Last week, we talked about how the doctrines of Law and Gospel have been horribly misused in the Church today. In order to help prevent further misunderstanding, and to prepare for our upcoming discussion on the Ten Commandments I would like to briefly cover the three uses for the Law today.
The Three Uses of the Law
We know now what the Law is, the teaching of what is pleasing to God and the rebuking of sin. This is a very necessary doctrine and most certainly has its place in the Christian Church. We can also know from the preaching of Jesus Christ, particularly from His Sermon on the Mount, that none of us can perfectly keep this Law. So how are we to use it correctly?
The three ways to use the Law are:
1. To maintain external discipline in society
The Law serves to show us how to establish a just society. To outlaw and to punish justly certain crimes such as murder, theft, and rape(Deut. 16:20). It also serves to teach how to guard certain rights such as private property, right to justice, fair treatment for poor and rich alike (Isaiah 1:17). We are under no obligation to implement these laws exactly as they are found in Scripture. Only to learn from them the true definition of a just society.
2. To reveal to us our sin
The second use is as a mirror. The Law reveals to us our sin. Showing us just how sick we truly are and how deep the infection goes (Romans 7:7). Without the Law, we could easily convince ourselves that we are relatively good people deserving of some good in this world and a comfortable place in the next. However, the Law will show us that we are eviler than we ever dreamed in our darkest nightmares. The mobs that run the streets would look like an old lady’s tea party compared to the wretchedness in our hearts (Romans 7:18-20).
The Law reveals this to us that we may be properly prepared for the Gospel. When a person has come to the revelation above, they are ready for the Gospel.
3. To guide Christians (and only Christians) to the knowledge of what pleases God
The third use of the Law applies only to Christians. It reveals to them what things please God. This has no place in the discussion until a person has received their faith and is among the elect of God (Heb. 116). If you are not saved, the Law is nothing to you but threats. For the unregenerate will follow the Law only out of fear. Yet, even their obedience is a sin to God for it comes not through faith. To reject the sacrifice of the Son of God is so horrible, no good deed could erase it. However, the regenerate, the Christian, would follow the Law from pure love, out of a sole desire to please the God they love (Galatians 1:10). It has nothing at all to do with earning or deserving their salvation. That has already been given them freely. It has everything to do with love for their Savior.
Today we have finished up our mini-series on the doctrines of Law and Gospel by covering in brief the three correct ways to use the Law. Next time we will begin our series on the Ten Commandments.
As always I would love to read your comments below or through my Contact Page.
Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.