Grace-motivated, love-based Christian living. Ahh, just listen to those phrases again: ... grace-motivated... love-based...
We all want to talk about a walk that's inspired by gratitude and which touches the heart.
And it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. But just realise: it's law. Pure unadulterated law.
The ten commandments begin with the LORD saying "You are my people, I saved you from slavery, now here's a life lived in response to my salvation." The Israelites are God's son (Exodus 4:22). He loves his son and so saves him out of darkness. He then brings Israel to himself apart from any good merit on their part. And he teaches them some house rules. Think of the law as "family manners." It outlines the life of the saved people. It's a life lived out of gratitude for a gracious salvation. And it's a life of love. That's how Moses summarized it. It's how Jesus summarized it (not to mention the Apostles also). The law is grace-motivated, love-based living.
"But wait a minute," I hear you say. "I thought the law was all about duty-driven externalism and now we are immersed in the fresh waters of the gospel. I thought the new way was about gratitude and heart-felt devotion? Isn't that what makes it different? Surely the old is about the will and duty and the new is about the heart and gratitude?"
The old was about the heart and gratitude too. The law has always been grace-motivated and heart-felt.
So... what's the difference?
The difference is not "external versus internal." The difference is "me versus HIM."
So then. Dear Preacher, when you speak of the glories of our life as saved people do not imagine you have escaped legalism because now you're talking about a grace-motivated, heart-felt Christian walk. Describing that life is quite simply "the law." Now the law is holy, righteous and good! It's wonderful. Our hearts should thrill to hear of this outwardly focussed, joy-filled love of God and neighbour. Yes, that is the good life.
But it's not my life. It's the life of THE Son of God. And I need Him given to me from the outside. Given to me because I can't live out the law. No matter how grateful I'm told to be or how heart-felt I'm supposed to feel. I am a sinner and I need Jesus.
So, preacher, tell me of this wonderful life. But then, when I'm despairing because I know it's not mine, tell me of Jesus. Who lived it for me and who put my old failures to death. Tell me He is given to me. And leave me with gospel hope.
That is the job of the preacher