The Simple Faith in the Goodness of God’s Law By Scarlett Stough
 
A Bible study guide written under the name of a famous and respected theologian refers to “our inability to keep God's law.” Did God give us commandments that we are unable  to keep? Did he decree curses and the death penalty for law-breaking with full knowledge we could not obey the letter of the law?---not according to Moses. God inspired Moses to write:
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
A friend was paralyzed in an automobile accident. She is unable to turn herself over in bed; she is unable to groom herself, feed herself or any mundane task most of us take for granted. She can be described as having an inability to do many things. She wants to do these things for herself, but she can not. Her inability prevents her from doing what she wants to do. 

Let's look at Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

  • Is a human mind and body unable to understand the concept that there is a living God who created and sustains all things?
  • Is a human mind and body unable to stop itself from bowing down to images of stone?
  • Are we unable to refrain from saying and doing things that tarnish the reputation of the Holy God?
  • We may have to go to some trouble to honor and assist our parents, but is it impossible?
  • Are we unable to refrain for 24 hours from working?
  • Doesn't it take a great deal of thought and energy to plan and carry out murder, adultery, and theft?
  • Lying and coveting often seem uncontrollable, but are they really?
The problem isn't a holiness paralysis; the problem is in our “want-to.” Fix the “want-to” and The Ten Commandments become easy. What is so difficult about taking a full 24 hours to rest and be refreshed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? What is so difficult about refraining from pocketing that piece of jewelry so that you don't eventually end up in jail for shop-lifting?

Have you noticed? It takes work to break any of the Ten basic commands of God.

Right after God gave The Ten to Moses, he revealed what the children of Israel lacked and what we all lack that produces our disobedience:

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! (Deuteronomy 5:29)
My two-year old granddaughter is precious to me and the delight of my life. But her “want-to” needs fixing. She has on occasion looked her mother in the eye and deliberately and defiantly done exactly what she was told not to do. She was not “unable” to obey; she simply did not “want-to” obey. She was not asked to do something beyond her understanding or capacity. She was asked to refrain from doing something harmful.

God has asked us to refrain from harmful actions. On occasion, we defy his wisdom and authority in order to do what we “want-to” do and then we complain about the consequences. God has provided a repair for our “want-to.”
 

  • I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • I will pour out my Spirit on all people. (Joel 2:28)
  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. (Romans 8:1-3)
  • And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
  • Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 


God has given us everything we need to fix our “want-to.” He sent his Son to be a sin offering so that we are not under the death penalty for breaking his laws. Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior receive forgiveness and the indwelling Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38-49) He has sent his Holy Spirit to change our hearts--our “want-to”--so that obedience to his law is desirable to us.

We do have a responsibility to set our minds on what the Spirit desires. God provides the willingness and strength, but we have to act on it. We have to strengthen the Holy Spirit-generated-desire to do things God's way by fixing our thoughts. “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)

Not only do we have responsibility for controlling our thoughts, we also have the responsibility to control our actions. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16)

We do have a struggle between the “want-to” of the flesh and the godly desires placed in us by the Holy Spirit. We can yield more easily to the desires of the Holy Spirit by coming to understand the benefits of obedience and the harmful consequences of disobedience. The more love we have for the instructions (the Law) of our Heavenly Father, the easier it will be to carry them out and the less often we will find ourselves in defiance of his desires. Love toward God is the greatest commandment and we express that love by doing what is desirable to him.

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psalms 119:165)

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