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What the Bible says about God's Law Internalized
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 28:45-47

These verses are directly related to verse 15, "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you, and overtake you." Then all the curses are listed. Verse 45 continues the thought that ends with "and overtake you" in verse 15, but they are also directly related to much of the context of Deuteronomy 8.

God's concern in this context is for the attitude of heart and mind in which the Israelites carried out their part in keeping the covenant. It is actually a prophecy of what they were going to do. What can we learn from this? The very fact that this warning—"because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart"—is in here means that these things are going to come on us. He is telling us that obeying in an obligatory fashion, while it is a great deal better than sinning, does not come close to what God is seeking for in us. That kind of obedience does not produce an internalized character that permits one to live an abundant life full of every good quality. Instead, it will produce joyless, hopeless, robotic automatons.

The word "gladness" is particularly interesting, literally meaning "good," or "goodness." However, when it is taken with the intent of this and other biblical contexts, especially Deuteronomy 8, it indicates "gratitude." In fact, The Amplified Bible inserts the word "gratitude" in brackets next to the word "gladness" as an explanation of what God is driving at.

In other words, God is saying that, if we do not approach life with an understanding recognition of the awesome significance of His calling, we cannot serve Him satisfactorily. There are reasons for this. He wants people who understand what life is about, not to approach life with a resigned, "Oh, well, I have to do this" attitude, but rather to approach it with a rejoicing, wholehearted understanding, gladly and gratefully yielding themselves to its completion in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part Three)

Romans 2:14-16

Everybody will be judged by or against the same law. God is impartial in His judgments; He uses the same standard for everyone. Just in case one wonders what law Paul means, verse 21 identifies it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 16)

2 Corinthians 3:3

In verse 3, Paul uses the metaphor of a letter of commendation (verses 1 and 2) to lead into a discussion comparing the Old and New Covenants. When God made the Old Covenant with ancient Israel, Moses wrote the commandments, statutes, and judgments that God had given to him in a book with "ink" (Exodus 24:4). God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger on two tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:15-16). However, Paul points out, under the New Covenant, God has given us His Spirit, enabling us to keep His laws in their spiritual intent. He is now writing His Ten Commandments on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10)!

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Have the Ten Commandments Passed Away?

2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul specifically says that the law will be written in the fleshly tables of our heart by the Spirit of the living God! However, the circumcision of the heart is a co-operative effort. God does His part, and we do ours by submitting to Him. Both parts are involved within this process, by which God is enabling us to have the power to sustain a relationship with Him. And that power is given only to the children of promise, the children of God, the church, the remnant, those who are in Christ, those who have received God's Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Eleven)

2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul makes it clear that the Spirit God will give us will be the means by which the laws are written on our hearts. "Circumcision of the heart," "writing God's laws on the heart," "conversion," and "changing" essentially describe the same thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 12)

Galatians 4:22

Abraham actually had more sons through Keturah, but for the purposes of Paul's allegory, he focuses on Ishmael, the son through Hagar, and Isaac, the son of promise through Sarah.

Given that the false teachers were trying to convince the Galatians to turn to a Gnostic form of Judaism, Abraham would have been a character who would have been highly respected in their eyes (the Jews in Jesus' time trusted in descent from Abraham for salvation). Paul uses the example of Abraham throughout this epistle because he (Abraham) simultaneously served as someone that they would have looked up to, as well as a testament that they (the Galatians) were approaching this the wrong way—different from the way Abraham did.

Physical descent does not matter as far as the spiritual promises are concerned; Christ castigated the Jews for thinking that they could rely on being physical descendants of Abraham as a means of gaining favor with God. Christ showed that where it really counted was in behaving like Abraham—which the Jews did not.

Paul, in an attempt to help the Galatians to understand the covenants, is likening the Old Covenant to being born to a "bondmaid" (a female slave or servant) while the New Covenant is compared to being born of a "freewoman" (someone who is a citizen; unrestrained; not a slave; exempt from liability; at liberty). The carnal mind, as described by Romans 8:7, leaps to the conclusion that the New Covenant gives freedom from the confines of law, while the Old Covenant keeps one in bondage to a set of archaic rules. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The apostle James twice refers to the law as the "law of liberty" (James 1:25; 2:12). He could do this because when God was giving the Ten Commandments to Israel, He prefaced them with the declaration, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). This—bringing Israel out of bondage—set the context, the foundation, for the giving of the law. Clearly, it is not God's definition of right and wrong that keeps us in bondage; the law was given as a guide to the right way to live. The "bondage" that we are subject to derives from Satan (Ephesians 2:1-3; 6:12; II Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9), this world (Exodus 6:5-8; Deuteronomy 5:6), sin (John 8:33-36), and our own human nature—our carnal mind and heart. Our bondage is to sin (John 8:33-34)—not to God's definition of it.

The Old Covenant did not provide a way to overcome these things. Even though the Old Covenant included God's royal law of liberty, it had no provision for ever truly escaping the clutches of sin. God's law, which is also a part of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34), merely defines what sin is, so that one may avoid it (Romans 3:20; 4:14-15; 5:13; 7:7, 12, 14). It neither enslaves, nor frees. The Old Covenant—the agreement, rather than the law that was its core—provided no means for overcoming the evil heart of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12, 19; 8:7-8), and so Paul compares it to a bondwoman. In verse 24 he says that it "engenders"—gives birth to—bondage. He does not mean that the agreement between God and Israel was bondage, nor that God's definition of right and wrong keeps people in slavery, but rather that the temporary covenant made no provision for true spiritual freedom. It "gave birth to" bondage because, without addressing the incurable sickness of the heart, the only possible outcome was human degeneration back into the bondage from which they had been freed.

The New Covenant addresses these problems:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them [the weakness was with the people, not the agreement or the law], He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." (Hebrews 8:7-12; see Jeremiah 31:31-34)

The New Covenant allows God's way of life (law) to be internalized (put into the mind and heart). It allows for a personal relationship with God, rather than going through an intermediary. It allows for complete forgiveness of sins through repentance and accepting the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

In another place, God promises,

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

Through the justification and forgiveness of sins available under the New Covenant, it is possible for the heart to be changed, and for human nature, which drives us to sin, to be overcome. Thus, true spiritual freedom is offered under the New Covenant, while absent under the Old.

David C. Grabbe

Ephesians 5:26

Until God calls us, we are subject to the constant bombardments of the words—the thinking and the ideas, the hopes and dreams, and the ideals and standards—of this world. Some of them also come from God. It is a mixture. But would it not be far better to use the pure thing? Every Word of God is pure. If we want our thinking to be pure (I John 3:3), then our minds must be fed with what will make our thinking pure.

We have the use of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then we must put God's instruction into practice so that it becomes inscribed on our hearts. This is done by making those behaviors habitual. God gives most of us a long time to do this. He gave the Israelites forty years to inscribe it on their hearts. He gives us so much time because it takes an awful lot of time to change a carnal mind—to purify it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 




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