So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. -- Matthew 5: 19 (NLT)
There is much confusion in the body of Christ these days. Either because people have been hurt in their church experiences or because we are always looking for loopholes to excuse our pitiful sin condition, Scripture is often used to justify the very things God stands against. The Bible is very clear and for the most part very simple. The problem is that sometimes we simply do not like what it says. So we try to find ways around it either through human logic and well reasoned arguments or through bending Scripture until we think it looks the way we want it instead of the way God intended it. The Bible is inerrant and infallible. It is what we base our lives on. Scripture should never be dismissed. It never contradicts itself. You should never be able to look at one Scripture and with that in hand use it to dismiss another Scripture as somehow not being applicable.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. -- 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (NLT)
ALL Scripture! Not some verses. Not a verse here and a verse there -- just the ones that I can use. Look, I think sometimes we do things backwards. The inspired Word of God is meant to show us what is wrong in our life as the above verse says. I think what we do sometimes is we have a preset idea that we like, for example -- God is love. We then take that idea and we Scripture hunt for support of our preset idea. We find support and use it to dismiss the portions of Scripture that might disagree with our pre set idea. Of course God is love but that is only one of His attributes. God is also wrath and judgment but we don't like talking about that too much.
There is a move in this country towards a feel-good Gospel. It teaches things we want to hear instead of things we do not. It is at best an imbalanced Gospel and at worst it is rank heresy. It will over-emphasize the love of God at the expense of the fear of God. Usually the verses used are found in Galatians:
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I'll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace. -- Galatians 5: 1-4 (NLT)
The first rule of Bible interpretation is always context. Paul is writing to the Church at Galatia who was being influenced to consider the Law of Moses in addition to the grace of God through Christ Jesus. Clearly Paul is speaking about how they were justifying themselves. But those who believe that we are past the age of law will say that this renders all of the fear of God Scriptures somehow irrelevant. Not one dot above an "I" in the Word of God will ever be rendered irrelevant in this lifetime:
"Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. -- Matthew 5: 17-18 (NLT)
Too many are misunderstanding in these the end days. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross dealt with our sin issue before God -- it did not change who God is. Do we honestly believe that God contradicted Himself? That He changed His mind even though His Word says that He does not change His mind? Is it OK now because of grace to murder and commit adultery? Of course not:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? -- Romans 6: 1-2 (NLT)
I have heard the defense that Galatians verse says we are not to be entangled with slavery again. That is only half right. We were slaves to the law when we were unsaved and in the world. We were slaves to it without even knowing. What made us slaves was that on judgment day, that was what was going to be used to condemn us. Once we accept Christ and have a true relationship with Him, we are no longer slaves to the law because now we will be judged according to the blood Jesus shed at Calvary -- when He took our sins away. But that does not mean I am no longer a slave, just that I am no longer a slave to the law. But again, what does the Bible teach us:
Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. -- Romans 6: 15-18 (NLT)
So when we were in the world we obeyed sin and now that we are saved we are supposed to"obey God. It is God who wants us to be slaves to righteousness. It seems some of the confusion is over the relationship of the fear of the Lord to salvation. The logic usually says that because I am saved, why would I fear God? I know I am going to heaven and I should not have to walk in condemnation when I am saved. The logic is flawed because it incorrectly assumes that the fear of heaven and hell is the only reason why we should ever fear the Lord. While our eternal destination is an important example of why we should fear God it is not the only example. We could fear the Lord and His chastening:
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, "My child, don't make light of the Lord 's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child." -- Hebrews 12: 5-6 (NLT)
Somehow we got the love of God even confused. We secularize that love. We turn it into something like we see on a Hallmark commercial. I saw a preacher yesterday correctly state that the most terrifying fact in the Bible is that God is love -- why? Because we are so bad; what is He supposed to do with us? If God did not chasten and rebuke us then we might never learn. We might never change our patterns. We might never mature. How in the world would that be love? It is because God loves us that He chastens us. It is because God is just that He must not tolerate our sin.
Another good reason to have a healthy fear of the Lords is that He is so holy and we are so not. It is not that we are cowering in fear of a lightning bolt but rather that we are absolutely terrified of forgetting who He is! Why? Because it is when we forget the fear of the Lord that sin creeps into our life. It is when we think we do not have to fear the Lord that we can more easily fall from the grace God has bestowed upon us. When David saw Bathsheba bathing he had lost the fear of the Lord. Because if he had it, he would have been deathly afraid of committing adultery and murder. In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira did not fear the Lord when they lied to the Apostles about how much money they got for a sale of a piece of property. It isn't just about the fear of heaven and hell. Disobedience to God has its consequences in this world too. David lost his kingdom and three sons would die as a result of his fearlessness. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit.