Growing up, I loved having my grandparents as next-door neighbours. After school, I savoured having tea and cookies with Grandma before sauntering home. I realized that if I spent enough time with them, I could delay my piano practice while enjoying some television and food. Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandchildren, and I revelled in this safety zone where the rules of home didn’t reach me.
For many, the way we relate to God in the New Testament is akin to how a grandparent and grandchild enjoy their relationship: a lot of grace, no law.
This ‘grandparent’ view of avoiding or disregarding any rules has a theological name: antinomianism. To be antinomian is to be “against” (anti) “the law” (nomos).
Today, most people live against the law. For some, the rules don’t apply. For others, they avoid the rules. Another group filters rules through a grid of what they feel is okay but doesn’t stifle their lifestyle. Still others just don’t care about rules – they were meant to be broken.
Even Christians claim that they are “under grace and not under law.” The Old Testament laws are seen as culturally irrelevant and therefore do not need to be followed. God is more like a grandparent – lovely to visit, but always soft and cushy when it comes to rules.
The New Testament, however, does not free us from ethical demands. Neither does it dismiss Old Testament laws because of a distance from the Ancient Israelite culture. Rather, the commands of the New Testament often exceed the requirements of the Old. “You have heard it was said to those of old, ‘Do not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. ‘ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matt 5:21-22). Jesus and his apostles’ teaching was to increase the call to obedience as reflected in the inner attitude as well as the outward action for those born of God.
For many, this emphasis on rules sounds like it is against grace. Doesn’t grace free us from rules? Aren’t we saved by grace through faith and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9)?
While we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, the new birth gives new desires and abilities to supernaturally obey Christ’s commands. Everyone who has been born of God loves God and others (1 John4:19-20). When God’s Spirit comes and lives within the Christian, God creates a desire and empowers us to obey (1 John 5:1-5). Commands aren’t a burden, but a delight (Ps. 119:16, 47, 92, 97).
One of the sure signs that we love God and are born of him is that we delight in his Word, love to obey, and hate evil. Is that you? Are you growing in the grace of obedience?
As we come to Leviticus 19, don’t lose sight of God’s intention for you in his law – to delight in him, to love him, to love others, and to grow in the grace and strength of obedience that He supplies!
See you Sunday as we seek to delight ourselves in the Lord!
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.