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  • From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove

What does God say about obeying laws?

Is 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Is God telling us we will not be able to follow His ways unless we believe the advice He has given us in the Bible? Prov 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Without belief, will we think our way is better than His way? Ps 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Is He always willing to guide us to the better way? Does His Word do just that? 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

So, today’s question is; why is God asking us to obey all laws and how does it help us find the best path? 1 Pet 2:13-15, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” God is not forcing us to obey laws, He is just telling us which choices are the best choices available to us, but does this mean we are responsible for our bad choices? Gal 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Can we move toward God while we are disobeying laws, either His or those of the land we live in? Do our bad choices affect the quality of our lives in this world and will they act as stumbling blocks on the path to God, His righteousness and His kingdom? Would we even need prisons if everyone obeyed all laws? Would God have needed to create this world, if we all obeyed all laws? Are this world and this life here for us to learn about God, thus allowing us to choose between this life and an eternity with Him? Is this the choice He has given us, Deut 30:15, “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;”

Rom 13:12, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Does God’s truth shed light on all things? Is darkness not the absence of light? Can we bring darkness into a room and somehow reduce the amount of light, or truth, in the room? Or, is covering up the light, or truth, the only way to allow darkness into a room? Does this same principle apply to good and evil? Can the amount of goodness, in any situation, be measured by the proximity to God’s light, or truth, and evil by its absence? Evil is like cancer growing in the body of Christ, but God has offered every one of us His salvation, which ultimately will kill this cancer. He has offered, but each of us must choose to accept it, or not. 1 Pet 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” are we choosing to run toward the light, or away from it and into the darkness?

But, what if we do not agree with the law of the country we live in? God asks us to accept all of our countries laws, except those in conflict with God’s law. How then do we respond when there is a conflict? God gave us Daniel and Jesus as examples. They both held true to God’s word when there was a conflict, they peacefully demonstrated to shine God’s light on it, as did Gandhi and Mandella. Then, we are to peacefully accept the judgments for our resistance, whether that judgment is prison or death. Our sentencing and suffering will focus God’s light on the injustice of the ungodly law, 1 Jn 1:5-6, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” and those responsible will not be able to hide the darkness. Eventually, God’s laws will prevail, in this life or the next.

David Cabot’s review of the award-winning documentary film “SERVING LIFE” centers on Forest Whitaker’s observation, “It could be me.” Whitaker’s observation that he could have ended up in prison should be a wakeup call for all of us. The lines between prison, poverty and us, are small thin ones. Before we get too defensive, we must all remember that chance and circumstances have played huge roles in where we are in this life. After all, the place we were born, the people who surrounded us when we were growing up, the threats thrust upon us, and the opportunities available to us were determined before we were capable of making choices. Some of us have had very few good choices available to us. This is why God asks us not to judge others, He asks us to let Him do the judging, Matt 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” For, when we judge others, we show how blind we are to our own sins, Matt 7:4, “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?” He is telling us we should be working on removing the sins in our own lives, rather than those in our brother’s life.

I recently watched Ed Gordon’s 21-minute interview of the late Tupac Shakur from 1994, in which Tupac laments the life of growing up in the projects. He wants us to know those living in the projects hate and fear the criminal element as much as we do. His vision of the problem includes the fact that many people living outside the projects do not see a difference between the criminals and the innocents living in the same space. God tells us we need to treat everyone as if they are innocent, showing them the love He so freely offers to all, for any of us could have been born in the projects.

Until we drop our prejudices, break down the artificial lines we have drawn to separate ourselves and allow God to do the judging, we will not be able to see God for who He really is, a loving Father. None of us are innocent, Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” no matter how hard we try to project an image of innocence. However, we can stop pretending that we are innocent, humble ourselves enough to actually reason with God and discover the peace that will follow, Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Obeying all laws, His and those of the country we have chosen to live in, is part of the process that brings His peace into our lives; and His love is the key that unlocks the door to His peace, Rev 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

We cannot remove the guilt that keeps us from Him, while we are breaking laws. It is our remorse and the act of repentance, which removes the guilt; and allows us to fellowship with Him. Repentance is the key, and it is tied to our decision to follow all laws, at least to the best of our ability, and it frees us to love Him. This is when we feel His unconditional love, for this is when we understand that His love is not dependent on our past sins, or lack thereof, but rather on our willingness to repent, as John the Baptist urged in, Matt 3:1-2, In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Jesus confirmed in, Matt 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

It is our acknowledged recognition of our own sins, which begins the process of our walking away from sin and frees us to show mercy and love to all we meet, Matt 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Remember, He already told us we are all sinners. He calls us to repentance, for He knows this is the only way we can lay down the pride, Ps 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” that separates us from His truth, 2 Pet 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is His Word that fights with our conscience, which either frees us or sentences us to this life only, Rev 2:6, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

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