Lifelines: ‘I don’t have it to do’
by By BETTIE MARLOWE Banner Staff Writer
Sep 13, 2013 | 838 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There’s a sign in my dentist’s office that reads, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth — just the ones you want to keep.”

In a lighthearted way, it gets the serious message across. You can choose what you want to do, but just remember, there are consequences to your decision, it warns.

It brings to mind what my mother-in-law told my husband once when he was trying to get her to do something for her own good. “I don’t have it to do,” she retorted.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t have to keep the law because I’m under grace.” There is an air of belligerence in the statement, as well as arrogance — not what you would expect to hear from a Christian. Does it mean that, although I am a child of God, whatever I allow in my life is OK — that I don’t have to worry about pleasing Christ or being a godly witness? Paul says, “God forbid.”

But it’s hard to live a righteous life without the right reasons. Trying to please people will not work. Being faithful in service without knowing God will not work. We can’t do it for family, prestige, for notice or even for feeling responsibility.

Ask, “Why do you want to go to heaven?” and you will get a variety of answers: “I want to see my mother (or father).” “I’ll have a new body.” “I won’t have to worry anymore.” “I won’t have any sorrows.” “I’ll live forever.” “It will be peaceful.”

None of those reasons will undergird or strengthen the determination to take that journey ... our salvation must be His, our faith must be grounded in Christ. Anything else will fade, leaving us without purpose or direction.

We sing a song, “When We All Get To Heaven,” and in the chorus, it says “When we all see Jesus, we’ll shout and sing the victory.” That’s the secret of our joy. That is the victory. It’s being saved by grace that gives us the promise of heaven. And when we belong to Him, it’s not a matter of “I don’t have it to do” — it’s cheerful obedience to the Word — a desire to please Christ.

“No, I’m not under the law,” some declare. And that’s right. But what is forgotten is what Jesus said. He made the principles of the law stronger — more binding. It became more comprehensive because no longer would it deal only with outward actions.

For example, in Matthew 5:21, 22 and 27, Jesus explained: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment ... Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

The law only revealed the sin — it couldn’t get rid of it. Sin was present even if the action didn’t appear. But God looks on the heart and sees the sin and the guilt which, under the law, could have been hidden.

The writer of Hebrews is trying to show the contrast or difference in the old tabernacle and the old covenant with the new tabernacle (Christ) and the new covenant. He terms it “Better.”

The old covenant had to have penalties to be effective. There were specific mulcts for breaking the law. It was all spelled out. You do this and I’ll do this; you do the other and you will have pay the consequences. It was a list of do’s and don’ts.

Jesus didn’t change that. The new covenant also has do’s and don’ts. There are still consequences. So what was the difference?

The new covenant was better, because it was stronger. In the Hebrew-Greek dictionary, the word, “better,” is interpreted as denoting might, power and strength.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” (Hebrews 8:10).

The one who truly lives by grace is the one who obeys God because it is in his heart to do so. Those who abuse their liberty in grace to break the commandments of Christ are still under the law. They are in bondage to their own desires and want to do their own thing — “I don’t have it to do.”

And they’re right. They don’t “have it to do.”

When Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law, he replied, “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 neighbor as thyself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22: 37-41).

So the spirit of “I don’t have it to do” doesn’t seem to fit in a life of grace and love, does it?