What is the ultimate purpose of the Law for Christians?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by WrittenFromUtopia, Mar 1, 2005.

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  1. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I've had conversations with someone recently who basically says the Law is worthless to us, in light of Christ's sacrifice. This person also says that circumcision is part of the "ceremonial law" done away with in Christ's death, but he maintains that ALL of the Law has been done away with.

    Here are some of the statements he attacked me with:

  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    This seems like plain ol' antinomianism, perhaps from a dispensational perspective. It is critical for Christians to realize that the moral law of God, summarized in the Decalogue, is the only law of God which is still binding upon men. Even under grace believers may use that law rightly and be instructed and convicted by it (albeit not saved by it).

    Given his use of the term "Westminsterites," he probably won't be receptive to these sources, but In my humble opinion, the best treatments on the use of the moral law for believers (and unbelievers) comes from:

    * Westminster Confession of Faith, Chap. XIX

    * Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. # 91-153 (with special attention to 91-99)

    * Commentary on the Larger Catechism by Thomas Ridgely

    * The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson

    *Dr. C.M. McMahon, Some Thoughts About the Moral Law: http://www.apuritansmind.com/ChristianWalk/McMahonMeditationMoralLaw.htm
  3. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    Law Brings Us to Knowledge of Sin...

    That is non-sense as far as law being "worthless to us"... The Apostle Paul makes it clear Christian liberty is not libertine license and we're to examine heart and make our calling and election sure. We should see fruits, or evidences of a saving faith, not all at once though. Also, we should be careful not to give all the attention to finding those fruits, least we fall into legalism.... setting one's sights on the free and unmerited grace of Jesus Christ, and the promises of God is where we find our blessed assurance.

    As for that kind non-sense about law being worthless, I heard that kind of antinomian jibberish amongst some dispensationalists, though it's not characteristic of the Lordship Salvation column that follows John MacArthur... the antinomian Dispensationalists say stuff like how "the Ten Commandments are now rendered irrelevant... etc. etc." I know our best righteousness are like filthy rags in God's eyes (Isa 64:6), and we cannot obide in the law, as we cannot keep it to the last jot and tittle. What is more, the Apostle Paul rhetorically asks and answers:, "Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? God forbid." Our Lord Jesus Christ comes in to merit our salvation, where we cannot fulfill the works of the law. For those of faith, his righteousness is imputed to our account, as our sins are imputed to that cruel cross at Calvary.

    The purpose of the law is to bring us to knowledge of sin as the Apostle Paul articulates in his epistle to the Romans. Christ makes it clear that -- no man is justified by works of the law. The Apostle Paul hits the point home that it is the imputed righteousness of Christ that makes us justified.

    Matthew 5:19
    Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    Romans 13:9
    For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," [ NU-Text omits "You shall not bear false witness."] "You shall not covet," [ Exodus 20:13-15, 17; Deuteronomy 5:17-19, 21] and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

    It is the progressive work of santification that makes us followers of the law.... but we should never fall into the bonds of legalism. 1 Cor 6:9-10 manifests the unrighteousness and worldly things uncharacteristic of the new man... We're to "Be Holy because [God] is Holy..." If you love God, you will obey his commandments.

    [Edited on 3-8-2005 by Puritanhead]
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    A few thoughts"

    1. Begin in the Old Testament where God sovereignly makes a covenant with Abraham--this will be important later.

    2. God sovereignly initiates a covenant along with its stipulations, bringing both blessings and curses.

    3. Since God is Sovereing Lord of the Covenant, only he may renew this covenant and have it applied differently.

    4. As such, we must live (and think!) in terms of his sovereignty over the covenants.

    5.Therefore, any changes in the Covenant must come from Him.

    6. Ask him if bestiality is wrong.
  5. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    A lot of people see a false dichotomy when reading Romans 7 and 8, as if the former was about Paul's life as an unbeliever, and the latter pertains to his post-conversion life. But on the contrary, law and grace both have a place in the life of the Christian believer -- as they did for Old Testament saints too. Law instructs and convicts, grace saves. Understanding that puts Romans 7 and 8 in a completely different perspective than many modern Christians realize.
  6. pastorway

    pastorway Puritan Board Senior

    Grace gives us the desire and power to obey the Law of God. Without grace we cannot and will not obey.

    And we must never forget that in truth, obedience to God is love for Him. Jesus said those who love Him obey Him, indeed, 1 John 5:3 tells us that the love of God is obedience. So love = obedience.

    If there is nothing to obey (no law) then there is no way to love God!

  7. Presbyrino

    Presbyrino Puritan Board Freshman

    The decalouge formed the heart of the law in both administrations of the Covenant of Grace (older and new).
    You're friend suggested you to read Romans & Galatians and try again. Maybe you should recommend he should be reading the whole bible.

    Exo 31:18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

    2Co 3:3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    Jer 31:33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Mat 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.
    Mat 5:18 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.
    Mat 5:19 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.

    Rom 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
    Rom 7:13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
    Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
    Rom 13:9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
    Rom 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    1Ti 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

    Jam 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

    Jam 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Good answers so far. I would agree. Especially Pastor Way's.

    If you're going to debate people like this I have two bits of advice: First, don't. But second, be sure of this one thing, that no matter what people may say, and no matter how much people of like mind assail the truth, the truth itself remains untouched by it. And, "Thy Word is truth."

    I would separate the things he says which are true from the things which are false, with an eye to his personal good. For example, he is right that all the law has been fulfilled, but his understanding of it does no justice to the law's fulfillment whatsoever. In fact, his conclusion as to the ramifications of the law being fulfilled makes for a ludicrous situation. Like Jacob says, ask him if bestiality is OK now. After all, there's now no law against it anymore. So he must also be in favour of the changing morality, since there no longer exists a law to govern morality. To kiss him is the same as to slap him.

    As to the covenants, all covenants contain two parts, one for each party involved. Our covenant with God was invented by God, done on our behalf, for our good, and done better than we could have done. Also, our part of it is accomplished by God for us. That makes our reconciliation with God all of grace. There actually does exist the part in the covenant that can be called our part, the part that we have to do to keep it. And Christ has done that. That's what gustification by grace is all about. That' why we so vehemently reject the new concepts in justification.

    In the end, what is at stake in not the law, or the covenants, or justification. What is at stake is the person who can give himself to believe things, no matter how much they is utter nonsense. So try to touch his heart with the gospel. You don't need to win, that's already been done in Christ, and there's nothing he can do to upset that.

    OH yeah, remember this: if people are looking down the nose at you, its almost quite sure that its because they're laying flat on their back rather than being higher up. And they usually think they're the only ones who are upright.

    [Edited on 3-1-2005 by JohnV]
  9. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    To make things a bit more interesting, I have since discovered he does not believe in progressive sanctification... :banghead:
  10. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    So, he believes that we are as sanctified as we will ever be? What about heaven? What about the work God is doing in us? If we are fully sanctified, why is God working in us?

    Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

    I imagine statements like this are his stumbling block.
  11. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    The more we discuss things (him and I), the more confused I get.

    My last response to him on the Law was this: (let me know what you think)

    [Edited on 3-1-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]

    [Edited on 3-1-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]
  12. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

  13. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    Have you considered telling him, he is making a straw man argument or arguing against something that WCF adherents do not believe? He basically purports "Westminsterites" as he calls them-- believe in another Gospel (i.e. justified by works of the law) which they do not....

    Westminsterites do not believe in baptismal regeneration, nor in the necessity of baptism for salvation. Circumcision was symbolic of cutting off the old man and the old flesh, and the newness of a faith relationship with God. I myself do not follow the parallel of circumcision to baptism that Presbyterians do--- but I won't make a straw man and obfuscate or misrepresent them.

    Certain sections of the WCF of are very beautifully written... and preferable to any other confession In my humble opinion, 1689 London Baptist confession included.
  14. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    He has resorted to ad hominem, so I see no point in continuing to talk to him. Thanks for your posts guys!
  15. Texas Aggie

    Texas Aggie Puritan Board Freshman

    This topic on the law is interesting. I am not an expert on the subject but from my perspective, the Christian's Moral Code comes from the provisions given to us under the New Covenant. These provisions are from God Himself and they include:

    1) A heart transplant... a heart to know him
    2) His law written in our hearts and in our minds
    3) His Spirit (a key item that was not provided under the Old Covenant)

    I think Hebrews is pretty clear on what has changed in the law as a result of Christ's atonement (i.e. animal sacrifices & the priesthood). I see the New Covenant law that is written in our hearts and in our minds is the exact same law that God gave to Moses with the exception of the changes we find in Hebrews. The law simply defines sin and it is the expressed will of God for man on earth... obedience to Him. Instead of His law graven in stone, it is now written by God in our hearts. Instead of attempting to work from the outside inward as in the Old Covenant, His Spirit as well as His law are put into our "inward parts" in order to work from within. Obedience to His law is only a manifestation of His Spirit working inside you. Throwing out the law is an exercise of your will. The New Covenant places man back into the state that Adam was before he chose to disobey God's one decree. A follower of Christ still has a will to choose. You may choose to sin despite the Holy Spirit indwelling within. Simply put, under the New Covenant, the moral code a believer is to follow is His law written in your heart and in your mind. If you choose to throw out the entire Mosaic Law, ignoring the changes that occurred with Christ's atonement, I'm not sure what law you have.
  16. Jeremy

    Jeremy Puritan Board Freshman

    Just read this post.

    Thought I would comment for what it's worth...:2cents:

    I think it's all been said...but maybe I missed it. PastorWay hit on it the best in a most effective and concise way, and I think Texas Aggie gave it the fuel.

    The law of Christ is love. Romans 12 says, "He who loves another has fulfilled the law, for love is the fulfillment of the law."

    I am coming to think more and more that the most evident fulfillment of the law before God and man is whether or not you can love others from the heart, especially the unlovely.

    God is not impressed with people who say they love Him yet neglect their fellow man. They can even try to keep all of His laws at face value as the Pharisees did, but until they love others from the heart...they're not Christians.

    The last post was right. Any obedience that comes from our hearts is made possible by God writing the law in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

  17. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Yes, Jeremy, but what is love?

    In the same context we find:

    we also read:

    Obviously, according to Biblical principles, love is not defined in the same way as lovey-dovey postmodern secular humanism would have us think. This complicates things, does it not?

    Or, are the Old Testament principles of love obsolete and God has repented and recanted of such things?
  18. Jeremy

    Jeremy Puritan Board Freshman

    "There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends." I think Jesus defined love when He gave His life on Calvary.

    To love God is to obey Him, which includes keeping His commandments. But under the New Covenant, we are to focus on Jesus and His redeeming love. The new and living way of keeping God's law is not to labor in adherence to the letter, but to focus on the fulfillment of it, which is love.

    "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" - I Peter 1:22

    Under the New Covenant we are to live under a clear conscience, maintaining personal holiness and following after the NT commandments. I know way too many Christians who spend all their time in the Old Testament that they miss the point. Jesus' sermon on the mount should be one of our main focuses I believe.

    It is a good thing though to study God's law, but we are not to focus so much on it that we forget that we are not under it any longer. Galatians is a good book to study on this issue.

    "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." 2 John 1:9
  19. kceaster

    kceaster Puritan Board Junior


    What I don't get in these types of people is what they do with the Great Commission. I mean, it cannot get more plain. And every "Christian" denomination claims to put the Great Commission on its highest priority.

    I know the conversation between you two is over, but if you ever get the chance, ask him what it means for us to be commanded by the Lord, "...teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you." When you look at the preponderance of what Jesus taught in His ministry, it really does parallel much of what we see in Deuteronomy.

    It is unavoidable that discipleship means obedience by faith. If one lives a life of disobedience, and that on purpose, that one cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

    In Christ,

  20. Jeremy

    Jeremy Puritan Board Freshman


    That was great insight.

    Once we are born again, it becomes our delight to obey God's laws. They are no longer burdensome because Christ is the fulfillment of the law for us. If we are in Him, we will seek to obey Him. We don't throw the law away when we are born again.

    I love Psalm 119, how about you?
  21. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    You misunderstand the difference between "not being under the curse of the law" and "not being under the law. period."

    We are to live according to the law and abide in its principles because Christ is the very image and fulfillment of God's law and we are to imitate Christ. It cannot get any simpler than that!


    Paul found much necessity in obeying God's law, once he was regenerate, knowing that the law leads to conviction of sin and repentance for those who are of faith. His struggles with sin were nothing more than hindrances preventing him from keeping God's law as his "inner being" desired, being regenerate:

    And, of course, Jesus had some things to say:

    Bottom line: We are still bound to observe God's law, but (if we are regenerate) no longer with punishments and curses, but with blessings and as a loving act of obedience to the Lord for His salvation and love given to us in abundance and with much grace.
  22. Jeremy

    Jeremy Puritan Board Freshman

    Gabe, I'm saying the same thing, right?
  23. Texas Aggie

    Texas Aggie Puritan Board Freshman

    Good topic. I tend to believe that the law is not burdensome to us under the New Covenant because we now delight in obedience to the law. Christ's fulfillment of the law was a necessity to satisfy God's demands. The enmity now between the two parties involved has been removed.... this is part of your heart transplant. Under the New Covenant, we can not escape the law (written in our hearts and in our minds) and we have a heart to know him. Although we as partakers of the New Covenant focus on Christ, the Spirit helps keep us focused on the law.

    From the way I see it, the law has nothing to do with your justification (you have an imputed righteousness because before your regeneration, you will not and can not obey the law). The law, the Spirit and the believer all play an integral role in sanctification (your righteousness that exceeds the scribes and Pharisees).

    Not sure there is much difference between the OT and NT law. NT law is spiritual and seems more demanding; however, we now have the means and the will to obey under the provisions provided to us in the New Covenant. I tend to think that the law written in our hearts and minds is the same law that God gave to Moses (except there are spiritual applications now). The atonement of Jesus made a change of the law which we find in Hebrews (priesthood and animal sacrifices).

    Great topic.
  24. Jeremy

    Jeremy Puritan Board Freshman


    Here's another good definition of love:

    "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:10

    In doing this, we are loving God, are we not?

    "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" "“I John 5:20
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