by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Psalm 119:9-16
I. It is frequently stated that the difference between the Old and New Testaments is that the Old emphasizes the physical and the New the spiritual
A. In part, it comes from passages like
1. Romans 2:28-29 - The true Jew is inward, not outward
2. Romans 7:6 - newness of the Spirit, oldness of the law
3. II Corinthians 3:6 - The letter kills, the Spirit gives life
4. Philippians 3:3- We are the circumcision who worship in the Spirit and have no confidence in the flesh
B. But are these passages actually saying that God’s Old Law was a physical law and that with Christ He switched to a spiritual law?
1. There are groups teaching that God is not looking for precise obedience, but attitudes
2. Laws, we are told, are just guidelines, it is the weightier things, such as love, justice, and mercy that the important matters.
3. The conclusion is that God’s laws can be modified, so long as men keep the overall principles in mind.
II. Is the Old Covenant one of form only?
A. God wanted Israel’s heart
1. Seek God with all their heart and soul - Deuteronomy 4:29
2. Love God with all their heart and soul - Deuteronomy 6:5-6
3. To walk, to fear, to walk, to love and to serve God with all their heart and soul - Deuteronomy 10:12-13
B. To gain this, Israel was to put God’s word in their hearts
1. Keep in their hearts - Deuteronomy 4:5-6, 9
2. To store them in their heart and soul - Deuteronomy 11:18-23
3. The word would be in both their mouth and their heart - Deuteronomy 30:14-18
4. Set their hearts on the word - Deuteronomy 32:46-47
C. Notice in these passages that the holding of God’s word in their hearts would lead to obedience
1. Observe the commands with their heart and soul - Deuteronomy 26:16-19
D. Tests would come in the form of false prophets to see if their hearts truly belonged to God
1. Deuteronomy 13:1-4 - Do not listen to the false words, but obey God
2. It was David’s desire for his son and his people - I Chronicles 29:17-19
3. The covenant was based on this heart led religion - I Kings 8:23
E. Yet the people did sin, but God asked them to turn their hearts back to Him
1. I Kings 8:46-49 - Notice the condition to return with their hearts and souls
2. It was what Moses told the people - Deuteronomy 30:1-3
III. What we read is just a small selection of verses from the Old Testament
A. God wasn’t interested in outward rites. He wanted the people’s hearts while they obeyed His commands.
B. The problem was not with what God wanted, but what the people gave - Romans 8:3-4
1. What had happened?
a. The people focused on the elements of worship, thinking that was all God wanted - Isaiah 1:11-17
b. God despised their offerings - Amos 5:21-24
c. They acted as if quantity mattered to God - Micah 6:6-8
2. They thought they were near to God, but not in heart - Isaiah 29:13
a. They did not serve with joy and gladness - Deuteronomy 28:47-48
b. It was the attitude of the mind that mattered, not what was physically done - Joel 2:12-13
3. The people picked what they wanted to do on the day of worship - Isaiah 58:13-14
4. They viewed the feast days as interference to commerce - Amos 8:4-10
5. God told them to do right, then enter His house - Jeremiah 22:3-4
C. The problem is that God’s word didn’t become a part of them
1. Oh, they acted excited to hear God’s word, but they didn’t do them - Ezekiel 33:30-33
2. They needed to hate evil and love good - Amos 5:11-15
D. But notice that God is not telling Israel to discard His commands and laws.
1. He told them to live them in truth
2. It is what God told David - I Kings 2:4
3. It is what Solomon told the people - I Kings 8:61
4. Obedience without the heart was useless because it would never be real obedience nor would it remain firm
IV. Such remains in the New Testament
A. What we read at the beginning was not a change in requirements, but a demand that there had to be a change in the people if Christians are to succeed where Israel failed.
B. Jesus hit this point hard
1. Matthew 23:1, 23-24 - Obedience with righteous hearts and living
2. He insulted the scribes and Pharisees by demanding they return to the law and learn - Matthew 9:13; 13:14-15; 15:8-9
C. God wants obedience from the heart to the form of teaching - Romans 6:17-18
D. Do all with the authority of God and the proper heart - Colossians 3:17
E. Obedience is not optional, it is demanded because the proper spirit leads to joyful obedience
V. What does this mean to the Christian?
A. Do we worship with our heart, or do we just mutter the words of the songs?
B. Do we daydream during the prayers?
C. Do we play with the baby in front of us while God’s word is being taught?
D. Ever hear someone complain that they didn’t get anything out of worship?
E. Ever seen people skip services, such as our singing nights, because they aren’t necessary – “it’s just singing, after all”
F. What is happening?
1. People are sitting in the pews at the appointed time, doing all the right acts of worship, but aren’t putting their hearts into it.
2. People are baptized and join the church because it is the right thing to do, but they aren’t converted in their hearts
3. People make confessions to rejoin the congregation, but their hearts stay in the world.
G. Is this you?
1. God wants your heart. He has always wanted the hearts of men.
2. Will you not surrender it to Him?