Religion based on biblical theology always seems to pit doing things in the right way against having a loving confidence in God. Humans like to place confidence in themselves by declaring they do the right things in the proper way. By doing this, humans often think their correct actions have in some way manipulated God by obligating Him to keep His promises. Humans seem very uneasy with a kind of trust in God that requires no manipulation, no obligation. The idea that God likes to keep His promises because He cares about us sounds too good to be true.
Nothing stresses the importance of procedures as does the Mosaic Law. If people could develop the impression that doing the right things in the proper way was THE way to APPEASE God, the Law’s emphasis on detailed procedures might be used for that position.
The same man through whom God revealed that Law wrote this: “Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more” (Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]). In a prelude to this emphasis, verses 12 and 13 stress the meaning of this instruction. Israelites were to fear God, walk in His ways and love Him, serve Him with all their heart and soul, and keep His commands and statutes. Deuteronomy 30:6 stated when God circumcised hearts that the result would be a consuming love for God.
Even in the Law given through Moses, serving God involved both an internal and external response—procedures just of themselves insulted God. Even then, a person obeyed because of a consuming love for God. The God who delivered them from Egypt had infinitely blessed them.
Centuries later after the death of Jesus Christ, Paul wrote this: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” Romans 2:28, 29 (NASB).
Obedience without love OR love without obedience is insufficient. It always has been, always will be.
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