“Know the Law vs Know the Lord”

by Steven Chan
31 August 2008

Although many seem to know the Law of God or what the Lord wants them to do, yet many still fail to obey the Lord. Why is that the case?

Let’s start at the beginning. With regards to the first sin ever to be committed, the Bible tells us 1 Tim 2:14 that the “woman being deceived, fell into transgression”. She knew the commandment of God but was deceived into believing that it was alright to commit the act because the consequence of eating the forbidden fruit would not result in death but in fact would have beneficial effects on her.

The second time sin was committed because Cain’s works were evil while that of his brother was righteous: “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”(1 John 3:11, 12). That is the inspired interpretation. Those who seek to do evil will not obey the Law of the Lord. It is interesting to note that the so-called evil that Cain did was his inability or unwillingness to accept that God has preference as to what He would accept as worship. According to the account in Gen. 4:5-7, God “did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.”

In contrast with Cain, “by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain , through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts”( Heb 11:4). There is such a thing as a “more excellent sacrifice” – and not just ANY sacrifice that one brings to God. The Bible testifies that Abel was able to do that “by faith”. What faith was being referred to? “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Heb 11:3). How did that faith come about? “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(Rom 10:17). It appears that Cain failed to hear carefully the Word of God and offered something to God that was not what God wants.

In Gen 6:5-6, the Bible records that “then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Only Noah was different from the others: “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Gen 6:9). The relationship between Noah and God was best described in Gen 6:22: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” In contrast with the people of his days, Noah chose to walk with God – that’s why he kept the commandments of the Lord.

Everyone has to make a choice as regards who God is. In 1 Kings 18:21 “Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” Do we acknowledge that the Lord is God? If we do, then we will choose to walk with Him and we will follow Him. Unfortunately, many still respond like the people in the days of Elijah: “they answered him not a word!”. There is a deafening silence among the people of God (just like the Israelites of the days of Elijah) who congregate during our assemblies when the plea is made: “if the Lord is God, follow Him”. Just as in the days of Elijah, God has given us ample proofs as stated by Luke in Acts 1:3: “to whom (i.e. the apostles) He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs , being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Just like in the case of Elijah, Jesus has been “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”(John 20:30-31)

There should be no doubt that Jesus is the Son of God. God has given “infallible proofs” of His resurrection. And yet, many remain silent and seemingly unwilling to follow Him.

Could it be because many do not “FEAR” the Lord? In Rom 11:22 we are exhorted to “consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity ; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.” Paul said: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord , we persuade men;” (2 Cor 5:9-11). Paul declares that he follows the Lord because he knows that on Judgement Day, each one will need to give an account of his life –and that would be a terrifying prospect! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:31). On Judgement Day, “and anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15). We should be concerned as to whether our names are in the book of life.

Unfortunately, for many, there is no fear for the Lord. The Psalmist says in Psa. 111:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” The wisest man who ever lived concluded his discussion on the meaning of life with this exhortation: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl 12:13-14)

In Ps 36:1-4, the Bible notes of those who do evil that “there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes…the words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; … He devises wickedness on his bed” According to Psa. 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt. They have done abominable works. There is none who does good.” Perhaps many have chosen to ignore God because we do not see Him. But when we see Him again, it may be too late: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Rev 1:7).

In addition to the FEAR of the Lord, we ought also to follow Him because of His LOVE for us. Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” And according to 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Before men will keep the commandments of the Lord, they need to KNOW the Lord and – to know Him would mean to FEAR or RESPECT and LOVE Him – and that in turn would motivate to us to FOLLOW him and to KEEP His commandments. So, as we teach men the way of God, we should be ever mindful to teach them to first KNOW the Lord and to FEAR the Lord. People who do not fear the Lord will not be motivated to keep the commandments of God regardless of how many times we may teach them or how clear are those commandments.

My daughter explained to me that the schools have been teaching classes on so-called “moral” but the students do not bother to keep those moral lessons because they are not really taught why they need to keep those morals! They just learn the lessons so that they can pass their examinations. Many of our Bible classes are perhaps just like that. We teach the Will of God but many are not motivated to want to DO the Will of God. Perhaps we need to put more efforts into that aspect in our teachings. When Potiphar’s wife seduced Joseph, he replied her: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9). The respect, fear for God and his desire to do the things that would please Him, stopped him from veering from the path of righteousness. We need to have the same motivation. Do we know the Lord? Many of us know the Law but that would not be enough to prevent us from sinning against God.