The Greatest Commandment - Part I
By Donnie Swaggart with Justin Nicholson
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
As this article is being written (June), our nation is in the middle of a pandemic, and anarchy and protests are taking place in many of our cities. Those protests, which have turned into rioting, looting, and anarchy, stemmed from the senseless murder of George Floyd.
I (along with others) was mortified when I saw the video of Mr. Floyd’s death. My actual thought was, “I’m seeing a man murdered before my eyes.” I was shocked that it was several days before the police officer in question was arrested. I was even more shocked when people started calling for the defunding of police departments across the US. Without police, our cities would become nothing more than the wild west of the 1800s. Actually, the Bible says that God ordains those who are here to carry out the enforcement of our civil laws for He is the originator of government. Let’s look at Romans 13:1-7 from the Expositor’s Study Bible, and please pay careful attention to the notes in each verse:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers (refers to human government). For there is no power but of God (refers to the fact that God has ordained government): the powers that be are ordained of God (refers to human government being a permanent institution, brought into being by God for the regulation of human affairs). Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God (anarchy is not of God): and they who resist shall receive to themselves damnation (the law of the land is always to be obeyed, providing it does not offend our conscience or the Word of God; the ‘damnation’ mentioned here does not necessarily refer to such coming from God, but rather from men). For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil (concerns the divine right of government to oppose crime and to protect its citizens). Will you then not be afraid of the power? (This means that civil government should be respected, and all should fear breaking the law.) do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same (refers to obeying the law, as all Christians ought to do; as well, it assumes that the laws are right and just): For he (the civil magistrate) is the minister of God to you for good (proclaims government as a divine institution). But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain (the sword is the symbol of the right of the state to inflict capital punishment for capital crimes): for he is the minister of God (not a preacher of the gospel but a servant of the state), a revenger to execute wrath upon him who does evil (proclaims the right of the state, as ordained by God, to use whatever force is necessary to stop ‘evil,’ i.e., crime). Wherefore you must needs be subject (plainly tells us that Christians are subject to the law of the land; that is, if it does not violate the Word of God), not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake (refers to the fact that the believer has a higher principle than that of the unbeliever). For for this cause pay ye tribute also (refers to the paying of taxes): for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing (refers to public servants). Render therefore to all their dues (means that it is proper and right for all people to pay taxes, Christians as well!): tribute to whom tribute is due (refers to that which is owed and should be paid); custom to whom custom (addresses hidden taxes, which we should pay as well); fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (government is an institution to be respected, extending to all civil servants, from the lowest to the highest).”
Let me be clear: I support law and order. I support the men and women who put on a uniform every day and go forth to protect and serve. Are there bad police officers? Yes. However, in every profession there are those who are evil and corrupt, but the vast majority of our police officers are good, hardworking people who put their lives on the line every single day to protect us. You don’t condemn the majority who are trying their best to do what’s right because of the few who do wrong.
The true problem is not the police officers, or any other group or organization, but it is sin. Man is fallen, man walks in darkness, and the hearts of men are on evil continually. Until the heart is changed, racism, hate, anarchy, and all of mankind’s ills will not only continue but will become more evil.
The answer to our civil unrest is Jesus Christ. Only He can change the heart of humanity. It is impossible to love one another as we should without Jesus Christ being the Lord of our lives.
Matthew 22:36-40 gives to us the answer that will solve the ills of humanity, so let’s look at what the Bible says.
“Which Is The Greatest Commandment?”
The question that was presented to the Lord by a scribe (scribes were interpreters of the laws of Moses, a person of education and means) concerned itself with great theological discussions, which were prevalent at that time. By the time of Christ’s ministry, the law of Moses had been so dissected and added to that the scribes and Pharisees claimed that there were now 614 commandments. There were 249 affirmative commandments and 365 negative commandments. These religious leaders were so bogged down in the letter of the law that it caused them to miss the spirit of the law. These laws were man-made and not recognized by the Lord as being valid. One of the problems of religion is that religion and religious men think they can improve upon the Word of God, which is impossible and only produces self-righteousness.
Part II of this article will continue in the October issue of The Evangelist.
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