I love black and white. I love instructions and guidelines. If I can follow something step by step, I know I can accomplish it.
As the Israelites were preparing to take over the Promised Land, they needed black and white as well. And God took care of that. Through Moses, the Lord laid down a series of laws for the governance of his people. If they followed those rules and regulations, they would prosper.
But when I look at passages like Deuteronomy 6, I realize that, even then, following the law was not about earning righteousness. Take a look with me.
When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us. Deuteronomy 6:20-25
As I reread the story of the birth of God’s chosen nation, I realize that even the original law was not instituted as a means to righteousness. Sacrifices were not instituted to wipe away sin. Instead, everything laid out for the Israelites through Moses was about reflecting God’s glory and God’s righteousness.
When we were freed from the law through the sacrifice of Christ, the method of living changed, but the purpose of our actions did not. Our purpose remains the same as theirs, even after so many centuries. We are called to bring glory to God through every action.
When my children ask me why we should follow certain rules, it’s so easy to look at them and say, “Because that is what the Bible says we should do.” But, “I told you so!” is never enough. That simply enforces the idea that we obey rules and regulations to gain righteousness and please God. It makes it all about us and our right standing before Him.
We forget is that it’s not at all about us. It has nothing to do with our standing before God. Instead, it has everything to do with Him!
As my oldest approaches her teen years and begins to ask why she shouldn’t do the things some of her peers are doing, my response should be based on the principles of Deuteronomy 6 – it should point to God Himself! “You are made in the image of God! He has done great things in and through you. When you choose to walk away from drinking, flaunting your body, and indulging in fleshly desires, you reveal His glory within you. Let your actions glorify Him so that His righteousness will shine through you!”
Oh, family of God, may we do all we do today for His glory and no other reason!