While Paul wrote that there is no law against love, Tolstoy wrote there is a law of love. He believed that no law prohibits choosing to do what is loving. The Christian is not threatened by external things when he is liberated within to love.
Three hundred burka-clad women stood at the gate imploring to get in to give their last respects to their beloved doctor. Security forces had warned hospital staff to let only Christians in for the funeral. But these Muslim women would have none of that, they would bring down the gate if they couldn’t say good-bye to the German doctor who had loved them and delivered their babies for over 20 years. Hospital staff decided to open the doors, but under one condition. To ensure identity and that no militants entered disguised as women, every woman went against strict conservative norms to lift her veil, exposing her face to a male, as she walked through the gate.
The lady doctor had served the people in a tribal part of Pakistan, in an area that even police officials dared not trod. Everyone received special care at the hospital whether they were Muslim, Christian, military or Taliban. All experienced the doctor’s loving care, especially the women. She was so well-loved and respected that the Government of Pakistan awarded her a prestigious national award for her dedicated humanitarian work in that region.
The women poured into the church and wept for the one who had loved them so much. Her love, kindness, and gentleness turned potential hostility into friendliness.
Is There a Law Against the Fruit of the Spirit?
Paul says there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. But that was centuries ago, what about today? A quick search of Google says it is still true. There is no law against the kind of love Paul writes to us about. Rather, the fruit often breaks down barriers and binds enemies into friends.
I live in a restricted country where we must be careful what we say and who we associate with. We must be mindful not to loudly declare our displeasure with anything or anyone in the establishment. That is if we value our lives. My husband and I laughingly say, “We have no rights, only responsibilities. And ours is the bigger word.” No one can object to love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Some have bad-mouthed us in the face of kindness, but we will never be charged for having and demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. Others have seen the fruit and it has softened the heart and bound us together.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23
No Water for Ablution
To illustrate I will share one more story.
Adil’s employee approached him, “The water pump at the mosque is broken and no one can wash before prayers.” Adil picked up his toolbox and with his employee in tow, went to the neighbourhood mosque to repair the pump. Fortunately, it was an easy fix he could do with a little help from his employee. A gaunt old man, leaning against his cane, watched. When the repairs were finished, he turned to the religious leader and asked, “Where are all your rich cronies? Could they not do this task? Look, here is the one you call a kafar (infidel) doing it for us. He didn’t have to do it, but out of the kindness of his heart he came.” An act of kindness is noticed and usually well-received.
And that, folks, brings my posts on the fruit of the Spirit to a conclusion.
The next time you see that prostitute, that gay person, that transgender, that Muslim, Hindu, atheist, whoever it might be; how can you demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit with that person? How can we love our neighbour as ourselves? In what ways can we be a Good Samaritan to those who are outside our comfort zone?
With this coronavirus outbreak, most churches have been closed down. Fortunately, thanks to technology, we are still able to chat and share scripture. Last Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing with my small church group. The topic that I chose to share on, which I feel is very neglected, is the wholeness of God.
The reason this topic is so important is that we don’t know God. And what’s worse, I fear that we don’t want God. So I shared how there is one God of three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And when we make little of one, often the (angry) Father God of the Old Testament, we make little of all.
First off, Who Is God?
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one.Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (Deut. 6:4-6)
“I (Jesus Christ) and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you…” (John 14:26)
I’ve just connected the three persons of the God-head. God says, “I am one God” in Deuteronomy (Law). Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” in the gospels. And the Holy Spirit is a promise, Jesus says, that cannot work apart from God the Father or God the Son.
Early on, my faith was wrong.
Growing up, I was given this very inaccurate view of God. The mean God of the Old Testament with all of his rules and punishment. Jesus Christ says, “NO!!” and comes to earth to satisfy this big meany. And the Holy Spirit is kind of this random guy who helps us do party tricks.
For nearly a decade, I went to a church where your “spirituality” was all about emotions. People standing up to say, “I felt God say to me…” or “I felt the Holy Spirit…” And it left me as a spiritual orphan because I didn’t get these great emotional reactions.
If you have spiritual gifts, such as tongues or prophetics, I’m not criticizing. What I am saying is that if your “gifts” are contrary to the Word of God, you are in error.
If I pray, “God, I really want to cheat on my wife with my hair dresser,” I am in error. Imagine the next day, my wife gets informed that she has to leave for work for a month. Should I take this as a sign from above that God approves? No. This IS NOT God giving me permission. God’s Word is sovereign over all. God’s Word says, “You shall not commit adultery.” It’s confirmed.
Now, we are called to love God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. So I must mention another part of the wholeness of God. That is that God is Just. As opposed to modern day’s perversion of justice in our courts and politics who show favouritism as they deem worthy, God does not. So, we too, must love justice.
Deuteronomy 16:19-20 says, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
Psalm 50:6 reads, “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.”
This, my friend, is very good news. God will not change his rules in the middle of the game. So if God told the Israelites in the desert not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to covet and not to steal then…
Than we are commanded not to do such things now.
As God is leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses warns them in Deuteronomy 9:4, “After the Lord your God has driven the people out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.”
So, we are seeing how God is calling on the people Israel, through the law, to be different than the other nations. And we are called to be different as well. Let us not be deceived by saying, “This doesn’t apply to us under the new covenant.” When tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus quoted law.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:143-16)
I’m sharing all of this with you because I want us to know God. I asked a men’s group a couple weeks ago that if we didn’t have God to answer our prayers, would we want him at all? What I meant was that, so often, we fill our prayers with petitions and supplications: “Lord, I need this job, this car, this house, strengthen my marriage, strengthen my friendship, health, wealth, happiness, etc.” But if we only had God as our righteousness and eternal life, for which we were created, would we want him at all? Sadly, I fear the answer for far too many is no.
I feel like this question went right over people’s heads. So let me tell you a story.
You know, my dad wasn’t around very much growing up. It’s wasn’t like he was an absent father, it’s just that he would leave for work early in the morning and get home from work after I was asleep. I would try to stay awake to see him, but I couldn’t.
We didn’t have a whole lot of “extra” things. One year, he bought my brother, sister and I suitcases. No vacation. Just used suitcases from a swap-meet in town. Now, albeit, the small green suitcase was perfect for taking my Super Nintendo to friends’ houses. But that was by chance, not design.
Do you think that my dad didn’t love me? Of course, he did. We always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our back.
This is what I meant. If God didn’t give you every whim and desire, would you still want him. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul…”
The fact is that we are imperfect, and we do sin. In God’s holiness, he cannot allow us in his presence as we are. God’s holy law demanded a sacrifice. However, the Israelites thought it was them making the sacrifice, when, in fact, it was God making the sacrifice. Ever since the Garden of Eden, it has been a holy and loving God making the sacrifice to cover our shame and forgiving us our sins.
Hebrews 1:3 reads, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
As we know, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins. His death on the cross satisfied the law, the justice of God. However, sadly, I fear that the grace shown to us on the cross has been used as a liberty to sin. My friends, until we know the true freedom from sin, we may never know the true beauty of God.
Jesus is the “Exact representation of his being.”
John 1:1 & 14 says that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
I’m trying to point out that God loves us. He always has loved us, always will love us but remember that God is also filled with justice. And he gave us law. Imagine if there were no speed limits on the side of the road, and everyday a police officer pulled you over for speeding. You would say, “This is unfair.”
First John 2:1 reads, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
First John 3:4 reads, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
Apostle Paul says in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.”
Jude 1:4 reads that there are “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
Remember that Jesus Christ brings us back to union with God the Father. Perhaps the greatest sermon of all time, The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5-7, covers the entirety of the law in 21 minutes. And, in John 17:3, while Jesus is praying says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
The Holy Spirit
Now, the Holy Spirit, I believe has been completely disrepected. A lot of people want and do express external gifts of the Spirit, which I’m not discrediting. What I want to discuss is what Jesus warned about false prophets in Matthew 7:15-16, he says, “By their fruits you will recognize them.”
In John 16:8-11 Jesus said, “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
Galatians 5:22-25 gives a further understanding of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galations 5:22-25)
Galatians 5:23 says, “Against such things there is no law.”
Do you see what Apostle Paul just did? He took us back to Moses in Deuteronomy. He is saying that there is no law telling us not to be loving, not to be joyful, not to be kind, to be good, gentle and so on. People love to say that they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but if you are purposefully living in sin, you are living in contradiction to the Spirit.
When King David was confronted by Nathan the prophet for sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband to hide his disgrace, he wrote Psalm 51. In verse 11, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” He recognizes that something was missing because he didn’t recognize his sin. He was missing the discernment of the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 14:17, it says, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”
I’m not trying to disregard any of the spiritual gifts that people have. I just want to encourage us to seek out the holiness of God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” They will testify to the great things they have done in the name of Jesus, but in the end, Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”
I encourage us to seek out God through His Word. Let’s not feel condemned because we lack a constant emotional reaction. Let’s pray for a filling of the Holy Spirit to give us knowledge to read the law.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak to my small group from church. I took the opportunity to share on the Wholeness of God. The Wholeness of God on how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three persons but are united as one. I will share the sermon in a future blog post, but I thought I could get your opinion now.
Growing up, the God of the Old Testament (the Father) was seen as this big judgemental meanie. But through scripture, I’ve seen beauty in the Law. While many may see it as legalistic, I see it as a beautiful love letter from a Father.
So, if you could do me a favour, fill out the survey below and tell me which Old Testament laws you agree with and which you don’t. I believe that even a lot of non-Christians will see things on God’s side.
Mark those that you agree with.
The Survey Says
If you took this survey, I thank you. I want to let you know that I didn’t share every law that God gave. Despite your religion or upbringing, I do believe that we can agree on a number of these.
God gave many laws. One list of laws was on proper sacrifices as people were known to sacrifice children to death through fire to appease their gods. These laws were called ceremonial laws. God also gave laws that we call “civil” laws. These are the laws on certain clothing and food, for that specific people.
God also gave us moral laws. These moral laws flow through every culture and people group. The Ten Commandments and varying laws that flow from that.
When I led the service on Sunday, I was trying to connect the goodness of God to the mercy of Jesus Christ. In fact, when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, you may not know, but he was preaching law. He said that if you think of a person lustfully, you’re guilty of sexual sins. And if you say that you hate someone, you’re guilty of murder.
In God’s infinite mercy, knowing that we all sin, he sent his Son. He sent Jesus Christ to die so that we can be reunited with the Father. So let no religious leader keep you from seeking after God.