God's Law, Again
© 05.16.2013 By D. Eric Williams
This article appeared in the May 16 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
Over the past two weeks pastor Dan has written a couple great articles about the place of God's law in evangelism and the fact that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Over the next three weeks I want to piggyback on what Rev. Coburn has written and talk about the place of the law in the life of the Christian.
In Romans 6:14 it says, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. This wonderful promise is acknowledged and embraced by most believers; unfortunately many Christians don't really understand the full import of the text. They think it means those who are born again no longer need concern themselves with God's law. They believe it says that to be under grace is to be led by the Holy Spirit alone when it comes to deciding what is right and wrong. The Bible tells us differently.
To be under law is to be in the natural state. It is to be unregenerate and therefore to be condemned by the law. On the other hand, to be under grace is to be saved and as pastor Dan reminded us there is no condemnation for those who have placed faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Jesus died on the cross that our sins might be forgiven. His blood has washed us clean. If we embrace his substitutionary sacrifice we can rest assured that the condemnation and death we deserve has been satisfied in God's eyes by the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are not under the law. We are not in the natural state. We are not condemned by God's law but are made free to obey it. As the apostle Paul tells us, God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).
Nonetheless, we remain human and are vulnerable to temptation. And as human beings, it is easy to justify our behavior and claim a dispensation for our conduct because we are not under law but under grace. Recognizing this tendency, the Apostle Paul wrote, what then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (Romans 6:15 ). And the Bible is clear: Everyone who sins breaks God's law, because sin is the same as breaking God's law (1 John 3:4). Therefore, we need God's law in tandem with the Holy Spirit to guide us in the path of righteousness.
One of the important doctrines we glean from the Bible is the truth that God's choice precedes man's obedience but man's obedience is a prerequisite for enjoying the full benefit of God's election. In other words, it is God who draws as unto himself and has mercy on us, enabling us to receive his offer of salvation (Romans 9:14-23). We do nothing to warrant his gift of life and forgiveness. It is a free gift. Even so, if we hope to experience the full joy of his salvation we are required to live according to his will. For instance, living a life of obedience to God's law brings a strong assurance of salvation; by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:3-6).
More on God's law next week.