Thursday: The Law and the Believer

Many have interpreted Paul’s comment in Galatians 3:25 as a complete dismissal of the law. This makes little sense, however, in light of Paul’s positive comments about the law elsewhere in the Bible.

What does he, then, mean?

The Law as a Mirror

Image © Steve Creitz

First, we are no longer under the law’s condemnation (Rom. 8:3). As believers, we belong to Christ. As His, we enjoy the privilege of being under the power of His grace (Rom. 6:14-15). Being under grace sets us free and enables Christ to work within us. That gives us the liberty of serving Christ wholeheartedly, without fear of being condemned for mistakes we might make in the process. This is what true liberty and freedom in the gospel is, which is something radically different from no longer having to obey the law — which is what some people claim is “freedom” in Christ. But disobedience to the law, instead, is sin — and sin is anything but freedom (John 8:34).

Read Romans 8:1-3. What does it mean to be no longer condemned by the law? How does this wonderful truth impact how we live?

As a result of being forgiven through Christ, our relationship to the law is now different. We are now called to live a life that is pleasing to Him (1 Thess. 4:1); Paul refers to this as walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). This does not mean that the moral law is no longer applicable — that was never the issue. How could it be when we have seen so clearly that the moral law is what defines sin and that the moral law is what is written in our hearts?

Instead, because the law is a transcript of God’s character, by obeying the law we simply reflect His character. But more than that, we follow not just a set of rules but the example of Jesus, who does for us what the law itself could never do: He lives the law in us (Heb. 8:10) and makes it possible for the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4). That is, through our relationship with Jesus, we have the power to obey the law as never before.

Read Romans 8:4. What is Paul saying here? How have you seen this promise manifested in your own life? At the same time, despite whatever positive changes you have experienced, why must salvation always be based on what Christ does for us and nothing else?

4 comment(s) for this post:

  1. Paul Blanke:

    10 Aug 2017
    Salvation is a gift that is provided by Christ because we are all sinners. All who sin will die after a certain age for sure. Romans 5:1-12 explains this.
  2. Anele Dube:

    10 Aug 2017
    Paul's teachings do not suggests in any way that the law was done away with. Christ only broke the power of sin. By condemning sin in the flesh implies breaking it's power. As long as sin exists, the law of God will still be in force. The bible is clear death and sin will be the last enemy to be cast into the lake of fire. That hasn't happened yet.

    Paul's call is as message of spiritual growth. The law is the Will of God. If we are in Christ we have to 'Live in the Spirit, and also walk in the Spirit'[Gal 5:25]. Live the Will of God. We have to see the spiritual principles of the law. Those who have a living connection with Christ, who live the spiritual principles of the law that is in Jesus Christ through faith say "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" Psalms 40:8. Obedience to the law of God becomes internal part of their lives. The law to them is the thought of the heart. The love of the law of God.

    While still here on earth Christ taught that the law "thou shall not kill" is not the act only. But "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" [Matt 5:22]. He embedded the spiritual meaning of the law. The law of love. It is not only the act that is wrong, the thought of the heart is equivalent to the act. The whole law is embedded in the law of love.

    Paul saw that the law, without the spiritual meaning, (the law of sin and death[8:2])
    was weak to change the heart/character.[Rom 8:3] In it there is no salvation. It is only Christ who can change the character of a person."Create in me a clean heart, O God" Psalms 51:10. In Christ the capacity to reason is subjected to the controlling influence/power of the law of the Spirit of life that is in Him (v2). This "spirit of the law of life in Christ" directs the way we behave once we connected with Him. His Spirit becomes the superintendent of the power of will. The conscience is subjected to the supervision of this law. The law that says "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" [Matt 5:27-8]. Ellen White writes "It reveals the secrets of the heart, flashing light upon things before buried in darkness. God knows every thought, every purpose, every plan, every motive. . . His law He measures the character of every man" (The Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901). 5BC 1085.4.

  3. Celeste Davio:

    10 Aug 2017
    Proverbs is full of wisdom. God equals wisdom. That is His makeup. The desire for wisdom is an element of God. It says in the New King James Version NKJV, "Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." Prov. 2:5,6.

    Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children. Those who guide their children in wisdom are showing them God. Children should learn from them all aspects of life, even to the point of getting enough sleep,(Time for bed my dear.) not being bound by their electronics, such as their IPhone/iPad. Chores, what to eat, etc. Simple things that promotes health and well-being. Those who love their parents and do what they say aren't only being obedient, but also are gaining wisdom. Those who obey because they are afraid of the consequences haven't learned the principle of wisdom. It is harder for adults who never understood wisdom. They became rebellious against their parents, and often end up in trouble. I am saying all this to show that our relationship with God is like this. Those who truly want to know God's way by seeking His wisdom and choosing to follow it are like His loving children. They listen for His guidance. They love His guidance and follow it as a matter of love for Him. This promotes freedom.

  4. Jennifer Clarke:

    10 Aug 2017
    There are several comments on this and other topics this week about Paul and his teachings on the gospel and law. Also we have talked about the dispute between Paul and Peter.

    It is interesting to note that EGW states that Paul learned from the disciples.

    "Paul must receive instruction in the Christian faith and move understandingly. Christ sends him to the very disciples whom he had been so bitterly persecuting, to learn of them. The light of heavenly illumination had taken away Paul's eyesight; but Jesus, the Great Healer of the blind, does not restore it. He answers the question of Paul in these words: Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Jesus could not only have healed Paul of his blindness, but He could have forgiven his sins and told him his duty by marking out his future course. From Christ all power and mercies were to flow; but He did not give Paul an experience, in his conversion to truth, independent of His church recently organized upon the earth.

    The marvelous light given Paul upon that occasion astonished and confounded him. He was wholly subdued. This part of the work man could not do for Paul, but there was a work still to be accomplished which the servants of Christ could do. Jesus directs him to His agents in the church for a further knowledge of duty. Thus He gives authority and sanction to His organized church. Christ had done the work of revelation and conviction, and now Paul was in a condition to learn of those whom God had ordained to teach the truth. Christ directs Paul to His chosen servants, thus placing him in connection with His church.

    The very men whom Paul was purposing to destroy were to be his instructors in the very religion that he had despised and persecuted. " (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 430).

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