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Confusion between Love and…

August 11, 2008

God’s Law equals legalism on one side and error on the other. This is the third part in my sermon notes on God’s Law. Part 1 and Part 2 can be found by the links.

Personally, I believe that the present confusion in churches today and among Christians can be easily traced back to the wrong understanding of the Law and the wrong applications of Love. Here are my notes.

Dangers of the Confusion between the Law and Love:

1) Leads to the exercise of situational ethics. Meaning, you allow the situation to determine the ethics. Unmoored from any true standard and foundation, the circumstances or situation take on the shaping force and power for our thoughts and actions, instead of the foundation of God’s Word being the shaping force and power for our thoughts and actions.

Viewing the 10 Commandments as mere rules of thumb don’t work when your thumb’s broken, but more importantly, deceives the viewer into thinking “certain” situations demand exceptions. This practice is sometimes called contextualization, when it really isn’t.

2) Leads to permissiveness and wayward self-indulgences that promise freedom and enjoyment but instead wounds the person and offends a Holy God. This is sometimes called antinomianism.

For example, God’s Law is the standard that points believers to God’s grace, but ignoring the law for “the sake of grace” isn’t true grace when divorced from God’s definition of grace. Rather, that type of pseudo-grace is error. The result is permissiveness for things that while allowable are not beneficial. What looks like freedom becomes its own subtle form of bondage. The person is deceived and consequently wounded while a holy God is wholly offended.

3) Leads to erroneous judgments, meaning the unbiblical kind, and extreme legalism, meaning making God’s Law say what it does not.

Again, there are two sides here. First, when God’s law is used as a weapon against others with a motivation to force another to your viewpoint, erroneous judgments are made about yourself, your own motivations and behaviors as well as others motivations and behaviors. Jesus’ instructions in Mt 7:1-2 are only rightly understood within their context of the next 3 verses where diligent self examination has to first occur; again, this must be done within the law of God.

On the extreme legalism side, making God’s law state a personal viewpoint that is not biblically taught within the whole counsel of God, for example using “pet” verses ripped from context, also does great damage to the Body of believers.

4) Leads to personal pride and arrogance regarding how loving you are to others. The trendy version of WWJD is a bumper sticker for this idea. Asking the question within biblical teaching reveals that what Jesus did every time was obey the Law of God. The Law was His delight and joy, the fullness of Who He was and What He taught.

The presumption that your opinion or even experience of loving another when it is different and contrary to the law of God is offensively stating that your way of handling something is more loving or more merciful than Christ!

Lastly, this quote best sums up for me a perspective to be refined within myself.

The eye of the Law is Love and without this eye, Love is blind. Love is the soul of the Law and without this soul, the Law is dead.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. L.Turner permalink
    August 11, 2008 11:32 am

    Hey Elle,
    Great post! This is an amazing series we are privileged to hear. The notes you posted are a wonderful summary of these sanctifying truths. A letter from a pastor in Africa was read during last night’s service saying how much he was blessed by the preaching we hear first-hand.

    Missed you all yesterday. Immediately thought of your back and hoped it wasn’t acting up.
    L.Turner

  2. August 12, 2008 1:34 am

    Wow, this is fantastic. I am going to need to reread this and mull it over a few times. I really appreciate your perspective and you’ve made some wonderful points that deserve more consideration on my part. Thank you for taking the time to do this!

    By the way, I tagged you on my blog.

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