Reading: [Luk 10:25-37 NASB] 25 And a lawyer stood up and put Jesus to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 And Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" 27 And he answered, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 28 And Jesus said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS, AND YOU WILL LIVE." 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 "And by chance, a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 "Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on [them;] and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 "On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' 36 "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' [hands?]" 37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
Message: We have a known rule in our house: listen and obey, right away! If you were to ask any of my daughters what "the rule" is their answer would be "listen and obey, right away." (most likely using their fingers)
But two fundamental truths need to be understood concerning our house rule. 1. Obedience is a way of life in our house. 2. It is grace-fueled obedience.
As Christians, we too must operate from these fundamental truths. Obedience is a way of life in the Kingdom, and that obedience is grace-fueled! Obedience is good, and if it's in light of grace, it doesn't conflict with grace.
My daughters operate from a knowledge (or at least I hope to instill in them) that my love for them is not contingent upon their obedience. I simply love them. In light of that love, in light of the relationship that we have, their obedience is appreciated and would then be a display of their love in return.
As Christians, we are expected to obey. Not only are we expected to, but praise be to God we're able to! As I've quoted so many times 2 Peter 1 tells us "we've been given everything we need pertaining to life and godliness." These are facts of scripture. The language of the Bible shows us that we are to BE and DO. For example, we are to BE holy as He is holy and also to DO good. (Making every effort as a matter of fact.) This was the very purpose for which God purified us.
So this is a both/and idea. Not either/or. The bible doesn't have a category for a fruitless vine.
No doubt the ultimate trump card for this doctrine of grace-fueled obedience is the life, death and resurrection and the teaching of Jesus Himself. The very instrument of our salvation (who was given by grace alone) commissioned His Church to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to OBEY all that He commanded. Grace comes through the cross. Obedience comes in light of it! We are to bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
So we must work from this assumption: Obedience is a way of life, and that obedience is grace-fueled obedience. This is undoubtedly why the Bible says, "In view of mercy, present your body as a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1) or "the grace of God appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness... in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12)
Now, something else to note here (and this may be confusing to some, but it's how my mind works so bear with me) something else to note is that the greatest command "love the Lord your God..." and it's counterpart "love your neighbor" are what we would call generalizations. They are overarching commands under which many particular actions exist.
Obedience in any form comes when we employ a particular action to a general command. In our relationships with God and people we have generalities and then particulars which are applied on a case by case basis. (This does require knowledge, discernment, the Holy Spirit.)
For example: When I say listen and obey right away I don't have to explain things like "listen to whom?" or "obey what?" nor do have to answer questions like "what do you mean by, right away?" Now I know the teenage years are coming, so pray for me.
My only point is to say that my daughters know that they are to listen to Sarah and me. They know to obey what's been asked of them, and, at least for now, they get that right away means right away. So continuing with my example, if I said: "clean your room." Listen and obey right away simply means go clean your room and do it in a timely fashion. Both listen and obey right away AND clean your room are general commands. I do not go into how I want them to clean the room, just that it gets done. But make no mistake over time they start to understand what is meant particularly by clean your room.
Both general and particular commands are needed. You need the generalization, but you also need to carry it out which is particular. Think Recipe to a cake, Love God via obeying, Love neighbor by showing mercy, etc.
Ok, so here's why all this matters.
In Luke 10 obedience is understood to be the glad assumption of God's people. What Jesus is working toward (the cross) will ultimately reveal this to be a grace-fueled obedience. For now, He's teaching this principle. The commands the lawyer rightly recites to Jesus (as pertaining to life) are general commands. They come from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 respectively. But in their context, there are some very particular ways in which they play out.
Now, Pastors usually teach the Good Samaritan from the perspective of how to be one. And in essence, I'm doing the same but the way I would describe it is how not to be a lawyer. (no offense to any actual lawyers)
The lawyer in Luke 10, no doubt, knows more than just the generalization he supports here. He's read the context of Deuteronomy 6 which shows that Loving the Lord (in general) is manifest (particularly) through obedience. Not just raw obedience again but always in view of God's delivering the people from the land of their captivity. (Grace)
This lawyer knew that loving God meant teaching your children and grandchildren the fear of the Lord, honorably possessing the land of promise and trusting the promises of prolonged days and abundant multiplication (not living in fear but instead by faith).
And when it comes to "loving God with all our heart" (even today), we should understand that grace-fueled obedience is our way of life. But we don't need to learn any "how-not-to's" from the lawyer concerning loving God.
Look at Luke 10 again. Concerning which command does the lawyer attempt to "justify himself"?
26 And Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" 27 And he answered, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 28 And Jesus said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS, AND YOU WILL LIVE." 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Something is wrong here.
This very same man who knows that obedience is a way of life. Seeks to justify himself concerning loving his neighbor?" This guy who had no problem with the general or the specifics of loving God, when it comes to people want's to get lost in generalities.
Who's my neighbor? Really? In his mind he's most likely thinking: Love my neighbor? Ok, I've never murdered the guy next door, so I suppose I'm doing my duty. The truth is, he want's Jesus to confirm that what he's already done is good enough. Well, pride comes before the fall.
Jesus tells him a little bible story. But more on that in a second.
This lawyer knows the context of Deuteronomy 6 right? (general and particular) And so, no doubt he also knows the context of Leviticus 19 which shows him that loving his neighbor means a great deal in particular.
[Lev 19:11-18 NASB] 11 'You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. 12 'You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 13 'You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob [him.] The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. 14 'You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. 15 'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 16 'You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 17 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
So Jesus tells him a little bible story. Maybe his particular issue had to do with showing mercy to those who were unlike him. Perhaps you struggle the same way?
As Christ's Church, or at least a part of it, obedience is a way of life. Grace fueled obedience is is our M/O. The general ideas that govern us are loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. This is particularly played out in obedience. The general idea to love our neighbor as ourselves plays out in particular by showing mercy to others even if they are different than us.
So, how can we not be a lawyer? By first remembering who you were. In the story of the good Samaritan, we all too often attempt to fill the wrong shoes. We're either the good Samaritan or the priest and Levite. But first and foremost we're neither! You and I are represented by the man bleeding and dying on the side of the road. Man-made religion represented by the priest and Levite has already found us wanting. And the only truly good Samaritan, Jesus the Christ Picked us up 2000 years ago on a Roman cross! You and I were found bleeding and dying on the road of life. Jesus picked us up, healed our wounds, and declared that He would cover whatever our cost for recovery.
We never have to be a self-justifying, rule twisting lawyer if we remember always we are saved by grace! Obedience is a way of life. Both in the general and particular aspects but our obedience is a grace-fueled obedience!