As an undergraduate in college, I had to take electives to fulfill my degree. There were times when I just took a course just to do that and didn’t really spend a lot of time trying to learn something. In short, I just wanted to complete the course to get credit for it. However, there were some courses that really caught my attention and forced me to think. Those courses were in the philosophy department. I actually enjoyed my philosophy courses and felt that I not only learned a thing or two but also thought about things that I would have just taken for granted.
One of the courses that really got me thinking was “Philosophy of Law”. In that course, I began to think about the reasons why we accept and obey laws. Some obey the law to avoid punishment while others just obey because it is the thing to do. I would argue that a smaller group obeys the law because it is the right thing to do. Since I am a Christian, I believe that the original set of laws were given to us by God when He gave Moses the tablets with the Ten Commandments written by God’s own hand.
From that moment on, Christians lived by laws given to us by God. Later, we will see that laws were added by Moses. These laws are referred to as the “Laws of Moses” and are written in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and then reiterated and added to in Deuteronomy. The content of the Law covers a wide range of areas that include moral law, social law as well as dietary laws. These are only a few of the areas. There are, in total, 613 laws given to the children of Israel to obey.
If you obeyed the laws that were written without failure, you would find favor with God and be blessed. If you became disobedient, God would punish you. It is a very simple system and it worked. Obey and things were good. Disobey and things weren’t as good or, worse yet, bad. Over time, people just followed the laws and that was that. As long as they didn’t violate a law, life was good. But, if that is all we need to do as Christians, our faith proves to be meaningless.
Think about it. If all we have to do is obey a set of laws and really don't have faith, we are good in God’s eyes. But, that isn’t all we have to do. We have to believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins. It is only by believing in that act of sacrifice that we can truly have salvation.
When we put our “faith” in the law, we are saying to God that we are the ones who can create salvation for ourselves. It is only through our actions that salvation becomes ours. That is taking away from God and moving ourselves into His place.
Paul, in chapter ten of his epistle to the Romans, writes, “For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, ‘Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, ‘The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Salvation comes from the open profession of faith that “Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”. It is only through that act that we are able to receive God’s free gift of salvation and the ability to walk in the newness of life as a follower of Jesus and as a child of God.
Does that mean we don’t have to follow the laws given to us by God? No. It doesn’t mean that at all. We still must be obedient to Him by following the laws. Obedience is still required. We cannot just simply mouth a few words and expect salvation. We must truly believe and act by faith each day. This means that we live our lives in accordance with God’s will and His laws.
When we do that, the world will see us as His children and it is through our actions that the world will receive our testimonies. By having faith and living our lives in accordance with His will, we make a very powerful statement to the world. We tell the world that our joy and sense of purpose comes from God. By believing that Jesus is the Lord of our lives and acting each day in that faith and in accordance to God’s will and laws, we are able to say that we are God’s children.
Our salvation is more than just following laws in order to avoid punishment. Salvation starts with a profession of faith and by believing in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t reached that point in your life, I ask you to think about what God has done for you. He gave up His son for you and allowed him to die on a cross for your sins. He raised him up from the dead to tell us that we too can have everlasting life. The first step is believing and making that profession of faith. The second is dedicating your life to living a righteous life by being obedient. Once you begin your daily walk with Him, rest assured that you can stand each and every day firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.