Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Holiness of God's Law

"So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good" (Romans 7:12).

What is the usefulness of the law for the Christian? The best discussion of this that I have found is in John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 2, chapter 7. Here Calvin sets out the three uses of God’s law. I highly recommend it to you. Let me summarize Calvin’s remarks for you today.

The first benefit of the law for the believer is that it reveals to us what righteousness is. If we hold up the law and look into it, as into a mirror, it will reveal to us how hopelessly unrighteous we are. Thus it shows us our need of the Savior and drives us to the foot of the cross. It humbles us, and that is a great benefit for us.

This seems to contradict what we have been seeing in Romans 7. Paul has been arguing that the more the sinner sees of the law, the more he rebels against it. Thus, the law seems rather to incite evil than to restrain it. But though this is true, there is also a sense in which the law restrains evil. The threat of punishment does restrain many people from evil acts, and this second function is a real benefit to society.

The third function of the law is the most important. The tremendous value of the law is its revelatory function. The law of God reveals the character of God and also what is pleasing to God. The daily instruction of the law advances us to a purer knowledge of the divine will. Thus, the law incites the spiritual man not to rebellion but to obedience and faithfulness.

If the law is holy, just, and good, and we want to be holy, just, and good, we must diligently study it. How much do you know of God’s law? Do you know the major places it is found in Scripture? Do you know how to read the Old Testament laws and how to sort them out in terms of their relevance? As you continue your daily Bible reading, learn to recognize that which is positively enjoined as a commandment. Begin marking them in your Bible, and you will soon be amazed at how many you find, particularly in the New Testament.