Lou: Related to the previous chapter on the emergency measures, a questioner writes, “I was disappointed that you used Galatians 3:19-25 as referring to the Ten Commandments, whereas I think Paul was concerned about the doctrine of circumcision. The entire book of Galatians was an endeavor to change the church’s view of the ‘ceremonial’ law. See Acts 15 and so on. Isn’t it true that the sacrificial system is the added law? Doesn’t Colossians 2:14-16 talk about a law that was to be blotted out?”
Graham: One could readily come to that conclusion, but I think one would pay a price in taking that view and not including all law. One might be tempted to say that a legalist is a person who still follows the ceremonial laws, as the Pharisees did. “There’s no way you could be legalistic about the Ten Commandments.” Yet the most damaging legalism over the centuries has been with respect to the Ten. Certainly the most damaging legalism has been with respect to the fourth of the Ten Commandments. So I believe Paul’s point is about all law. All law was an emergency measure to bring us back to faith and a right relationship with God. That’s the point. So if you leave out the Ten in Galatians 3, you are suggesting that there is no way you can be legalistic about the Ten Commandments.
Lou: A few more questions. “If the universe was satisfied when Christ died, then why are we still here?”
Graham: Ah, that’s a great question. We will answer that in detail in Chapter Eighteen. “What is God Waiting For?” is a question we ought to keep in mind throughout these conversations. Why did He wait so long to send His Son? Why is He waiting so long to send Him back the second time?
Lou: Here’s an intriguing question: “Would we lose our freedom if God always rewarded the righteous? If righteousness always paid off, why rebel?”
Graham: That might explain why God does what He does sometimes, as with Job in Scripture. It’s true. If every time I did what was right God rewarded me, that would be quite a motivation, wouldn’t it? Then I would do what I do because God has told me to, and He has the power to reward and destroy, as in the first of the three reasons for obedience we talked about earlier in the chapter. That would produce a certain kind of obedience. But isn’t it far more impressive if, like Job, we’re not rewarded right away and we love God anyway? God’s friend Job was able to say, “Though God slay me, yet will I trust Him” (based on Job 13:15).
Lou: That reminds me of the third type of obedience you talked about earlier. If God commands me to do something beyond my present understanding, I can trust Him even when it appears that righteousness is not rewarded.
Two questions: “What is the difference between killing and murdering? Is it because it damages yourself when you hate your brother?” And another person says, “I am confused. `Thou shalt not kill’ is a commandment, and yet God told His people to kill.” Can you touch on these very quickly?
Graham: In both Hebrew and Greek the sixth commandment speaks of murder. “Thou shalt not murder.” Many modern versions are so translated. What’s so bad about murdering is what happens inside. As Jesus said, “He who hates his brother has already done the damage. He is a murderer” (based on Matthew 5:21-24). On the other hand, God has never said, “Go and murder people.” He did instruct His people to kill in battle. But He didn‘t want them to. It‘s very clear. He said, “Let My angel do it. Let Me put My children to sleep.“ He never wanted them to kill at all (see Exod 23:23-30). That too was an emergency measure. But at the end of the millennium God doesn’t violate that law either. Do you think He hates His children as they die? Of course not. He doesn’t even kill them. He watches them die and He cries. God has never violated His Ten Commandments. Never.
Lou: Our next chapter in this series of conversations will be number thirteen, “How God
Treats His Erring Children.”
Graham: For me, that topic is the most convincing evidence of all that God is not arbitrary, exacting, vengeful and severe, and it is evidence in demonstration, not in words. It is about how He treats us when we sin.
The “Why” of Obedience:
(1) Because God told me so and He has the power to reward or destroy.
(2) Because God told me so and I love Him and want to please Him.
(3) Because experience has shown what God wants is the right and sensible thing to do. I
want to do it even when I don’t fully understand.