The Law of God: Questions and Answers
How shall we understand and apply God’s Law today?
The statutes of God’s Law contain principles that are still valid today.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasures in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. James 5:1-4
Two things immediately strike us about this passage. First, there is the clear and distinct echo of the sermon on the mount (cf. Matt. 6:19-21). We can hear, as it were, the very words of Jesus in these from His half-brother.
Second is the repetition, as an applied principle, of Leviticus 19:13. Clearly, James saw no contradiction between the gracious words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the plain teaching of the Law of God. By combining the words of the Law with the teaching of Jesus, James is simply practicing the kind of interpretation of God’s Law that I have been advocating in this series.
The statute directing us in making economic contracts with our neighbors is evidently still in effect. It is still to be observed by Christians in this age of grace and the Kingdom. James warned the rich members of the churches that if they were guilty of this then-common practice of oppressing and robbing workers, they were guilty of transgressing against the Law of God.
Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? Perhaps. But what may not be so obvious is that this is only one of scores of similar statutes in the Law of God, all designed to promote love for God and neighbors, which Christians today are, by and large, guilty of ignoring or neglecting.
James called those who violate such statutes—whether willfully or out of ignorance—to weep and howl, and to expect that miseries would come upon them. Doubtless, he had in mind the miseries of God’s discipline, which He brings upon His children to direct us back to the way of righteousness (Heb. 12:3-11), and which His Law advises us never to lose sight of lest we fall into sinful practices ourselves (Deut. 11:1, 2).
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In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T. M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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