• Dana L. Butler

On Love and Law and Obedience and Intimacy

Thoughts on Romans 12 – 13:

In Romans 12…In all of the seemingly impossible things God asks of us, He sets us up to realize our depravity apart from Him… our complete inability to measure up outside of Him…. the necessity that we LEAN into Him in order to do what He asks.

All of these things He commands flow out of His desire for our hearts.  Our trust, our awareness of our need for Him…our LEANING/dependence.  Leaning leads to intimacy.  In all of it, He is after our friendship, our trust, intimate communion with our hearts.

In Romans 13… Love is the fulfillment of the law.  Loving God and others well means we obey the law (don’t kill, steal, no idols, etc).  This is how Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  He IS perfect love…and it’s only in Him that we can love well.

Apart from leaning into Him the law is merely a hollow set of unfulfilled commands, expectations that will always go unmet.  It brings nothing but death.  But IN HIM it is life because Love fulfills and keeps us aware of our need, keeps us leaning, keeps real “loving well” in our sights.

His heart in giving commands is to hem us in on every side by the knowledge of our inability to do right apart from Him…to keep us aware of our need to lean…not to rub our sinfulness and weakness in our face, cold and cruel…but to gently, tenderly pull us in close to His heart, to cultivate intimate communion as we throw ourselves on His mercy, that our hearts will come fully alive…. and that our obedience will come out of a place of His intimate empowering of our hearts…and not out of our own strength.

This is why Jesus said, “if you love me, you’ll obey my commands.”  Intimacy produces God-empowered obedience.  LOVE-empowered obedience.

Lack of intimacy produces self-empowered attempts to obey, motivated by fear… but we will inevitably come to the end of ourselves and fail horribly.  He sets it up that way because He is after the leaning-in of our hearts to Him.

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