I’ve had today’s topic on my mind for a week now. Law and love are so very different. One kills, the other gives life and sets people free. (2 Cor. 3:6) When was the last time you felt loved after you broke a law, any law? When was the last time you felt loved just for participating in a religious ritual (part of religious law)? Religious ritual and getting that speeding ticket sure didn’t make me feel loved. I felt like I’d let the elusive “someone” down or even myself in one sense when I broke said law. Spiritually speaking, I felt like I had to perform the expectation of religious law for God to love me. Why? Not breaking the law is an “expectation” of society. Participating in a religious ritual is an “expectation” that continues to be taught in the church at large today. I did not live up to the expectations of the “law” in both ways. Unmet expectations bring shame and condemnation. Nothing good ever comes from shame and condemnation. Shame begets shame and the cycle of “law breaking” and unmet expectations continue. You don’t feel loved or lovable. It’s like being on a hamster wheel, that wheel is spinning fast but going no where and your performance points don’t really add up to anything. What if I were to told you that “law” in any form was not designed to show us that we are loved, but only Love could do that?
Jesus is Love! And Jesus took the curse of the law upon Himself to free us from our wrongdoing and our religions rituals based on performance. He loved us by laying down his life! (Galatians 3:13 and John 15:13) The law does not lay its life down for you, it condemns you to death literally and figuratively.
Galatians 3:23-25 NIV; Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So, the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Law is a cruel task master, a prison guard. Prison guards aren’t very loving, are they? Task master in the Old and New Testament was another word for slave master. Law makes us a slave to our past and to our failures. Law is about performance to attain a standard (one we can’t attain) so you can be loved. In the law, there is no love! Only in Jesus is there love, only in Jesus can we know how much we are loved.
Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV; But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions (because the law kills)— for it is by (God’s) grace you have been saved (you couldn’t do it yourself).
Where there are conditions, based on behavior, there is law. Where there is unconditional regard for others, regardless of behavior or mistakes, there is love.
1 John 4:7-11; Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God (Jesus His Son) is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (our mistakes, missteps, failures, stubbornness, pain, etc.).
I have let the scriptures speak for themselves, they say it so much better than I ever could because they are His words, not mine. Friends, it has taken me almost 25 years to understand the difference between law and love. It didn’t help that the church taught law-based performance mixed with grace for 20 of those years – they don’t mix. Yes, the church got mixed up and they hurt a lot of people. They exhausted a lot of people; I was one of them. I hurt people because I didn’t understand the difference in the not-too-distant past. I ask you to forgive the Church at large and me! I can’t take that time back, but I do pray for a chance to reconcile with those people. I pray every day for them and me for when that time comes. I wrote this blog because I wanted you to understand the difference and it not take you 25 years to have this freeing revelation. I don’t want you to hurt and exhaust people. I want you and them to be free, free to love unconditionally!
I will leave you with this today:
Romans 8:38-39a; There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…
It is finished (His words, not mine)!