Posts tagged Law
The Law is Good

There are times when an activity’s rules keep us from enjoying it like we should. For example, have you ever been to a hotel pool with a “NO DIVING ALLOWED” sign? Without fail someone breaks that rule. Can you really enjoy a swimming pool if you’re not soaking everybody with the waves from your world-class cannonball? On the other hand, there are times when an activity’s parameters actually increase our enjoyment of it. Just think, if you’ve never learned the rules of the piano—the scales, time signatures, or how to read music—your enjoyment of the instrument is severely limited. Maybe you can play “Chopsticks,” but without learning the rules of music, you’ll never know the joy of playing Chopin.

Which one of these examples best explains the function of God’s law in our lives?

  • Does the law keep us from behaviors that make life more enjoyable? or
  • Can it actually enhance our joy?

When we look to Scripture, what we find might surprise you. Paul tells us “the law is good” (1 Tim. 1:18), and James describes it as the “law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12). So, though our obedience to it can never earn us a place in heaven (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:15–16), the law should be seen as serving a positive role in our lives. In fact, it reveals to us the lifestyle that God intends for his people to live. Of course, the law functions differently for believers today than it did for the Israelites in the Old Testament, and it has been fundamentally changed through the work and teaching of Jesus who rendered the sacrificial laws obsolete through his once-for-all death on the cross (Heb. 9). Nevertheless, we must strive to view the law positively.

One way to do that is by remembering this simple phrase: “Discipline without direction is drudgery.” [1] If God’s law was simply a set of regulations given by an absent deity, it would feel oppressive—on the order of a “NO DIVING ALLOWED” sign. But since it comes from a loving and compassionate God, it is purposeful. He gives us the law for our good as he remakes us into the image of the One who lived in perfect obedience to him, Jesus. In that way it truly is a law of liberty and something we should strive to live out as we pursue the goal for which we were created.

  1. Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1991), 15.  ↩

Tim Keller: Getting Out
* This post is comprised of an amalgamation of main points from the sermon and memorable quotes from this year's TGC gathering in Chicago. These quotes were typed quickly and may not be what the plenary speaker said verbatim, but I assure you they are sufficiently accurate. I have included a link to this sermon, if you have the time, I strongly suggest watching it.

There are four layers of bondage:

  1. Bondage to the law objectively. Through Jesus we are no longer in condemnation and subjected to God's judicial response to sin, His wrath.
  2. Bondage to the law subjectively. The Galatians, although being freed from the law, they subjectively put the law back on themselves. After being told our sins are forgiven, we go back to a works righteousness and subjectively empower the law on ourselves.
  3. Bondage to our sin nature. It is possible to not be under the law and still be a slave to sin. "Sin is the suicidal action of the human will against itself." W.G.T. Shedd
  4. Bondage to idols. "If you love anything more than God, even if you believe in God, then that is a pseudo god which says to you serve me or die."

"We are freed from the power of sin. We are getting free from the effect of sin, and we will one day be free from the presence of sin."

• Every other religion in the world consists of building a bridge; pylon after pylon to cross over, this process of you trying to get over to the other side. With Christianity, you weren't regenerate, now you are. You were fatherless, then instantly an heir.

• When you ask someone if they are a Christian and they respond, well, I'm trying, then they've missed it. Christianity is a change of status, it happens in an instant. You weren't, now you are. Paul says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Essentially saying, I was the worst sinner, now God uses me the most.

• When the Israelites walked through the red sea and they saw the walls of water on their left and their right, some walked with confidence, some were terrified, but they were all saved. "You are not saved by the quality of your faith,  you are saved by the object of your faith. When you add to God's salvation, you subtract."

"The wages of sin is disintegration. Sin invites de-creation into your life."

• God brought the Israelites from Egypt into Sinai. It wasn't until He brought them out that He gave them the law. Because I've been saved, now I have God's law. "Your salvation has nothing to do with how you behave, you sin because it is the easiest way, we sin because of our idols."

For those interested in reading some of Tim Keller's works, I have attached links to a few of his major titles.

Generous Justice, King's Cross, Reason for God.