Don't always err on the side of grace

It seems that, too often in our application of Scripture, we try to achieve the most "beneficial" application rather than the most straightforward.  We think about the person involved ("me" or "you," for instance) and try to couch biblical imperatives in softer terminology.  In other words, we like to blunt the hard edges of the Bible so as not to offend our sensibilities.

It's not that this methodology is always entirely without cause.  Obviously, we should seek to read Scripture through the lens of love.  To be clear, "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself' " (Gal 5:14).  It would be myopic to read a command in Scripture without understanding that the law somehow comes back to me loving others instead of myself.

Even so, when a clear command in Scripture seems unloving or unkind or unfair, my conscience is misinformed.  It doesn't matter what the command feels like.  God commanded it, so it is a good command.

So the law is holy,
and the commandment
is holy
and righteous
and good
(Rm 7:12).

When Scripture calls us to repent of a certain sin, our inclination is find a soft application. For instance, Scripture commands us to not commit adultery, and we commit to never engaging in the physical act.  We'll just imagine it instead.  Then Jesus comes and says that is not enough: We must never even lust for a woman to keep the command (Mt 5:27–28).

There are a number of reasons why the seventh commandment forces me to love my neighbor goes well beyond engaging in a physical act.  It protects a potentially fellow sister in the faith (in the very least, a fellow image-bearer) by not tempting her to sin.  It reaffirms my love and commitment to my wife.   It reshapes how I look at others, protecting my own chastity and forcing me to view others as God sees them.  As a result, it affects my demeanor, behavior, and speech toward others.

There are righteous and holy implications of the commands of Scripture that make it more important to obey.  Consider the fact that God calls wives to submit to husbands in Ephesians 5:22–24.  The command is followed with the command for husbands: "love your wives" (v. 25), and love them "as Christ loved the church."  Husbands should in no way tempt their wives to be un-submissive with unloving, unchristian behavior.

Children are likewise told to "obey your parents in the Lord" (6:1).  Paul obviously echoes the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and mother" (v. 2).  Yet, we then turn to parents; "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (v. 4).  The implication is that mothers and fathers should do nothing to tempt their sons and daughters to dishonor them.

Still, we must obey regardless of how others tempt us, how "fair" the situation seems.  When I tell my youngest daughters to clean their room, they will sometimes wait and look at each other to ensure the other moves.  Obedience isn't based on what others do---we must do what God commands even if no one else will... and even if someone else interprets the commandment differently.

God has many clear commands on a range of topics---some personal, some for the corporate body.  By His help, we can all obey these commands.  But we must not sand them down before use.  They're ready to be obeyed, as is, and they make the best determination for our churches and our lives.

So, when you come across a difficult command in Scripture, don't simply "err on the side of grace" by somehow disregarding the command.  Don't change the command of Scripture to be more suitable for your context.  Don't allow your emotions and sensibilities lead you to cushion the weight and sharpness of it.  And most certainly, don't allow your sin to re-write it.

The end of that kind of thinking is "nomicophobia," also known as antinomianism

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