2 Sept 2021

There seems to be much confusion for some believers regarding the place of the Law in salvation and in the outworking of the Christian life in sanctification. Sorting it out would help tremendously in the sharing of the gospel and in seeking the life that is pleasing to God in our Christian lives.

A helpful illustration: the Law functions like a mirror reflecting to us both the perfect righteousness of God and our own sinfulness and shortcomings.

The Law of God shows us what sort of people we are in God’s eyes – we are sinners and lawbreakers under sentence if we are not in Christ – we cannot hope to be right with God by keeping the Law – the Law exposes us to ourselves (as unbelievers) to be spiritually sick and lost whose only hope lies in God’s mercy and forgiveness – the Law helps us to appreciate the remedy the gospel provides. It shows unbelievers the need for pardon and the danger of eternal damnation unless there is repentance and faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3L19-24). We need to communicate this clearly to non-believers in sharing the gospel!

But the Law also shows us what sort of people God wants us to be – from it, we learn what kind of behaviour God wishes and loves to see in us as believers. We must acknowledge that Christians do not cease to be sinners. Christians are free from the Law as a supposed system of salvation; in other words, believers do not seek to be saved by keeping the Law but they are under “Christ’s Law’ as a rule of life as children of God. The Law tells believers what will please their heavenly Father; it guides the believers into the good works God has planned for them (Eph. 2:10). The Law also gives the believers knowledge of the sin that still remains in them – the ‘indwelling sin’ and that they cannot hope to be rid of indwelling sin while they still remain in the body here on earth. Only when Christ comes again will the tension between will and achievement, purpose and performance, plan and action be abolished, and they would be delivered completely.

However, for the Christian, there is a double journey in our lives; the outward one is into external confrontations, discoveries, and relationships and the inward one is into self-knowledge and discovery of self-expression, self-fulfillment, freedom and contentment within. The outward has to do with learning to relate positively and purposefully to the world and other people; the inward takes the form of deepening our relationship with the Triune God. In our modern world, there is a tendency for believers to become unbalanced activists, conforming unhappily to the world around us. We may end up like the Pharisees (who were also great activists (Matt.23:15)) and become harsh and legalistic, living busy, complacent lives of conforming to convention and caring much more for programmes than for people. This is a vital mistake also observed in many churches, and there is a neglect of nurturing the inner life of fellowship with God which has much to do with learning to be people God wants us to be, and to be increasingly conformed to the image of our Master and Lord. The Law shows us what sort of lifestyle truly satisfies those who are God’s children, that which makes them wholesome humans in the eyes of God and that which is truly fulfilling, as God meant it to be when He first created us.

Christ taught His disciples that they must keep the Law and do all that He had commanded (Matt. 5:18-20;28:29). It is obedience to His commands (Law) that will prove the reality of our love for Him (John14:15).