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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Law and Grace # 14

The Christian and the Law (continued)

3. Now the Word of God declares plainly that the Christian believer is not "under the law." At least four times, simply and without qualification, the New Testament asserts this great truth: "For ye are not under the law" (Romans 6:14). "Because we are not under the law" (6:15). "Ye are not under the law" (Galatians 5:18). "Not being myself under the law" (1 Corinthians 9:20). (Note: this last statement is not in the King James Version. But practically all the great editors of the Greek text of the New Testament agree that the clause was a part of the original sacred text. It was probably omitted from a few of the Greek manuscripts by legalistically inclined scribes. The American Standard Version includes it in 1 Corinthians 9:20 with either an alternative reading or other marginal note, thus indicating the translators' unquestioned judgment that it belongs there as a part of the inerrant Word of God through the Apostle Paul.) It should also be noted that in two of the above quoted texts, the writer ties two great facts of the Christian faith directly to the truth that "we are not under the law." In Romans 6:14 the Christian's deliverance from the lordship of sin is tied to his deliverance from the law, and in Galatians 5:18 our deliverance from the law is regarded as an evidence of our being led by the Spirit. These practical effects in the realm of the moral and spiritual life will be discussed more fully.

a. Consider further that the Christian believer is not under law in any sense as a means of salvation or any part of it. In Romans 3:20 we read that "by the deeds of the law ... shall no flesh be justified in his sight." And in this text the Holy Spirit seems to broaden sweepingly the exclusion of all deeds of all law from the divine act in the justification of sinners. There are no definite articles. The Greek text reads simply "by deeds of the law." Again in Romans 6;14 the Scripture declares not only that the law as law has absolutely nothing to contribute in the accomplishment of the believer's sanctification, but on the contrary that freedom from the law's bondage is actually one indispensable factor in that important work of God in the soul. Still further, when Paul comes to deal with the matter of Christian security in Romans 8, he asserts that the law has no power to keep us in safety, but "what the law could not do" in this regard, God sent His Son to accomplish for us and also in us (Romans 8:3-4). Thus we see that the law can neither justify, sanctify, nor preserve us.

b. The law can give no help to men as a means of salvation from sin. In Colossians 2:14 who can fail to see the reference to Sinai in the phrase "handwriting of ordinances"?  The Apostle declares that this same divine law was not only "against us" but also "contrary to us." And the same writer, referring to the Decalogue "written and engraven in stones," describes it as a "ministration of death" (2 Corinthians 3:7). In Romans 4:15 we learn that the law "worketh wrath," and in Galatians 3:12 that "the law is not of faith." And when certain men arose in the early church to insist that believers should be placed under at least a small part of the law, Peter himself rebuked them with the reminder that this law was 'a yoke ... which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10).

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 15)

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