A Skeleton in Your Closet


God’s law is like a skeleton, which gives shape to the creature it supports. And like skeletons, you can “wear” it on your inside or outside, as John Denne explains.

Our bones are marvellous. Personal beauty and attractiveness is to a large extent dependent upon bone structure and proportion. Our bones comprise one-fifth of our weight. Bones are hollow, using a weight-saving principle it took millennia for humans to discover. But within this space is a red blood-cell factory that produces a trillion cells a day.

Like spineless jellyfish, minus our skeleton, we’d all be just blobs. The 206 individual bones that support our bodies do not restrict us. Rather, they allow us to live the life God gave us at Creation.

Something else God gave humankind very early on was His law, and it is just as essential to existence. Like our bones, good laws need to work in the differing circumstances. They must not be so many, so heavy or so restrictive that they weigh us down. However, those we have need to be strong or else society would have no shape. Good laws, like our skeletons, work to our advantage. Speed limits, no-right-turns and traffic lights may frustrate us, but overall they also benefit us.

We need law. In 1895 in Ohio, there were only two cars. And guess what? They crashed. Why? There were no laws to govern the behaviour of the drivers, on how to relate to each other in their new environment.
Then there are scientific laws governing the physical world, the constants we can depend on when we take an aircraft flight or a swim. In the commercial world, there are laws for weights and measures. These provide for fair transactions.

In our homes, we also need rules that help us demonstrate respect, love and protection. A child who has no rule for telling him when to be home at night will feel unwanted and unloved. Most couples have commitments of faithfulness. So whether written, verbal or unspoken, we have rules for our relationships. Such laws are the skeleton upon which our relationships hang.

Lady Margaret Thatcher once said, “History has taught us that freedom cannot long survive unless it is based on moral foundations.” We need a skeleton that defines morality—defining minimums of right and maximums of wrong. In life, that skeleton is law”.

What It’s For

By choosing not to keep social and family rules we show we don’t love and respect others. Distrust and suspicion result.

The Bible tells us that God gave us His law for our advantage. By observing them, even if poorly, we make life better for both ourselves and those with whom we interact. In adhering to them, we protect ourselves from pain (see Psalm 19:7-11; 119:11; Romans 7:7-14).

Those who treasure their relationship with Jesus will respect His laws for life. Jesus said if we love Him we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Doing what He says is best for us demonstrates our love of Him. And Paul wrote that those who live by faith uphold the law (Romans 3:31). He says that lawlessness is actually rebellion against God (2 Thessalonians 2). Jesus’ disciple, John, says that God’s people in the last days of earth’s history would keep and cherish His commandments (Revelation 12:17).

But for me, personally, no matter the depth of my realisation about the wonders and abilities of my bones, they never provide me with warmth and love. They’re still only a structure upon which the rest of me hangs.
For humankind, our skeleton is inside us, unlike the crab or crayfish. Just so with God’s law. It’s essential that God’s law be on our “inside” too—written on our hearts, so to speak—but visible on the outside as warmth, compassion, love, joy and peace (see Galatians 5:22, 23).

Sometimes people do attempt to wear the law as an “exoskeleton”—on the outside—but that’s damaging more often than not. Such people are often critical and self-righteous, in the fashion of the Pharisees of Christ’s day, who adhered to every law in its minute detail.

The exoskeleton of the crayfish does afford it protection, but it isn’t pretty. While valuing God’s law, we can’t rely upon it for our protection. For that you need Christ, the only person to have ever lived in pure obedience to it. It is Christ who saves us from our failures and the condemnation of the law (Romans 8:1). In fact, rather than wearing the exoskeleton of the law, the Bible says we’re to put on the “robe of righteousness” Christ offers to us (Isaiah 61:10).

According to the New Testament, the point of the law is to convict us of the wrong in our life and the need for Christ as our Saviour (Romans 7:7, 8).

It is only in Christ that there is safety (see Galatians 3:23, 24; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 1:9). Without God’s law, we’d never be aware of our need of Him (Romans 7:7).

So the law doesn’t protect us from God’s judgment. Rather, it condemns us, causing us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy. God’s law is covered with His grace, just as our bones need to be covered with flesh.
Our attitude toward the law should be that of King David, who wrote, “I delight to do your will, O my God, Your law is within” (Psalm 40:8).

Mini, Midi And Maxi

God reveals His laws in three levels of complexity, the first expressed in Jesus’ words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Jesus said that all of the Old Testament hung on these two commandments.

At the next level God gives laws for equitable and peaceful living—the Ten Commandments. These underpin the basic code of living in almost every law-abiding society. At their heart, however, they also are based on love to God and love to our fellow humanity.

The first four tell us how to show our respect toward and love for God; the last six, how to love and respect each other. They spell out the “how to” love. It is these laws that we are to uphold in perpetuity (Romans 3:31). These 10 laws reveal what we need to put right in our lives (Romans 7:7), and they’re the ones that bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Finally, there’s God’s “maxi” statement on the law, which Christ expressed in His so-called Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7). There He spells out in comprehensive detail His will for how we should live. But again, it’s expressed in terms of how to first love God and, second, humankind.

Universal Law

Sometimes God’s laws, as spelled out in the Bible, related to a specific time and place only, such as those governing transient Israel during the Exodus. But there are universal laws applying to all times and all places. We know what they are by their repetition, over thousands of years, throughout Scripture, from Genesis (1:26) to Revelation (12:17; 14:7, 12).

Like all of God’s laws, these deal with, first, how to love God, and, second, how to love others (see box).
These 10 simple and practical principles are the skeleton upon which hangs the good life. They work in every circumstance and across all cultures. There aren’t so many as to forget some. And they aren’t so heavy as to weigh us down. However, they are firm, thus providing society with a “shape” that makes life enjoyable and safe.

Breaking The Law

Almost everyone has broken a bone at some time. You’ll remember the pain and how disabling it is, even a small break in a small bone. The same is true of God’s laws. When we disregard or break one, it impairs our ability to function in general. The Bible says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).

God wants us to get the best out of life, and it is only when we accept all His laws for living that we can receive the benefit of observing any.

We Show Our Love For God By:

  • Placing Him on a pedestal abouve all else;
  • Not worshipping an image that represents Him;
  • Having respect for His name;
  • Keeing the sevent day sacred

We should our love for fellow humankind by:

  • Honouring our parents;
  • Preserving life, not murdering
  • Being faithful in marriage;
  • Respecting other’s property;
  • Being honest
  • Being content, not jealous, envious or grasping.
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