Friday, January 27, 2017
Understanding The Law Of God - The Second Use of God's Law Is To Demonstrate Man's Need For The Gospel
Romans 2:12-16 "For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus."
In the last post we began a series of posts aimed at better understand the Law of God as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. The approach of these posts is to consider what theologians refer to as the "three uses" of the law. In categorizing the Law of God by its various uses, the student of scripture can better understand the important distinctions between Law and Gospel and how the Law of God relates to sinners and saints.
We looked at what is commonly called "The First Use Of The Law", which mainly deals with the law of God on the human conscience curbing society's propensities towards lawbreaking. We deemed this first use as having to do with "Discouraging Rebellion" with respect to culture and society. Passages such as Romans 13 highlight this first use by way of identifying the function of governmental enforcement of the laws of the land in curbing societal evils. Today we will consider what is called "the second use of the law", namely in pointing sinners to their need for salvation.
The Law's Second Use: Demonstrates the sinner's need for Jesus Christ
Whereas the 1st use of the law operates everywhere and all the time, this second use of the law is more evident in the context of the Holy Spirit's call to sinners in the gospel. Paul states plainly in Galatians 3:24 - "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." When sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is vital to first share the bad news of man's condition through the law. Paul's masterpiece Epistle to the Romans begins with the announcement of God's wrath in the main body of his letter (Romans 1:18). We then find that mankind is spiritually, morally and relationally in crisis before a Holy, just God (Romans 1:19-3:20).
It is by the light of the law that we come to know that sin is sin (Romans 7:7). This revelation of the "bad-news" unveils the nature of our disease - sin. Before we can appreciate the cure "the Gospel"; we first come to terms with the mortal disease called sin. This second function of God's law points the way to one's need for Christ.
How the law of God can be used in sharing the Gospel
Evangelist Ray Comfort has highlighted this second use of the law by comparing the law to a needle that punctures the human heart with a series of holes so as to thread through the scarlet thread of the Gospel. Lest man's heart be pricked by the hardened needle of the law of God, there will not be the needed tenderizing of the heart to receive the Gospel offered in saving grace.
When Jesus was sharing the Gospel with the rich young ruler in Mark 10, He used the law. The man's rejection of the testimony of the law revealed He was not ready to receive the grace of God through Jesus. Jesus used the law of God in his evangelistic appeals when dealing with self-righteous people or those who needed awakened by the slumber of their sinful condition.
Another masterful use of the law in Gospel presentations is witnessed in the life of the Apostle Paul. When Paul makes mention of the Law's function of showing him his sin in Romans 7:7-13, he is referring back to his pre-conversion days. Paul, who had been formally known as the Jewish leader and Christian persecutor "Saul of Tarsus", described how the law of God came. As Saul of Tarsus, he thought he was doing good as a religious leader. However, when the law revealed Saul of Tarsus to be an enemy of God, he at first wanted to inwardly rebel and reject the indictment. The Spirit of God worked through the needle of the law to prick Saul of Tarsus' heart, preparing it for the scarlet thread of the Gospel to point him to Christ. Christ of course would meet Saul on the Damscus road, leading to his response of saving faith and transformation from Saul the sinner to Paul the missionary. It is this second use to which Paul alludes to in 1 Timothy 1:9a "realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners...". So in closing out our post today, we can say that thus far, we have noted two uses of the Law of God: to discourage rebellion and curb the tide of societal evil and then to demonstrate to the hearts of sinners their need for Christ and His salvation.
More next time....