5 Things I’m Still Sure about God’s Law

from May 31, 2014 Category: Articles

There’s been a bit of a hubbub of late on God’s law. Which is odd, isn’t it, since neither it, nor He has changed in some time. It is true enough that there are plenty of ways to get His law wrong. Just ask Paul. But here are five positive things about the law that I am positive about.

1. It restrains evil. I find myself often frustrated at our overly polite assessment of the human condition. We relegate monsters to history, like the Nazi’s, or to the fringes, like serial killers, all to keep the monster at bay. But we have met the monster, and we are them. We’re the kind of people who get more upset at being cut off in traffic than the horrible truth that our neighbors are cutting their babies to pieces down the street. I am ever eager to get us to a deeper understanding of how bad we are. But, I also want us to understand that because of His grace in His law, we are not as bad as we might be. The law restrains evil, through even the consciences of the ungodly, as they retain some measure of the imago Dei.

2. It exposes evil. The law, as a mirror, exposes the truth that we are sinners. This works for both believers and unbelievers alike. For the believer, the law drives us back time and again to the finished work of Christ on our behalf. We can rejoice that our heavenly Father loves us with a perfect and unchangeable love, that all His wrath toward our failures was poured out 2000 years ago. For the unbeliever the law can be used by the Spirit to awaken the unbeliever to his need for Christ.

3. It tells us what we’re supposed to do. Isn’t that wonderful? God has given us in His law all that we need to know about how to please Him. We are not left groping in the dark, not left to follow our own folly. To acknowledge this blessing, of course, in no way diminishes the second blessing. Nor ought affirming the second blessing diminish this third blessing. It’s all good.

4. It shows us how to live a blessed life. One could certainly argue that this is just 3b; that I have stuttered. But the truth is too many of us look at God’s law as some unpleasant requirement, a burden that we not only can’t keep, but that would make us miserable if we did keep it. God’s law, however, is ever and always a pathway to joy. My life has never improved by the power of sin. At each crossroads, each moment of choice, the obedient choice redounds to my blessing. As I honor my father and mother it goes well for me in the land. As I raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they become like olive plants about my table.

5. It shows me who God is. It was Spurgeon I believe who said, when asked to reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, “I’m not accustomed to reconciling friends.” In like manner the notion that I should turn away from His law to look at Him is wrong. The law of God is not a sinister intrusion into His glory, but a reflection of His glory, of His character. To speak ill of it is to speak ill of Him.

Friends, law does not rain on the parade of grace anymore than grace washes away the law. They both flow out of the very heart of our Father. Look to Christ who stood in our place under the curse of the law. But do not curse the law that He kept for us. Instead, let us take up our cross and follow Him.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at RCSproulJr.com