Lesson 11

The Apostles and the Law

(Jude, 1 Peter 2, John 15, 1 John 2)
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Introduction: Many years ago, I met a young man who had recently been saved. He wanted to talk with me about theology, and he was adamant that the Ten Commandments had been abolished. He was saved by faith alone and had no obligation to obey any of the law. While I agreed with him about salvation by faith alone, I pressed him about his obligation not to kill anyone. Was that no longer relevant? He would not bend. A few years later I met him again and recalled our conversation. "Do you still believe that you have no obligation to keep the law," I asked? With more study, he had changed his mind. He agreed that the law was important. Let's plunge into the topic of what the Bible says through the apostles about keeping the law!

  1. Jude


    1. Read Jude 1:1 and Galatians 1:19. Is Jude a modest man? (Yes! Instead of writing, "I'm the brother of our Lord Jesus," he writes, "I'm the brother of the brother of Jesus.")


    2. Read Jude 1:2-3. What motivates Jude's letter? (His motive is to "contend for the faith.")


    3. Read Jude 1:4. What theory is Jude contending against? What is the specific point in contention? (That grace is a license for immorality.)


      1. Is this still an issue for the church?


      2. Why is immorality a denial of Jesus? I can see why you could say this theory is a denial of the law, but why a denial of Jesus? (One reason is that Jesus died over the law. If God was willing to consign the law to the trash dump of history, He would have declared the law was dead. Jesus could have avoided living with us, suffering persecution from us and dying at our hands. Another reason is that Jesus is our Lord and the law is His gift of love to humans. To deny His law is to deny Him.)


    4. Read Jude 1:5. How is the Exodus account relevant to this argument? (Jesus delivered His people from the slavery of Egypt. They did not merit this. Jesus delivers us from the bondage of the law. We do not merit that. But those who did not believe, those who disobeyed the order to enter into the promised land, died in the wilderness. It is a lesson for us.)


    5. Read Jude 1:6. Why is the situation of the fallen angels relevant to us? (Even in heaven God expects obedience from His subjects.)


      1. Are we in a lot of trouble? If we are saved by grace here, will we ultimately lose out in heaven because we will need to obey there?


        1. Have you heard the question, "Are you safe to save?" What do you think this means?


        2. Are the assumptions underlying this question accurate? (It depends. If the question means that we have to become sin-free in preparation for living in heaven, it is not based on good theology. We were born into sin ( Psalms 51:5). Our hearts are deceitful ( Jeremiah 17:9). Even the righteous find they do things they do not want to do. Romans 7:18-19)


    6. Read Hebrews 3:7-9. Who is being tested? (Here is another reference to the Exodus. God says the people were testing Him!)


    7. Read Hebrews 3:10-11. How would you characterize the people? Why is God angry with them? (God says that He showed them that He was trustworthy. Yet, the people did not trust Him. They did not even try to understand God.)


      1. Let's go back to our "safe to save" statement. What do you think makes us safe to save in God's eyes? (Trusting God! Notice that God does not say, "I gave these people the Ten Commandments and they failed." He says, "I showed them my power, love and provision - and they still did not trust Me." The foundational part of obedience is trusting God.)


    8. Read Jude 1:7-8. A common theme in the Bible is that Sodom and Gomorrah are the poster children for what happens to the wicked. The specific sins mentioned are "sexual immorality and perversion." Why would Jude mention specific types of sin if the true issue is trusting God? (God did not give us His law because He is mean. He gave it because He loves us. If we trust God, we understand this and we know that obedience is the best thing.)


  2. Peter


    1. Read 1 Peter 2:1-3. What does Peter tell us about the law? (He says that we should "rid" ourselves of these sins.)


      1. How do we "rid" ourselves of sin? How is this consistent with grace? (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-20. Part of grace is making us new people. We represent God, and therefore how we live is important. This suggests that righteous living, unlike salvation, is a team effort.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 2:4-5. What is God's goal for us? (To be "living stones," who are part of the "holy priesthood" which constitutes God's "spiritual house.")


      1. Notice this starts "As you come to Him." What does that mean? (As we come into the presence of God through the Bible, prayer and worship we become more like God.)


      2. What do you think are the "spiritual sacrifices" that we offer to God? (Read Romans 12:1-2 and Hebrews 13:15-16. Spiritual sacrifices are not simply praising and trusting God, but they involve our minds and our deeds. Renewing our minds, doing good works, are sacrifices to God.)


        1. Would you truly call this a "sacrifice?" (In God's economy, giving up ourselves ends up with a greater blessing being given to us.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 2:9. We previously read that we are living stones in a spiritual house. That is an interesting word picture, but what is the point of the living stone, spiritual house, royal priesthood? (You are special. You are different than the world. You are a representative of God. That gives you the opportunity to declare the praises of God to those who do not know Him.)


    4. Read 1 Peter 2:11. What is wrong with allowing sinful desires to live in our mind? (It wars against our soul.)


    5. Read 1 Peter 2:12. How can pagans accuse us of doing wrong? They are pagans! (I see this all the time. Pagans today believe that every choice is equally valid, and no one has the right to say that his way is superior. Thus, Christians who assert that God's way is not only superior, but the only way, are bigots and haters.)


      1. What is the antidote to these false charges of wrong-doing? (The way that we live!)


      2. Consider your life. Is the way you live helping or hurting the charge that you are a bigot and hater?


  3. John


    1. Read John 15:9-10. What is Jesus saying - that if we fail to obey Him He will no longer love us? (No. Do you want to know how to remain in the center of God's love? Keep His commandments. Jesus is saying that He gave us His commandments to show us how to best live. He gave His commandments to keep us to keep us from being harmed.)


    2. Read John 15:11. What is the level of joy in your life? If you are a quart low, Jesus says that obeying His commands will make your joy "complete!")


    3. Read John 15:12-13. How will giving up our life for others give us complete joy? This sounds like complete sacrifice! (Imagine a world in which everyone had your best interests in mind. Imagine a world where no one wanted to harm you, steal from you, or cheat you. Treating others fairly gives us joy. Showing others mercy gives us joy. Being treated fairly and being shown mercy makes us grateful.)


    4. Have you made the transition from thinking that the law is a pain, to thinking that it is for your own benefit? Read 1 John 2:3. If we have not made the transition, what is the problem? (We don't know God. We need to study His word more. We need to experiment with doing His will.)


    5. Read 1 John 2:4-6. Why is obeying the law so important? (It reflects our knowledge of God. If we just grit our teeth and try to obey, it will not work. But, if we have the firm conviction that the law is for our benefit, that it puts us at the center of God's love, that it creates a better world for those around us, that it honors God, then we don't have to grit our teeth.)


    6. Friend, if you have not understood the benefit of obedience, will you start exploring it today? Will you decide to know God better and experience the joy of living in the middle of His love?


  4. Next week: Christ's Church and the Law.

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