29.3.07

The Law: Not under, not outside, but in Christ.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (1Co 9:19-20)

I'm not trying to reopen a debate on the nature of the Old Testament Law to the New Testament believer... but I did think this was a helpful insight.

Paul, in the midst of his discourse on how he has become all things to all men in order to win them, mentions, almost as an aside, his relationship to the law. This gives a valuable insight into our relationship to it too:

We are not under the law
We are not outside of the law
We are under the law of Christ


Although we are no longer under the law, we are not outside of it either. It still applies to us as it finds its fulfilment in Christ. All of the law must pass through Christ before it applies to us.

Some of the law gets added to, because the real issue is one of the heart and not of observance of the letter. e.g. the commandments against adultery and murder.

Some of the law does not pass through because it has already been ultimately fulfilled in Christ. e.g. the sacrifices for sins, the cutting off of the flesh in circumcision.

Some of the law becomes a matter of conscience, because it was to illustrate a principle that is now better illustrated in the New Covenant realities, and the issue is not one of observance, but of faith. e.g. eating or not eating certain foods, observing or not observing special days.

And some of the law passes through unchanged. e.g. honouring ones father and mother.

Whilst we might disagree on the finer details of interpretation and application there are some things that are very clear:

First, no-one is justified by observing the law. We cannot earn our salvation or favour with God by observing the law. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

However, those who love God will obey his commandments. Whilst we cannot earn favour by obedience, we can grieve the Holy Spirit by disobedience.

A correct understanding of the law plays an important part of our walk of faith. It makes the difference between observance and obedience on the one hand, and between liberty and licence on the other.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (1Ti 1:8 NIV)

4 comments:

Mark H said...

Very good. Thanks Chris :-)

Micky said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

Anonymous said...

Seriously glad to hear both this and Mickyes testimony, God is the best and only answer to the needs of the world, and offers transformation and hope to all who want it! Good you God!
I have a lot of time for those who are willing to use the bible not merely as a proof-text but as an inspiration. Introducing people to what God says about his own law is the only way forward, commendable.

Chris HH said...

I received this "off the record" comment today, that I want to include because it was a great encouragement:

Hi my name is Jean and I want to thank you for your blog it helped me take a good look at the ten commandment issue.I am an ex Seventh Day Adventist And I was suffering over not observing Sabbath. You have helped me a great deal. I think that it is a matter of conscience,You have lifted a weight from my shoulders! Thank You.

Praise God for the power of his word to set people free!