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and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezek. xxxvi. 25–28. Compare Jer. xxxi. 33. “WE KNOW THAT THE LAW IS GOOD, IF A MAN USE IT LAWFULLY.”
THE NATURE OF THE OBEDIENCE REQUIRED
BY THE LAW.
URE Christianity differs from every form of cor
rupt doctrine by the place it assigns to obedience to God's law. On this point the human mind loves error to such a degree that nothing but grace can cure its follies. While some teach that obedience is everything, that it is meritorious, and that by it we are.justified; others assert that it is nothing; that in the gospel plan of salvation there is no room for it ; that none is required, and that, if rendered, it is useless. Both of these are rank and extreme errors. Both do fundamentally oppose the truth of God. A total rejection of the law will prove as fatal as a total rejection of the gospel ; while a reliance upon the law as a method of justification is both a rejection of the gospel and an abuse of the law.
Colquhoun : “ Legalists teach that believers are under the law, even as it is the covenant of works : Antinomians, on the contrary, assert that believers are not only not under it as a covenant, but not under it even as a rule of duty, These two assertions are not more contrary to one another, than they both are to the truth as it is in Jesus.”
· That obedience to the law is required upon its very face, and in many parts of Scripture, is evident to any candid reader. The form of enactment has been already alluded to. The following additional passages of Scripture are here given.
“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that yo should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons." Deut. iv. 5, 6, 9. “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it;" Deut. xii. 28,32, and parallel passages.
WHAT IS THE OBEDIENCE REQUIRED ? I. It is personal. One man cannot obey for another. . “The soul that sinneth, it shall die." "He that doeth righteousness is righteous." Though our personal obedience to the law does not justify us in the sight of God, yet it alone can justify our profession of love to him. The obedience which the Lord Jesus Christ rendered to the precepts of the law as our substitute was intended solely for the justification of
our persons, and in no wise as a substitute for our personal holiness. Scott: “ The commandments are addressed in the singular number, to each person, because every one is concerned in them on his own account: and each prohibition implies a positive duty.”
II. According to Scripture the obedience required is to some command given by God. Ames: “The I matter of obedience is that very thing commanded by God.” Uncommanded observances, whatever sanctity they may seem to attach to us in the eyes of man, are of no avail in the sight of God. They are all condemned in his holy word. Voluntary humility, willworship, the dishonouring of our own bodies, the worshipping of angels, and abstaining from meats which God has created to be received with thanksgiving, are crimes in the sight of Heaven, and are marks of an apostate church. Col. ii. 18; 1 Tim. iv. 1-4. Of old we read of no worse state of the church than that in which the “fear of God is taught by the precepts of men.” Isa. xxix. 13. “If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, after
the commandments and doctrines of men ? Which · things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” Col. ii. 20–23.
III. The obedience required in Scripture consists not in mere outward acts of the body, irrespective of the state of the heart. According to Scripture no obedience is acceptable to God, unless it is rightly intended. God may accept the will for the deed, but he will never accept the deed for the will. In fact his holy word pours its heaviest curses on those who merely make
clean the outside of the platter, while in their hearts they are ravening wolves, or sepulchres full of dead men's bones. Matt. xxiii. 25, 27; Luke xi. 39. This is perfectly right in God. No man would be willing to accept the most exact and respectful though heartless politeness of a wife or child, instead of the warm, gushing affection which was his due. There is no dispensing with godly sincerity.
IV. All obedience must flow from a principle of love. This is taught everywhere in Scripture. Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. .... He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. .... If a man love me, he will keep my words. ... He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings.” John xiv. 15, 21, 23, 24. The mere legalist who trusts in salvation by his own righteousness is never the man to make great sacrifices for Christ. He has no principle of love. He is performing a task, and his task is a drudgery. On the other hand, he who trusts in the merits of Christ alone, and has any just sense of his obligations to the Redeemer, gives much, gives all, and then wishes he could give more. The legalist has the spirit of a hireling; the evangelical man has the spirit of gratitude.
V. All obedience pleasing to God is connected with godly fear. We will never obey unto all pleasing unless we bow to the awful authority of Jehovah. We will never keep his commandments unless we fear him. Eccl. xii. 13; Compare: Deut. vi. 2, x. 12; Ps. cxi. 10; 1 Pet. ii. 17; Rev. xix. 5. In Deut. xxviii. 58, it is expressly said that we are to “observe to do all