Paul's Passing Thoughts

Understanding the World Through Under Law and Under Grace: Part Two; Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 26, 2017

ppt-jpeg4In part one we see how the word “grace” describes a vast state of being resulting from becoming God’s offspring. Why this series? To present salvation as a whole new state of being rather than a simplistic canned legal declaration; to adorn the gospel by comparing it to the under law condition. In reality, for any Protestant or former Protestant who pays attention, the church adds few converts on a regular basis. Why? Because Protestantism offers no real change of life, but rather salvation by social club membership.

What is the law, and what does it mean to be under it? First, let’s clarify the point that “under grace” does not mean that we are not under a law, but more on that later. Let’s first define what we mean by, “law.”

Simply stated, “law” is God’s written revelation to mankind. It is the Bible. This is what the Bible claims about itself in several passages. The Bible is God’s philosophical statement to mankind. Philosophy is the study of state of being, how we know what our state of being is, how we communicate state of being, and how we apply the knowledge of our state of being to life; metaphysics, epistemology, politics, ethics. The Bible is God’s full-orbed counsel to mankind.

“Law” is not merely the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic law, it is the whole Bible. Man does not live by the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic law alone, “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). “All” Scripture is required to fully equip God’s offspring for “every” good work (2Tim 3:16,17).

One law, two purposes; one purpose for those under law, and another purpose for those under grace. We may call this the Spirit’s two uses of the law. The same law imparts knowledge of mature life and love to the believer (John 17:17), and the same law convicts the world of sin and the judgment to come (John 16:8). But herein is something we want to understand about God: even in condemnation, God uses the condemnation as a vessel for salvation. The law, even in its condemnation posture, is a vessel of mercy.

The Old and New Covenants

The Bible is divided into two primary covenants (Old and New Testaments). These two covenants are God’s unfolding plan to offer salvation to all persons born into the world. The old covenant is “passing away” (Heb 8:13), but was not replaced by the new covenant though it is a “better” (Heb 8:6) covenant.

The old covenant serves three purposes: first, a law that when obeyed showed love towards God and one’s neighbor resulting in life blessings (Due 6:1-9, 7:6-9, 29:29, 30:11-18). This has never changed and holds true for the new covenant as well. This is sanctification.

Second, it was a will written in blood. If you were an Old Testament believer, you were written into the will:

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Imputation

The true biblical definition of “imputation” is the imputation of sin to the old covenant. All sin is imputed to the old covenant. This is the third purpose of the old covenant; imputation. Therefore, “sin” is defined by that which violates the law:

1John 3:4 – Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (KJV).

So, the three purposes of the old covenant are; love/sanctification, a will promising eternal life, and imputation.

What then is the new covenant? It ended sin for the believer because when Christ died he executed the promises of the old covenant will; all sin imputed to the old covenant is ended, and not only that, sin no longer exists because its ability to exist depends on the old covenant.

2Corinthians 3:4 – Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

All people born into the world are “under law” or under the “ministry of condemnation.” When we believe on Christ, the law’s condemnation is ended for them (Rom 8:1). They are deemed “perfect” and “holy.” Does this mean we no longer sin as Christians? Yes it does. Those who sin are still under law because sin can only exist where there is the law’s condemnation.

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

7:6 – But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

1Timothy 1:9 – understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,

Galatians 2:19 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

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.

Therefore, it can be said that we are “perfect” and do not sin. One who is perfect and holy is no longer under the law’s indictment. The new birth, or being “born of God” changes our hearts and makes our motive that of love. Indeed, we do not love perfectly because the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” but righteousness is not defined by perfect law-keeping (that’s NOT a “righteousness apart from the law”); rather, the new birth:

1John 3:1 – Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (KJV).

This is where passages like Hebrews chapter 11 confuse us; while reading the praise heaped upon the subjects of that passage for being righteous people of faith, we are perplexed by this because of their documented failures in loving God and others perfectly. Actually, far from perfection. But it is the seed of God that we are born of in these “earthen vessels” that make us perfect, not the legal demands of the law. There is no law to accuse us. In reality, the idea that we are perfect and holy probably means that we are given a new birth by Perfection and Holiness, and this, in fact, makes us perfect/holy:

John 3:3 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The weakness of our mortality does not make us evil or “sinners.” Being weaker than God does not exclude holiness. It can be said that our truthful intentions, desires, and motives resulting from the new birth are characteristics of our holiness, not perfect law-keeping although a desire to obey the law perfectly is present because that would be perfect love. It’s a direction, not perfection as defined by the world.

In case we have trouble getting past this truth, the Bible has an interesting additional angle in explaining it. In the same way that one under law breaks the law at all points (James 2:10), one under grace fulfills the whole law by love.

Matthew 22:36 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Galatians 5:14 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Romans 13:8 – Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The New Birth: Passing from One Law to Another

The key to understanding all of this is Romans 8:1ff.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

God does not condemn nor ridicule His children for their weakness. His focus is their desire to please Him. The new birth transforms God’s children and transports them from one jurisdiction of the law to another purpose for the law. This is the Spirit’s two uses of the law. In His “ministry of death,” He uses the law to goad the unbeliever into seeing sin as set against the righteous demands of the law. The new birth puts the believer to death with Christ who He (the Spirit) raised from the dead according to “the promise,” and recreates a new person in Christ who is under the Spirit’s second use of the law…to sanctify. Remember as well, that ALL sin under the Spirit’s first purpose of the law is imputed to that law, and when that person is baptized spiritually in the death part, all sin is ended with that law. When the same person is resurrected as a new person, being baptized in Christ’s resurrection as well, the same person is under the Spirit’s second use of the law; sanctification. Hence, to be “under grace” does not mean that we are no longer under any law, but rather the Spirit’s second use of the law:

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers, for I am speaking to those who know the law, that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

In the next part, sin will be introduced, and sin’s use of the law. So, we have the Spirit’s two uses of the law, and sin’s use of the law. As we unpack these biblical truths, fuller understanding of how law and grace are experienced will come more into focus.

paul

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One Response

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  1. John said, on May 27, 2017 at 5:38 AM

    Good one.

    Like


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