My family had an Old English Sheepdog named Ziggy. He was wild. He chased rabbits, squirrels, birds, and me. All the time. The wildlife often led him out of the yard and into the park behind our house. We spent hours chasing him. Then, he chewed everything. Socks and shoes, remote controls, door casings, and couches. There were no walks with Ziggy, just tug-o-war.
We tried a couple of things with him. First, we tied him up outside. The incessant barking annoyed the whole neighborhood. So, we added this choke collar. It was metal and fitted with sharp pokers that would tighten up around his neck when he pulled. That didn’t work either, and believe me; I pulled that thing hard. We had one last option. Obedience training.
We would take him to the training sessions a few times per week. These sessions were designed to teach him. We ran around a ring on a leash and shook an aluminum can full of rocks to get his attention. It didn’t work. After a couple of weeks, the trainer asked us to stop coming because he was too disruptive.
Then, one day, Ziggy was gone. He didn’t run away, we just couldn’t take it anymore. All I know is that he went to “the farm.”
We spent enough time with Ziggy to teach him the rules. He knew what to do. The problem was that he wouldn’t do it. He didn’t have the will to follow.
In Romans 2, Paul talks a lot about obedience. He says, “It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” Do you know what that means? It means that we are good at doing things that look good on the outside but fail to bend our will to the things that matter. Think of it this way; we can go to church every Sunday, attend small groups every Wednesday, and even write for BibleJournal every week. According to Paul, these things are good but do not lead to righteousness. In fact, nothing that we do outwardly matters. Only the mark of God on our hearts will make us whole. It is this mark of God that produces obedience. Jesus said it this way in Luke 6:45, “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
The lesson is simple. Be doers of the law. While Paul does not discuss the consequences of our disobedience in Romans 2, I think we all know. It looks a lot like being sent to “the farm.”