The Fine Line

The Fine Line

Question: How many laws are there in the Old Testament? Another Question: How many commandments are there in the New Testament? Think, think, think…you got your answers? Hold those, we will come back. Quite a few years ago, I heard a preacher say, “The Old Testament is law and works, but the New Testament is faith and grace.” How does that statement sit with you? Do you agree or disagree? Be careful, because your answer will reveal a lot about yourself. While you are thinking on these multiple questions, let me say this. No matter what spectrum of life people are in, what I hear coming from the culture of today is, “The way of the Lord is not just.”

Maybe you have heard this statement before. It can be found in Ezekiel 18:25, 29; 33:17, and 20. In the surrounding passages, God is telling the people that a son will not be punished for his father’s sin or vice versa, that if a wicked man turns to righteousness, he will live, but if a righteous person turns to wickedness none of his righteous deeds will be remembered. God is saying no more sour grapes and that He wants all to turn from wickedness and live. But the people’s response is, “The way of the Lord is not just.” As we look a little deeper, we see that the Hebrew says, “The way of the Lord is not weighed.” In other words, they were saying that if you put your righteous deeds and your wicked deeds on a scale, the one that weighed more won. God says it doesn’t work that way, it’s about relationship.

Back to the original questions…How many commandments or laws? I know, books have been written and lists compiled numbering them, but they don’t agree with each other. God numbered all kinds of things, in the English we even have a book called Numbers, but God never numbered the laws? Why? Because the moment you begin to number these, it becomes a merit and demerit system. And then it is about the scale…which weighs more, the merits or demerits. God never wanted this, He has always been about relationship. If you are faithful to a relationship, then it will be expressed through your actions.

We live in a culture today that thinks, “How much can I look like the world and still be righteous?” How much alcohol can I drink, how many cigarettes can I smoke, how many drugs can I do, how much fornication can I have, how many cuss words can I say, how much pornography can I look at, how long can I fool the people around me? You may think some of these things are petty, but they reveal a lot about who you are. I’ve even had people quote scripture to defend this kind of “freedom,” but I’ve seen the destructive nature that this has caused to others. Remember, just a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). As they have defended these “freedoms,” what they are really saying is, “The way of the Lord is not just.”

Where do you draw the line? How much is ever too much? What is the standard by which we must live, if the Bible does not fit the standard of your theology. Is the Old Testament archaic, outdated, and irrelevant? Let me quote Keith Johnson, a United Methodist Pastor, when asked the same question. He said, “Those people are Las Vegas Christians, gambling with their spiritual lives, and the church has become their casino.” I couldn’t agree more.

In 1 Chronicles 28:9 it says, if you abandon God, He will abandon or neglect you. But you must also understand that there is always the opportunity to repent. God says, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” (Zechariah 1:3, Malachi 3:6). From Genesis to Revelation, faith, grace, law, works, all run. Their purpose and function may differ from each other, but they all run in a straight clear line. It gets blurred when you get off that line and justify your reasoning. The question you now need to ask yourself is, “Who’s report do you believe?” No matter where you are in your journey, find your way of saying, “I believe the report of the Lord!” Until next time, continue your journey with joy!