Focal Passage: Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 19:14-20; 25:13-16
The lesson focus for this week calls on believers to “be honest and fair.” Specific examples are given for areas in which this conduct should be lived out: living justly toward all people; respecting the property of others; telling the truth always and fully; maintaining integrity in all business dealings. The question is, “Why did God spell out the laws in these chapters and how/why should believers live in this way?”
Some seem to believe that God gave the law so that, as we live it out, our lives will go along more smoothly and God will be happier with us.
Therefore, when such a person believes himself to be keeping God’s law more faithfully, he believes God is happier with him.
When he is not doing as well, he believes God is not happy with him. Further, if everyone else would simply keep God’s law, our society would be a “better place.”
The problem with such a view is that it gives far too much credit to man’s ability, and results in a works-based righteousness. God did not give man the law so that man could keep it and, in so doing, be righteous. God gave the law in order to reveal His own holiness and to make known His holy standard.
Because of the sinfulness of man’s heart, man cannot keep God’s law. And, while the law can show man his sinfulness, it cannot change man’s heart. As I shared in a previous lesson, God gave the law not as a cure to make man well, but as a thermometer to show man the sickness of man’s heart (Galatians 3).
We do not become righteous by being honest and fair. We are declared righteous – given the very righteousness of Christ – by faith, which ushers forth in surrender and obedience.
We can be honest and fair, not by trying to keep the law, but because Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf. As we live with honesty and fairness toward others, they see not our strength and goodness but God’s power and goodness at work in us.