In part one I discussed one of the greatest obstacles that can prevent Christians from delighting in the law as they should. In part two I want to point out what I believe is one of the greatest motivations for delighting in the law of God. I hope to follow up with more posts with the purpose of helping Christians to delight more in the law of God. For the sake of clarity, I am referring to the moral law of God as summarized in the 10 commandments & the 2 great commandments, and expounded throughout the Bible, especially in texts such as Matt. 5 – 7.
The Law Increases our Love for Christ
The heart of every true Christian heartily echoes the desire set forth in Elizabeth Prentiss’ hymn:
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Yes, we already love Him, but we know we can never love Him as much as we ought. We yearn to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, for that is what He deserves. This may come a surprise to some, but the law is one of God’s primary ways to accomplish the goal of increasing our love for our Savior.
Please consider with me the following passage, Luke 7:36-50:
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
I fear a great many Christians misunderstand this passage. When they read “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little”, they take it as if Christ were saying that this Pharisee didn’t love him much because he didn’t have that many sins that needed forgiving, compared to this sexually immoral woman. This attitude can be seen in the way so many churches crave to hear testimonies of people who were “really bad” sinners before they were saved, and in the way that many Christians seem almost jealous of such testimonies. But that is not what our Lord is saying at all.
Please stop and think about this for one moment. Does our Lord really look upon the haughty and prideful heart of this hypocritical, unkind and merciless Pharisee and judge it to be better than the heart of a sexually immoral woman? Of course not, the Pharisees had succeeded in cleaning up the outside of the cup very nicely, but the vile putrid corpse rotting inside puts off a stench that is reprehensible in the nostrils of a holy God! Pride, hypocrisy and lack of love for fellow sinners are the most abominable of sins to God. So Christ wasn’t pointing out that this adulterous woman was more sinful than Simon. Our Lord was pointing out that the reason this woman loved Him so much was because she realized how great a sinner she was. It was the knowledge of the greatness of her sin that gave rise to the wondrous volume of love she poured out at her Savior’s feet.
So one of the lessons we ought to take from this passage is that a primary means of increasing our love for our Savior is to realize just how much He has saved us from. The more we realize how much we have been forgiven, the more we will love Him. God’s appointed means for showing us our sin is His law. (Romans 3:20) Go to the law and let it expose your sin. Yes, it hurts! I despise the agony of a guilty conscience as much if not more than most people. But we do not wallow in guilt and self-pity when the law exposes our sin. We flee to Christ, to be washed afresh in His cleansing blood and to receive from Him the necessary power to repent and forsake that sin. The temporary pain that is brought by the knowledge of your own sinfulness cannot compare to the blessing received through it, for that blessing is a greater love for our Great High Priest and Redeemer, Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is most certainly one of the reasons for the general shallowness of the broad scope of Evangelical Christian churches, isn’t it? The law is avoided like the plague. Sin is seldom mentioned, and when it is, it is in the vaguest of terms. Sin is never defined, it is just something we acknowledge as “bad” but avoid talking about if we can help it. No wonder these churches are filled with people whose love for Christ can be exhaustively demonstrated by mindlessly singing a handful of Christian jingles and dancing a little jig a few times a month.
But I want to point out one more wonderful truth before closing. The man, woman or child who was brought up in a Christian home with nurture and discipline, who rarely even openly disobeyed his/her parents, let alone ever committed sexual immorality or abused drugs can love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every bit as much, if not more than someone like me, who filled their belly with the filth of this world before God so graciously saved me. Every one of us has a seemingly bottomless cesspool of sin within our hearts. He who delights in the law will allow it to reveal his own sins to him, that he may love His Savior all the more for it.
His Throne is Forever and Ever!