by Mike Ratliff
14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:14-16 NASB)
Even as we exercise discernment, withstand wolves in sheep’s clothing, false professors, false teachers, apostates, and even those who would slander us for standing firm in our obedience in these things we are not to respond to them the way the world does. I listened to a sound clip from Chris Matthews’ show the other day in which he used his usual ambush tactics in having a Christian leader there who had gone on record saying that his children were not going to be homosexuals because of the way he and his wife were raising them. Matthews had Barney Frank on the show who is a homosexual and “gay rights” advocate as well as a legislator from Massachusetts. Both he and Matthews jumped all over this man for daring to state that children are not born with a certain sexual orientation, but instead, it is something that is a learned behavior that is exacerbated as the sin nature takes over. Of course, this really set them off. They even kept replaying his words trying to get him confused and, of course, to court outrage in the listening audience. What was this man’s response? He remained calm in demeanor. He never lashed out. He never went on the offensive. He simply remained Christlike in telling the truth and never backing down, but also, never allowed these men to cause him to lose his cool. I’m not so sure I could have handled it that well.
12 “In everything, therefore, that you want people to do for you, thus also you do for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
This is, of course, the ‘Golden Rule.’ It is usually expressed as, “Do unto others as you have them do unto you.” The NASB translates this as, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same you want them to treat you, for this the Law and the Prophets.” The emphasis for us here is that the Law and Prophets is summed up in this statement, that is, this one imperative aptly summarizes the whole gist of the ethical principles contained in the Law and the Prophets. That certainly puts a different spin on the Law doesn’t it? Don’t most people consider the Law to be something that is burdensome and if we emphasize it too much then we become legalistic, et cetera. However, have you ever read Psalm 119? The Psalmist proclaims all through that Psalm how he loves God’s Law and how meditating on it makes him long for the Lord’s salvation. It brings praise to his lips.
The Law and the Gospel are not the same. The Gospel is not a new Law either. The Law is unchanging and even though our Lord kept it perfectly, we are still bound to obey the moral and ethical portions of it. Can we keep it perfectly? I can’t. I am not perfect, but my Lord kept it and at my Justification, his perfect Righteousness and his perfect keeping of the Law were both imputed to my account. If you are in Christ then this is true for you as well. We do not have to work our way to God by being perfect because Christ did that for us, but we are called to be work out our salvation with fear and trembling in our sanctification, which is having our minds transformed so that we take on the mind of Christ in the time between our Justification and our Glorification, the already and the not yet.
In this time of learning to be living sacrifices, we will be placed in fiery trials in which it will be difficult to obey Matthew 7:12, very difficult. That is, it will be impossible for those who are not truly abiding in Christ and learning to walk in the Spirit, taking up their own cross and following Jesus. If we are self-centered, selfish, all about the temporal, me, myself, and I then forget it, we are fleshly, immature, and full of pride.
Humility is the key and it is something we cannot do ourselves. God must humble us and this takes us in the already, but not yet period putting ourselves second and everyone else ahead. It is making Matthew 7:12 living and active and it is something that we cannot do in our own abilities.
Therefore, let us dedicate ourselves to prayer, Bible study, and walking in repentance in the power of the Holy Spirit as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. In this we will not be conformed to this world but will be transformed through the renewing of our minds and through this will discern what is the will of God, that which is good, and acceptable, and perfect.
Soli Deo Gloria!