Keeping the Law Out of Pleasure

the law of loveFor years I, like many of us, have struggled with obeying the law of God. We have fruitlessly struggled to do our part in becoming righteous. And we have had the strongest incentives: the reward of eternal life and the threat of hell.

The Lie of Reward and Punishment

Yet if reward and punishment are our incentives, then obeying the law is still all about us. This system is no different than the indulgences sold by the papacy. Only the currency has changed from money to our behavioral compliance to the letter of the law so that we can get what we want.

What Satan couldn’t understand however is that God’s law needs no system of arbitrary punishment to defend it. Rebellion needs no censure. Sure punishment and destruction were contained within Satan’s own violent system of law because God’s moral laws contain intrinsic consequences just like His natural laws. What happens when you break the law of gravity or respiration?

Keeping the Law Out of Pleasure

The problem is that the law does not merely require perfect obedience, but rather it requires perfect love. It requires not just compliance to the act, but to the impulse (motives) too. So this cannot be about our struggle to keep the law (the 10 commandments), because we can’t. This is about the faith of Jesus: when we put our trust in Him, He gives us His faith—a bit of magic that God does within us to change our hearts from the “bottom” so that we naturally keep the law of love out of pleasure. This is the only mechanism by which sin can actually be dealt with. With the faith of Jesus, pleasure and purity are synonymous.

The Magic of Love

The good news, then, is that God’s salvation has nothing to do with reward and punishment. God is working on the principle of attraction not compulsion. The 10 commandments are not God throwing down the gauntlet of a moral challenge, saying, “get ‘er done!” We can no longer interpret the law as a moral challenge in order to be saved. Instead, it’s God making promises in Christ so that those who connect up with Jesus experience the law on a whole new level, a magical place where He changes us “just for love.”

The End of the Law

This means the end of the law as a way to salvation. This is because Christ is the grand, glorious end to which the law was pointing to all along. The law is not about what but about Who. Until we get this, we don’t even get the law. Said another way, believers don’t work toward salvation but from it. Good works are not a condition but a consequence. They work from salvation, not to salvation.

Just For Love

For the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel, a revealing through which God’s faithfulness creates faithfulness in us. As it is written, the righteous shall live by God’s faithfulness—the faith of Jesus.

“It is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

We couldn’t even choose (or will) to do His good pleasure before He worked in us by demonstrating His love toward us (Romans 5:8). Now, because He has taken the initiative, we have a choice before us: to respond to His love or not.

If we respond to His love—humbly looking to Jesus with a willingness to listen—then He will work His magic in us, creating in us the life and love that we could never produce in ourselves. This love affair with Jesus infuses us with His faith and magically transforms us, enabling us to keep His law purely out of pleasure instead of an obsessive struggle.