Q7: What does the law of God require?
ANSWER: Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves. What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.
We like to envision ourselves as autonomous. We equate maturity with independence, our great philosophers conceive of autonomy as a supreme good, and our central modern historical narrative defines modernity as human enlightenment: the movement of the human spirit from dependence and constraint to independence and freedom. As Kant once put it, "Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage." Modern man, so the story goes, now serves no master but himself. And despite various events both epic and quotidian that belie this modern faith, we largely persist in believing our mythical autobiography.
But this entire drama is at least partially, if not completely, at odds with the message of Scripture. The Bible announces that the highest good for us is not perfect, autonomous independence, but rather perfect obedience, with all of our being, to God's law. The great movement of history--and of the individual human spirit--is not from dependence to independence, but from rebellion against God to fellowship with Him. Of course, we also know that this highest good is simply impossible for us to achieve on our own. We cannot keep God's law ourselves, which is why the Gospel is such good news. At the pivot point of history we find the cross of Christ, whose perfect obedience is imputed to us when we place our faith in Him. It is not through our own striving, but through faith in the risen Christ that we receive the capacity to respond to God's grace in a spirit of loving, faithful obedience.
And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”