise. He gives us a new heart a new Spirit and he dwells in us and will never leave nor forsake us. This is what it means to be born again and become a Christian, the children of the Living God. With the new covenant, Jesus also gives us a new commandment that we love one another as he has loved us, with the love of God loving one another by walking not by our power and might but in his Spirit In which we now understand that he is love above all things and he gives us his righteousness, his Spirit, his heart and causes us to grow by the power of his Holy Spirit for his glory alone.

It is not possible to be of a new heart and spirit while sitting in the final judgment of others. Only God is the arbiter of moral judgment and through his grace, we are redeemed.

Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through HIM. One may choose to see God as a “just and fair” judge and Jesus as our lawyer or advocate. And I dare say Jesus was more concerned about the Heart( Spirit) of the Law than the Letter of the Law.

Another frame of reference might be as follows: Consider a man rushing down the interstate clocking 85mph in the middle of the night. His wife is in the backseat in labor with his child in the breech and contractions are barely apart. A policeman flashes his lights for the man to pull over to no avail and ends up following the man into the hospital’s emergency bay. The man gets his wife inside for medical treatment and both mother and child are saved.

The policeman has a choice. Write up multiple tickets and possible arrest for not heeding commands – which would be an example of following the letter of the law. Or show compassion and understanding for the context of why the man broke several laws and apply The heart ( spirit ) of the Law for the man broke the law for good to save others.

Next time you find yourself frustrated and sitting in judgment of another think about The Letter of the Law v. The Heart (Spirit) of the Law. Remember not all of us have received his Holy Spirit of promise and offer compassion and respect for where the person is on their journey to the Lord. Sure, stand your ground in a debate, but heed Jesus’s call to love God and love others. Honor the righteousness he has bestowed upon you.

If God does not forsake us – honor him by not writing off others from hubris or judgment. One cannot open eyes to Christ’s teachings by assuming one knows the walk another has taken and judges it as not worthy. Jesus’s sacrifice and God’s righteousness make all mankind worthy of redemption.

Thank you…Jesus.

By Richard

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