The Law of God in the Christian Age

The Law of God in the Christian Age

By Georead

Introduction

The Jews understood God’s law. They knew that it was sin to break the law. They knew it was a sin to break the Sabbath and to commit adultery. The law spelled it out plainly for them. Jesus himself set the law before them as the standard of eternal life. Matthew 19:16-19.

What about Christians? Is there a law applicable for Christians in this Christian age?

Sin is the Transgression of the Law

The Scriptures define sin as follows: sin is the transgression of the law 1 John 3:4. When we break the law we have sinned and we become transgressors.

Apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, where no law is, there is no transgression Romans 4:15. If there is no law applicable in the Christian age we would be without sin and transgression. However this is not the case as Apostle Paul further writes for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 and in Romans 3:9 he says ‘for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.’ Since all have sinned there must be some law in existence in the Christian age.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10.  The Christian that claims he has no sin is deceived.

Likewise if a Christian claims there is no law, which defines sin, how can he call anyone to repent of sin? Those who profess to cling to Christ, centering their hopes on Him, while they pour contempt upon the moral law . . . cannot understandingly call sinners to repentance, for they are unable to properly explain what they are to repent of. The sinner, upon being exhorted to forsake his sins, has a right to ask, What is sin? Those who respect the law of God can answer, Sin is the transgression of the law. {1 SM 229.1}

 We don’t know what sin is unless the law gives us a knowledge of it. For by the law is the knowledge of sin Romans 3:20. I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet Romans 7:7.

The Bible is plain and clear. Yet there are many in this world who seek to overthrow the law of God. They look for little phrases they can adapt to suit their ideas. Some of these little phrases we will examine below.

Under the Law

In Romans 6:15 the phrase, we are not under the law, but under grace, is taken to mean we are no longer under the law so we don’t have to keep the law and since we’re under grace the Ten Commandments are not necessary.

The Bible explains itself. What does it mean to be under the law? Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19. To be under the law means to be guilty or to be condemned by the law. What does it mean to be under grace? Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24. To be under grace means to be justified or to be pardoned from our condemned guilty condition.

Remembering our definition of sin, sin is the transgression of the law we can re-examine Romans 6:14,15. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

We could express what Apostle Paul is saying like this – even though we are no longer guilty but have received a pardon, shall we sin, shall we transgress the law? God forbid. Just because we’ve received a pardon and we’ve been excused of our guilt it is not a license to sin. God forbid that we should sin while under grace.

Apostle Paul is talking about being under the condemnation of the law not under the obligation of law. We need to come under grace to relieve us of condemnation as transgressors.

The parable in Matthew chapter 18 illustrates the principle. A servant owes a large debt that he cannot repay. With his family he is condemned to be sold into slavery Matthew 18:23-25. In verses 26-27 the servant pleads for mercy saying, “I’ll pay you all, I’ll do anything.” The king has mercy and forgives the debt. The servant is now under grace. The king is gracious in forgiving the debt. The servant is justified and free from condemnation; free from the large debt he owes.

What does the servant do? While under the grace of the king this servant commits further gross sins and incurs further condemnation Matthew 18:28-34. He receives due punishment for abusing the grace of the king. It is abhorrent to transgress while under grace, shall we sin . . under grace? God forbid Romans 6:15.

End of the Law

The phrase in Romans 10:4 Christ is the end of the law is taken to mean, Christ made an end of the law, or He abolished it.

The Bible explains itself. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned 1 Timothy 1:5. Charity means love. If we love someone, does it mean that the commandment is terminated and being terminated could we commit an uncharitable act like murder? No, this verse is telling us that ‘the end’ or ‘the object’ of the commandment is charity or love. To love our fellowman is the object of the commandment. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  Romans 13:10.

The word ‘end’ does not necessarily mean ‘termination.’ It can be used in a different sense. For example I could say, “the end or the object of my life is to be happy.”

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth Romans 10:4. This does not mean Christ came to terminate the law. In the gospel of Matthew Christ said think not that I have come to destroy the law Matthew 5:17.

 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Romans 10:3. The subject of Romans 10:3,4 is righteousness. How are we going to be righteous? How are we going to achieve it? Christ is the end, that’s how we are going to achieve it – there’s no other way to be righteous. Christ is the object of the law for righteousness. The purpose of the law is to drive us to Christ.

Christ is the end, or purpose of the law. The law condemns the sinner, and thus drives him to Christ for righteousness. {ST Aug 5, 1889 par. 8}

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. Galatians 3:24. The law is only the stick that drives us on to Christ. Christ is the end because through Him we can be righteous. We need His imputed and imparted righteousness because our own righteousness will never be good enough.

Without the Law

The phrase in Romans 3:21 without the law is taken to mean we are now without the law and it is no longer necessary to keep it.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. . . . Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Romans 3:20,21,28.       

The law gives us a knowledge of sin but it cannot justify us. We are justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The parable in Matthew 18 illustrates the meaning. Remember the servant condemned as a debtor. How was he justified before the king? Matthew 18:25-27. The servant was willing to pay all. He was willing to do many deeds to make up for his debt. But his own works would never be enough to pay such a large debt. A pardon came to him without deeds. He didn’t do anything apart from pleading for mercy.

This is how justification comes to the sinner. It comes by a pardon without the deeds of the law. It is through faith in the righteousness of Christ that we receive a pardon.

But does faith in Christ’s justifying power remove the claims of the law? Look how Paul qualifies it all. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.  Romans 3:31.

 Conclusion

We can go on and on finding apparent inconsistencies in the word of God. But for now we conclude God has a law applicable for us in this Christian age.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.  1 John 2:3-5

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One Response to The Law of God in the Christian Age

  1. Simon O'Rourke says:

    Wow. Someone who understands the Law/Grace conundrum, and can explain it without making a complete dogs breakfast. Very refreshing.

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