by Sandy Kirby Quandt
Today’s Sunday Scriptures post, Simple Truth, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.
The Pharisees translated all of God’s commandments into a system of rules – rules for righteousness. As they checked off the things on their lists, they fooled themselves into believing they were righteous. They missed the whole point of the Law. The commandments teach us how to live in ways that please God, but they can’t make us righteous. The purpose of the Law was not to make us righteous, but to reveal that we are not. No matter how good we try to be, we fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23; James 2:10).
Rules can’t save us. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment and gave them one restriction – one rule to follow. It evidently wasn’t long before they replaced God’s rule with their own (Genesis 2, 3). Every person since – each one of us – has repeated our own version of their story. That’s why Jesus came. We need a Savior. God knew from the beginning we needed Jesus. Jesus gave human shape to all the grace and truth and goodness of God’s character. Jesus paid the penalty for our inability and unwillingness to obey the requirements God rightfully expects of each one of us.
How great and gracious God is. All of human history is a record of His faithfulness amidst our unfaithfulness. That is the essence of what the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation. If we think we can do enough good in order to be good enough, we deceive ourselves. We need a Savior. We are incapable of attaining righteousness and a right relationship with our Creator without help. The real ‘work’ God requires of us is to believe in Jesus (John 6:28,29). Once we put our faith in Jesus, we demonstrate our love for Him by our obedience to his teaching (John 14:21).
Jesus summed it up even more simply. He told us to love God and love our neighbor. If we just do that, it takes care of all the other requirements. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know we don’t do that. We can’t do that perfectly. Pride, selfishness, self-centeredness, ambitions, and mountains of other things, get in the way of loving God and loving others as we should. Once we recognize that, He can work on our hearts. It is the condition of our hearts that matters to God.
God is patient with us. He wants us to get it right. Outward behavior, though important, is not enough to make us right with God. The commandments teach us how to live, but really, once we put our faith in Jesus, the key to living righteously is to learn to love better.
Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.
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Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you 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.” Matthew 22:37-40
I wish you well.
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