Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: What Finally Made Me Give up “The Law”

on December 22, 2014

open bible{Well, after a 6-month break, 1 kidney stone, 1 giant extended-family vacation, 1 new (adorable) baby (Ashlyn Margaret), 2 trips back home to Michigan, and (almost) 2 major holidays. . . I have finally returned to blogging! 🙂 Posts will still likely be infrequent, as I’ve found that three children kind of push you over the edge toward insanity, but I will try! (No promises!! 🙂 ) }

The most motivating factor for my getting back into blogging was this post that I’ve been thinking about (thus the heading, “Thursday Thoughts”). Quite a while ago, I wrote my most-read post, “Over-emphasizing the Gospel.” A lot of well-meaning authors have written about how we need to emphasize grace (as opposed to focusing on obeying and being burdened by the “rules” or the “law”). In my post cited above, I simply stated that we need to be careful not to over-emphasize grace to the exclusion of the other aspects of the Gospel (e.g., obedience). Many of these pro-grace, anti-law (which I am, if defined properly) authors tell us to “remember the Gospel,” and that will motivate us to obey (rather than obeying simply because we are supposed to if we are a Christian and want God to be happy with us).

Remember the Gospel. This is good advice. But it’s kind of a buzz word–or buzz sentence, to be exact. It can be kind of vague. And there are books (and blog posts galore!) written about this subject, making it feel (to me) like this was just one more rule to follow. One more way I need to try to force my brain to think rightly and my heart to feel rightly.

Lately, however, I think I’ve come across a way to make this whole process simpler (though not necessarily easier).

Study the Bible.

This may seem basic, but let me explain. During our church’s morning worship service, my husband, Dave, has been preaching expositionally through the Gospel of Mark. We are only on chapter three, but I am seeing the immense value of studying Jesus. I see what he values (e.g., God’s Word, God’s purpose for his life). I see how he prioritizes (e.g., preaching the Word is more important than meeting physical needs). I see how he is compassionate (e.g., though preaching the Word is priority, he takes the time to meet needs because he pities needy people). I see how he is patient and selfless (e.g., diseased people pressed in on him, touching him to be healed).

When I study God’s Word in context and see my Lord’s values, priorities, compassion, patience, and selflessness (many all of which qualities I struggle with), I am motivated to be like him. I am reminded of situations in which I could perhaps be more compassionate and patient, and I am motivated to be like Jesus.

Here’s another example. In our church’s ladies’ Bible study, we are studying the book of 1 Peter. We started in chapter 1, verse 1 and are going through the book verse-by-verse. Do you know what? I am learning that the theme of 1 Peter is that Jesus Christ is our living hope! I learn that all things on earth are perishable, but all things that pertain to the Gospel are imperishable. I am motivated to emphasize the imperishable in my life. I am motivated, for example, to be a submissive wife (not because I am “supposed to”), but because–in context–submission is a way that unbelievers can see the Gospel at work in my life, so that they can perhaps be saved and glorify God!

Have you seen the similarities between my two examples? I have had opportunity to study whole passages of the Bible in context. And this has been extremely motivating for me to give up “the Law.” In other words, I am not obeying 1 Peter 3:1 (“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands. . .”) because “it says so.” (If I were perfect, I could and would for that reason at all times, but I am not. Thankfully, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for me!). I am motivated to be subject to my husband, because I understand the context of 1 Peter 3. My submission is a way of giving the Gospel. My submission is part of living for those things that are imperishable.

Studying the Bible has helped me obey because I want to be like Jesus Christ. Studying the Bible has helped me obey because I understand the rules in the big picture of the Gospel.

Please do read books that emphasize grace (as long as they don’t exclude obedience). They are helpful and sometimes necessary. But, please, study your Bible book-by-book. Learn about Jesus. Read the commands in context. I think you will be motivated to obey from a heart that loves God and wants to be like him.

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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