Sermons

Summary: The law of grace, the law of liberty, the law of love of the New Testament is the law that must distinguish the Christian from the world. Jesus took the whole law and summed it up in loving God and our neighbor.

The new bride said to her husband, "I took the recipe for that cake

you are eating out of my cookbook." "Good," responded the

husband, "It never should have been put in there in the first place."

Some feel this same way about the law being in the Bible. They see

it as only an infringement upon their freedom, and they wish it were

taken out. Others just ignore it, and they express the feelings of the

lawless like this poem of Alfred E. Houseman:

The laws of God, the laws of man,

He may keep that will and can:

Not I, let God and man be decree

Laws for themselves, and not for me.

He wants to be free from all law, but does not realize that this

leads to total bondage rather than freedom. The freedom of the

lawless eliminates everyone else's freedom. One person in a town

with the freedom to use anyone he chose for target practice

eliminates the freedom of all others to walk the streets. Total

freedom from law for one man creates chaos for all men. Paul says

the law exists to protect the law abiding from the lawless. This

includes all of us to some degree, for all men are at least partially

lawless. The value of the law is that it enables us to see our sin and

our lawless nature so that the Gospel of grace really is good news to

us. The law shows us what we are and condemns us. The Gospel

shows us what God is, and what He has done to save us in spite of

what we are. If we fail to respond to the Gospel, the law is still of

great value, for it restrains the evil in us from becoming active, and

if it fails to do that it meets out punishment as a last resort.

Paul makes it clear that the law is aimed at the lawless, and it is

only properly used when used to restrain the lawless. When law is

used in such a way that it becomes a burden to the just, then it is

being used improperly. The Pharisees did this with the law, and

they made it nothing but a heavy burden to the people. All of life

was bound by laws which restrained the freedom of those who were

not lawless, and this was not God's will. The law must be used in

such a way as to allow freedom of the individual to respond to God

in worship and service, and yet restrained him from abuses of

freedom and the inclination to go to extremes. Some in Ephesus had

neglected the value of the law for the Christian, and they went to far

in their freedom. In verses 19 and 20 Paul mentions two men who

rejected conscience and made shipwreck of the faith. They did not

allow the law to do for them what it was meant to do.

Paul is the best example of the balance that should come into

life under grace and law. He was a man free in Christ, and yet he

could say in verse 15 that he was the chief of sinners. He had no

delusions about himself. He knew that he still needed the restraining

power of the law in his life. He knew the law was essential to keep

the Christian conscience sensitive and aware of the need for

forgiveness and cleansing. Who can read the Sermon on the Mount

and not be made aware of the fact that he is still a sinner? When the

law does this it is good, and it is of value in the Christian life. If it

leads only to speculation it is vain and dangerous, for that can

destroy the purpose of it in keeping us aware that we are still

sinners.

The law is still essential in giving us a standard by which we are

guided. Jesus said that if we keep His commandments we will abide

in His love. The New Testament has its commandments just as the

Old Testament did. To think that grace releases us from obedience

to law is to suggest that God has ceased to be a God of order for New

Testament believers. The fundamental meaning of the Greek word

nomos, which is translated law, is order. The law of nature is the

order of nature. The laws of the land are those rules that keep

society orderly by preventing chaos. God has always been a God of

order because it is a part of His very nature, and so law is eternal

and plays a role in everything God does.

Grace does not release us from law, but only from the bondage

of a law that could not be fulfilled. Jesus did not destroy the law,

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