Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christian Mythology: 18. The Law – Myth: Christians don’t have to keep the Old Testament Law

Romans 6, 7, and 8 can be very confusing. To achieve some level of emotional and spiritual comfort, Christians latch on to certain verses and make them foundational, personal theology. Here’s an example:

Romans 7:25 – “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

Compare that verse with 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.”

Which verse are you most familiar with? Most likely the latter with an emphasis on, “I’m not under the law. I’m under grace.” Which verse are you most comfortable with? Anything to do with grace is most likely.

Which verse is most confusing? Most likely the first one. Why? I suggest because this word is meat not milk. It is hard. All three chapters are hard. But I also suggest that a fundamental understanding of them is required for any Christian to be truly free in Jesus.

The law is good and holy and necessary in the life of the Christian. Romans 7:7 – “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”

Paul speaks to Christians here. He speaks to himself. He speaks in the context of the church age, the New Testament, and to Gentiles. He says that the Jewish law is necessary in their lives. It is not necessary to be under it. It is necessary to respond to it.

If you approach a STOP sign, you do not stop your car because you are under the law. The law is good and for your good. It protects you. It prevents problems. In the event you disobey however, the law on the sign accuses you when the police report cites failure to STOP as the cause of the accident. If you didn’t know before, you certainly know now. STOP means you, now, here, or else.

Sadly, people treat God’s laws as bad things. We accuse God of keeping good things from us. We look at His list of do’s and don’ts and demand freedom. We fail to see the freedom that already exists in the law.

I have very few rules in my house for my children. The law I cite most frequently is, “Don’t lie” or “Tell the truth.” Every so often one of my children will accuse me of being too restrictive. “You don’t let me do anything!” On the contrary. I leave them to do as they please most of the time. What they please to do usually falls within the bounds of my rules and God’s laws. Therefore, nothing needs to be said. No correction is necessary. Until the transgression occurs or the law is given with which they are not familiar, there is no knowledge of the law.

Many men through the ages took delight in the law. Paul, David, and Jesus delight in the law of God and allow its good purpose in their lives.

Paul said, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”

David said, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

Jesus said (prophetically in Psalm 40:8), “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, they law is within my heart.”

Knowledge of the law is a good thing. For without it we would do as our sin nature directs us to do. All the while our hearts would deceive us and tell us that what we do is acceptable to God. Therefore the law keeps us on a straight and narrow path. God’s grace provides the way through Jesus, the power through His Holy Spirit, and the knowledge through His Word.

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