"Wherefore Then Serveth The Law?"
The law of God cannot justify or save anyone. It is not our rule of life, our basis of assurance, or even a yardstick to measure our spiritual growth. The whole purpose of the law is to expose our sin, condemn our sin, and shut us up to salvation by faith in Christ alone (Gal. -25).
1. THE LAW WAS GIVEN TO DESTROY ALL HOPE OF SALVATION BY WORKS (Gal. ). Once a person is convinced of his sin and guilt, his immediate response is to do something by which he may turn away God's wrath and win his favor. But we can never do enough to satisfy God's law. Future obedience cannot atone for past sin. And perfect future obedience is impossible.
2. THE LAW WAS GIVEN TO SHOW SINNERS THE JUSTICE OF GOD IN THEIR ETERNAL RUIN (Rom. ). Legal conviction alone will never bring repentance. But legal conviction is necessary. A sinner must be made to see that he justly deserves the wrath of God (Psa. 51:4-5).
3. GOD GAVE THE LAW AT SINAI TO SHOW US THE NEED WE HAVE OF A SUBSTITUTE (Gal. -23). When we read the words of God's law and see the rigorous, inward, spiritual requirements of the law, we see the need of One who is mighty to stand in our stead. And once we see the law fulfilled by Christ, we cherish him above all things. The law is severe; but Christ is gracious. The law is condemning; but Christ has removed the condemnation. The law curses; but Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law.
4. IN A WORD, THE LAW WAS GIVEN AT
WHAT IS THE BELIEVER'S RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAW?
I cannot fully answer this question in a brief article. And it is a question which deserves much more attention than I shall give it here. But I want to show you two things clearly.
1. THE BELIEVER, IN CHRIST, IS TOTALLY FREE FROM THE LAW OF GOD. Lay aside all theological jargon, all the creeds of men, all the theological systems that men have devised, and simply read the Word of God. What does God say in his Word? Nothing else matters. (Carefully read: Rom. -15; 7:4; 8:1-3; 10:4; Gal. 3:24-25; Col. 2:10-16; I tim. 1:3-11). Have you read those passages? If so, honesty compels you to acknowledge that God's children in this world are entirely free from the law. There is absolutely no sense in which the believer is in bondage to the law. We have no legal covenant with the law, no legal curse from the law, and no legal constraint by the law. I cannot find a single passage of Scripture, in all the New Testament, in which believers are motivated to do anything upon the basis of the law. Our rule of life, that which motivates and governs us, that to which we seek conformity, is not the law written upon tablets of stone, but the Lord Jesus Christ himself (John 13:15; I John 3:23; Phil. 3:8-14). We seek to be conformed to Christ in all that we do. And the motives which govern our lives are love, faith, gratitude, and the desire of our hearts for the glory of our God.
I say to every child of God, "You are free from the law." I say it emphatically, without apology, and without fear. There is absolutely no sense in which any believer is under the law.
2. However, let this next point be clearly understood. EVERY CHILD OF GOD IN THIS WORLD LOVES, HONORS, AND ESTABLISHES THE LAW (Psa. 119:97,128; Rom. ). No believer disregards, or despises the law of God. We love it. We love its requirements and its justice. We would not lower it, or alter it in anyway. We honor it by acknowledging our inability to keep it. And we establish it by trusting Christ, who alone has kept and satisfied the law, as our only hope of acceptance with God (Rom. 3:28-31).