“Obey!” and Other Christian Curse Words
Man has failed his relationship with God (Gen 3). Adam disobeyed God, and his posterity has followed (Rom 3:23; 5:12). In the light of nature, God has positioned fallen man as a moral, rational, and responsible creature before Him. Still, man suppresses the truth about God and himself (Rom 1:18). He continues in his rebellion and enmity against God.
There is no fear of God in man (Rom 3:18), yet God has made His existence evident to man by the things He has made (Rom 1:19). The conscience of man is an internal conviction (Rom 2:15). Man was hungry for the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3), and God gave man a conscience to know humanity is evil (Gen 6:5). There is none who does good, not even one (Rom 3:12).
God gave the Jews His holy Law. Whereas the Gentiles had conscience, the Jews had conscience plus the external Law of God, written by the finger of God (Ex 20; Dt. 5; Rom 2).
The Law revealed the holy character of God to the Jews. It also gave them the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20), explicitly stated.
The Law defines sin, sometimes with pinpoint precision. If the Gentile carried guilt in their conscience, the Jew carried a much heavier load.
Judaism is a perversion that twisted the reason God gave the Law to the Jews. This man-devised religion of the Jews takes the Law of God and claims it is a blessing from God to the Jewish people. Possessing the Law and performing certain acts of the Law, like circumcision, was considered a sign that Yahweh favored the Jews, even to the saving of their souls. The truth is: by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight (Rom 3:20).
God chose the Jews…to be an example (1 Cor 10). Old Testament Israel, and all the advantages God gave them, served only as an historical type, pointing to the anti-type of Christ and His church, the true Israel of God (Is 49:3, 6; Gal 6:16). Just as a remnant of Jews was saved from the wrath of God against sinners in the Old Testament, so a remnant of Jews and Gentiles is saved in the New Testament age (Rom 9:6, 27).
The Jews of the Old Testament were not saved by keeping the Law; or rather by their attempt to keep the Law. The Law only served to condemn them, but Judaism glorified the Law as its savior. The task of the Jew was to try and do his best to do the works of the Law. God would see one’s earnest effort and give him or her a passing grade.
The apostle Paul exposed the heresy of Judaism, especially in his Romans and Galatians epistles. He chastised the early Christians who fell prey to the sinister works of the Judaisers. These false teachers wanted the Christians to return to Moses and the keeping of the Law. He called the Galatians “fools” for thinking their salvation was faith in Christ, plus obedience to the Law (Gal 3:1).
If I would highlight one sentence in this article, it would be this one, “Absolutely no one in the line of Adam ever kept the Law.” The Law has condemned every single person in history except Christ Jesus, the impeccable God-man, who fulfilled the Law (Mt 5:17; Heb 4:15).
The Pharisee of Jesus’ day boasted in his relationship to the Law. The Christian legalist does the same, today. If the Law of God is read today, it is for the sole purpose of illumining the character of God and exposing the sin of Christian and non-Christian alike.
When a Christian tells another to obey some point of the Law, he is cursing his neighbor. He is leading his neighbor to the gates of hell. He is enticing his neighbor to trust in his own obedience, which is the curse of death because there is no salvation for attempted obedience. The fact is that your neighbor will fail to keep the Law, having believed your cursed instruction.
The Christian can quote Scripture, even Jesus saying, “Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself,” which is a summary of the whole Law. Stop and consider the onerous of obligation, which ends in utter failure over and over again. The Law cannot justify, nor can it sanctify apart from the work of the Spirit. The Christian believes in Christ because if he attempts to keep the Law, he will only fail.
The Christian message should be all grace, after an explanation of the purpose of the Law. It is the Gospel of grace that we preach (Acts 20:24). Grace is all about God willing and working salvation in His chosen people, from beginning to end (Phil 2:13; Titus 3:5).
Christian, you have been saved by grace, not your works (Eph 2:8–9). You are being sanctified by grace, not your works. It is Christ in you, authoring and perfecting your faith (Phil 1:6; Heb 12:2). This is the same faith that justified Abraham before God, who reckoned Abraham righteous because of faith, not works (Rom 4:5,9).
Obedience is always the requirement of the Law, but failure is always the outcome, unless it is God who causes you to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:27). Therefore, by the Spirit, we walk in faith in the Son of God (2 Cor 5:7), who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal 2:20), that we might have the victory over sin and death by faith (1 Jn 5:4), not works. This is eternal life, the Word of life and not a curse.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 26, 2022