Old Doxoblogy

Monday, August 28, 2006

The End

This is the last post I will write on the Law. Up till now I have pretty much just said that I am not bound to the Law by the New Covenant. I now want to tell you in positive terms what I believe my relationship under the New Covenant to the Law actually is.

When I said that I disagreed with Calvin's third use of the Law, that was only half true. I agree with Calvin that the Law can show me what God's will is for my sanctification. I agree that the Law shows us what righteousness looks like. But the Law does not sanctify me. The Law does not make me holy. And the Holy Spirit who lives in me does not enable me to keep the Law, in the sense that He is continually driving me to the Law for righteousness. The Law doesn't provide righteousness of any kind, either in a justifying sense or in a sanctifying sense.

Justification is work of God apart from the Law. So is sanctification. Positionally we are set apart by God to be holy. Practically we are made into holy people by God. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that leads us into obedience to God's commands and never contrary to those commands. So those commands that are indeed what are commonly called 'moral' are binding upon Christians, as they have been upon all humanity since the beginning, but it is not in the immediate context of the Mosaic Code that they are binding. They are binding on all humanity because there are things as right and wrong.

But they are specifically binding upon the New Covenant believer because they are inherent in Christ's command that we love one another. And loving one another also brings into focus a whole new dimension of 'moral' commands. I am to do good to those who persecute me. I am to love those who hate me. I am to help those who use me. I am to befriend those who abandon me. I am to give to the one who steals from me, care for those who injure me, be thankful for those who take me for granted, love my enemies, and lay down my life for those who would kill me. These are the commands that New Covenant believers are to live by. And I challenge you to live that kind of life and break the Ten Commandments at the same time.

We have the Law written on our hearts. We are new creatures. We are reborn and created unto good works. So instead of undoing the Law, Christ has established it, not again on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of our hearts. This is nothing less than a new nature that lives in us. This nature does not despise the law, but it is not in bondage to it either. It is the Law of God living in us provoking us to good works and obedience and not the Law of the Mosaic Code. And while these are the same in some ways, they are not in others. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I know the words are mangled and this reads like a drunk man wrote it, but I think if you read it enough you can start to see what I am trying to say.


Bhedr said...

Basically the cop becomes your friend and desires to show you things that you are ignorant of so that it enhances your obedience. Thus the law works. WE must read our Bibles and the words help illuminate our minds and the new nature feeds on this truth but should not live in eternal fear of it. Good post. I agree.

bluecollar said...

I thank you for this post. There is much to chew on here.

Coming, originally, from among the ranks of the unregenerate, I would not know what love looks like, having been born with a selfish heart. That means, if I am to live a life of love, I must examine the New Testament and see agape love as it is lived out, first in the life of Christ, then in those who followed Him. As I do that God the Holy Spirit will transform me into His image. 2 Cor. 3:18.

John Rush said...

"...the Law does not sanctify me. The Law does not make me holy. And the Holy Spirit who lives in me does not enable me to keep the Law, in the sense that He is continually driving me to the Law for righteousness. The Law doesn't provide righteousness of any kind, either in a justifying sense or in a sanctifying sense."

Is this not Romans 7 is saying? I'm amazed at so many peoples' willingness and desire to "camp out" under MT. Sinai. As soon as you pitch your tent under "Mt. Zion" they call you antinomian. With these folks, there is no third way.

Thankfully with Christ, there is. He is the Way...


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Jeremy good post. I hope your rested from your vacation from blogging the meta was less with you gone.

Joe said...

Free from the law O happy condition
Jesus hath bled and there is remision.
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Now we are free, there's no condemnation,
Jesus provides a perfect salvation.
"Come unto me," O hear His sweet call,
Come and He saves us once for all.

"Children of God" O glorious calling,
Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all.

Bhedr said...

Amen Joe. Lead by grace.


Daniel said...

It is always difficult to articulate the relationship between the New Covenant believer and the Old Covenant Law. While the law identifies unrighteousness, it cannot produce righteousness - that is the "thing" that the "law could not do."

It is quite "Galatian" (if you will) to turn to the law for sanctification, as though keeping the law (now that you are a Christian) will suddnely make the law do what it has never done, and can never do - sanctify you.

I used to think, though I never dared to talk about it, that sanctification was me keeping the law as best I could, and then, because I am supposed to be humble - I would have to "recognize" that whatever victory my own willpower wrought must be attributed to God, since I was (after all) "totally depraved."

The end result was that I would say that I am no longer under the law with my mouth - but my every endeavor to be pleasing to God was entirely grounded in my own self effort to be sanctified.

I was living like a Jew, trying to keep the law in order to be pleasing to God - and in doing so I had a form of godliness I suppose, but there was absolutely no power in it, except my own fear that if I didn't sanctify my self, it would demonstrate that I had somehow messed up my own salvation - or would indicate that I wasn't really saved.

How sad.

Surely the gospel teaches us that we are justified by faith, and scripture shows us that sanctification is not a human work, but a divine one.

No one can love with Christ's love who hasn't gone into the grave and died to self. We do ourselves a horrible deception to imagine that we can be raised here and now to a newness of life - to the likeness of Christ - when we haven't followed Christ into the grave. We cannot be united in the life of Christ if we haven't been united in His death. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.

But when we begin to believe the truth - that Christ took our sinful self inside Himself on the cross - that we truly were crucified in Christ in order for the body of our sin (that is the old self - the part that desires to rebel against God) might be rendered powerless, inert, unable to exert influence over us, etc. -- Then we begin to do something about this conviction that we are sinners and that something is wrong with a Christian who still loves to sin (even if they suppress that love with all their strength).

The trouble is most of us don't know what to do about that, so we turn to the law to escape the conviction - and in doing so, we fall into the error of the Jews - we treat the keeping of the law as though it were supposed to be the center of our Christian endeavor.

The purpose of our conviction is not to make us do with our hands what is right - that is like cleaning the outside of the cup - the purpose of our conviction is to show us where we refuse Christ's rule in our heart.

When we see that we truly will not have Christ rule over our heart in a matter - then we are able to turn in earnest to the Holy Spirit whom Christ gave for this purpose - to make us Holy - we must turn to Him and allow Him to make us understand that there is no way to "cure" this - that it is rebellion, and in fact enmity against God, and that it cannot -ever- be subject to God's law. When we see we cannot set ourselves free, and that even the law cannot set us free from our own unwillingness - then we will come to the place where we can actually "homologeo" that is - say the same thing about our sin as God says - not just that it is sinful - but that there is no cure for it in ourselves. To agree that keeping the law through sheer willpower won't cleanse the ugly unwillingness to obey - but that even should we keep the law perfectly through sheer will power we would still be wretches internally who neither loved God nor desired to obey him. When we can truly "confess" our sin - then we are ready to deal with it honestly.

The only honest thing to do with sin is ask God to forgive you and cleanse you - and if you do so in faith He will.

Years and years of disobedience have fashioned our hearts into hardened stone. When we get serious about sin - we being to deal with it, and God's Spirit shows us sin and expects us turn to Him for victory for every, tiny thing. Truly, the humble receive this grace, for it is a long process cleaning out the barn.

As you begin to yield to God, to surrender every part of you that refuses to obey - you will come closer and closer to ground zero - and eventually, you will get to a place where you are willing to do anything for God - and when you get there, God's spirit witnesses to you that you are there - and you receive assurance in the spirit - not the intellectual assurance we might have by regarding the scriptural promises of salvation as true - but rather, there will be no more rebellion in your heart - your heart will have been cleansed by faith, and then (and only then) God's Spirit will begin to fellowship with you unhindered by your rebellious "old self."

When that happens, you won't be popping in and out of obedience like you did when your entire obedience rested on your own willpower - no, you will be "in the Spirit" - and you will be able to love just as Christ loved, because you won't hindered by that "self love" that had consistently produced death and separation in you all the days of your life previously.

When one is in the Spirit thus - the law no longer convicts them, because they are in fellowship with God Himself, and God's love constrains them from offending. (not our love for God - but His selfless love poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.) Then we won't be pumping all day for a trickle of Holy Spirit - but out of our inner most being rivers of life will flow - not produced by our efforts, but rather the dam of self will no longer wall it up tight as a drum.

Truly, the man who is living in grace is no longer under the dominion of the law.

But it is a difficult thing to explain because most Christians today are not only entirely carnal - but they imagine that there is either no such thing as a carnal Christian - or they think that their "minor" and only partial rebellion elevates them above the title - or worse, they imagine that they are disobedient because they don't understand the truth clearly enough - as though a pristine doctrine could deliver them from self. It is crazy - but I am speaking of my own experience. I devoured scripture in the hope that it would deliver me from sin. I studied doctrine so that knowing the truth might set me free - but I didn't understand that it wasn't knowing the facts that set me free - but knowing the Truth (capital "T").

Excellent post Jeremy. I hope I haven't muddied it with my verbose comment.

J. Wendell said...

Good thoughts.