Lou: Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and I will give you rest.” But then He talks about learning and obedience. Then He says, “My yoke is easy” (based on Matthew 11:28-30). Is this really easy? Is it really light (Matt 11:30)?
Graham: In comparison with the many rules and regulations the Pharisees had, many of which made no sense, it was very light. And yet Jesus said to them, “You have omitted the weightier matters in the law” (Matt 23:23). So in another sense, it’s heavy. Isn’t love weighty and heavy in its importance? So there is a sense in which obedience is not light.
I think what makes God’s commandments light is that they make such good sense. They call for our intelligent obedience, and when I obey something intelligently, I want to do it. It makes sense. It’s dumb not to. And when I want to do it, the burden is gone. The text in Matthew actually calls for complete commitment, but when I want to do it, the “burden” is light (Matt 11:28-30).
Lou: When we try to describe the kind of world we would like to live in, we end up describing the world God has created us for.
Lou: What is the truth? You’ve been talking about the truth that sets us free. Just remind us again, what is the truth?
Graham: In the legal model, the truth is “we’ve been forgiven and we won’t have to go to hell.” But I think the truth that sets us free is the truth about God, about the kind of person that He is.
Lou: Does forgiving a person set that person free?
Graham: There is a sense in which that’s true, but forgiveness by itself doesn‘t necessarily change the heart. Heaven will not be filled with forgiven crooks.
Lou: But we’re still crooks.
Graham: We’re still crooks. So unless the heart is changed, there will be no real freedom. This again brings up the difference between the legal model and the healing/trust model. Supposing you had to keep rat poison in your house, and you have a young son. And if he touches it and then eats it, he could be very sick, he might even die. So you say, “Son, don’t touch that rat poison. I’m going to put it on the highest shelf, the high and locked cupboard.” A little later you hear a crash in the garage and you run out, and there’s your son lying on the floor. He’s taken the rat poison and he’s dying. Would it do any good at that point to say, “Son, I forgive you, I forgive you!” He would die forgiven, but it wouldn’t keep him from dying. Nor would it do any good to say, “Son, I don’t want you to die, so let me drink the rat poison for you.” Then you would both die. The boy doesn’t need forgiveness. He needs an antidote. He needs healing.
Sin is like that poison. God has said, “You really don’t take Me seriously, do you? Sin is like a poison and will lead to your death. Let Me take the poison and show you.” Jesus dies, and we discover that the poison of sin is real. Nobody’s killing us. Sin is really a poison, and we are dying. And when we realize the truthfulness of God’s warning, we will take Him seriously from then on.
The beauty is that God was then able to take His life back and come out living. He had made His point. There was no legal requirement in that. There was an awesome truth to be revealed. There was nothing arbitrary about it. God does not want us to poison ourselves. We need healing. We need to heed the warning. “The result of sin is death, don’t do this thing.” That’s the healing model, not the legalistic model.