I had a friend a several years ago that was very new in her Christian walk. She was so hungry to learn more. She was very intelligent and loved to read so when she would ask me what the bible said about something, often instead of just telling her, I would first give her scriptures references. Then after she had read them we would talk about it. I remember one time after giving her a couple groups of scriptures 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Colossians 3:8-9. These scriptures included speaking against drinking too much, being sexually immoral, controlling our anger and our language and so on… She called me the next morning and said, “have you read this?” I laughed and said, “yes!” You could hear the frustration in her voice when she said, “NONE of us are going to make it, we are all going to hell!”
It opened the door to talk about that our God is a God of love, that extends endless amounts of grace and mercy to each of us, but He is not a God of lawlessness! In 1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law, in fact, sin is lawlessness. It’s also helpful that you believe 2 Timothy when it says, all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness! That the bible is the infallible Word of God, but we know well-meaning people sometimes misinterpret the bible or try to make a religion out of one scripture. Scripture interprets scripture so you must look at the whole book! I had a friend tell me one time her brother-in-law decided to go to a church because that particular religion allowed him to drink the most. I laughed and shook my head, and my friend said, “I know you don’t agree with that”. I said, “let me clarify what I believe. We have a variety of religions because they are man-made, but we only have one bible, that was inspired by God! Therefore, what rules I live by are not determined by what church I attend, God’s Word is God’s Word period!”
That doesn’t mean any of us are going to live without struggling at times with right and wrong. The apostle Paul who wrote several books in the new testament at one point said, “what I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” I appreciate how my bible notes states it: There is a difference between committing a sin and continuing to sin. Even the most faithful believers sometimes commit sin, but they do not continually choose to commit it, they acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness.
When we see a parent correcting their child or giving them rules, most of us look at that as showing love, not hate. For some reason in the world today, if we acknowledge that the bible gives us laws or rules to live by, people see that as someone trying to tell them what to do and it can be viewed as being hateful or judgmental! In one of my commentaries it says the new testament has 930 commands. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39 that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Then the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments are completely selfless, yet when I hear the world talk about love, it’s more about doing whatever makes them happy.
Throughout scripture we are also shown that believers have accountability to the body of believers, rather that is in being part of the body talked about in 1 Corinthian 12 or not being a stumbling block to others mention in 1 Corinthian 8:9 or in Matthew 18 where it talks about how to treat a believer who sins.
It is true that we cannot be good enough to earn God’s love and grace, He gives that to us freely! We cannot be saved by our good deeds or our works, His one and only Son paid that price for us… but when you read throughout scriptures we are encouraged to be workers and scriptures gives us plenty of guidance of things we should be doing and things we should not! 2 Timothy 2:15 encourages us to study the Word, not just read it, but truly study it! I would encourage you if you don’t have a good study bible to seek one out, they are most helpful!
So clearly, we do not serve a God of lawlessness and thankfully we do serve a loving and patient God! He sent his son, to give us a living example of how to give away love and grace in our everyday lives including that we are to give it freely to everyone, friend or foe!