One of the statements made to describe our Saviour is that He was full of grace and truth (John 1:14b). In all His ways never did he sacrifice truth for love nor love for truth. This reminds us that for ourselves, we should always be seeking to follow His example and uphold these two principles of truth and love at the same time. Paul, in Romans 1-8, gives us something of the pattern for how love and truth should interact in order to produce a God glorifying outcome.
Romans 1:1-3:20; righteousness
In this passage Paul never once refers to the love of God. He is rather setting forth how the truth of God convicts all so that the whole world held accountable to God (3:19). He marshals his material so that all, whether Jew or Gentile, religious or non-religious, would know that they are bankrupt before God with nothing to pay to make themselves right before God. Sin is exposed and all are shown to have fallen short of the glory of God.
We should not be ashamed to call sin for what it is; an abomination before God. We do not do this according to our own likes and dislikes, but rather according to the standards of God’s Word. If God’s Word says that something, whether it be an action or an attitude, is wrong then we are responsible to name it as such ourselves.
In this respect it is so helpful to know the ten commandments as the great summary of God’s Holy requirements. We should all seek to learn them and be regularly checking our lives against them.
Of course, at a time like ours we are increasingly setting ourselves against the standards of society around by standing by the statutes of the word of God. But we are duty bound to do so.
Let us look at one critical area; that of sexual matters. Around us we have liberal anti-God do-as-you-please attitudes to sexual matters. Sex outside of marriage and homosexual activity are seen as modern, normal and acceptable. But God says differently. Adultery/fornication is wrong according to God. Homosexual acts are condemned in the scriptures. In standing on these principles we will very likely make ourselves unpopular, but we must take a stand if we are to please God.
Romans 3:21-5:21; forgiveness
However, we must also remember that after showing people their sin God goes on most wonderfully to show people that there is forgiveness; there is salvation with the LORD. God shows people their sin in order to show them how His Son paid the price for sin so that men might be brought back to Himself. In doing all this He never sacrificed His justice (see 3:21-26). This is God’s wonderful plan.
Part of the problem with the scribes and Pharisees in bringing the woman caught in adultery to the LORD (see John 8:1-12) was that they just wanted her to be condemned. Their theology did not include grace. Whereas for ourselves we should be different. We rightly see men and women standing condemned for their sinful behaviour. However, our desire should always be that they are driven to the salvation in Christ Jesus. Our desire should always be that forgiveness would be known, by all, in Jesus Christ our LORD
As people come among us they should know that our God has laws which is an offence to break. But they should also be aware that there is forgiveness for repentant law breakers. On the contrary, we must also guard against the danger of too lightly dealing with the issues of sin. Jeremiah speaks about healing sin too easily and saying “peace peace” they say when there is no peace (8:11).
Romans 6:1-8:34; sanctification
The woman caught in adultery in John 8 was sent away by our LORD with the command to go and sin no more (v12b). Paul picks up this theme when he answers the question about the possibility of continuing in sin that grace would abound with a resounding ‘by no means’ (6:2).
It is so important for us to know that God calls those who have been forgiven, to a life of righteousness. Those that have come to know the Righteous One should love righteousness. As those who have been born again into the family of God we should love to please our Father. Common courtesy demands that if someone has done good to us we should seek to please them. How much more should this apply with regard to our heavenly Father.
However, Romans 7 reminds us that we cannot live this life of righteousness in our own strength. Rather we need for the Holy Spirit to have freedom in our lives. It is only when the Spirit is having freedom in our lives that there can be a pleasing character to our lives.
Notwithstanding this, we should remember that many Christians still continue to battle against strong inclinations to sin. In such cases we should be swift to show much care and gentleness. To return to our earlier theme many Christians struggle to live up to the LORD’S standards in regard to sexual behaviour. In such cases we should be careful to be gentle in our handling of each other so that all can be helped to live a righteous life thorough the workings of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Let us then seek to hold the love and righteousness of God in proper balance. Remembering that His way is always the best.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2004)