God’s Statutes: Loving God’s Law

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…”

AMONG church attendees there are two kinds of people, those who see God’s law as constraining, others which see it as liberating.  That is because they make a distinction between God’s Word and God’s Law that the Bible never makes.  God’s law reveals God’s will and nature. We do not make up our own standard of obedience once we are saved by grace. That standard has never changed, nor will it ever.

The human heart by nature is opposed and hostile to God’s laws (Rom. 8:7). After regeneration the laws that they once hated are written upon their heart by the flaming pen of the Holy Spirit and He ignites a love for God’s written Word that they did not have before (2 Cor. 3:3). God’s law before and after salvation reveals sin in our lives (Rom. 3:20), but we come to love the law of God because when it exposes our sin, it leads us to Christ over and over again.  The same external law that led us as a schoolmaster to Christ for salvation (Gal. 3:24), acts now as the internal law that reveals his perfect will and leads us to Him as the Lover of our souls (Rom. 7:22; 8:2)! 

When God exposes our error and sin, the Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). The word “confess” or homologeo according to Dr. Ken Wuest is not just to freely admit our sins but  in the Greek it is in the  “present subjunctive, meaning continuous action. This teaches the constant attitude of the saint toward sin should be one of a contrite heart, ever eager to have any sin in the life discovered for him by the Holy Spirit and ever eager to confess it and put it out by the power of that same Holy Spirit.”   We are liberated to confess our sins, repent and with tearful joy knowing that our fellowship with Christ is growing each time as he delights to forgive us. Glory to God!

Now the word statutes in today’s culture refers to the policy that prohibits something or permits something.  In the Hebrew language in Psalm 19:8 statutes comes from a root word which teaches that God is paying attention and overseeing how He wants things ordered. His Sovereign grace is at work in our becoming more holy and Christlike. This verse teaches that God orders and oversees his law in all of it facets especially those of the heart and our relationship to Him. He is tending and gardening the soil of our hearts through the sharp blade of his Word (Heb 4:12). He plants the seed of the Word (Mt 13:37) and sustains it by the water of the Word (Eph 5:26) and that makes our hearts fertile and productive for him (1 Cor 3:6-7).

These statutes are right. What He says, He has every right to say because He is Creator and King. God is God. Those who believe his Word are orthodox, those who do not are heterodox.  Simply put one is right and one is wrong. As Christians we believe the Bible is right, it is the settled and established policy of heaven. It is the rule that rules our lives. Unlike relativists or humanists we believe that God has given us those rules as our absolute truth and sole authority.

These statutes are so right and just and equal that obeying them brings great joy to the heart.  A person who is a Christian does have a fear of God, for sure, yet they need not live under the threat of penalties for not doing God’s will. Instead, they trust in the law of God as a prescription for health. He provides through his statutes the internal understanding and motivation to do God’s will as he directly communicates with us, “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.” (Heb. 8:10). When the Word is in the heart it affects the thoughts and emotions.  Because they are written on our heart they provide the desire and the ability to act upon God’s will (Phil 2:12, 13). They bring rejoicing of heart, a joy of heart that has a clear conscience knowing we are going the right way, heading in the right direction.

God calls us to serve him for his own sake. He is our motivation and we love his laws. We serve Christ for Christ. We love and serve God because he is worthy and has given us worthy laws that propel us to be zealous of good works (Titus 2:14). 

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The Truth in Love

How often do you hear people half quote the scripture and say, “Well, now brother…sister…we need to speak the truth in love.”  But how often has that out of context phrase been misused to sacrifice truth and to justify people’s sinful lifestyle all in the name of fake love.  It is what the old preachers used to call “sloppy agape” or it is “grease” instead of grace. We know how often Satan is prone to misquote scripture when he employs his choice weapons of compromise and deception.

But we know that truth refers to the holy book of the scriptures (John 17: 17) and Christ is the truth personified (John 14:6) and the real church guards that truth (1 Tim 3:15).

The context is as follows:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:14-16).

That phrase will somehow seem different in light of the other verses with which it is associated.

It is clear from this passage that God calls people to stop acting spiritually childish or immature and in order for that to happen the truth must be expressed in love.

1. People who act spiritually childish are (v. 14):

  •  Fluctuating: Their hearts and minds are in disorder like the surf on the beach they are back and forth. They are double minded (James 1:6-8).
  • Restless:  The word used here periphero where we get the word peripheral. They are easily moved by the winds of side or surface issues. They love the latest spiritual fads and trends and reject biblical tradition (2 Pet 3:16).
  • Unstable:  No matter the wind whether a gentle breeze or tornado, because they are not firmly anchored to the pure doctrine they are easily blown away (2 Tim. 2:18).
  • Cheated: The sleight of men is kubeia which means they roll the dice by taking chances on the methods and formulas made up by false teachers (Jude 12, 16).

2. Speaking the truth in love means (v. 15):

  • The truth needs to be spoken, the clear, unvarnished truth of scripture. It represents things as they are.
  • The truth spoken in the original language means “truthing in love” it is seen as walking or holding up the plain truth of scripture in Calvary love or agapao love (3 John 4).
  • The truth must be spoken without a sour, unfeeling disposition and a genuine concern and love for others spiritual welfare.
  • The truth has a goal of maturity of the hearer which has for its model Jesus Christ who is the truth (John 14:6).
  • The truth is necessary because we are members of one body and when one part is infected all are in danger of being hurt (Eph. 4:25).

3. Christ is the head and body of all pure teaching (v.15-16):

  • Incorporated: The truth incorporates us into Christ who is the head and Lord of everyone and everything (Eph. 1:22).
  • Positioned: The truth of scriptural teaching brings organization and body’s parts are anatomically correct. It represents Christ (1 Cor. 12:12, 27).
  • Consolidated: The body is united and connected by the truth of scripture and Christ (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 John 2:19).
  • Proportioned: The body is supported and not one part overworked, every part is in exact proportion to its strength in Christ (1 Cor. 12:24).
  • Edified: The body grows and builds itself in strength and maturity all by the principle and power of Christ’s love (1 Cor. 14:5).

We need to speak the truth with “Calvary love” to those who are easily affected by waves of doubt on the inside and winds of deception on the outside. They are being cheated by false teachers and lying spirits who use the methods of men and extra-biblical practices to mislead them and by hurting the immature and weaker brethren they hurt us and they attempt to steal the glory from Christ.

We speak the truth with the love of Christ, not human compassion or understanding but in light of the truth. This is an hour where unity cannot be based on the LOWEST common denominator but the high standards of scripture and the loftiest model of Jesus Christ head of the body, his church!

“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” Abraham Kuyper

More Loving Than God?

I have shared with some of you, that I believe there are some people who think they love others more than God does. They see themselves as generous, hospitable and kind. They bristle at people whom they see as harsh and straightforward with scripture. To them that is so unloving.
 
Now of course they would never say that but I would like to test their approach. Scripture says this:
 
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth.  Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13:4-8NCV).
 
These wonderful virtues are in list form and if you see yourself as placing a check to any or all of these-there is one word that buries all of us and should bring us to our knees in a realization of failure:
 
Always.
 

STOP AND LISTEN!

“Stop and Listen. Stop and LISTEN! In the ancient days does not the scripture say that God’s eyes were upon the land of Israel? Was it not the land which the Lord thy God cared for? A land flowing with milk and honey. It was the land of promise. He gave it to Israel and they were to conquer that land and all its inhabitants and possess houses and lands that were not theirs and He did not to fail keep His promise. He warned them that they were to drive out the inhabitants of the land or they would be thorns in their eyes and eventually would become a snare to them.
 
He has saved HIS people. He has promised them victory. He sees their hearts and lives like they are the land of promise. The land he cares for. He would have them flowing with the milk of His life giving Word and honey of His Spirit! But after years they are irritated and ensnared by old sins. He hears them confessing the sins from which HE would deliver them but they live with those sins as if they should be natives to their heart. He cannot forgive a people who do not repent. To repent is not only sorrow for sin but to stop that sin!
 
Sin was a native to the heart before God saved them, but NOW it is an alien that must be expelled. It is an enemy that must be attacked.  God’s people are not aggressive enough with their sins. Like Moses rod that struck the Sea, like Ehud’s knife that was plunged into the fat enemy king, like David’s sling that struck down Goliath, so is the cross of Christ. It will take what was a giant and so overshadow it, the giant will become as nothing. The cross must strike the Red Sea of sin in our thoughts and part them so God’s Word can flow freely in our mind. The cross must be plunged into the fatness of our hearts and be lost in it so it will circumcise the foreskin of our hearts. It must be like David’s sling when the rock thrown at the giant it will be guided by the Spirit to hit specific sins and bring them down by faith. By simple faith it will be done. By simple faith, the complicated is dealt a death blow with ease. Like the people who could by inherit the land because of unbelief my people are in danger of falling short of the rest of evidence that secures their inheritance. They need to take by faith my promises. God’s promises do not fail. They need to see all their sins as not only forgiven but dead and buried, the trophies of a war won for them on the bloody hill of Calvary.”
 

THE HEART WHISPERER

God tells the prophet Isaiah to speak comfortably or literally to speak tenderly to the heart of his people (Isaiah 40:2).  The heart is the priceless human soul (Mt 16:26) the source of our affection and appetites and it is the divine target of redemption. I was pondering the verse where King David says, “No man cared for my soul.” (Ps. 142:4). That is no feeble accusation of today’s church. Many times we have failed to do this. We talk to people’s felt needs and offer life enhancement principles but we have such difficulty addressing heart issues and their real needs concerning Christ, sin, repentance, forgiveness and spiritual birth. Perhaps we fear turning them off to church and God? Maybe we fear not being “loving” enough? We can give dangerous superficial comfort to people in the name of being sensitive to their needs.

Christ sees past all the surface issues and looks into the inner recesses of the heart. This does not refer to the Son of God using a soft voice when he speaks. It refers to those who realize that God’s still small voice through the scriptures carried by the Holy Spirit speaks life to the wounded human heart and lifeless spirit. While we are to be those who tenderly and affectionately speak his truth, let us not be confused about genuine comfort! The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter and yet he functions in his office to convince “the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” (John 16:8NLT).  If that is what the Holy Spirit does-why don’t we do the same in our message?

HEARING CHRIST ABOVE THE NOISE

Popular preachers along with the mega-church phenomenon engage in marketing, religious entertainment, mushy self-esteem psychology and motivational speaking. There is a developing concern that droves of people will end up filling these religious stadiums and campuses that have never been saved or born again. These preachers and churches run the risk of being what Job called, “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2) and when it comes to the soul they could easily be called, “physicians of no value.”  (Job 13:4). God alone knows the heart; he alone knows its condition and cure! They do not preach the heart of God in the scriptures and thus do not reach the heart of people! 

There are so many religious salesmen crying for our attention today producing torrents of spiritual confusion and biblical error.  They try to sell you whirlwinds in their books, earthquakes in their seminars, and fire in a bottle. But few offer the free gifts of the still small voice in the scriptures as sufficient! Christ the Heart Whisperer has bent low to bring people out of this “horrible pit” (Ps. 40:2) or a “pit of noise” and wants to “set their feet upon the rock” of Bible promises. Christ’s still small voice in the scriptures will be lifted up above this racket and that voice that they were deaf to will become like the roar of the ocean waves in the new heart and in the real church (Rev. 1:15).

FOOTSTEPS OF THE HEART

What is God’s assessment of the human heart?  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). That is what God says about the heart-GOD! The word deceitful in Hebrew is two adjectives which form the phrase “footprints on a path.”  With every heart beat there is a footstep, it shows the direction the sinner’s life is going. They are heart-prints. In the scene of a crime footprints would serve as crucial evidence to showing the presence of a person who perpetuated the crime. God even now is tracking the criminal footprints of people’s heart or heart-prints and he acts in wrath against them (Rom. 1:18)!  He says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The death sentence is the wage-or what the sinner deserves (Ezek. 18:4). Sin is dangerous and results in infinite crimes and an infinite penalty against an infinite God. The apostle Paul said the sin in his heart, “deceived me, and…killed me.” (Rom. 7:11). Every person who is not saved is dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1-3). That is a great problem and need.

 

CHRIST EXPOSES THE HEART

The heart was not hidden from the eyes of the Son of God. Jesus said, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mk 7:20-23NLT). How can one preach self-esteem to those who should be ashamed that they have committed treasonous crimes against the crown of heaven? The only hope of the sinner is that his self-esteem is brought into the dust and he sees the glory of God. The Heart Whisperer exposes the real condition of the heart. 

THE HEARTPRINTS OF CHRIST

Christ whose heart full of love, made his way up to Calvary marking each step with heart footprints to pay for your sin and satisfy the anger of God against the sins of the heart. God only saw his footprints not mine, not yours. There his footprints were stained with blood as he bore our sins to the Cross. Now the evidence of our crimes and sins fell upon him! The justice of God tracked it all the way to Calvary.  Christ took my sin, gave me his righteousness and was judged on my behalf and I went away free. He who lighted the light of the sun and furnished the light of the night, he who made springs in dry lands, the Lord and of the heaven and earth, the sea and rivers, the sun moon and stars, the lofty mountains and the lowly valleys, the God of the heaven and in heaven and under heaven. Alas, we have seen the son of the living God stretched out on a cross. Alas, the body that possessed wisest dignity had been plunged into blood. A crown of thorns was placed about his beauteous head; the blood of Christ is flowing from his bleeding side; this cross is like the parting of the day from night!  The Heart Whisperer comforted me. He took the punishment I deserved. The Heart Whisperer spoke salvation into my heart of those who he calls and his heart-prints mark our lives forever.

TERMINAL HEART CONDITION

God’s says the heart is desperately wicked which refers to an incurable disease. The heart is injured by sin, it is bruised and broken. It has a life threatening illness. “This is what the Lord says: “Your injury is incurable, a terrible wound. There is no one to help you or to bind up your injury. No medicine can heal you.” (Jer. 30:12-13NLT). The Lord says again, “Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot-covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds-without any soothing ointments or bandages.” (Isa. 1:5-6NLT). It is not just life’s trauma, exploitation and abuse that broke your heart. It was already broken by sin when you were born (Ps. 51:5). The heart is helplessly sinful, it is broken beyond repair, it is wounded beyond relief, and it is beyond human treatment. Only Christ can heal the cancer of the heart! The Lord who sees the heart is the only qualified surgeon of the soul.  No psychology or religion can help you. Christ is the help of the helpless. Here is a novel idea: preach more about Jesus Christ! He is the Heart Whisperer he can only speak a word and they will be healed.

THE STUBBORN HEART OF ROCK

The Bible warns of the hardening that comes from the, “deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). Sin deceives the heart and hardens it, making it cold, brittle, and resistant to change.  When the message of the gospel comes to the hearts of some people, they are like Pharaoh (the poster boy of hard hearts) and in their hearts they say, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him …I do not know the Lord.”  (Ex 5:2). God’s reply to them is, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:5).  Unless there is a one hundred and eighty degree change, the hard hearted person will face God’s perfect justice one day and their unrepentant soul will be smashed upon the rocks of his righteous anger. There is no safety outside of Christ. Their refusal to turn from sin is storing more and more wrath where only an eternity in hell will satisfy the justice of God against them.  That is a deep problem-a great need wouldn’t you say? Only the fire of the Holy Spirit can thaw a frozen heart.  Preach to meet that need. Only Christ can conquer the feral, untamed human heart, only he can save the soul! No methodology, no program, no other religion can help the hard heart. The Holy Spirit is speaking to hearts here though scripture, “Today if you will hear his voice harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 3:7-8NLT). The Heart Whisperer may be speaking to you tonight.

THE NEW HEART OF THE NEW BIRTH

God tells us in Ezekiel’s prophecy that he will take away the heart of stone and give us in its place a heart of flesh. Jesus tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Here is the most foundational, cardinal and essential truth the Heart Whisperer can speak! YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!  It at the very heart of the gospel message: regeneration must take place in order for a person to repent and trust in Christ for salvation.

W.A. Criswell comments, “How can you preach the gospel to a stone?  And how can you argue with a rock?  The man in his nature is hard.  He is indifferent.  He will pass by the sacrifice and the cross of Jesus without any repercussion in his soul at all.  He is lost.  He is hard.  His heart is like a stone.  And you can talk to him, and you can plead with him, and you can speak to him of the grace of the Lord.  He is impervious.  He is unmoved.  He is untouched.  His heart is like a rock.  He is lost. God must do something. 

God must give him a new heart if he is ever responsive, if he is ever teachable, if he is ever sensitive, if he ever repents. But when God gives a man a new heart, he is almost unrecognizable compared to what once he was.  You talk to him about the Lord Jesus and point to the cross and he will weep.  You talk to him about the grace of God, and his heart will overflow.  You speak to him about the Spirit, and the call, and the way of the Lord Jesus, and he is all attention.  He has a new heart that is the difference.”

HEART MEDICINE

Please stand. The Holy Spirit wants to introduce you to Jesus Christ who is the warm satisfying bread of life to those who are spiritually hungry (John 6:35) and he is cool running water to the spiritually thirsty (John 4:14).  I think of the scriptures that says, “Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.” (Mk. 10:49).  Only he can satisfy! What he has done for others he can do for you! You never need go, “hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.” (CHS). The Holy Spirit will be placed in your heart so he keeps fresh and alive in your new heart your desire to love and obey God.  Isaiah 53 asks who will believe the report about Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. You see him despised so you could be loved, rejected so you could be accepted, experiencing the depths of grief so you could have the heights of joy. He carried your weakness and the burden of your sorrows and was punished for your sins! You see him pierced for your rebellion, crushed for your sins, beaten and whipped so you could be whole. 

You must see this as the one and only remedy for sin. You must see that God will only accept one payment for sin and the propitiation of Christ to appease his justice against you.  You must see that Christ and his death is the one and only way to be saved. You must put your whole confidence in what Christ did in payment for sin. Lay aside your good works. They cannot save! Put down your sin and turn away from them and call upon the Lord to save you from the power of evil. !  Through a message like this it is my prayer that God will shoot a bullet of the gospel into some soul that triggers a wound that only he can heal. “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.” (Job 5:18).  Such is the way of the Heart Whisperer.