Empathy for the Doubter- Part 2-Science, Creation, and Time

Doubt for most people starts with the first statement in the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1


God does not take away reasons to doubt and if we choose that path, we will find reason to doubt.  However, if we choose to believe, we will find many reasons to believe.

“God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.

Steps to Christ, Page 105

Faith in Jesus is based on substance and evidence much like science.  It is not blind faith with which nothing to rest its case:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11: 1

Both the faith of the Atheist in evolution and the faith of the Christian in Creation is based on “evidence of things not seen.” None of us were there at the beginning of life.  We can’t observe it, put it in a bottle or test it in the lab.  All we can do is interpret the evidence as one would a crime scene.

The atheist and the unbeliever have assumptions regarding passage of time, the fossils, structure of animals, plants, etc, and their own reasoning powers, but it is evidence of things unseen.

In the end, the unbelieving scientists ask us to believe that order, complexity, and designed came from chaos and disorder.

The believer has evidence in the complexity of life; the claims of men who wrote the Bible; and their own reasoning powers.  There are intelligent men on both sides.  For every scientist that believes in evolution, there are many who do not. There are many who think by things they observe in nature that a 6 day creation is not only possible, but it is the only explanation for the beginning and  survival of life.

The unbeliever does not like to include a creator God as a possibility because of the other implications and responsibilities that come with it.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind…”

Romans 1: 28

Men choose to be willingly ignorant of things they don’t want to accept.

 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

2 Peter 3:5-7


Many scientists try to separate faith in a Creator God with Science.  They set them up as opposing each other exclusively.  They try to show that science trumps anything spiritual or Biblical.  To believe in a literal 6 day creation defies science and therefore falls into the arena of faith.  But,  there are many very intelligent and accomplished scientists who believe in a literal 6 day creation.  There is a book you can read called,

In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation

There is a idea proposed by Michael Behe, a creation scientist, that makes a lot of sense.  It is called Irreducible Complexity.  Some scientist dismiss it, because it is a theory just like their grand theory of evolution.

The premise is that life is so complex that it could not evolved slowly and added parts along the way.  I once heard the story about the evolution of the porcupine.  It quills are reported to have “evolved” over millions of years as they were needed to protect itself from enemies.  But, how about all those years it did not have the quills?  How did it survive?  Why are they not extinct?

Irreducible Complexity states that the porcupine had to have  all the elements for life and  the quills at the same time.

Another example is your circulatory system of blood, heart, and vessels to carry the blood.  Which came first?  If the heart, then what did it pump?  If the blood, how did it move?  If the vessels, what was in it?

All had to be present at once in a body for life to work. The idea of parts being added as needed makes no sense.

Nature is probably the best place to look for the fingerprints of a grand Designer we call God. Paul wrote:

 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”

Romans 1:20

We can learn a lot about God by simply observing nature. The verse above says because of God’s creation, we have no excuse for not believing in Him.


Self defeating statements and the law on non-contradiction.  

What does this mean?  Often people in haste to minimize or attempt to eliminate truth will say something that is self-defeating and contradicts their statement.  Here is an example:  Have you ever heard someone say, “There is no absolute truth.”

That is a contradictory statement.  To prove it, just ask the person, “Is your statement absolute truth?”  If they answer, “yes” then they confirm there is absolute truth.  If they answer “no” then they acknowledge that their statement is false and to be ignored.

The world is full of absolute truths.  We depend on these to fly planes, drive cars, and complete activities of living.  It is an absolute truth that taking all the blood out of body will kill me.  It is absolute truth that gravity keeps me from floating away.

Jesus absolute truth statements like this:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6

Jesus claims exclusive right to being the only way, the only truth.  He can do this because it is true and He has demonstrated the truth through God’s word and His resurrection.

There is logic behind belief in a Creator God and the power of absolute truth…even in spiritual things.  If you would like to learn more on this topic, I recommend the book,

“I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist” 

by Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek


The Routine and Passage of Time Leads to Doubt

The routine and passage of time is difficult for many to wrap their heads around. Billions of people before you were born, enjoyed their youth, lived, dreamed, took on a responsibility of a family and watched their own children grow old.  Then they died.  This cycle has continued for thousands of years.

It has been about 3,500 years since the opening verse of the Bible was penned.  The continuous cycle of life and death creates doubt about the promises of Jesus’ return, and the validity of God’s word.  In fact, this exact feeling is held by not only many Christians  today, but it was also in the thoughts of those only a few decades after Jesus left earth.  Peter wrote these words:

First of all, you must understand that in the last days some people will appear whose lives are controlled by their own lusts. They will make fun of you  and will ask, “He promised to come, didn’t he? Where is he? Our ancestors have already died, but everything is still the same as it was since the creation of the world!”

2 Peter 3: 3-4

This is a direct reference to the promise Jesus made to his disciples and all who would hear their message:

I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.

John 14: 2-3

Paul wrote words of encouragement to those who thought Jesus was coming during their own life times.  But, they watched as fellow believers, friends, and family began to die.   It is one of my favorite passages of the Bible, because so much can be learned about the events of the 2nd coming and those who have died, particularly for those who “die in Christ.”

Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope.

1 Thessalonians 4:13

However, today we hear a different sort of hope being offered that does not include the resurrection.

Today’s words of encouragement would be something like this, “Don’t worry, he is in heaven enjoying eternal bliss.” or “He is in heaven with his family now.”

But, this is not the words Paul used:

 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will take back with Jesus those who have died believing in him.

What we are teaching you now is the Lord’s teaching: we who are alive on the day the Lord comes will not go ahead of those who have died. There will be the shout of command, the archangel’s voice, the sound of God’s trumpet, and the Lord himself will come down from heaven. Those who have died believing in Christ will rise to life first; then we who are living at that time will be gathered up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. So then, ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS.

1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18

The words of Paul, an apostle of Christ, used the Lord’s own teachings to give us hope that one day Jesus would return to the sound of loud trumpets. Then those believers who died years ago will be resurrected and if we are alive then, we will rise with them in the air and we will ever be with the Lord.  He will take us to where He is now.  Those are the words we are to use to encourage one another.

For those who don’t have this hope, life is simply reduced to what they can do in the time allotted to them, whether good, bad, or both.

A sovereign God does not view things or time as we do:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

2 Peter 3: 8



There will always be reason to doubt, but this does not mean that you can’t have faith that moves mountains.  This faith comes first by searching and wanting to know the truth about Jesus.  Next, searching for truth in the book that claims to have have it will build a strong foundation upon which to rest your faith. Finally, by searching for Jesus you will find Him.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

But, let us never forget, that there are mysteries we might never know this side of eternity.

The word of God, like the character of its divine Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. The entrance of sin into the world, the incarnation of Christ, regeneration, the resurrection, and many other subjects presented in the Bible, are mysteries too deep for the human mind to explain, or even fully to comprehend. But we have no reason to doubt God’s word because we cannot understand the mysteries of His providence. In the natural world we are constantly surrounded with mysteries that we cannot fathom. The very humblest forms of life present a problem that the wisest of philosophers is powerless to explain. Everywhere are wonders beyond our ken. Should we then be surprised to find that in the spiritual world also there are mysteries that we cannot fathom? The difficulty lies solely in the weakness and narrowness of the human mind. God has given us in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine character, and we are not to doubt His word because we cannot understand all the mysteries of His providence.

Steps to Christ, p. 106 and 107

Empathy for the Unbeliever-Part 1

For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?

Romans 3: 3

Unbelief, doubt, mistrust are described throughout holy scripture.  It appears in Genesis and is the story of Abraham, Moses, Kings, Prophets, Disciples, and followers.

Doubt and unbelief starts early in scripture.  It takes only 3 chapters before they appear in very clear language.  Adam and Eve succumbed quickly and apparently easily when they believed Satan and disobeyed a clear command of God.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Genesis 2: 15-17

Notice that this message was heard only by Adam.  Eve was non-existent when God gave this command. The verses immediately after Genesis 2: 17 describe the creation of Eve.

It wasn’t long (at least in the order of the passages in scripture) that Satan had the woman alone.  He charmed her, contradicted the words of God, and planted the first seeds of doubt.

Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”

Genesis 3:1

Eve knew the restriction.  She either heard it from her husband Adam or God told her directly.  It makes sense that Adam told her, but regardless of the source of the communication, she knew what God had said.

“We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden,” the woman answered, “except the tree in the middle of it. God told us not to eat the fruit of that tree or even touch it; if we do, we will die.”

The snake replied, “That’s not true; you will not die. God said that because he knows that when you eat it, you will be like God and know what is good and what is bad.”

Genesis 3:2-4

The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.

Genesis 3:6

So Eve heard the first contradiction of God’s word and responded through disobedience.  She thought it would make her wise and that God was withholding from her something to make her even more happy.   Sadly, it  had the opposite effect as demonstrated in the characters of the Bible who were also infected with similar doubt, unbelief, and disobedience.

 If Adam had been with her, the story might have ended differently.  But, Adam loved Eve and did not want to lose her.  While she was deceived, he walked quickly into disobedience without doubt and unbelief as the motivator.  Adam, in effect, chose death rather than life because of his love for Eve.  Sound familiar?  Jesus died because of his love for us.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 

1 Timothy 2: 13-14

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

So doubt about God and the truthfulness of His word is in the genes of mankind from the beginning just as sin has been.  In fact, sin is unbelief, doubt, and mistrust:

“…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Romans 14 : 3

“Indeed, I was born guilty.
    I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.”

Psalm 51: 5


Doubt, unbelief, mistrust, and disobedience go together.  You might could say, “Doubt begets unbelief and unbelief begets mistrust, and mistrust begets disobedience.

There are basically two types of people that have doubt regarding  God.  First there is a follower of Jesus who has a weak experience and demonstrates doubt in his walk with God.  Then there is the one who has the basic doubt about the existence of God, Jesus, and his word.

With this basic framework, lets explore further the concept of doubt.


If you doubt the existence of God, Ask yourself this question,  “What would it take for me to believe that God exists?”

Adam and Eve did not have this type of doubt.  They knew God, but doubted Him and what was truth about Him.

On the other hand, If you doubt God’s word and promises for the follower, your question would be “What would it take for me to believe God’s promises and His word?”

Before proceeding, answer these questions in your mind.  Think about it for at least 30 seconds.

Were your answers a one time event?  Maybe a Paul like experience where God appears and talks to you directly would make you a believer.  But, would one event be enough to convince you that there is a God ?  Would one event be enough to give you complete trust to believe His promises are sure and He is not a liar?

Anyone familiar with the journey of the children of Israel, would know that God gave them many such events and yet they still failed to believe.  Miracles were demonstrated daily around them.  But, their unbelief kept that generation from entering the Promised Land.

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Hebrews 3:19

I propose to you that even if Christ appeared in your bedroom one night or at your door one morning, doubt would still raise its head after the experience wore off.  If God appeared at the Super Bowl and made the announcement, “I am God, there is none like me.  I am going to turn everyone purple for the duration of the game as a sign, Many, if not all, would still return to doubt after a period if not right away.

Jesus said of the Pharisees that even if someone were raised from the dead, they would not believe:

“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”

Luke 16:31

On a more practical level, I have found that most people want something almost as spectacular before they will believe and put their trust in God.  They want God to stop all wars, stop disease, death, and destruction before they  believe.”  “Give me wealth and security so that I don’t have to worry about food and insecurity of loosing my job, then I will believe”  “Explain to me how you could speak the universe into existence.”  Satisfy every need in my life and others and I will believe.”


Actually God promises to do these very things, but it is not to turn everyone into believers, but rather is the reward for those who do believe:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Revelation 21:4


You might ask how do I become a believer?  How does my weak experience with God become strong and real?

Once there was a man who had a  young son that would often have convulsions.  The son from his childhood would loose control and would put himself in dangerous situations.

The man brought his son to Jesus because his disciples could not help him.  Jesus told him this:

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Mark 9:23

The man did not understand how to overcome unbelief so in his heart He asked Jesus to help him:

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24

This is the cry of many people,  Lord help me to believe!

Sadly, many people do not ask to believe.  They are content with the life they have made for themselves.  Their vision is only for 70, 80, or 90 good years on the earth.

Jesus offers much more, but many do not believe Him.

I came to a point in my own life where I began to search for truth.  When I came to Jesus and begin to study the Scripture about Him and listen to his words, it left me with only two conclusions.  Jesus was either all He claimed to be or He was the biggest liar and deceiver that ever lived.

My unbelief did not go away easily.  It was a journey that continues to this day.

Unbelief is normal, but it is not what God asks of us.  He wants us to believe and trust in Him.  He will give us reasons to believe if we are willing to search.  It will not be a one time event, but rather a continuous journey. After all, it was mistrust of God that got us into trouble in the first place.  We have much to learn.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Searching and seeking is a continuous journey, but Jesus is at the end of the search.

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10: 17

If you want more faith, hear or read more of God’s word.  If you want little faith then don’t ever read God’s word.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

The reasons to believe have substance and evidence.  Faith is not based on assumption or blindness.  Faith and trust and God can be real if:

1.) You are willing to dedicate some time to seeking God.

2.)  Seeking in His word is the best place to start

3.) Asking God to help you believe.


Next week, we will talk in detail about the reasons why people have doubt and unbelief.

May the Lord bless you by bringing conviction to your heart and drawing you to himself.  Yield to the pull of God and your life will be better now and forever. Amen.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Is Obedience Only for The Legalistic? Part 3

He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 

For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 

But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 

then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Matthew 15:3-9


Jesus and His disciples were watched by the religious leaders very closely to see if they would obey “the law.”  Jesus was often tested by them on this subject.  But “the law” of the Scribes and Pharisees was at odds with God’s law in a profound way as Jesus points out in the verses above.

 Their law was their own interpretation of the unchangeable  law of the Creator.  Their law contained additions without any blessing, direction, or endorsement from the Creator and Giver of the law.

As pointed out in the condemnation by Jesus to those mutilators of God’s law in Matthew 15, they had attempted to create a loop-hole in God’s 5th commandment to make it a little less harsh and easier to “keep.”  God’s law clearly and simply states:

 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12

But, the  leaders said this law could be voided through the offer of a gift as a substitute for giving honor and respect to those who bore and raised them.   It was like they were paying their way out of an obligation that was not to their liking.  So they changed it!  There is not scriptural authority for doing so.

Jesus didn’t like their addition and proclaimed their man-made tradition would make God’s “commandment of no effect.”  Jesus desired them to obey this commandment from the heart, but because they didn’t and tried to come up with ways to make their changes legal, Jesus viewed this as legalism and worthless .  As a result of their changes and their traditions their worship was “in vain.”  It disclosed their hypocrisy of lip service vs heart service.

A couple of other things to notice about this commandment and Jesus’ response:

1.)  God does not put a condition on whether to honor your mother and father or not.  It doesn’t say to honor them if they are worthy of the honor and respect or if they were perfect parents.  Most parents, including myself, are no where near perfect, but we do have a God-given love for our offspring that most children do not understand.  Many times we fail, but that does not make a loop-hole for the breaking of this commandment.

2.)  Jesus doesn’t do away with this commandment or indicate  obedience to this commandment would be legalistic.  As we discussed in a previous article, the new covenant is based on the laws written on the heart.

3.)  Jesus does not give them a list or tell them how to honor their parents.  Lists encourage tasks or works.  While the ten commandments could be considered a list, they are 10 principles. disclosing God’s character and will.  We see in these commandments a God that desires love and respect for both himself and our neighbors.  They are not a list to “work on” to deserve salvation or love from God.

The law of God is not minimized or changed by the new covenant. Even the giver of the law (Jesus) will not change even the smallest part to accommodate mankind. Some are surprised to discover that Jesus, before He came to the world as an infant, gave the 10 Commandments to Moses.  That is a different study for a different time.

Those who have been born again and have a new heart will obey from a love basis rather than a basis to be saved (legalism).  The new covenant people obey the Lord because they ARE saved, not in order to BE saved.

 These born-again followers will understand that to honor their mother or father is the will of God Himself and it will be a natural response from a heart transformed by the power of God to love and respect them.  To try and circumvent, excuse, rationalize, or change it is hypocrisy and attempting to put our own thoughts and reasoning above God’s.

This commandment, like the others, should be read carefully and simply.  Nothing should be added nor taken away, not even one letter or stroke of the pen.  How can anything that is perfect be changed anyway?  It is a transcript of how God wants us to live, not a checklist for finding favor or salvation from the Lord.  Those who will endeavor to obey for the right reasons will be blessed.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Revelation 21:14


Jesus made it clear to the  Scribes and Pharisees that he did not come to change the law and that anyone who taught others to break even the smallest detail  was outside of God’s will.  Any attempt to modify the law affected the truthfulness of the worship experience.   This is a pretty serious situation.  Listen to his exact words:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Matthew 5:17

It is here where some will say, “since Jesus fulfilled the law (10 Commandments) it is no longer viable.”  The next verse clears that up.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Matthew 5:18

We still have a heaven and an earth, so the law remains.  Also, it has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus fulfilled it, and he still wants us to teach that the law should not be broken.  It is so immovable that Jesus makes reference to “jot” and “tittle”  (smallest letter or stroke of the pen) will not be modified or eliminated.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:19

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the one who teaches that even one thing can be changed in God’s “perfect law of liberty” James 1:25. How about you?

Jesus perfect obedience to this law (fulfillment) is the basis for His perfect sacrifice (No sin found in Him) and for the forgiveness for our breaking the law which is sin.

Sin is the transgression of the law

1 John 3:4

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23.

But sin is much more.  We are born sinners with a nature to sin.  Anything not of faith is sin.  There are a 1,000 ways we can sin, but in the end, all can be summarized by the 10 commandments.

 When we are born again, we are given a heart of flesh with God’s law written upon it (New Covenant) and we obey out of sense of love and respect rather than a method of salvation (legalism).  Our very nature is changed.  The thief stops stealing,;the liar stops lying; the adulterer stops sleeping with women who are not his wife…..

If you love me, keep my commandments

John 14:15

Of course they are not perfect.  When we do sin, we have an advocate:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1 John 2:1

Oh!  The mercy and forgiveness of our great God!

How can we claim to be followers if we disobey or re-write the law to suit us as did the religious leaders of Jesus’ time?


In Luke, Jesus confirmed as He did in Matthew 5 that the law would never change.  Further,  He used the passing of heaven and earth to drive home the point:

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.”

Luke 16:17

Other writers agree with Jesus on the eternal existence of the law and His word:

“All His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever”

Psalm 111:8

“The sum of your word is truth;
    and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.”

Psalm 119:160

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8


Jesus was tested another time on a different commandment. But, the same principles apply.

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12: 1-8

The Scribes and Pharisees were particularly zealous for this law.  They added their own rules that is in the thousands.  However, like the 5th commandment, the law is presented by the Lawgiver in a simple manner.  However, the religious leaders made it very legalistic and burdensome.  In the process, this law intended to bless man became another checklist of things to do or not to do.

In this incident, Jesus and his disciples were hungry and began to shuck corn in a field and eat it as they walked along.  This violated one of the Sabbath “rules” created by the very legalistic religious leaders, but Jesus said they were “guiltless.”  Here is an important question:  Is there anywhere in scripture where God forbid such action by the disciples? No!  It is another example of man’s tradition or adding to the law that makes the law a burden and makes their worship vain.

To make his point (That He and the disciples had not broken the 4th commandment), He asks the supposed scriptural authorities the question:  “Have you not read….”  This question (referring to 1 Samuel 21: 1-6) puts them back on their heels.  They obviously had read it, but they had missed the  application from their reading about the priority of man’s needs above a ritual of the law.  Jesus begins to connect the hunger of David’s men and the hunger of Jesus and His disciples.  Very simply, the value of men and their hunger needs outweigh any man-made religious ceremony (i.e., Hot warm bread used in the sanctuary service and the need to eat on the Sabbath when nothing else is available).   Again, there is no law written or intended by the Lawgiver for anyone having to subscribe to such a strict interpretation of a simple law and go hungry on a day the Lord has blessed and made holy.  Further, Jesus clearly states the priority of mercy over sacrifice and ceremonial religious laws.

The 4th Commandment is very simple and plain in its delivery by the Creator, much like the 5th commandment.  The Great Lawgiver and Creator states the commandment simply and provides the reason as to why a professed follower should obey it.  (Not to be saved, but because they are saved)

The command: 

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 

The Reason:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20: 8-11


As with the 5th Commandment, Jesus made it clear that His Law should not be modified or added to in any way.  The same observations for the 5th Commandment can be made for the 4th Commandment:

1.)  God does not put a condition on whether to honor the Sabbath or not or that He had plans to modify or change it.   He says, “Remember” and to “Keep it Holy” since the reason for the commandment has to do with the fact that he is the Creator (and Redeemer-See Deuteronomy’s version-Chapter 5: 12-15)

2.)  Jesus doesn’t do away with this commandment or indicate  obedience to this commandment would be legalistic.  As we discussed in a previous article, the new covenant is based on the laws written on the heart.

3.)  Jesus does not give them a list or tell them how to keep the Sabbath holy, other than refraining from work on that day.  The reason?  We are to respect our Creator and “rest” as He did. It is not only a physical rest, but a rest of relationship with the Creator and His Creation.  It is about relationships and not a religious list of things to trip us up so that we sin.

When the Lord stopped working after His work of Creation, it was not that He was tired, but that He wanted the time to be immortalized as proof of his Creatorship.  Further, Adam and Eve began their first full day with the Lord on the Sabbath.  This must have been a very special Sabbath as they began to see and understand life and a relationship with the Creator.

Have you ever wondered about the heavenly bodies that tell us about time?  Even scientist will admit we measure time by the sun and the moon. Our year is based on the orbit of the earth around the sun.  Our month is based on the orbit or phases of the moon around the earth.  But there is nothing in nature to base our 7 day weekly cycle.

A 7 day weekly cycle  exists only because it was instituted by our Creator (Jesus) in the beginning.  Why not a 6 day cycle or a 5 day cycle?  The 7 day cycle and the Sabbath screams:  God created us!


Jesus Conclusion:

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.

Mark 2: 27, 28

Jesus told the religious leaders that He made the Sabbath to be a blessing for man not a list of do’s and don’t’s so that man is made a slave to the Sabbath.  Notice it is made for “man” or mankind  not just the Jews.  The commandment was given long before there was a nation of Jews.  That reasoning would also indicate that all the other commandments are only for the Jews and not for us.

The Scribes and Pharisees had effectively made the Sabbath a burden and God’s original intention was lost through their adding and modifying a simple commandment meant to be a lasting memorial to our Creator and an opportunity to “come unto (Jesus) and rest.”

Jesus knew how it should be remembered because He is Lord of the Sabbath!  This is the real Lord’s day!  It was created by God and it belongs to Him

“But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”

Exodus, 20:10


In conclusion:

We can learn from these two incidents regarding honoring parents and honoring the day God blessed.  It tells us  that the law of God is immutable and has a relationship/heart purpose.  They are not part of a list of do’s and don’ts to follow so one can be saved.  God forbid!  it is a law of liberty (James 2:12).  It can not be modified to meet our own convenience, thinking, or tradition.

Jesus gave the Law and He knows better than anyone how to follow the spirit of the law which does not negate the letter.

I am sure your spouse would want you to keep the letter of the law regarding adultery, but even more the spirit (i.e., you are faithful because you love her/him.)

The same goes for your neighbor.  You don’t steal, lie, cheat, or covet his wife, or kick his cat (the letter of the law).  Not because you have to, but because you respect him as a child of God and because of the born-again heart given you by the Lord (Spirit of the Law).

Have you asked yourself how can you “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy?”  The key word here is holy (a.k.a sanctified).  How do you make it about a love relationship with God and His creation rather than a list of do’s and don’t’s? How do you make it a delight or a blessing and not a burden?

The Sabbath was made for man, to be a blessing to him by calling his mind from secular labor to contemplate the goodness and glory of God

Of all the commandments, the 4th one is the most misunderstood and the one where legalism can quickly smother the spiritual blessing God has prepared for us each week.  It is not just about when should church attendance be conducted.  This is no doubt a “holy” activity for the Sabbath.  It was Jesus’ and Paul’s custom to go to meet with God’s people each Sabbath.  I would say they are good examples to follow.  Wouldn’t you?


In our next study, we will see how the enemy has attacked the law of God and the family unit (the 4th and 5th commandments) to serve his purpose of confusing and  leading people away from a knowledge of the Lord which is salvation.

He has a special anger towards those who teach and obey the will of God and testify of Jesus Christ:

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17

Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic, Part 2

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Mathew 5:17-19


Part 1 Summary

In the earlier blog, we looked to the word of God to answer the question about legalism and the role of God’s law in the heart of the believer.

Briefly, we saw that there are many laws in the Bible.  Some were temporary (Ceremonial and Sacrificial).  These laws or ordinances were like a school master that taught God’s people about sin, salvation, and the coming Messiah.

These had their purpose and their end came when  type (e.g. spotless lamb) met anti-type (i.e. Jesus).  When Jesus came, we no longer needed the School Master to teach us. We now had Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection as our teacher and hope.

But, the law that  is eternal is the moral law contained in the 10 commandments.  Jesus did not come to abolish it or to destroy it.  On the contrary, His life magnified the law and made it honorable.  Example:  Jesus told us men that looking upon a woman with lust was the same as committing adultery

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Mathew 5:28

Here we see Jesus “magnifying” the law.  He makes it bigger so we can clearly see or understand to scope of the law.  It also demonstrates that man is sinful to the core.  It tells us we need a Savior not only from eternal death but from the power of sin.

Sin is defined in one place as the breaking or transgressing of the law.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

1 John 3:4

John goes on to tell us something very important for the believer.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

1 John 3:6

Is it not clear that if someone sins, they don’t know Him?  But if the believer “abides” in Him, that person will not sin.  Now be careful here.  It is not saying you are perfect and never sin.  It means you do not practice sin as clarified in the the next verse:

He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

1 John 3:7

Before John ever gets into this discussion, he sets the boundaries of the discussion by saying this:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1 John 2:1

God’s desire is that we do not sin. We have Jesus as our advocate in heaven (another topic for another time) to cover us should we sin.  But this advocate is not an excuse to practice sin. That the true follower will not do.  The thief will not continue his life of stealing.  The adulterer will stop sleeping around.  The person with other gods will give them up.  Is this a fair statement?

Here is what we must remember:  We are born with a sinful nature.   When we are born again, we are given a spiritual nature.  These two natures will compete against each other and it is our choice and God’s action as to which one will win the war between flesh and spirit.  Keep in mind that battles may be lost due to the carnal nature, but this does not mean the war is over and a victor crowned.  Paul describes this battle in Romans 8 (Another study for another time).

One of my favorite writers wrote something that I think is very appropriate here and supported by the grace of our great loving God:

“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John,

“These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1.

Steps to Christ, P. 64

The law, specifically the 10 commandments, point out to sinful man what is sin.  To know about the law and sin is to know more about the God who gave it and more about ourselves.  It points out how really sinful we are and that we need  a savior because we cannot “enter into the womb a second time” and be reborn.   We cannot give ourselves a new spirit.  The law enhances the reality of grace and His power, but God’s grace does not eliminate the law otherwise he could have simply eliminated the definition of sin instead of having his Son pay the penalty for sin i.e., death.  This would be a divine loophole of sorts. I don’t see where God provides loopholes, but He does supply grace and power.

The law, like God, is eternal and it is given the same description as God Himself.  The law expresses His character which is holy, just, and good.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Romans 7:11, 12

We can not take the 10 commandments off the wall and wash our face with it,  the law points out the smudge on our face, which tells us we need to be cleansed.  To try to wash our face with the law would be the definition of legalism.  Instead, the law indicates God’s will for us and that we need a Savior not only for breaking it, but for the power to obey it as will be shown in the following discussion.


When talking about the law of God, we must discuss the topic of new covenant versus old covenant.  Here many make a deadly mistake, thinking the old covenant was about keeping the law for salvation, but the new covenant is freedom from keeping the law and living under grace. This implies disobedience.  As we shall see both covenants include obedience to God’s law.  The new covenant does not diminish the requirements of the law, but there is a twist that should give encouragement to us and help us avoid legalism.

Jesus is the “Mediator of the new covenant.”

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:15

By the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross, He redeemed everyone, including those under the first covenant.  This redemption for them and for all “who are called may receive the promise of eternal life.”

So again, we see that the cross is the central point for both those in the old testament and the new testament.  It is here where all, on both sides of the cross, look by faith to Jesus for eternal life.  Those in the old testament looked forward in faith and were instructed by the School Master or the sacrificial and ceremonial laws given by God through Moses to teach them about Jesus. They were not saved by works and obedience, but by faith in the spotless lamb of God (Jesus).

Those of us on this side, look to Jesus’ death on the cross by faith for eternal life and we  have the life of Jesus and the testimony of His followers to teach us.  Also, we have the experience of those before the cross to teach us as well.  In fact, those before the cross and the writings of the old testament can instruct us in righteousness.

Paul wrote to Timothy and reminded him of this fact.  Paul wrote it before the writings of the other new testament writers were known and brought together.  So Paul’s message to Timothy is referring to the writings of the old testament when he said,

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousnessthat the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16

Those books in the old testament will reproof, correct and even instruct the new testament believer in righteousness.  Further, it will make us complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We should never say or believe things like, “That is in the old testament, I am a new testament believer.”  Rather, we should say, we are a believer of “All Scripture.”


The experience of God’s people before the cross serve as examples of how we should both live and respond to God.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

Their lives and experiences become examples of how to live or not to live.  Their experiences will give us hope!

Jesus is also found in type all through the old testament.  To bypass these books is to miss Christ.

 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was ChristBut with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.”

1 Corinthians 10: 1-7

So as we look at the new covenant or the new testament, we must not forget the value of the old covenant and the old testament.  It still provides us help in our Jesus journey. It is even provides information that should be obeyed and understood by the Christian who appreciates the value of the new covenant.


To understand the new  covenant, we must understand the old covenant.  Is that a fair statement? Why two covenants?  Did God make a mistake and create a new covenant because it was impossible or too difficult to live under?  Many think this because of somethings Paul states.

Generally, a covenant is defined as an agreement between two parties, but it can be simply a promise by the Lord. For example, the Lord made a promise to the people of earth to not destroy it by water ever again. This was a covenant or promise from the great Creator.

“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth… and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

Genesis 9:13,15

The Lord did the same type of “one-sided covenant” with Abraham when he promised him land and descendants:

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—’ ”

Genesis 15:18

 “And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”

Genesis 17: 2-7

However, these covenants (promises) of God are not the covenants distinguished as old by Paul.

There was a point where the people of God tried to make a covenant or agreement with God and they became “old.”

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 

Exodus 19:5-7

In the next Chapter of Exodus (20) we see these words:

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

Exodus 20: 1-2

Then the Lord spoke the 10 Commandments Himself as shown in Exodus 20: 3-17

Here was the covenant the people made.  It seemed to be the response God wanted, but noticed they agreed to obey God based on fear and their own efforts.  They state, “all that the Lord has said we will do.” They attempted to obey God under their grit and determination. Obedience was not from the heart but rather from duty and fear.  After a while their promises faded away and became old.

They were afraid of God and this formed their their response.

Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

Exodus 20:19


Citing the fear and poor promises of the people, the writer of Hebrews cites the need for a new covenant:

 “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”

Hebrews 8:6

What better promises?  Did God make a promise that was inferior or had a fault? No!  The problem or fault was found with the people who made the covenant with God as shown in the verse that follows:

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them. He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judahnot according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.

Hebrews 8: 7-9

The fault was with the people who made a promise they could not keep.

Have you ever made a promise to God while under fear?  “God if you will just get me out of this situation, I will serve you until I die.” But, after you are delivered, you forget your promise and go back to serving only yourself. In this situations, you are doing exactly what the children of Israel did.  They made a promise they could not keep.  Why?  Because they were attempting something without a changed heart.  They did not realize their own weakness. God desired them to obey out of love and through His power.

Continuing in Hebrews 8, we see the better promise, but it still contains God’s law and obedience.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 

Hebrew 8:10

So the new covenant is one where God provides the promise and the people respond to His love in obedience because they have a new heart (rebirth). But notice that the new covenant still involves the law of God and obedience.  The law is never destroyed or eliminated, it is a new attitude about it where the obedience comes from the new heart.  If it is on the heart, do you think you will obey the letter?  The spirit and the letter of the law go together.  Let me explain:

If a born again Christian says to his wife, I obey the law concerning adultery in the spirit, but not by the letter.  What has he just told his wife?  Would the wife be comfortable about the separation of spirit and letter?  Could the husband sleep with her sister (letter) but keep the “spirit.”  NO!  If He is living in the spirit of the law, he won’t even allow himself to look at a woman with lust!  Especially, he will not tempt himself with pornography!  Men, if you are looking at porn, you need Jesus to both forgive you and to help you overcome it.  It is sin!


“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:6

Paul is explaining how we often get the cart before the horse.  Many try to serve only in the letter.  These are the legalistic.

In a very difficult part of Paul’s writing, he continues to explain that the law is spiritual and we are carnal.  There are the two natures that live and fight within us until Jesus returns.  The purpose of the law is to tell us what God considers as transgression and how sinful we are:

I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”  Romans 7: 7

“…by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 3:20

Here Paul understands that desiring the possessions of another person is sin, but he goes further:

“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

Romans 7: 9

Paul was “foot loose and fancy free” as we say in the South. But, when he became aware of the words of the law, he came under great conviction and he saw his way of life meant death, for he had said earlier in the chapter,

“the wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23

The law points out what God calls sin regardless of what the world might think.  When we come to accept the fact that we are sinners, we seek God and find forgiveness and the power to live a life in Christ.  We don’t want to continue in an unsatisfying life of sin and disobedience.  God begins to write His laws in our hearts so that our obedience comes from a new heart powered by God himself.  The law does not go away.  In fact, it becomes a writing inscribed in our way of thinking so that the thief stops stealing, the liar stops lying, etc.  If, in our brand new way of thinking,  we do slip; we have an advocate with the father.

I have heard someone say, I obey the law with my spirit and not by letter.  I am under grace. How does that work?

Paul cautioned again such thinking when he said,

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Romans 6:15

 Being “under grace” does not mean one can disobey God’s law. We are not “under” the law because we are not under the penalty, because Jesus paid the penalty for our transgression of the law.  His death shows the permanence of the law.

The followers of God are shown to be true followers by obedience to it.  To claim we follow Jesus and willfully disobey is to not be a follower, for He said,

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46″

It is like saying I am a follower of Robert Atkins, but I don’t obey the diet plan.  I obey it in my spirit, but not the letter.  How much weight do you think that person would lose?


It is no wonder that Satan himself is upset with the last day people who wish to testify of Jesus Christ through an experience of obedience to His words that include the 10 commandments.  This identifies them as true followers and not religious pretenders.

“And the dragon (Satan) was enraged with the woman (church), and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17



God’s 10 Commandment law has never been destroyed.  It is still a sin to have other god’s, to build statues of gods  and fall down before them.  It is still a sin to disrespect God’s name and character.  It is still a sin to forget the Sabbath of the Lord and dishonor his creation and the time He blessed.  It is still a sin to dishonor your parents, to murder, to commit adultery, to steal, to lie, and to covet your neighbors possessions.

All 10 of these commandments line up under the two great commandments.  The first being to

“love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” The second is like it, “to love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 37-39

The first 4 commandments hang (summarized) under the first principle and the last six under the second principle.

But notice the order.  If one fails to love God completely, they will not be able love their neighbor with a Christ like love.  They will in effect become legalistic (if connected to religion) and a worthless noisy show-off of a cymbal if God’s love is not the basis for their obedience:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

1 Corinthians 13:1


No.  Obedience is not for the legalistic although there are many who obey to somehow impress God or attempt to make themselves worthy of blessings and salvation.

Obedience is for those who have been born again, where love for their Creator and a testimony to the true God can be expressed through obeying his word.

To obey God is to have true freedom. Just ask the man in prison who murdered someone or the person whose life is run by lying.

To say that we love Him and not obey Him makes us a liar.

“He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:4

Obedience comes from a new heart supplied by the Redeemer.  It is not religious, but it is real.  Obedience is the walk with the One you love, not the requirement for walk. The walk, like a child, will be shaky at first, but as you hold the Father’s hand, you will get stronger to do his will, but unlike the earthly example, our hand must be in the hand of our Creator constantly, because if it isn’t, we have the possibility of returning to the mud from which we were cleansed (See 2 Peter 2: 18-22)

I close with the inspiring words from Steps to Christ, p. 60, 61

“But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love. The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new-covenant promise is fulfilled, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Hebrews 10:16. And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience–the service and allegiance of love–is the true sign of discipleship. Thus the scripture says, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 5:3; 2:4. Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience.”

Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic? Part 1

Recently, I heard a radio preacher say, “The Old Testament was about obedience, but the New Testament is about grace.” I don’t want to read too much into this or interpret his statement incorrectly, but I hear this same idea said in different ways.  In almost all cases the implication is there are two methods of salvation:

1.) Obedience for those before the cross and

2.)  Grace and faith after the cross.

Obedience (Old Covenant)  image002  Grace/Faith (New Covenant)

Only a few days later, I heard another speaker talk about Galatians in such a way that it lead me to believe that talking about obedience was “another gospel.” The preacher stated: “nothing can be added to the work of Jesus. To add anything else is “another gospel.”  Without a doubt, no one can add to what Jesus has done for sinful man. and we cannot do enough good works to merit salvation. including obedience.  Here is the proof:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:9, 10

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Romans 3:21-23

All three of the verses above were from Paul.  Paul was a highly educated and dedicated Hebrew.  Before his conversion, he considered himself “blameless” concerning the righteousness that comes by the law.  but then he discovered Jesus and his eyes were opened.

Paul, seemed to be concerned where people would take verses like those above.  He abruptly asks a question at the end of Romans 3 and again at the beginning of Romans 6 to clarify:

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31 

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 

Romans 6:1

The established law has a place in the Jesus Journey of the believer, but what is it?

Despite Romans 3:31 and other “obedience” verses we shall see, people continue to quote verses that would seem to say, we can pretty much ignore the 10 commandment law.  Here are a few:

We are not “….under the law, but under grace.”

Romans 6:14

“The law was done away with.”

Colossians 2:14?

“The law has been nailed to the cross.”

Colossians 2:14?

Obedience is “another gospel.”

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”

Galatians 1:6

Incorrect application of these passage may make it sound like God does not want us to obey and if I want to obey God, I have reverted back to the Old Testament way of salvation and have become legalistic, perhaps even lost.  By choosing to seek to live in obedience, I have left the gospel of grace and faith. So is obedience only for the legalistic?

I have tried to boil this down to 5 important thought questions:

1.)  Has obedience ever been a method of salvation?  Was Moses, the prophets, the people of Israel saved by the works of the law? Has anyone ever been able to save themselves through obedience?

2.)  What is the relationship between obedience and grace?  Are they mutually exclusive of each other?

3.)  What does Salvation mean and what is the purpose of the law?

4.) Does God expect me to live a life in  disobedience to his commandments?  What happens if I start to try to obey?

5.)  Does Obedience have anything to do with the new covenant?


Now I am certain, I don’t need to get up get dressed and head to the local temple and sacrifice a lamb for the sins I have committed.  This was definitely part of the instructions God gave Moses to give to  God’s people.  I also know that being circumcised is not a prerequisite to being a part of God’s people. But, how do I relate to God’s law?  What is the danger if I ignore it or if I obey it?


What is God’s law?

Is it just the 10 commandments?

Is it the old sacrificial system given by God to Moses?

Is it some spiritual thing that I keep in my spirit but am careful to not obey the letter?

Here is what I know from God’s word;

The word “law” appears 529 times in the entire Bible.  If you throw in “statute” and “ordinance” we can add another 219 times.  So that brings us to 748 verses.  

Do they all mean the same thing?  This is where many people get confused. 

The three main categories  for these 748 verses are used primarily in 1 of 3 main ways:

A.)  God’s Ten Commandments written with His own finger.

“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

Exodus 31:18

B.) The laws given by God to Moses concerning the sanctuary services, sacrifices, feast days. The ceremonial laws contained in ordnances.  Written by Moses and placed in a pouch in the side of the Ark of the Covenant.

“Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.”

Deuteronomy 31:26

These ordinances and laws were ceremonial and gave identity and teaching to the chosen people before the cross.  After the cross, God made the Jew and Gentile one.

“And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.”

Exodus 18:20

“….having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”

Ephesians 2:15

C.) The word of God contained in the “books of the law” a.k.a Torah (First Five books of the Bible)

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:8

 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1: 2, 3

So it is always important to understand which law God is referring to before making any decisions as to what God would have you do.

One last question before we start,  Does the freedom given me by the grace of God give me license to disobey?


In this post, we will start with questions #1 and #2

1.)  Has obedience ever been a method of salvation?  Was Moses, the prophets, the people of Israel saved by the works of the law? Has anyone ever been able to save themselves through obedience?

The answer is NO!  The Jews of old were saved just like those of the New Testament:  By the grace of God through faith and not of any works.  Listen to Paul:

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Galatians 2:21

There would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins or the sins of those in the Old Testament time if “righteousness” could come through the law.

Through the ceremonial feast of Passover (Exodus 12), the Jews under those laws were taught that the unblemished innocent male sheep had to die for their sins.  They had to believe this in faith.  Merely following the directions of God through Moses was not the point of their forgiveness but led them to understand about the coming Messiah who was the “true lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29

So by faith, the Jews looked forward to the Cross for their salvation not in obeying the law.  But the law was good in that it came from God himself through Moses and it taught (through an object lesson) the cost of sin, the price that had to be paid, and the transference of their sin onto the unblemished Son of God.

When Jesus came, type met anti-type.  There was no longer a need to have ceremonies and laws that pointed forward to Jesus.  Now they had the life and teachings of Jesus and that teacher (using types) ended.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Galatians 3:24, 25

All those ceremonial laws pointed forward to Jesus and His death on the cross that they might have faith in Him.  Today, we look back at Jesus and the cross that we might have faith.  Both of us are saved by faith, not by the works of the law of ceremonies.

Those laws had fulfilled their purpose of pointing the OT people to Jesus.  When He died on the cross they ended and we were no longer “under” those sets of laws.

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Galatians 3: 23

This faith spoken of by Paul is another word for Jesus.  The faith that is revealed is Jesus.  It is clear from Hebrews 11 (Faith Chapter) that those of the OT lived their lives by faith as we do:

The term “By faith” or “through faith” appears at least 19 times in Hebrews 11!  They are all references to the OT people of faith!

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off…And these all, having obtained a good report through faith.”

Hebrews 11: 13, 39

Please keep in mind, faith is not a thing….a religious thing….It is “trust” in God.  It is made evident by a response.  A person can say they have faith in God, but their works will show it.  Faith is not based on nothing.  It has substance and evidence.  This substance and evidence comes through trusting in God’s word.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

James 2:18

Paul shows the method of salvation i.e., grace through faith not of works.  James tells us that the works (obedience) produced from a believer is the evidence of their faith.  The two go together.

James goes on to say,

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

James 2: 8-12

James uses the term “law of liberty” twice.  Here is the hint that obeying the law gives liberty.  Just ask the murder in prison or the person who is trapped in a web of lies.  There is a blessing in obedience to God’s 10 commandments.  Wouldn’t you agree?  We are not talking about the method of salvation, but rather the results of salvation.

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it,and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:25


2.)  What is the relationship between obedience and grace?  Are they mutually exclusive of each other?

How can anyone claim to be a follower of the only true God and not obey?

“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:4

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”

Luke 6: 47-48

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 

Romans 6:1

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5: 17-19

Heaven and earth remains and so do the 10 commandments.  Anyone who teaches to break the least of the commandments is not doing the will of God.  I don’t want to be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  Do you?  The best way here is to teach to obey the law of God.



The 10 commandments remain as does heaven and earth.  The ceremonial laws taught about Jesus and salvation, but they ended at the cross where type met anti-type.

Obedience does not save you, but a saved person will be obedient.  The thief will stop stealing.  The liar will stop lying.  All of this happens because of the new birth….the new heart God gives the person saved.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people”

Hebrews 8:10

If you are thinking the new covenant spoken of here is for Jews only.  Remember there is neither Jew nor Greek and that if we belong to Christ we are “Abraham’s seed” (Father of Jews) and “heirs according to the promise.”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Galatians 3:29


“A woman is driving way over the speed limit. Suddenly, she sees in her rear view mirror the flashing red and blue lights of a police car and hears the familiar wail of the siren. She pulls over, grabs her purse, and takes out her driver’s license. The policeman approaches, takes her license, and returns to his car.

She wonders how much the ticket is going to be (she was way over the limit); she also worries about how she will be able to pay it. A few minutes later the policeman comes back and says, OK, Miss, what we are going to do, so that you don’t have to face the penalty of the law again, is abolish the law. You no longer have to worry about the speed limit.

As ludicrous as that story is, it’s no more so than the theology that teaches that after Jesus died, the law, the Ten Commandments, was abolished.”  Dr. Keith A. Burton,

“Wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23

“Sin is the transgression of the law.”

1 John 3:

The definition of sin has never changed.


“There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace–especially need to guard. The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.

The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.

But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love.”

Steps To Christ, page 59, 60