Summary: Two prevailing themes are knit together throughout the Bible, God's Law and God's Gospel. The law witnesses to the perfect character of God and the sinful character of man.
Law and Gospel: The Witness of the Law
“A recent survey by George Gallup Jr. revealed a startling trend in our culture. According to Gallup the evidence seems to indicate that there are not clear behavioral patterns that distinguish Christians from non-Christians in our society. We all seem to be marching to the same drummer, looking to the shifting standards of contemporary culture for the basis of what is acceptable conduct. What everybody else is doing seems to be our only ethical norm…The very word “law” seems to have an unpleasant ring to it in our evangelical circles.” (Article, “The Law of God, RC Sproul)
Definitions of Law
It is important to define what exactly is meant by the term, law, in the context of the Bible. In its broad sense, it refers to the Scriptures authored by Moses, the Torah- the first five books of the traditional Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Law, in its narrow sense, refers to the list of commandments and regulations placed upon Israel in a special sense and generally the expectations of God to the whole world . (Rom.2:14: Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law). The Ten Commandments are Definitely God’s expectations and requirements to the Whole World.
Christ's relationship to the Law is that He became the perfect fulfillment of the expectations foretold in the Mosaic Books, the requirements in the Ten Commandments, the Sacrificial mandates and regulations, 613 in all. In the Person of Jesus Christ, ALL OF THESE find their fullness. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom.10:4). That is, Christ is the "goal", fulfillment, and "purpose" of the Law's demands and direction. What the Law demands IS FULFILLED and ACCOMPLISHED in Jesus Christ alone, but the Law is not abolished in Christ! (Incidentally, there are actually 1050 NEW TESTAMENT expectations and commandments (LAWS) to Christians.)
An Experiment with God’s Law
Let’s try an experiment. I’m going to cite a few passages from Psalm 119 for our reflection. Try to sort of crawl into the skin of the writer and experience what he felt when he wrote these lines thousands of years ago:
• 97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (v. 97).
(Ray Comfort said: “The psalmist didn’t say, “Oh, how I love Your ark! Or your tabernacle.” It was God’s holy Law that he loved and revered and when we give the Moral Law its rightful place, we will truly see the power of His presence—something that causes demons to tremble.”
• 111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
• 112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
• 131 I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
• 143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.
Does this sound most present day Christians? Do we hear people talk about longing passionately for the law of God and expressing their sheer joy and delight in God’s commandments? Sounds foreign to our culture, doesn’t it. Some will surely say, “But that’s Old Testament stuff. We’ve been redeemed from the law and our focus is on the Gospel, not the law.”
Let’s continue the experiment. Let’s read some excerpts from another biblical writer, only this time from the New Testament. Let’s hear from a man who loved the Gospel, preached it, and taught it as much as any mortal. Let’s hear from Paul:
• Romans 3:19-20: Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God ; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight ; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
• Romans 7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
• 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. (Romans 7:8).
• 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. (Romans 7:12).
• 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; (Romans 7:22).
Does this sound like a man who believed the law of God has no place in the Christian life? Read Paul carefully and you will find a man whose heart longed for the law of God as much as David’s. Several things to notice here: 1. The overwhelming biblical and preserved evidence concerning both men is that THEY were BOTH sinners! Would anyone disagree with that? The evidence of their lives is that GOD exercised His Grace and Mercy to BOTH MEN. 2. Both repented of their sins and turned in FAITH to God alone in order to save them. 3. They both displayed the evidence of changed lives found in the gracious forgiveness of God, provided by the Savior: David anticipated and believed in the COMING Work of Christ and Paul believed in the accomplished WORK of Christ, and they BOTH delighted in God’s Law and God’s Word.