For example, a husband isn't just to not commit adultery, but he is also not to lust after a woman in his heart. And we are not just to simply refrain from murder, but also to keep our hearts from being angry at our brother.
God sees our hearts.
As I join women in small groups and we study the Word of God, I have noticed that we all tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum when it comes to our hearts and our application of truth and God's commands.
I illustrate the spectrum this way:
Lawlessness - - - - - - Loophole - - - - - - LOVE - - - - - - ineLigible- - - - - - Legalism
A. Lawlessness: Relationship without rules. I say He is my friend and Savior, but there are no rules or boundaries in our "relationship". This could be the man who marries, but refuses to wear a wedding band or keep his marriage vows. Yes, he is married, but there is no evidence of the covenant he made with his bride. This is where license is given to go on sinning after we've learned the truth about the cross, in the name of "freedom in Christ".
B. Loophole: 99% commitment to relationship paired with following rules with fine print. (By the way, 99% committed = 100% UNcommitted.) This is the person who reads God's will (what God WANTS) in His Word, says "I see what He WANTS me to do, but it doesn't say 'thou shalt not (insert what she wants instead here)'." Using the example of sexual purity, like in this post, we teach our children to abstain from sex before marriage, but He doesn't say they can't be nude under the covers together. The heart is asking, "How close to the 'line' can I get without crossing over?" This person has not fully surrendered to the will (the want) of God for her life. She still wants what she wants above what God wants, and maybe even uses Scripture to justify her choices.
C. Love: This has a foundation of understanding that I am undeserving of salvation, but that it is a free gift from God because of His grace. The understanding of just what He did on the cross, brings about repentance, and spawns a relationship. This is the person who knows and acknowledges that she was saved (while yet a sinner) by God's grace alone, through her faith alone (and not by her works), and she has a heart that is laying down her own wants for whatever God wants for her. She is fully surrendered to Him. Her heart is aligned with His heart, she wants to do what He wants, and she does it. Her motive is love for Him and for all others.
D. ineLigible: Really close to legalism. This person does not try to earn salvation by following rules of law, but tries to be the person who deserves salvation. This person typically has lived a life so far from God's ways that she doesn't ever feel worthy of the sacrifice on the cross, so she tries to, in a way, "make up for" her past by doing what is right. She does not trust herself, nor does she trust Christ's power in her, to live as God wants--so she adopts a set of rules, often taught by another person and not Spirit-led, and follows the rules "to a 'T'" so as to live holy. She does not see herself as holy because of what Jesus did, but by what she does or does not do from this point forward. THIS is a falling from grace, a lack of faith in the sufficiency of the cross, and a house built on sand.
E. Legalism: Rules only. No relationship. This person obeys every rule, because it is a rule, for the sake of obeying rules. Checklist, checklist, checklist. (I've been here before myself, so I recognize it quickly.)
While I cannot tell you where you fall on the spectrum, chances are that you see your position. Where do you find yourself? And what do you do when you find yourself anywhere but in the middle of the spectrum?
My best, and only, piece of advice is to read the Word! It was in the Bible that I finally "got" what Jesus did for me, why the Lord sent Him to die in that way. And it was His Word that gave me the purest form of the truth about His grace and my response to the gift of salvation. The way to find yourself back to the response of faith to the gospel, which leads to obedience, is to go to the truth.
The truth about God, sin, Jesus, and salvation will align poor motives and poor responses, and will bring forth a heart after God's own heart!
Here is just ONE book recommendation for seeking out some truth on those topics: Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (affiliate link):
I really want to hear from you on this! If I can help you find truth to draw you closer to God and His heart, I'm here! Tell me in the comments where you see yourself on the above spectrum!
This post contains an affiliate link. Thank you for shopping through my links and supporting this blog and my family!