Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The human spirit is unfettered and free. Try to subjugate humans, in the end they will shake off the shackles. This is why all totalitarian systems are doomed to fail. From God’s perspective, absolute rule is not His style. He simply is no autocrat or control freak, which is why He created no robots, but living beings endowed with free will.

God created us to be free.

Initially there was no law; but then we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I call this the “Tree of the dos and don’ts” or the “Tree of the Law”. God commanded us not to eat its fruit because He knew full-well that we would get lost in the Law. However, against His expressed wishes, we still went for it.

Eating from a cursed tree, we were robbed of God and freedom.

Meanwhile, the Lord has been diligently at work to help us. He gave us the Ten Commandments so that we could see firsthand that in a world ruled by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil not even the wisest body of laws would being peace. We had to learn this the hard way. When we finally realized the impotency of the Law, God sent His Son Jesus. He came to restore us to a forgotten life – the way things used to be, before we got involved with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In a passage of rites, Jesus gets nailed by the Law – nailed to a tree – and dies, which is all the Law can do.

There is absolutely no life in the Law.

Thankfully, with the arrival of God’s Son the age of the Law has expired. The Lord’s death and subsequent resurrection started a whole new era; He brought us God’s kingdom. We do not become good by refraining from sinning, but by accepting Jesus’s wonderful gift. Plain and simple – unless we do not want it plain and simple, which puts us right back under the Law nailing us to a tree.

The law kills, while the Spirit of God brings life. Old habits die hard, and die-hard fans of the Law are everywhere on this planet, however, religious indoctrination is not what Jesus had in mind for us. While He Himself fulfilled the Law to the t, He came to save us from the Law and its repercussions. Jesus came to set us free – and He freed us indeed.

“Oh, freedom, Oh, freedom
Oh freedom over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’d be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free”

Songwriters: R.W. Singleton
Posted in Law

Deuteronomy 30:16: “For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways.”

Attached is a picture of my husband Bill serenading me as we were camping at Yosemite in California. Bill loves to be creative while he is in the shower. He calls them his “shower moments.” He comes up with song ideas or a genius solution to a nagging problem. The other day another light bulb went off in his head and he shared it with me:

“Law without love is slavery. Love without law is still love.”

What he says makes perfect sense to me considering that there was no law at the beginning of mankind, but there always was and has been – love. I believe everything that came into being was conceived out of love because our Creator loves His creation. Deprived of love, we all die. Love is why we live.

Love preceded the law; people came first and the law came later – almost like an afterthought, so it seems. Nevertheless, God gave us a conscience. It is common sense that stealing is harmful to human society. It is no rocket science to figure out that cheating on the spouse will hurt any marriage relationship.  It is obvious that no one can replace the person who was just killed.  So, without spelling it out – the law has always been in place, and love is the key to obeying all these laws.  Apply love to the law, and the Ten Commandments look something like this:

Love has no other God but the Lord; Love does not idolize; Love does not abuse the Lord’s name; Love observes the Sabbath rest; Love honors the parents; Love does not kill; Love does not pursue sexual relations outside of marriage; Love does not steal; Love does not lie; Love does not covet.

Love – and we are home free. Isn’t that the truth? Bill would say: “Yepper doodle!” Here’s to you, Bill! Here’s to love!

“And even though we ain’t got money. I’m so in love with you, Honey
everything will bring a chain of love”             Kenny Loggins

Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

A self-loathing, dissatisfied, angry individual is like a ticking time bomb. Any given opportunity, and the bomb will explode into a frenzy of criminal activity. Ironically, the law applied in those situations does not make the individual any better. Incarcerated, this person has not changed. It’s still the same self-loathing, dissatisfied and angry individual. The high percentage of recommitting crimes after incarceration speaks for itself.

We’ve got issues, and our hearts are clouded to various degrees. God’s Spirit unveils the Lord to us and based on our consent we are able to unburden our hearts and start the healing process in a moment’s notice. Led by the Spirit, believers love God and people. The Holy Spirit is evidenced by their fruit, which expresses itself in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control.

No law needs to be applied when we love the Lord and our neighbor as ourselves. Law becomes useless when it does not need to be applied. Indeed, God’s kingdom does not rely on the law; the kingdom of heaven entirely runs on God’s Spirit.

Posted in Law

Deuteronomy 6:4-6: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.”

The first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures are the written Torah, the law God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Torah contains the Jewish Shema, some consider to be the most essential prayer in Judaism. The prayer is found in the book of Deuteronomy and owes its name to the beginning word “Shema”, which translated into English, renders the word “listen” or “hear”.

Taking a closer look at the sequence of this prominent prayer, we find that “Hear, O Israel” leads up to the centerpiece “Love the Lord” and ends with “Take to heart these commandments that I give you”. The sequence of the Shema is no accident. Faith begins with listening. Listening to the Lord will inspire our love to Him. And loving Him, we will take His commandments to heart.

Incidentally, in the English language both the word “hear” and “ear” are hidden in the word heart – a great reminder that we should listen with our hearts.

The centerpiece of the Shema is what some refer to as the “Love Command” (Deuteronomy 6:5):

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

“Love Command” sounds a bit like an oxymoron to me since nobody loves on command; and I believe that the Bible is not meant to be a rule book. A testimony of God’s love relationship with His creation, the Bible encourages and invites all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve to return to the Lord.

Paradoxically, we stopped trusting the Lord in Paradise, where we could taste and see His goodness in an unspoiled creation all around us. Now outside of Eden, where God’s presence is much more subtle, we are called to trust again. We once lost everything due to lack of trust. And conversely, only through trust will we find our way back to the Garden – and back to the Lord.

Posted in Law