|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.
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.”
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)