Doers of the Law
Most everyone is familiar with series of movies “Pirates of the Caribbean.” A popular quote from that one of those movies that is often quoted in a jesting is the line “Their more like guidelines anyways.” In the movie there was an universal “code” that all pirates were to operate by. Time and time again situations would arise where abiding by the “code” hindered them from doing what they wanted to do and so they would just simply ignore or bend the rule(s) to fit their needs. When asked “what about the code?” they would simply say “ah, their more like guidelines anyways.”
Interestingly enough Christians often find themselves employing the same mindset and attitude though not boldly coming out and saying it as they do in the movie. Recently the brethren at the Trenton congregation were challenged to ask themselves if they really believe. We readily say that we believe in God and His word and yet we’re always being tempted to compromise. We listen to God’s word in our collective worship services, we listen and participate in commenting on God’s truths in collective bible studies, and we listen and think about God’s word in personal study. After hearing God’s word in those ways we still face the challenge of actually applying it and heeding the instructions and His will for our lives.
Thinking about this I was reminded of Romans 2 when Paul had opened up the letter, in the latter of part of chapter 1, really stating some things on the Gentiles side of the street that needed to be addressed. But knowing the mindset of the Jews, and really all men for that matter, Paul quickly addresses some things on the Jews side as well lest they begin to boast and continue to hold the Gentiles in Judgment. Paul really points out what we just did above. They knew the law and boasted in it yet it seemed they do had a mindset that “it’s more like guidelines anyways.” Listen to what Paul says:
”But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:17-24)
I think part of the problem we often face is that our mindset is that if we fall short in these kinds of areas, well it’s just something I need to work on and it really only affects me. Well I’d agree that it IS something that we need to work on but when we fail to actually heed God’s word and put into purposeful action those things learned it affects more than just me. Paul said because of this, instead of God being honored He is dishonored which leads to Him being dishonored and blasphemed among the Gentiles. Why? Not because God’s wisdom isn’t true and faithful but “because of you.”
Brethren, God’s will for us is that people will “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) God’s will for us is that others will SEE GOD because of our love for one another (1 John 4:11-12). He has “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3). Our mission and purpose isn’t to make God’s word fit into our lives, our purpose and mission is to make our lives fit God’s word. Let’s not deceive ourselves into picking and choosing when and where we want to employ God’s wisdom, principles, commands, and instructions. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)