February 28, 2022

Law, Love, and Desire for God

Romans 8:1-4

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

—  Deuteronomy 5:21

What do you desire? Surely some good things: a tasty, hearty meal; a satisfying, successful job; good times with friends, and so on. But maybe you also have some sinful desires: sex outside of marriage, vengeance on your enemies, wanting things that you can’t have because they belong to others.

Because we are sinners, we have many desires that are not good. This is why we need the law—to show us what is good and what is bad, or evil. But this is not the goal of the law. The final goal of the law is to lead us to Christ. While the law condemns those who break it, the law also directs sinners toward Christ.

Christ obeyed the law perfectly and thus fulfilled it. And because he gave up his life for ours, we can be credited with Christ’s righteousness, standing before God with a clean record for Jesus’ sake.

Our desire then is no longer just to obey the law but to love Christ. What we now desire is to have full life with him for­ever. We desire to be with Christ and to be like him. The end goal of the law is to direct our desires so that, by the power of the Spirit of God, we live by the love of God.

The sum of the law—love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength—directs our desires. And when we find the object of our greatest desire, we find peace with God.

Lord, thank you for your law. Use it to lead us to Jesus and your amazing life of love. Amen.

About the author — Kent Van Til

Kent Van Til was a missionary in Costa Rica. He taught theological ethics both there and in the USA. He is the author of four books. The most recent is a spiritual biography of his grandmother entitled, "A Name for Herself: A Dutch Immigrant's Story." Kent likes to fish, hunt, make music, and entertain his grandchildren.

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