According to the Psalmist, those “who walk in the law of the Lord” will be blessed and “undefiled in the way” (Psalm 119:1). Notice, there is room to walk in the law of the Lord. Contrary to popular opinion, the law does not paint us into a corner, but provides us with a way of escape from life’s tight spaces. Far from hemming us in, God’s law enables us to live out our lives. It is the foundation for an ever expanding life.
No artist feels confined by the laws of composition. Instead, he is eager to express himself in conformity to them so as to prove his mastering of them. Likewise, the tennis player does not feel confined by either the net or the lines on the court. Instead, he realizes that they prove his prowess. Without them, excellence is unattainable, since the game would be undefinable and everyone could claim to be outstanding.
Like the laws of composition to an artist or the net and lines on the court to a tennis player, God’s law is not confining to the Christian. Instead, conformity to it provides the Christian with a way to excel in his life for Christ. Were it not for God’s law, the Christian life would be undefinable and everyone could claim to be spiritually outstanding.
A repeated refrain of the Psalmist is: “Your law is my delight” (Psalm 1:2; 40:8; 119:70; 77, 174). As a sign of their delight to live their lives inside the expansive and emancipating parameters of God’s precepts, the ancient Hebrews wore God’s commandments in phylacteries (tiny boxes) around their foreheads and wrists. This practice served a twofold purpose. It kept the Hebrews ever mindful of God’s law and served as a witness to others of the covenantal relationship between God and His chosen people.
Unfortunately, this practice eventually degenerated into a mere ritual observed by spiritual bruisers who turned the law from the people’s delight into legalistic drudgery (Matthew 23:1-7). Herein lies the danger of shrinking the law into mere regulations devoid of an intimate relationship with God. If we are not careful, we can end up pushing our pettiness and locked up in our legalism rather than liberated by God’s law to live our lives confidently “before God” (1 John 3:19-24).
Gino Severini once said, “An art which does not obey fixed and inviolable laws is to true art what a noise is to a musical note.” In like manner, the Apostle Paul taught that law without love is like “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). While a song may be played on every musical instrument in the orchestra, it cannot be played on the drums or cymbals. They are just accompanying sounds. Is your life a spiritual symphony being performed for the glory of God or merely an indistinguishable sound?