Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rightful Use of God's Law

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, March 26, 2013:  Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25

And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your  hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them."  Deuteronomy 5:1 (NKJV)

Thus begins the re-telling of the Ten Commandments.  Moses, standing on the east banks of Jordan, recalls the "10 Words" God had given nearly 40 years before.  Today, 3,500 years later, those "10 Words" are just as provocative as the day they were given.  Questions will always surround the law of God.  Why did God give the law?  What role does the law play in the life of a New Testament believer?  What place does the Ten Commandments have in our society?  Is the law for today or has it passed away?

These are IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.  The answers will lead us to face many man-made misunderstandings of the truth.  The Word of God seems to attract controversy.  For years now controversy has swirled around the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places.  On a personal level, some folks hold that the law is no longer in effect at all, having been totally fulfilled by Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.  At the other end of the spectrum are those who hold that the law is the measure of righteousness today just as they believe it was in the days of Moses.  Some say that the law is EVERYTHING.  Others say it is NOTHING.

What does the New Testament say about the Old Testament law?  It is ONLY in the Bible itself that these questions can be answered.  There we find an interesting truth.  At times the law is described as good, but at othr times, not so good.

Some passages describe the law in glowing terms.  Romans 7:12 affirms that "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, righteous, and good."  Paul says at one point, "In my inner being I delight in God's law" (Rom. 7:22).  James speaks of "the royal law" (Jas. 2:8).  In other passages, the law is spoken of as negative.  Paul says that he "died to the law so that he might live unto God" (Gal. 2:19).  He often states that he is no longer "under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14) and has been "delivered/released from the law" (Rom. 7:6).

How do these differing views fit together?  Paul brings clarity when he writes in I Timothy 1:8, "But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully."  IF ONE USES IT LAWFULLY!  The law is good is we use the law in the way God intended.  But, this implies that the law becomes evil if we use it for that which God never intended.  To use a modern illustration, the law is like a GUN.  Guns are good, if guns are used lawfully!  They only become bad if used UNLAWFULLY.  The issue is not the gun, it is the heart of man.  In similar fashion, God's law is good.  It only does damage when we seek to apply it in ways God never intended.

The law is a reflection of the perfections of our God.  The law is a guideline for a moral and good life.  The law is a school teacher to drive us to the Saviour.  In this respect, the law is always good.  If, however, the law becomes the standard and measurement of my personal righteousness, it becomes my enemy.  It will always condemn me because I can never be good enough.

Like David, we should love the law of God (Ps. 119:97).  We love the law for its rightful place in salvation by grace -- for its rightful place in our life in the blessing of God.  We LIVE as people of the Word of God.  Therefore, we can say with Paul, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law ... that the blessing of Abraham might come on us" (Gal. 3:13-14).

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