A New Heart; Not A New Law

Recently, Amy had a conversation with a lady who is a member of a different denomination. Since Amy wasn't familiar with the denomination, she asked the lady what they believed. And the lady responded by saying: "We don't believe in smoking or drinking." Although I assume that the lady's beliefs are more extensive than those seven words, I am deeply saddened by this her response for the following reason: instead of focusing on the saving work of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, she focused on "managable," external issues. I cannot help but to think of Christ's words to the scribes and Pharisees: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean" (Matthew 23:25-26)(ESV). Although we can try to conform to certain external regulations (not smoking, etc), this cannot change the fact that man's heart is still filled with evil. The testimony of scripture is clear: we are dead in sin, and we can do nothing to save ourselves. Romans 3:20, 23 states "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Only God can make us right in his sight and give us new life. We do not need a new law; rather, we need a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26,27 declares: "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." Only God can do this work within us!

Even for those of us who have trusted in Christ alone for on our own salvation, we must rely on God's grace on a daily basis...not our own accomplishments. We must never begin to think that we are pleasing God just because we follow external regulations. God calls for us to love him with our whole selves: heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29) One of Derek Webb's new songs, "A New Law," relates well to this discussion. I especially like the line that states, "what's the use in trading a law you can never keep, for one you can that will not give you anything." In case you have never heard the song, I've placed the lyrics below. (Also, you can listen to it for free here.)

"A New Law"

(vs. 1)
don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for

don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

(vs. 2)
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

don’t teach me about loving my enemies

don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law


what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid


LiuMai said...

One gift of God that I've been thankful for over the years is our friendship and how it has helped mold me. It always seems that our Father teaches us many of the same lessons at the same time, and I've always got a friend to discuss it with. You've been a true brother to me...I can't wait until I get home and get to see the family, and even if just by phone, continue our discussions which have sharpened me over the years. I miss you, bro. See you soon.

Emily said...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately too. So many people at USC think being a Christian means abstaining from alcohol. This reminds me of other lyrics from Derek Webb's "Rich Young Ruler"..."we speak the language and we keep all the rules,
even a few we made up."

I loved seeing the pictures you posted. I'll try to give you and Amy a call sometime this weekafter my three tests are over!

Eric said...

I am so tired of hearing people rant and rave about the "evils of alcohol. Granted, alcohol can be abused (and the bible clearly speaks against such abuse), but that doesn't mean that alcohol is the problem...we are. Any of God's good gifts, whether it be sex, alcohol or whatever, can be misused. But why single out alchohol. There are so many more issues that we should address like lust, pride, envy, and so on. Maybe we should concentrate more on ourselves--getting the log out of our own eyes--and less time trying to make ourselves feel good by making up unbiblical strandards to judge others by.

Eric said...

Oh yeah...can't wait to hear from you. Amy and I were wondering how things have been for you lately. Please call us soon. Email me if you need my cell or home number because both are new.

Rita said...

Eric. That's why I go to church. To learn how to look like and act like a better Christian ... Isn't that all there is to church