Psalm 119:4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
The Right Side
Considering the ending of the previous post then, we might ask, “What is the proper balance?” The Biblical understanding of God’s Law.
Let us briefly examine a role/some roles in which God’s Law ought to act in the life of a believer. I find this necessary becausethe errors of the Libertines stem from a misunderstanding of what it means to be “under the Law.” Respectfully, though I believe their intentions are sincere and positive, I fear they have fallen prey to the idea that those of us who are under grace can only be out from “under the Law” by casting it aside. Such a belief is unfounded in Scripture and, I believe, a revolt against God’s provision of goodness He has given us in the Law.
First, what does God’s Word say about God’s Law? Many things. My personal favorite follows thus from Psalm 19:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
I am certain that Biblical Christians would all agree that we can trust Scripture, no? Not only can we trust in Scripture, we can love and obey it wholeheartedly, without fear of it leading us astray. Hence, it follows we can also believe in and trust what the Psalmist says here. Let us consider a few of the Psalmist’s descriptors of the Law.
1. God’s Law is Perfect (v.7)
Hebrew: תמים –Transliteration: tamiym — which means:
1) complete, whole, entire, sound
a) complete, whole, entire
b) whole, sound, healthful
c) complete, entire (of time)
d) sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity
e) what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact
Accidental is certainly no way to characterize the Psalmist’s placing of perfect as the first descriptor of God’s Law in this passage. Rather, it lays the foundation for all those which proceed thereafter. Because God’s Law is perfect, we can be confident that to the “revived soul” it:
-is sure, bringing wisdom to the simple
-is right, rejoicing the heart
-is pure, enlightening the eyes
So not only is the Law all these perfect things, but it does and brings good things! Wisdom, Joy, Illumination, and Rewards. That doesn’t sound scary, nor is it something I mind living “under.” Now, considering the given definition of perfect, I believe we are safe to proclaim that God’s Law is perpetual. If it is perfect (and it is), how could one even imply that it is bad, deficient, or whatever one wishes to say, enough that we need to be finished with it? I mean, it is complete, not lacking in anything, sound, etc., thus it has no need to be abolished. Next, allow me to quote that Esteemed Apostle, when he writes:
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. – Romans 7:12
Having briefly touched the surface, let me say that I, in no way, would think the sincere Libertines would disagree thus far with what I’ve said. “So, then, what is the purpose, Josh?” To point out that when the Apostle says “you are not under law but under grace,” he does not mean that the Law is bad, or that it is no longer in effect. Granted, there are certain Mosaic, Ceremonial, and Judicial laws which are no longer in effect, but not without reason. The ceremonial laws no longer have any typological use, having been fulfilled in Christ. The judicial laws have passed with the passing of the nation-state of OT Israel*. No, what I speak of is God’s Moral Law.
What was Paul saying, then? The same thing that is true for every believer in all times in all ages ranging from Adam to present. That, before God so graciously regenerated and justifies a sinner, he is condemned by the Law. Not because the Law is in any way deficient. NO! Because men are deficient. The Law stands as a condemnation against those who have not been saved by the Law Giver. However, once the sinner is graciously brought into the Law Giver’s family, he is no longer condemned by that Law, but saved by the Law Giver’s grace.
Therefore, since it is nothing inherent within the Law that is condemnable, deficient, etc. Paul does not mean that the Law is no longer authoritative, binding, or important for the Christian. We know that the Law is perfect, good, holy, just, rewarding, etc. How, then, could we say it is abolished? The Law, for the unbeliever, serves one of two purposes: Either, his condemnation unto everlasting hell, or his conviction unto repentance, conversion and everlasting glory.
For the Christian, though, the Law is still authoritative, binding, and important. It cannot condemn the Christian, for there is now no condemnation for those in Christ. Why is that? For Christ took the condemnation, not because of some magical pixie dust that is applied to believers when they are converted. The Law is a measure for the Christian. The Law ought to be a delight for the Christian. The Law serves as a means unto holiness (not perfectionism, mind you). Thus, it is not the Law that is bad, but men. The Law is not a Boogey-Man.
Lord willing, in a future post, we can look at the “Right Side” in the context of the Legalists. Until then, Godspeed and Grace to all of God’s People!
*Although the judicial laws have expired with the nation of OT Israel, the general equity of said laws still remains (this will be discussed and expounded upon in a future article, Lord willing).