Are God's Laws Too Hard?
It is important for us to note closely the question of this study. The question is not "Are God's laws hard?" but rather it is "Are God's Laws too hard?" Are God's laws beyond our ability and do God's laws demand more than man can give? God's laws can be hard because life is hard and because of the constant temptations of the devil. Our task in this study is to consider the idea of whether God's laws are too hard.
A. Life Is Hard. "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground..."(Gen.3:19). Life on this earth was, at one time, truly to live in a "garden" (Genesis 2). Then, sin entered the picture. Man was punished with work becoming toil and labor and the woman with "sorrow" and travail (Genesis 3:16-19). Life on earth became hard for saint and sinner! How often do we hear some brother in his prayer mention the "uneven pathways of life" or that this life is a "vale of tears"? Life is not easy. We may not all face the same problems or carry the same burdens, but no one escapes the toils, heartaches, and trouble of life. The writer said in Proverbs 13:15: "The way of transgressors is hard." But, David also said in Ps.34:19 that, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." Is there a life on this earth that's not hard and difficult? No.
Can we all not appreciate the observation of Job: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble." (Job.14:1)? Or as Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 2:23, "For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night." There becomes the need of each individual to recognize the trials of life as just the way of life and to rise above it. Being a responsible and mature person demands that we not be surprised at life's difficulties, but rise above the toilsome demands of life.
Being able to rise above comes first of all from our discipline in our youth. This is one of the important things parents attempt to settle in their children's minds. How many parents say repeatedly: "You grow up or become mature when you learn to do the difficult things you don't want do - when you don't want to do them." Learning this about life is in itself difficult, but it is a necessary lesson. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." (Proverbs 22:15) Of what foolishness is he speaking? The lack of discipline in the life! Proverbs 29:15, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." The undisciplined child who runs wild will bring disgrace and shame to himself and his family! Who doubts it? The earlier they learn these lessons, the better. It may be just chores around the house. As they grow, they learn that there are demands on them that simply become a daily toil. Paying bills, health problems, family demands, pressures of the job, etc., make life hard. But, that's life! There is no place where all the bills are paid, where everyone is healthy and happy, where there are no tears, no sorrow, no funerals, and where every day is a fourth of July celebration in the Magic Kingdom. It just doesn't exist! We view as immature those who just want to play or those who refuse the toils of life.
B. Life In Service To God Is Difficult. Luke recorded in Acts 14:22, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Why then should it be a surprise to find that our service to God would be hard or difficult or demanding? Our service to God is performed and perfected under the circumstances of this life which is a hard. Jesus said in John 16:33, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Despite the fact that life is hard, can we not also see that serving the Lord in this life will be hard and difficult (although with hope)?
But, does it not seem like that the constant drumbeat of modern denominationalism (with tele-evangelists and many others) who proclaim their "health and wealth" religion has indeed become the way people think about Christianity? Are people not being convinced that if they would just "accept Jesus as their personal Savior," that their marriage problems, financial problems, health problems, etc., would all be solved? Is it not the truth that our health, marriages and finances may possibly become worse in being people who obey God? (cf. Moses, Paul, Peter, etc.) Life in service to God will never be easy! Not as long as the "devil walketh about." Job14:1, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, etc., will always be true!
C. But, God's Commands Are Not Beyond Man's Ability. "Then God said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and offer him there as a burnt offering'" (Gen.22:2) Hard? Yes! Too hard? Maybe we're finding what righteous people are all about!
There are many today of the opinion that some commands of God just simply demand more than man is able to give! What an insult to the majesty of our Lord and Creator! Does God not fully understand our situation better than we think we do? Has our western society education and modern intelligence allowed us to plumb the depths of compassion and human needs to such a degree that we can set aside His will if we deem it too difficult or demanding?? Who, having read the Bible, could (with any credibility) raise such a question against Almighty God and His will? Shall man set in judgment of God? Shall man scrutinize His will and haggle with Jehovah God as if he were at a local flea market? The questioning of God's commands being too difficult is a questioning of God himself!
Do people today honestly not understand the prophet's point when he said in Habakkuk.2:20, "But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him." This is used often to teach our children that they should be quiet in the worship services; (which is true) but certainly not the point of the prophet in context. The point is that God is in His place and since His place is in the holy temple, ours is to keep our mouths shut and humbly, trustingly, and patiently do His will! Holiness, righteousness, sanctity, and truth come from God and not us. He is the standard. We are to live up to His will and according to His wisdom, not our own (Proverbs 3:5-7).
The righteous throughout history has given all to God! God is worthy of our all; our very lives! (Revelation 5:11) Abraham did not hold back his precious son from the altar! Moses gave up the riches, position, and power of Egypt. The three Hebrews children chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace rather than compromise their God. Ezekiel was told that his wife would die and that he was not to shed a tear or show remorse at the loss of the "desire of thine eye." Other prophets taught God's words through tear-stained eyes while being hated, stoned, whipped, beaten and imprisoned. As the apostle said in Philippians 3:8, "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, (emphasis mine, GG) and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." Paul was willing to lose all things for the cause of Christ! Paul gave up his religious career, security, friends, family, his "all." The world laughed at him and call him mad (Acts 26:24). The world will never understand the sacrifice of the righteous. The attitude that suffers all for the "excellency of the knowledge" of God would never think that God's commands demand too much!.
Think for a moment how our educated and "civil rights" sensitive society has in its wisdom accepted Paul's teachings in 1 Timothy 6:1 with regard to servants; or 1 Timothy 2:12 in regard to the ladies; or 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, speaking of fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites. Listen to them speak of Paul not understanding modern society, the freedom of man, "love-less marriages," or other philosophical shackles of the past; or hear others cluck their tongues about how Paul was out of touch with the true needs of man, or that humanity is such a variegated, multi-cultural species that commands written 2000 years ago just cannot span the depth of modern human experience and need; or listen to the truly spiritually demented speak that Paul couldn't have known that religion, in reality, holds man back from his true human potential. (cf. The serpent's statement to Eve, Genesis 3:5) The wisdom of the world will never accept but will always sit in judgment upon the revelation of God's will! (1 Corinthians 2:14)
We would expect such pabulum from the "wise" of the world, but to hear such echoes from Bible students and people of God who supposedly respect God's word is amazing. What Bible student has not read of the pandering of Jeroboam to the northern tribes in saying, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" 1 Kings 12:28. Should not our hearts leap from our chest in defiance to such drivel and proclaim proudly, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29)?!
Recently this writer read where one preacher was calling on the "churches of Christ" to make changes in our services to make them more fun and exciting because of changes in our society. He stated, "Many have left [the churches of Christ] looking for the experiential aspect of religion. Baby Boomers' lives are so filled with worry about economics and relationships that they want a place where they can flat out have some fun" (as quoted in "Showtime!" By Dan Chambers, page 15). As Brother Chambers would later point out on page 81, "If people are worshiping God largely because 'it's like going to the movies, only better,' their worship is a sham." Amen! It seems that many brethren have come to believe that the reverential praise and devotions in worship found on the pages of the New Testament has become just too exacting and demanding on the Baby Boomers and many others of our day. You wonder if they have ever read where the people at Mt. Sinai acted with the very same attitude; "and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play" Exodus 32:6. And the same results will be suffered today!
No! Obeying God's will in worship is not too hard for us today! Instead of placating the fun and excitement seekers of this generation (many of whom are our own brethren), we should without flinching proclaim "We ought to obey God rather than men." Further, we should be ready to remind them that we should not "think beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6); that it is our hearts and minds should bend to the will of God. Giving into the carnal appetites of the people of our day and time will not bring them to Christ or edify them in the faith! Christ said in John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." My friends, if the preaching of "Christ and him crucified" will not bring someone to Christ or strengthen them in the faith, then all the carnivals, ball teams, and hotdog parties in all of recreation will not do it!
Our hearts go out to those whose marriages can only be described as a "mess." But, how many preachers/elders have been told, "I just don't believe God would expect me to give up my wife/husband. That's just demanding too much!" My friend, God would expect you to give up your life if the circumstances called for it! If you have an unscriptural marriage, IT must be resolved not God's will!
We cannot appeal to God for divine acceptance on the basis that our lives are so hectic and filled with pressure that we just cannot (it's beyond our ability to) act or worship by a "thus saith the Lord." Nadab and Abihu couldn't make such an appeal; nor could Cain. Nor can we say that God's commands are too difficult! When you consider what God expected of people like Abraham, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Paul, James, Stephen etc., trying to say that it's too hard for you to give up a wrong job, poor habit, false religion, or unlawful spouse is an insult to God! It's not a matter that God's commandments are too hard or that people just can't obey God's will; but that they WON'T obey God's will!
God made it plain very early in the history of man regarding His commandments and revealed will. Moses reminded the people in Deut.10:13, "To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" David would write in Psalms 34:8, "That the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Why would Moses and David have to say such? Because there would always be those who attempted to get around God's will by appeals to problems, emotion, position, special circumstances, etc. Man's wisdom would be use to set aside the will of God! Finally, it would be argued that doing God's will would actually be a detriment! We must forever have it imprinted in our thoughts that our God is good and His will is for our good!
God gave us what we call natural laws. They are for the benefit of man. One of His great natural laws is electricity. It powers our homes and offices, provides for amazing communication, and helps provide a wonderful standard of living. But if a child sticks a fork into an electrical outlet, God will not change or suspend that law of electricity; despite the pain, suffering, or consequences. God's laws are for our benefit and our good. The benefit and good of these laws (both natural and spiritual) far outweigh the sad mistakes, problems, and suffering of the one who crosses them
God's laws enable us to be righteous in His eyes (Deuteronomy 4:8, Psalm 119:138). His word is what gives us our hope (Psalm 119:49) and reveals Christ as that hope (1 Timothy 1:1, John14:6). By coming to Him in His appointed way, we enjoy the fellowship of God and the hope of eternal life (Matthew 11:28, Hebrews 5:8-9, Titus 2:11-13). But, His word also reveals that we are to "count the cost." (Luke 14:25-33) of serving Him. The cost is our all; our everything (Matthew 10:34-39). If we do not give up everything to him, we are not worthy of Him. There is no relationship, no belief, or circumstance that will allow us to say that His will is too much! Christ is our life and we shall surely know that it was worth it all in serving Him. As David said in Psalm 71:20, "You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth." Life with Christ is a endless hope, but life without Christ is a hopeless end! And that is what the writer meant when he said that the "way of the transgressor is hard."
e-mail this author at email@example.com
Return to Watchman Front Page
return to March 1999 index