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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Love in Our Hearts MAY 12


By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 1 John 5:2.

Love and obedience are the key words in this verse. Love leads to obedience. Obedience is the test of one's love. Neither love nor obedience is to be isolated from the other. The gospel aims to increase the righteous love in our lives.

In considering this question of obedience, there are three possibilities. First, we can preach obedience to the law of God apart from Christ. We can transform the good news of Christ into the demands of a cold law. We can take our motivation from the law and become legalists. Second, we can preach the gospel without obedience. We can tone down the will and the law of God and settle for a sentimental softness that has neither discipline nor moral backbone. We mistake license for freedom. Third, we can show that the gospel and obedience to the law of God go hand in hand, that without obedience we make a farce of the gospel itself.

Many have a marked tendency toward legalism. Sin has separated us from God. God now confronts its with the revelation of His law. We can respond to the law in order to gain merit, to seek justification before God by doing the best we can to conform. But strict adherence to the law does not mean that we are legalists. A person who never misses a Sabbath school or a prayer meeting is not necessarily a legalist. Only when obedience is done to gain advantage or merit with God are we legalists.

Legalism has a deadly effect upon the human spirit. It involves us in a preoccupation with our own moral balance sheet. It amounts to a competition for virtue. The mask of virtue can provide the perfect disguise for the most unlovely motives. It often leads to seeking satisfaction through it personal advantage over someone else by means of religion. It lacks compassion. The Christian life is considered to be unswerving obedience to duty.

"While the claims of the law of God are to be presented to the world, we should never forget that love, the love of Christ, is the only power that can soften the heart and lead to obedience."—Evangelism, p. 57.

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