Perhaps you heard about the man who was traveling down a country road and saw an intersection and STOP sign ahead. As he approached the sign he looked both ways on the crossing road and, not seeing any traffic, drove through the intersection without stopping.

A highway patrolman saw the man and stopped him in order to give him a ticket. The driver argued that he did not deserve a ticket since he slowed down, looked both ways and went through the intersection safely. Although he did not stop, he accomplished the same goal.

The officer asked the man to step out of the car. When the man was out the officer began to beat him with his night stick. The man yelled for the officer to STOP. The officer replied, "Do you want me to STOP or just slow down?"

The officer made his point, and the driver accepted the ticket.

The drivers argument is very much like the one made by man in the religious world. That is, as long as one achieves the goal of God's commands, the specifics of how they are carried out is unimportant. This has been described as keeping the "spirit of the law" rather than the "word of the law". This concept is the mainstay of the protestant world and those teaching the "new hermeneutics" among the churches of Christ.

Can we obey the "spirit of the law" without adhering to the "letter of the law"? Jesus asked, "But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? "(Luke 6:46). Can one rightly claim allegiance to Christ without "doing the things" He commands? Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

Obedience involves doing what is said in the way we are told to do it. One who claims to follow the "spirit of the law" (serving Christ through work and worship) without following the letter of the law (working and worshipping in the manner described in the New Testament) is actually following neither. When the Lord says "STOP", we must stop.

By Jamie DeLong

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