The Place of the Law

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by JohnV, Jun 3, 2004.

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  1. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I have noticed a few controversial issues discussed on this Board that involve the right view of the law in grace. I have worked on this idea for quite some time, being presssed by controversies in myown church. What is the NT view of the place of the law in a Christian life?

    We have Theonomy stating that the civil laws are still binding; we have Dispensationalists saying that even the decalogue is not binding (to a degree, I would think ); we have A4 that would bind the law to justification again; we have NCT advocating distinctions between the OT and NT that impinge on how we view the law; just to name the main ones.

    It seems to me that there is a certain amount of cloudiness about just what it was about the law that was satisfied by Christ's atonement. What does it mean when in Galations, the epistle about the place of the law, it states, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be again entangled with a yoke of bondage" (NKJV), or "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand fast, therefore, and donot submit again to a yoke of slavery." (RSV) The ESV also puts it the same: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." The NKJV has a footnote that states it teh same. Just what does this mean in relation to these controversies?

    We just went through Galations in family devotions. I stated it to my children in this way, briefly: the law no longer stands against us in our christian walk; it stands for us to help us. We are not under it for justification, for being reconciled to God; but we are not apart from it in ordering our lives so that we can change from the old man into the new man continuously throughout our lives. It is our guide, not our accuser. That is what we need to hold, and that is what we need to present in how we live to others. Every word of the OT is Scripture, and so is our guide to knowing God's will. But our salvation is in the work of Christ, plus nothing.

    My children too have to be nourished and strengthened after being exposed to Reconstructionism. I don't know what it is that has been planted in their minds, but my wife and I pray for proper guidance and understanding in establishing the gospel in them. So we don't shy away from these teachings. Yet it is also true that I am fallible.

    It seems to me that, and this is what I taught my wife children, Galations really tries to define terms for what they umcompromisingly are. Grace is grace, through and through; reconciliation is reconcilitaton, through and through; and liberty in Christ is liberty in Christ, through and through. These terms need to be taken a principles of salvation. In Romans (also about the place of the law ) it is added that sin is sin, through and through; God is the judge and the justifier of those whom He deigned to save, while they were yet sinners. If we have so been justified, then that is how we must also walk our new life. If we begin by the Spirit, also live by the Spirit. (Gal. 5: 25 )

    The law forbids sins, such as those listed in vss. 19 -21 of ch. 5. But it does not forbid those things listed as fruits of the Spirit, listed in vss. 22-23. These are not the fruits of the law, for the only fruits the law can yield in sinner can be a restraint against the former list, but not righeousness, or kindness, or peace, or joy, etc. The Christian life has to be more that legal submission, for that did not avail the Jews anything either. There is something in the fruits of the Spirit that the law cannot meet, that it cannot even demand, that is can never satisfy in a personal obedience. For legality does not satisfy the law, love does, and faith does. Legality misses the whole intent.

    Yet every word of the OT yields to us the will of God in His gospel of reconciliation. So this requires of us a view of the law that accomodates the necessity that we are not under law, but under grace, yet we are not without the law either. As my chatechism teacher told me, "We are free to uphold the law, through faith alone."

    We are free, and not under bondage to the law in any way; Ch. 5:1 must mean that, it seems to me. And that is where I see a connection with all these new teachings, in that this basic principle is undermined.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

    That is slavery to sin.

    We are not slaves to ceremonial ritual either.
    Christ's priestly work is done.

    We are to obey every point of the law though.

    The Law is gracious, and grace demands obedience.

    Matthew 5

    17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    The "bondage" you speak of is the condemnation of sin.

    [Edited on 6-3-2004 by Wintermute]
     
  3. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [quote:3a0826d5e5][i:3a0826d5e5]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:3a0826d5e5]
    I have noticed a few controversial issues discussed on this Board that involve the right view of the law in grace.[/quote:3a0826d5e5]

    You can say that again.

    [quote:3a0826d5e5][i:3a0826d5e5]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:3a0826d5e5]
    We just went through Galations in family devotions. I stated it to my children in this way, briefly: the law no longer stands against us in our christian walk; it stands for us to help us. We are not under it for justification, for being reconciled to God; but we are not apart from it in ordering our lives so that we can change from the old man into the new man continuously throughout our lives. It is our guide, not our accuser. That is what we need to hold, and that is what we need to present in how we live to others. Every word of the OT is Scripture, and so is our guide to knowing God's will. But our salvation is in the work of Christ, plus nothing.[/quote:3a0826d5e5]

    :amen: I think you've really nailed it here, John. I would just add that it's not just "our guide" in the sense that it's there and God holds us responsible for following it. For while that is true, that's not the whole story, so to speak. The way God causes His children to follow it is through the continual process of sanctification, wherein He increasingly unites us to His Son. And our personal delight in, and obedience of, the law, is our own external evidence that that is taking place.

    [quote:3a0826d5e5][i:3a0826d5e5]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:3a0826d5e5]
    My children too have to be nourished and strengthened after being exposed to Reconstructionism. I don't know what it is that has been planted in their minds, but my wife and I pray for proper guidance and understanding in establishing the gospel in them. So we don't shy away from these teachings. Yet it is also true that I am fallible.[/quote:3a0826d5e5]

    I'll pray for your family in this area, that God would continue to give you and your wife wisdom to instruct your children on these key issues.

    [quote:3a0826d5e5][i:3a0826d5e5]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:3a0826d5e5]
    The law forbids sins, such as those listed in vss. 19 -21 of ch. 5. But it does not forbid those things listed as fruits of the Spirit, listed in vss. 22-23. These are not the fruits of the law, for the only fruits the law can yield in sinner can be a restraint against the former list, but not righeousness, or kindness, or peace, or joy, etc. The Christian life has to be more that legal submission, for that did not avail the Jews anything either. There is something in the fruits of the Spirit that the law cannot meet, that it cannot even demand, that is can never satisfy in a personal obedience. For legality does not satisfy the law, love does, and faith does. Legality misses the whole intent.[/quote:3a0826d5e5]

    Actually, I would disagree with you here. While it is true that [i:3a0826d5e5]legalism[/i:3a0826d5e5] can never profuce things like the fruit of the Spirit that sanctification is always striving to produce in us, God's Law can indeed. You say, "there is something in the fruits of the Spirit that the law cannot meet, that it cannot even demand, that is can never satisfy in a personal obedience." I see where you're coming from with that statement, but I think it overlooks Christ's declaration of the true sum and substance of the OT Law: "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Gal. 5:14, ESV). So while [i:3a0826d5e5]legalism[/i:3a0826d5e5] cannot fulfill things such as the fruit of the Spirit, if we were to hold that God's Law could not, we would be implying its imperfection. And I think the above verse summarizes how God's Law does in fact fulfill such things.

    [quote:3a0826d5e5][i:3a0826d5e5]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:3a0826d5e5]
    Yet every word of the OT yields to us the will of God in His gospel of reconciliation. So this requires of us a view of the law that accomodates the necessity that we are not under law, but under grace, yet we are not without the law either. As my chatechism teacher told me, "We are free to uphold the law, through faith alone."

    We are free, and not under bondage to the law in any way; Ch. 5:1 must mean that, it seems to me. And that is where I see a connection with all these new teachings, in that this basic principle is undermined.[/quote:3a0826d5e5]
    Agreed.

    In Christ,

    Chris

    [Edited on 6-3-2004 by Me Died Blue]
     
  4. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well said, Mark.
     
  5. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Mark:
    [quote:b8ccd2823f]The "bondage" you speak of is the condemnation of sin. [/quote:b8ccd2823f]
    It seems to me that Paul, in Galations, is saying more than that. He seems to be referring to being again put under the bondage of the law, for it is that that is his main concern in the epistle. He is warning against the wrong use of the law. In several epistles he speaks of love fulfilling the law; and in Romans he asserts that faith upholds the law. It is true that faith demands obedience, but obedience is not faith itself. That seems to me to be his whole point. Obedience was proven to be impossible for man, much less that obedience alone could be a means of justification. Obedience alone does not wipe out the past. And the new covenant does not put us under a new dispensation of being under law.

    Rom. 6: 14, "For sin will have not dominion over you, since you are not under law, but under grace."

    Chris:
    [quote:b8ccd2823f]I'll pray for your family in this area, that God would continue to give you and your wife wisdom to instruct your children on these key issues. [/quote:b8ccd2823f]
    Very much appreciated. What a brotherhood we have on this Board. I am humbled by it.

    [quote:b8ccd2823f]While it is true that legalism can never profuce things like the fruit of the Spirit that sanctification is always striving to produce in us, God's Law can indeed.[/quote:b8ccd2823f]
    All the law can do is expose sin. But if we keep the law from here on in, and expect some reward for that, then we are back in works righteousness. And it does nothing to wipe out the past. If we hold that Jesus wiped out the past for us, then we must say that we are reconciled through Christ's atonement, but that we must now live by the fleshly obedience to law. Though obedience is involved in the Christian walk, it is an obedience through thankfulness rather than for merit. For Christ has done it all, from first to last. There can be no justifying merit in our keeping the law, but it of great benefit for building Christian character, if obedience comes through the practice of love, and a life of faith.

    I don't mean this as if the law is only symbolically our guide, or that we pay lip-service to the law. We may not use our freedom as a licence or opportunity for the flesh. (Gal. 5: 13 ) The life of faith is a life of willing service, not of obligation to laws, for obedience is of no slavific merit, and of no obligation to us on God's part. It is all done in Christ, so that God may be in us, and use us as He sees fit, and grant to us the gifts that He desires for us. We are real beings, real entities that can glorify God, and enjoy Him.

    This is what I was taught. And this is what makes sense to me. But that is why I brought this up, to check it out, and to help us to understand it better.
     
  6. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [quote:1a91a2ca66][i:1a91a2ca66]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:1a91a2ca66]
    All the law can do is expose sin.[/quote:1a91a2ca66]

    This is indeed all the law can do [i:1a91a2ca66]before[/i:1a91a2ca66] our regeneration and salvation. When I was talking about everything the law can do for us in my previous post, I was speaking of it with respect to our post-conversion life. Once we are saved, it can produce things like the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, precisely because we desire to follow it solely out of gratitude, as you explain below:

    [quote:1a91a2ca66][i:1a91a2ca66]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:1a91a2ca66]
    But if we keep the law from here on in, and expect some reward for that, then we are back in works righteousness. And it does nothing to wipe out the past. If we hold that Jesus wiped out the past for us, then we must say that we are reconciled through Christ's atonement, but that we must now live by the fleshly obedience to law. Though obedience is involved in the Christian walk, it is an obedience through thankfulness rather than for merit. For Christ has done it all, from first to last. There can be no justifying merit in our keeping the law, but it of great benefit for building Christian character, if obedience comes through the practice of love, and a life of faith.

    I don't mean this as if the law is only symbolically our guide, or that we pay lip-service to the law. We may not use our freedom as a licence or opportunity for the flesh. (Gal. 5: 13 ) The life of faith is a life of willing service, not of obligation to laws, for obedience is of no slavific merit, and of no obligation to us on God's part. It is all done in Christ, so that God may be in us, and use us as He sees fit, and grant to us the gifts that He desires for us. We are real beings, real entities that can glorify God, and enjoy Him.[/quote:1a91a2ca66]

    We are agreed on these points.

    [quote:1a91a2ca66][i:1a91a2ca66]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:1a91a2ca66]
    This is what I was taught. And this is what makes sense to me. But that is why I brought this up, to check it out, and to help us to understand it better. [/quote:1a91a2ca66]

    I always enjoy discussing about things like this, especially when, as you pointed out, they've been relevant in several recent other conversations.

    Chris
     
  7. DanielC

    DanielC Puritan Board Freshman

    We are not under the Law of works. We are under the Law of Christ, that is, the same law of the Ten Commandments, as a rule of life, in the hand of the Mediator, to believers already justified. The Law of Works is not abolished, but it has no justifying place, and no power to condemn those in Christ.

    Have you read the Marrow of Modern Divinity?
     
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [quote:9aae757849][i:9aae757849]Originally posted by DanielC[/i:9aae757849]
    We are not under the Law of works. We are under the Law of Christ, that is, the same law of the Ten Commandments, as a rule of life, in the hand of the Mediator, to believers already justified. The Law of Works is not abolished, but it has no justifying place, and no power to condemn those in Christ.

    Have you read the Marrow of Modern Divinity? [/quote:9aae757849]

    Daniel:
    I've read quite some time ago. I have it on my hard drive. I can't remember it off hand, though.

    What is the difference between the Ten Commandments under the Mosaic Covenant, and the Ten Commandmens as the law of Christ? The same law, but there must be something different about it. I think I agree with you, but could you spell it out a bit more for me? How do we view the Law of Christ? What is the relationship of odedience to faith?
     
  9. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:5b6b64af9c][i:5b6b64af9c]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:5b6b64af9c]
    [quote:5b6b64af9c][i:5b6b64af9c]Originally posted by DanielC[/i:5b6b64af9c]
    We are not under the Law of works. We are under the Law of Christ, that is, the same law of the Ten Commandments, as a rule of life, in the hand of the Mediator, to believers already justified. The Law of Works is not abolished, but it has no justifying place, and no power to condemn those in Christ.

    Have you read the Marrow of Modern Divinity? [/quote:5b6b64af9c]

    Daniel:
    I've read quite some time ago. I have it on my hard drive. I can't remember it off hand, though.

    What is the difference between the Ten Commandments under the Mosaic Covenant, and the Ten Commandmens as the law of Christ? The same law, but there must be something different about it. I think I agree with you, but could you spell it out a bit more for me? How do we view the Law of Christ? What is the relationship of odedience to faith? [/quote:5b6b64af9c]

    John,

    You must read Marrow of Modern Divinity.

    As a matter of fact, if I can speak so boldly, that should be the NEXT book you read. It will speak directly to this question and is pertinent to your life in particular.
     
  10. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Fred:
    That's two prods now, not to mention all the times it has already been mentioned. It just moved to the top of the list.
     
  11. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert Inactive User

    [quote:a21512d0b8]
    What do you think?
    [/quote:a21512d0b8]

    I think the true nature of the law is the most perpexling question in modern evangelicalism and the root cause of almost all disagreements in theology today.
     
  12. FrozenChosen

    FrozenChosen Puritan Board Freshman

    If I can toss in my horribly uneducated opinion (you guys do seem like giants).

    The law is like a mirror. And since we're all nerds here, we can all understand this. Our sin is like acne, or facial blemishes. Or whatever. (I'll further the analogy and say we all had acne, just some of us were better at covering it up than others!)

    Do we wipe our face on the mirror to remove the acne? No, we don't. If we did, it would make the mirror messy (obscuring the true nature of the law, just as the Pharisees did). We are given Treatment. Then the mirror serves to help us in our dealings with our acne.

    Since I began to read the OT (a month and a half ago or so) I've been realizing how filthy I am, because I'm like "Wow, this Israelites, God's chosen people, had to live up to this. And I'm nowhere close to that. How I need Jesus!"
     
  13. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:4ea662b556][i:4ea662b556]Originally posted by FrozenChosen[/i:4ea662b556]
    If I can toss in my horribly uneducated opinion (you guys do seem like giants).

    The law is like a mirror. And since we're all nerds here, we can all understand this. Our sin is like acne, or facial blemishes. Or whatever. (I'll further the analogy and say we all had acne, just some of us were better at covering it up than others!)

    Do we wipe our face on the mirror to remove the acne? No, we don't. If we did, it would make the mirror messy (obscuring the true nature of the law, just as the Pharisees did). We are given Treatment. Then the mirror serves to help us in our dealings with our acne.

    Since I began to read the OT (a month and a half ago or so) I've been realizing how filthy I am, because I'm like "Wow, this Israelites, God's chosen people, had to live up to this. And I'm nowhere close to that. How I need Jesus!" [/quote:4ea662b556]

    And then when you read that, remember that Jesus kept [b:4ea662b556]every single one[/b:4ea662b556] of those commands in thought, word and deed. Every one, every day, all the time. What a amazing savior we have!

    And then you can realize that your calling is to keep those commands and that Christ gives you the power to do so in increasing measure by the Holy Spirit's work. What an amazing salvation we have!

    Oh Lord, how I love thy Law!
     
  14. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Marrow for Dummies

    Everyone,

    On sermonaudio.com there is a 3 lecture series by Sinclair Ferguson on the Marrow Controversy.

    1. Historical Details
    2. Dangers of legalism
    3. Dangers of Antinomianism


    Click Here for Series

    Not only were these great for clearing up my thinking but are very devotional!

    Enjoy!
    Chris
     
  15. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    That's a good analogy, Daniel. It really parallels how we get sanctified by means other than the Law (by Christ), but that looking back and comparing ourselves with the Law (the mirror) lets us see what kind of job the medicine (our sanctification through unity with Christ) is doing. Also, I can especially relate to the symbolism you chose :D.
     
  16. DanielC

    DanielC Puritan Board Freshman

    fredtgreco - here's my question:
    the "law of liberty" in James 1 (where it also talks about a mirror), is that the same as the law of Christ? I think so, but want to get a second opinion.
     
  17. DanielC

    DanielC Puritan Board Freshman

    Daniel - I would refer to use as "Pope," like you mentioned before... but isn't that a bad word here?
     
  18. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    [quote:f7ffbf22af][i:f7ffbf22af]Originally posted by DanielC[/i:f7ffbf22af]
    fredtgreco - here's my question:
    the "law of liberty" in James 1 (where it also talks about a mirror), is that the same as the law of Christ? I think so, but want to get a second opinion. [/quote:f7ffbf22af]

    I believe so as well. I think that Scripture only has one Law, and that it describes it from various perspectives based on the intention at that point. James here is trying to show that obedience to the law for the regenerate is not a think of slavish fear, but liberating as the Spirit works in the believer.

    Calvin seems to think that the law here is intimately related to Christ:

    [quote:f7ffbf22af]
    But why he calls it a perfect law, and a law of liberty, interpreters have not been able to understand; for they have not perceived that there is here a contrast, which may be gathered from other passages of Scripture. As long as the law is preached by the external voice of man, and not inscribed by the finger and Spirit of God on the heart, it is but a dead letter, and as it were a lifeless thing. It is, then, no wonder that the law is deemed imperfect, and that it is the law of bondage; for as Paul teaches in Galatians 4:24, separated from Christ, it generates to condemn and as the same shews to us in Romans 8:13, it can do nothing but fill us with diffidence and fear. But the Spirit of regeneration, who inscribes it on our inward parts, brings also the grace of adoption. It is, then, the same as though James had said, "The teaching of the law, let it no longer lead you to bondage, but, on the contrary, bring you to liberty; let it no longer be only a schoolmaster, but bring you to perfection: it ought to be received by you with sincere affection, so that you may lead a godly and a holy life." (Commentary on James [i:f7ffbf22af]in loc[/i:f7ffbf22af])[/quote:f7ffbf22af]


    There is another good comment to similar effect by Packer:

    [quote:f7ffbf22af]
    Second, God is redeemer and rewarder. Redeeming means recovering from alien possession, normally by payment (thus, the old-style pawnbroker displayed with his three brass balls the sign "Redemption Office"). The God who redeemed Jews from Egyptian slavery has redeemed Christians from bondage to sin and Satan at the cost of Calvary. Now it is by keeping his law that the liberty thus secured is to be preserved.
    This was true for Israel at a typical level: God told them that obedience would mean, instead of captivity, long life in "the land which the LORD your God gives you" (verse 12), as he showed "steadfast love to thousands" of those who loved him and kept his commands (verse 6). But for Israel then, as for Christians now, the deeper truth was this: that keeping God's law brings that deeper freedom (inner contentment) at which the tenth commandment tells us to aim. That is why James called it "the law of liberty" (James 1:25). Law-keeping is that life for which we were fitted by nature, unfitted by sin, and refitted by grace, the life God loves to see and reward; and for that life liberty is the proper name
    Packer, J. I. Growing in Christ, 236.[/quote:f7ffbf22af]
     
  19. DanielC

    DanielC Puritan Board Freshman

    [quote:d2fc9bb4b3][i:d2fc9bb4b3]Originally posted by JohnV[/i:d2fc9bb4b3]
    [quote:d2fc9bb4b3][i:d2fc9bb4b3]Originally posted by DanielC[/i:d2fc9bb4b3]
    We are not under the Law of works. We are under the Law of Christ, that is, the same law of the Ten Commandments, as a rule of life, in the hand of the Mediator, to believers already justified. The Law of Works is not abolished, but it has no justifying place, and no power to condemn those in Christ.

    Have you read the Marrow of Modern Divinity? [/quote:d2fc9bb4b3]

    Daniel:
    I've read quite some time ago. I have it on my hard drive. I can't remember it off hand, though.

    What is the difference between the Ten Commandments under the Mosaic Covenant, and the Ten Commandmens as the law of Christ? The same law, but there must be something different about it. I think I agree with you, but could you spell it out a bit more for me? How do we view the Law of Christ? What is the relationship of odedience to faith? [/quote:d2fc9bb4b3]

    Actually, there is no change to the Law. It is a reflection of the character of God. And God is immutable.

    What changes is our position in relation to it, that is, how it comes to us. Previously, the Law came from an absolute God without a mediator, to sinners condemned by it. Now the very same Law comes from God, IN Christ OUR MEDIATOR, to us. So its called the Law of Christ (bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ).

    So the Law is our unchanged rule of life, but Satan no longer can use it to condemn us (Zech 3:1-5), and is not to be misconstrued as grounds for justification, seeing as Jesus removed us from the curse of the law, and became to us righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Cor 1:30). But it is STILL a reflection of the character of God, and we are being conformed to that image, therefore it remains the rule of life, just not a justifying one. Make sense?

    Fred, did I say that correctly?
     
  20. Ianterrell

    Ianterrell Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think its helpful to know that sometimes when the word law is referred to in scripture it's speaking of an authority or power. The law of Christ is the authority and power of Christ that we are under which is to say the regenerate are in the covenant of Grace of which Christ is the ruling Mediator.
     
  21. Guest

    Guest Puritan Board Freshman

    [quote:03b2fa7f90]
    Actually, there is no change to the Law. It is a reflection of the character of God. And God is immutable.
    [/quote:03b2fa7f90]

    Yep.

    The law sends us to the Cross for Justification (the first use) and the Cross sends us back to the Law for sanctification, (the third use). Christ Himself having provided the means whereby we may live in obedience. (Gal 2:20) The law has been taken out of the hand of Moses, (because by itself the law cannot impart life-it serves only to condemn), and now comes to us out of the hand of Christ who not only intensifies the law by directing it at mans inward condition (Matt 5) but also provides the life required to live it. Same law ... different administration and purpose.

    We are no longer under its curse, but we are under its command.


    WCF
    19:6 Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned (Act_13:39; Rom_6:14; Rom_8:1; Gal_2:16; Gal_3:13; Gal_4:4, Gal_4:5); yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs, and binds them to walk accordingly (Psa_119:4-6; Rom_7:12, Rom_7:22, Rom_7:25; 1Co_7:19; Gal_5:14, Gal_5:16, Gal_5:18-23); discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives (Rom_3:20; Rom_7:7); so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin (Rom_7:9, Rom_7:14, Rom_7:24; Jam_1:23-25); together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience (Rom_7:24, Rom_7:25; Rom_8:3, Rom_8:4; Gal_3:24). It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin (Psa_119:101, Psa_119:104, Psa_119:128; Jam_2:11): and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law (Psa_89:30-34; Ezr_9:13, Ezr_9:14). The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof (Lev_26:1, Lev_26:10, Lev_26:14 with 2Co_6:16; Psa_19:11; Psa_37:11 with Mat_5:5; Eph_6:2, Eph_6:3); although not as due to them by the law, as a covenant of works (Luk_17:10; Gal_2:16). So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace (Rom_6:12, Rom_6:14; Heb_12:28, Heb_12:29; 1Pe_3:8-12 with Psa_34:12-16).

    19:7 Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it (Gal_3:21); the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done (Eze_36:27; Heb_8:10 with Jer_31:33).

    Cheers

    [Edited on 6-4-2004 by Westmin]
     
  22. kceaster

    kceaster Puritan Board Junior

    John...

    I tend to think in terms of the bondage to the law in this way.

    Paul talks about the law in his members that is against the law of his mind. This shows that the will is renewed so that he actually does want to do the right thing. However, the law of his members wants to do something different.

    If you put it in that context, you can see why Paul introduces himself as a bondslave of Christ. In serving the law or authority of Christ (thanks, Ian), he makes a clear distinction that he desires to serve the law of God instead of the law of his members. This is also why he calls the law, death. Romans 7 is crucial to Paul's view of law. I think it shows that Paul can be talking about two different types of law without clearly stating it.

    The pivot point is who do we trust? Do we trust the law or authority of Christ in God? Or, do we trust ourselves to be able to earn God's pardon through our bondage to the law of our members?

    If our sanctification produces obedience within us, it is not obedience to the law in our members, but to the law of God. The obedience that comes from sanctification is the obedience of Christ in us, which is the only way we can obey the law of God. Now, if Christ's Spirit is in us, would he obey the law perfectly? I think we should say yes. Would He obey all the statutes of God? Yes. Is this legalism? No. The Spirit obeys perfectly what God's standard requires.

    But obviously, just as the Galatians, we tend to want to rely on our own work, rather than the work of another. This is why we are so easily entangled in either legalism or antinomianism. In both of these, we obey the law of our members, because we either rely on ourselves to save us, or we wrongfully believe that we needn't do a thing.

    It is heavy and bonderous to try to obey the law of God when it is in our own strength and outside of faith in Christ. That is Paul's whole point. If you want to trust in your own obedience, guess what, you have to obey everything perfectly.

    However, in a proper view of the law, we need to realize that it is not we who do it, but Christ who strengthens us. If Christ is in us, we need not fear the law, because Christ will obey it perfectly in us. Therefore, we are free. We can obey all of God's statutes because of Christ. If this is the case, there is no statute which God has spoken that should ever be a burden simply because it is not we who do this work, but Christ in us.

    Where we get into trouble and where the law seems burdensome is when we take it upon ourselves to do that work designed solely for Christ in our lives. This is what makes us want to go back to Egypt, because our flesh and the law in it, does not want to trust Christ.

    In Christ,

    KC
     
  23. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Very well put, Kevin. Some of what you say is catechetical language through and through.

    In the controversy I've had to deal with, I found that one can talk 'til the cows come home about the different persuasions one has on things such as eschatology or apologetics, and get absolutely nowhere. But that was not the problem either. One could also argue endlessly about the law, without resolution.

    I think that people can hold views that go a little off the orthodox side of things, but the [b:94c5476f9b]place[/b:94c5476f9b] of the law seems to have direct ramifications. The teachings I was faced with is within OPC standards of acceptability. But because it involved a misplacing of the law, it resulted in some wierd things. It's those "wierd things" that caused us to reject that ministry, not the views themselves on their own.

    That is why I think that it is important to know what the standard actually is, for the [b:94c5476f9b]place[/b:94c5476f9b] of the law seems to be a key ingredient in many of todays controversies.

    Read again, carefully, Fred's quote of Calvin above. There is a lot there that jumps out at you when you've been through the wringer, so to speak, with one of these 'isms'. And the words of comfort in that quote are so very consoling for myself.

    Someone above mentioned the three uses of the law, something that I considered putting in my introductory post. It is essential that these be imprinted on our minds, I think, along with the understanding that:
    [quote:94c5476f9b]As long as the law is preached by the external voice of man, and not inscribed by the finger and Spirit of God on the heart, it is but a dead letter, and as it were a lifeless thing. It is, then, no wonder that the law is deemed imperfect, and that it is the law of bondage; for as Paul teaches in Galatians 4:24, separated from Christ, it generates to condemn and as the same shews to us in Romans 8:13, it can do nothing but fill us with diffidence and fear. But the Spirit of regeneration, who inscribes it on our inward parts, brings also the grace of adoption. It is, then, the same as though James had said, "The teaching of the law, let it no longer lead you to bondage, but, on the contrary, bring you to liberty; let it no longer be only a schoolmaster, but bring you to perfection: it ought to be received by you with sincere affection, so that you may lead a godly and a holy life." [/quote:94c5476f9b](I only wanted the first sentence, but i didn't know where to stop the quote, because it is all so well put together. )

    I too will sing:
    [quote:94c5476f9b]Oh Lord, how I love thy Law![/quote:94c5476f9b]

    The misplacing of the law has results in actions as well as theology. We all make mistakes, and few of us have it all together theologically. We are all still learning to set aside our misconceptions and false notions. But the deliberate following of false doctrine has its results; and a stubborn heart that refuses correction by the Word will tend to stray even more from the Word.

    I can live with Reconstructionists, (the 'five-pillar' ones ) if we can all be under the Word together. But when Reconstructionist tenets become the Word, and decide what the Word says, then sooner or later we will have trouble, for things will be imposed that ought not to be. For the law again will have become a dead letter over the saved man's head, instead of being liberating. It's not that they tried to impose Theonomy, but that through Theonomy they tried to impose a narrowed gospel, excluding from fellowship those who were not Theonomists. And that breaks so many other conventions of the churches, not just the civil laws.

    What I am trying to say is that the place of the law is important to sound teaching. But it is the results from the practice of a misplaced law that results in departure from orthodoxy. Some of these teachings sound innocent enough on the surface, but they pose a danger in implementation. That is why I think we need to discuss the [b:94c5476f9b]place[/b:94c5476f9b] of the law.
     
  24. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    [quote:74174ea65e]
    That is why I think we need to discuss the place of the law.
    [/quote:74174ea65e]

    Lex Rex.


    [quote:74174ea65e]
    Proselytizing for another god

    When someone comes and proselytizes for another god or another final authority (and by the way, that god may be man)--when someone tries to undermine the commitment to Jehovah which is fundamental to the civil order of a godly state--then that person needs to be restrained by the magistrate. However, this does not mean that individuals should be punished for holding heretical views, the views that Baptists think are heretical or Lutherans think are heretical and so forth. It simply means that those who will not acknowledge Jehovah as the ultimate authority behind the civil law code which the magistrate is enforcing would be punished and repressed. You would, therefore, be open, I believe, to hold Muslim views or Hindu views in the privacy of your own home, provided it was not a Christian home that you've now come into to subvert and draw away from Jehovah. You would be able to hold these views as a private conviction. But you would not be allowed to proselytize and undermine the order of the state. Before people who are non-theonomists get too terribly upset about this view, I would at least ask them to reflect on this fact: every civil order protects its foundations.

    - Greg Bahnsen (theonomist), "An Interview with Greg L. Bahnsen," Calvinism Today, Jan. 1994, p. 23.
    [/quote:74174ea65e]


    [quote:74174ea65e]
    All who are content with a humanistic law system and do not strive to replace it with Biblical law are guilty of idolatry. They have forsaken the covenant of their God, and they are asking us to serve other gods. They are thus idolaters, and are, in our generation, when our world is idolatrous and our states also, to be objects of missionary activity. They must be called out of their idolatry into the service of the living God.

    "Christian" man is thus doubly a sinner when he is antinomian and despises God's law: he has denied the law in Adam, and now, with consummate profanity, he denies it in the name of Christ. He thus doubly denies the everlasting covenant, and doubly transgresses the laws.

    R. J. Rushdoony, Law and Society: Volume II of the Institutes of Biblical Law (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982), pp. 468, 316.

    [/quote:74174ea65e]
     
  25. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Mark:

    I didn't mean to steer the discussion, but by using the example of Reconstructionism I guess it was inadvertant. I wanted to put in a contextual situation what Kevin had said. Again, I don't think we need to discuss here the different tenets of a particular movement. I only want to point out that the misplacing of the law leads to greater errors, as shown by the example I gave from my experiences. I'm sure others have also had experiences, but with some other 'ism'.

    But, using Rushdooney's quote, maybe we can get a handle on it a bit.
    [quote:321311b1a2]All who are content with a humanistic law system and do not strive to replace it with Biblical law are guilty of idolatry. They have forsaken the covenant of their God, and they are asking us to serve other gods. They are thus idolaters, and are, in our generation, when our world is idolatrous and our states also, to be objects of missionary activity. They must be called out of their idolatry into the service of the living God. [/quote:321311b1a2]

    It seems to me that Galations implies that the wrong use of the law is also indolatry. Implementing Biblical law can also be done wrongly. Some churches are idolatrous. That's the whole point here. Biblical law can be used to stamp out idolatry, but stamping out idolatry to impose Biblical law is no answer, in the end. The answer is to show how grace statisfies the law for us, so that we may be enabld to keep the law out of faith. Keeping the law without faith is not keeping the law at all. So I would agree with Rushdooney, as long as between the idolatry and the law is a great work of evangelism first. I don't think it is reasonable to jump from the one to the other without the mediation of evangelical faith.
     
  26. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Christ was so perfectly balanced that the antinomians called Him a legalist, and the legalists called Him an antinomian.
     
  27. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    And today's legalists and antinomians are claiming Him for representing their own ideas. It's a curiously wierd world.

    Let me come at it from another direction. Basically I'm just thinking out loud here. It's on my mind, and I can't get it out without feeling the need to say something. I'm still going to read The Marrow.

    Here goes:

    In the paper today I read about the controversy in the Anglican churches about blessing same-sex marriages. The pro side has the name, 'Integrity', while the orthodox sector has the name, "Essentials." It is not as though either side is moving to affect ecclesiastical discipline on immoral these people, though; so these names have very little to do with either side of the discussion. There is neither integrity nor essentialiality to the debate. Taking up positive names does not really change things.

    In our day we have various 'isms' which take on positive notions to their ideas. NCT is not necessarily new or covenantal; and neither is Theonomy concerned with God's law necessarily. At least that is my experience with the five-pillared variety. So there is a lot of verbiage in the 'isms' that I can agree with out of context, but that does not mean that I agree with them on their ideas. But to go on with debate is just a going around in circles.

    That's why for me it comes down how the law gets placed in their theologies. It tells me a lot. But my own views have to be in line too, and perhaps even more so. Theology has to be a unified whole. And the place of the law is where I see practical results: inconsistencies that don't have to do with the personal perspectives themselves, but rather with the outworking of the perspectives. The imbalance of a false teaching shows up somewhere, and I think it is here, at the place of the law in the gospel of grace.

    If we kicked everyone out who had an aberrant view, then there would be only rightly trained theologians left in the church. But we don't discipline someone for holding an aberrant view, but rather for practicing, teaching, and spreading it. We call it a causing of unrest or schism. So even there we don't always address the views themselves. But this is where we fail often; not because we should not do things this way, for we should do them this way, but because we often alienate people who aren't like us rather than looking at the real heart of the matter.

    We should be helping each other on in each other's following of Scripture, not trying to inculcate our own views on others. We need to get back to addressing the fact that we are all fallen, and that we all need each other's help, and that our mutual goal is following the Word purely; rather than trying to convince everyone that we are the ones, the only ones, who follow the Word purely with our 'isms'. It's because we fail here that we end up with teachings that have a friction just at the place of the law in grace. But it is a mark that is common, it seems to me, to modern controversial teachings.

    At least in my case it has helped me to understand where I should be, and what I should believe. It was just one view against another, until it got to this point. Then I had to take sides, and then I had to make choices, even if I stood alone. It was here, at the place of the law, and not at the five pillars of Reconstructionism, that I was forced into dissent. It was practical things which were outworkings of (to coin a new word ) 'ism'ism, a following of certain 'isms' instead of following just the Word, and instead of subjecting even our 'ism' to the objective Word.

    Whatever it is that we are binding ourselves to, we have to be able to be objective about it, and not just assume that it is all Biblical, but we have to spend most of our time proving it, and re-proving it again and again, to ourselves. To ourselves! It scares me when I think that my own understanding is so perfect. That is when I feel most vulnerable, and feel most taken in by my own deceits and conceits.

    So I need a test for orthodoxy to the Word. I have to remember that T.H. Huxley could also find a way of justifying himself by using the Word, so I may not fool myself. Self-deception is the worst kind of deception. The test that has fallen to me is the one of the place of the law. It's not that it condemns others' views as much as it condemns mine own. The central point for every believer is his personal relation to God, a real living God. And how he lives before the face of this God is what shows his faith. And as that life is lived there is a changing toward the law, in joy and in increase.

    What I am saying is a very elongated way of saying that the fruits will show whether the faith is true. Not whether it is perfect, but whether it is going toward perfection. And the law is integral to the life of faith. How that is played out is a good indicator of the varacity of the tenets or views one gives himself to.
     
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