The Old Testament contains many laws and commandments from God to His people. As those who are saved by grace, how should believers understand God's law and apply it to their lives? Today, W. Robert Godfrey addresses the positive uses of God’s law for Christians.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: What place does the Old Testament law have in the Christian life? I'm here on the Ligonier campus, and I'm joined today by Ligonier's chairman and one of our teaching fellows, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. Dr. Godfrey, what place does the law have in the life of a Christian?
DR. W. ROBERT GODFREY: Usually when we're thinking about the role of the law in Christian life and experience, we have two main foci of thought. The first is that the law helps us to see clearly our own sinfulness and our own inability to save ourselves. So, the law of God expresses God's holy will. It expresses His holiness. And in that expression of holiness, it's a mirror to us of how far short we fall. We can see that most simply, I suppose, in the way our Lord Himself summarized the law, that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. We should love our neighbor as ourself. It doesn't take very long to reflect on those two commandments to realize how far short we fall. We don't love God with our whole being. We don't love our neighbor the way we love ourselves. And therefore, the law constantly reminds us that we are in need of a Savior, that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot keep the law perfectly. So, that's the first use of the law that we think about, and it's tremendously helpful to us.
The other use is to use the law to guide us in how we ought to live before God. Even as redeemed Christians, our instincts are not reliable as to what pleases God. And so, it is good regularly to come again to the law in the various ways and places it's revealed in the Scripture to ask the question, What does God want of us? What does God in more detail speak to us about holiness? And so, the law really helps us in that way.
Positively, when we're called to love God, it calls us to a way of life. Positively, when we're called to love the neighbor, it calls us to a different kind of reflecting on the priority that we ought to have in our own lives. So, the law remains extremely useful. The tragic misuse of the law by some Christians is to think that by keeping the law, they can establish a righteousness with God for which they deserve reward. That will never happen and misses the two actually positive uses of the law.
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