Friday, May 22, 2015

The Law...good or bad?

If I jump off a building 10 stories high and go splat this is the normal consequence of violating a law of nature. If someone tells me about the law of gravity and cautions me not to jump, this would be the loving thing to do; a good thing, not bad. 

Law is for our good. It is not bad. Even though Gods love for us and acceptance of us is secured by Christ obedience to Gods law and not based on our keeping it, he will not suspend the consequences of violating the law to protect us. Anytime anything acts contrary to its designs their are consequences. This is the nature of operating in a created order. God is a specific way and therefore operates in a specific way. Because we are in his image, so do we.

The what and why of the law is not arbitrary or simply philosophical but very practical, real and down-to-earth. 

In fact, more importantly, God giving us laws is evidence that he cares for (loves) us.

Just like the creator of a sophisticated machine, such as a race car or jet, provides extensive instructions and procedures on how to care for, maintain and use that machine for maximum safety, efficiency and longevity, so also does God (this is most apparent in the one law to obey our parents. In so doing we are promised that our life on earth will be longer).

Obviously we are personal beings and not mechanical. We are far more sophisticated then a machine. But all the more reason (and evidence of care) for providing instructions on how we best function.

The point is all things are designed in a specific way (particularly us as his image bearers) in order to function in a specific way and operate at maximum capacity.

What are Gods laws after all. They are simply an explanation of how we operate best according to who he is and who we are i.e. according to his purposes, our design and the design of his created order. God's law is not arbitrary but rooted in the nature of God and how he operates (who he is) and in who we are as his image bearers. 

Nor does God give us laws as a means of our gaining his approval and earning his love. He gives them as evidence of his care/love for us so we might know how to relate to him and best function according to our design, for our joy and his glory.

The reason we have trouble with law (generally and not necessarily regarding a specific law) is because it tells us what to do when we believe we know better than someone else what to do.

There are two issues regarding our obeying the law.

1. Is the one giving the law trustworthy.

If they are

2. Do we trust in the one who is giving us directions/law. If we trust someone and believe they love us we will have no problem following their directions.

We should always and only seek to follow God's instructions because we trust him, love him and desire to honor him. Not to earn God's love or gain his acceptance and approval.

The problem isn't the law itself but our propensity to try to earn and gain acceptance and approval by our own efforts. In fact many who say they are Christians us the very *law itself to do just that. 

The challenge of the law is we must be on our guard to never lose sight that God never intended or intends the law to be the means of gaining his love, acceptance and approval.

Christ tells us in 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."

Why?  This tells us two things. 

1.     The law is important, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered to fulfill it.  
2.     Because we could not fulfill it ourselves he came and did it for us.

Is there a difference between God's law and mans law?

It depends? All law based on God's law is legitimate. These are to be followed diligently, for our good. But there are many laws that men create to take advantage of and abuse others that are in direct violation of God's law (legalized abortion comes to mind. The order of Pharaoh to have all babies destroyed at birth, would be a biblical example). Not only are we not obligated to follow these laws, but to do so can be disobedience to God. Since God is the ultimate lawgiver the consequences of violating his law is far more severe then violating man's.

For a further discussion on the basis or grounds for morality click here


* Paul deals with this misapplication of the law often in his letters to the churches. In fact the problem was significant enough that he writes an entire letter to the Galatian church that deals exclusively with this issue. The law is mentioned 32 times in this one short letter alone. Second only to Romans (which is almost 3x longer) where he mentions it 78 times. "Per capita" the law is mentioned most in Galatians. 

Those who misapply the law are often know as legalists. In Paul's day they were called Judaizers

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Grace to you
Jim Deal