By right and authority, our Creator makes certain demands or claims upon us his creatures. God requires us to give up our life to him by dying ( Luke 12:20 , "this very night your soul is required of you, " NASB ). God's general requirement for his people is to fear and love him, to walk in all his ways, to serve him wholeheartedly, and to keep his instructions ( Deut 10:12-13 ).
For those who ignore God's morality, God will "require it, " that is, will call into account and punish. The wicked mistakenly suppose that God will not require such an accounting ( Psalm 10:13 ). God requires the lifeblood of a murderer ( Gen 9:5 ), often via civil authorities (cf. 2 Sam 4:11 ). God will require an accounting from those who do not heed his prophet ( Deut 18:19 ), or who violate their vows ( Deut 23:21 ). God even requires punishment of a prophet who fails to warn sinners ( Ezekiel 3:18 Ezekiel 3:20 ; Ezekiel 33:6 Ezekiel 33:8 ). Asking that God "require it" is sometimes part of curse formulas for violation of oaths ( Joshua 22:23 ; cf. 1 Sam 20:16 ).
What the Lord requires for reconciliation with wayward people is not exorbitantly expensive offerings, but repentance leading to decent behavior toward others, love of "mercy" (hesed [d,s,j], " [acts of] covenant-loyalty/love"), and a walk with God that affects behavior toward others ( Micah 6:6-8 ). It is not "burnt offering and sin offering" that God "requires" so much as an ear open to hear and obey God's instructions from his Book ( Psalm 40:6-8 ).
Abraham by faith fulfilled God's requirements ( Gen 26:5 ), Zecharias and Elizabeth were righteous, keeping all the Lord's commandments and requirements ( Luke 1:6 ). This does not mean sinless perfection, but godly, obedient character.
Even Gentiles without the Law do some of its moral requirements ( Romans 2:14-15 Romans 2:26 ), although this is insufficient for salvation. Apart from regeneration, we all stand condemned by the Law as sinners ( Rom 3:23 ; 7:9 ), and in the "flesh" are in bondage to sin, unable to obey God's Law ( Rom 7:17 ). However, God through Christ's atoning death "condemned sin in the flesh, " that is, set us free from the Law's condemnation by Christ's taking upon his own flesh the death penalty that the Law required for us sinners, in order that the "requirement (dikaioma [dikaivwma]) of the law, " that is, the ethical obligations of the Law as a whole, might be "fulfilled" not only vicariously (our sin being properly punished in Christ) but also in actual practice (the moral law being obeyed) by those regenerated and empowered by the Holy Spirit ( Rom 8:2-4 ). Thus, ironically, we are freed from the Law so that we might fulfill its requirement.
Joe M. Sprinkle
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Requirement'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".