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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Law and Grace # 15

The Christian and the Law (continued)

c. According to the New Testament, the Christian is "delivered from the law." This is the central argument of Romans 7. Any failure to see and accept it leads inevitably to that moral and spiritual defeat pictured so vividly later in the chapter. Those believers had not learned that "ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ" (v. 4), and that 'we are delivered from the law" (v. 6). Both verbs are in the aorist tense, pointing back to something done once for all. The same book sums up the argument in one irrefutable statement, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Romans 10:4). The Greek arrangement of the words here puts the word "end" first in the sentence. That is where the emphasis must be put - the end of the law has come for all believers in Christ. God says "end." Let there be no equivocation here. Either this is true or there is no salvation for sinners.

d. The conclusion must be that the law itself as law, for the Christian, has been "abolished." No one can read 2 Corinthians 3 with an unprejudiced attitude and not see that the writer is discussing the very center of the law of God with its "tables of stone." All this, so far as the Christian believer is concerned, has been "done away"; it has been "abolished". The same thing is set forth in Ephesians 2:15. "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances." And again we read that "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us" has been blotted out, nailed to the Cross of Christ (Col. 2:14). In so doing, our blessed Lord spoiled the powers of darkness and triumphed over them. For the great accuser of the brethren and his hosts had found his base of operations in the law. Under the law he could rightly argue that we sinners deserved to be judged and forever doomed. But, thank God, all this is ended for the believer. Every penalty of the divine law has been paid, every demand of the law has been satisfied - not by us, but by the Lamb of God.

(Note: It has been argued by some that the above quoted texts refer only to the ceremonial element of the law and not the moral law. Here again I refer the reader back to my earlier argument for the unity of the divine law. Also, on Colossians 2:14, Peake says, "This distinction between the moral and ceremonial law has no meaning in Paul. The Law is a unity and is done away as a whole." On the clause "took it out of the way", he comments, "The change from aorist to perfect [tense] is significant as expressing the abiding character of the abolition." For the Christian there can be no "point of return" back to the law as law. On the clause "nailing it to his Cross," Peake adds, "When Christ was crucified, God nailed the Law to His Cross. Thus it, like the flesh, was abrogated, sharing His death. The bond therefore no longer exists for us").

4. In what sense were God's people "under the law" in the Old Testament age? This is a question which will inevitably be raised at this point. And it is a legitimate question which should be answered.

a. Let us note that God had a people in Old Testament days and that this people was "under the law" from Sinai to Calvary. This is the substance of Paul's argument in Galatians 3:17-23. Speaking of that Old Testament people, with whom he himself had been associated, Paul writes, "But before [the] faith came, we were kept under the law" (v. 23).

b. Consider now that in these Old Testament days the phrase "under the law" could have had only two possible meanings - either "under the law" as a way of salvation, or "under the law" as a rule of life.

c. We can be certain that "under the law" in those days could not have meant a way of salvation. For nothing is taught that no one in any age could be saved by law keeping. "By the deeds of the law there shall not flesh be justified in his sight" (Romans 3:20). The entire fourth chapter of Romans is given to the proposition that both Abraham and David were saved by faith, not by law. With this possibility excluded, there is only this possible alternative: "Under the law" for these Old Testament people meant that they were under it as a rule of life.

d. Let us follow now the argument to its logical conclusion. The dispensational change from the Age of the Law to the Age of Grace does NOT mean that formerly sinners were saved by deeds of law whereas today they are saved by grace, for we have already seen that men could not be saved by law in any age! But it does mean that God's people in the former age were "under the law" as a rule of life, whereas today they are not "under the law" as a rule of life. Yet this is the very sense in which the legalistic theology of our day affirms that the law is still in force over the Christian believer!

What utter nonsense!! If their affirmation be true, then the distinction between being "under the law" and not being "under the law" has been canceled, and the Apostle Paul wasted his time writing the great books of Romans and Galatians, to say nothing of the other books which declare the vital importance of this distinction.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 16 - "Dangers of Putting Christians Under the Law")

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