Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Uses of the Law...

The law serves numerous and important purposes, both to the unregenerate and to the regenerate. Some of these uses may be briefly stated: - 
First. To the unregenerate the moral law is of use in the following respects:—  
1. To restrain them from much sin.—1 Tim. i. 9. 
2. To convince them of their sinfulness and misery.— Rom. iii. 20, vii. 9.  
3. To discover to them their absolute need of Christ, and drive them to him as their all-sufficient Saviour.—Gal. iii. 24.  
4. To render them inexcusable, if they continue in their sins, and finally reject the only Saviour of lost sinners.— Rom. i. 20, ii. 15; John iii. 18, 36.  
Second. The moral law is of use to the regenerate in the following respects: -  
1. To render Christ more precious to them, and excite their gratitude to him who so loved them as to obey its precepts and suffer its penalty, that he might deliver them from it as a covenant.—Gal. iii. 13, iv. 4, 5.  
2. To show them the will of God, and regulate their conduct.—Mic. vi. 8.  
3. To serve as a standard of self-examination, in order to discover the pollutions of their hearts and lives—to keep them self-abased—to lead them to a constant dependence upon Christ, and to excite them to a progressive advancement in holiness.—Phil. iii. 10-14.  
4. To serve as a test of their sincerity, that they may assure their hearts that they are of the truth, and that they delight in the law of God after the inward man, notwithstanding their manifold defects in duty.—1 John iii. 19; Rom. vii. 22, 25; 2 Cor. i. 12.
The Reformed Faith, WCF Chapter 19, Robert Shaw.

1 comment:

  1. In Ephesians 2, Paul is not dividing the law from its curse, or saying only that the curse has been abolished. What has been abolished is “the law of commandments expressed in ordinances”. In some sense, the law itself has been abolished. Paul speaks in Ephesians 2 the opposite of the way he would have to speak if he thought that curse and law were two different things.

    A distinction between law and curse lays the exclusive emphasis on the law in Romans 3:31, Paul’s point in Romans 3:31 accentuates the curse.

    A distinction between law and curse lays the emphasis on the curse in Ephesians 2, the emphasis in context of Ephesians 2 is the law itself.

    “For I through the law died to the law” mean? Galatians 2:19

    Ephesians 2:15 teaches that the law is the instrument of condemnation and death. The emphasis is on the code, the “commandments expressed in ordinances”. Instead of separating out the curse from the code, Paul actually writes of the abolition of the commandments themselves. This can be seen from the statement itself, and also from the context which speaks of the joining of Jew and gentile into the body.

    It is impossible to maintain that only the curse itself is that which divides the two groups, since both are under the curse equally. No, the curse divides God from humans. What stands between jew and gentile is the law itself, the code, the covenant mediated by Moses.

    Think of the parallel in Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

    The “record of death” against us is the same as the “legal demands” against us. It is difficult to see how the law and its curse can be separated, when the Apostle integrates them together in this way. It is the demands which are hostile to us. Colossians 2: 16 goes on to say: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.”

    It is more than the removal of the curse that the law-work of the cross achieves. The cross brings about in some sense the abolition of the Mosaic law/covenant itself.

    The familiar moral/ceremonial distinction was often used by Roman Catholics against the Reformers, when the topic was justification by imputation vs justification by our law-keeping. Calvin would not allow the Romanists this distinction in order for them to say that only some kind of our works were not a condition of salvation. Calvin ruled out all of our works (even “works of faith”) as having any part in our justification.

    The curse does not attach to the ceremonies. Rather, the ceremonies picture the way out from the curse. If you say that “law” in these texts is only the ceremonies, then you have ceremonies that damn rather than ceremonies that prefigure Christ and the cross.