God’s Law and the Believer

If there is a word that Christians today are allergic to, it is “law.” If you hear law mentioned in a sermon, it will likely be to denounce it as something negative. The whole place of the law in the life of the believer is filled with confusion based on many things, including Lutheran concepts that have pervaded Reformed churches to the point where sanctification is an utterly confusing subject to us. And yet Reformed confessional documents provide a view of the Law which is at odds with a great deal of current preaching, teaching us that the Law applies to us today and is a measure of our sanctification. For example, the Westminster Confession says:

VI. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin, and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof; although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works: so as a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace.

VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it: the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.

The Larger Catechism says:

Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?

A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

As Anglicans, we can refer to the Articles of Religion, which say: 1)VII.

Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

The new Catechism from ACNA does an admirable job on the law of God, saying in part, “Therefore, keeping the divine Law is a fundamental form of the new life into which we are brought by faith in Christ.” I hope that Anglican clergy will embrace this Biblical view of the Law as opposed to current antinomian tendencies.

 

References   [ + ]

1. VII.

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