by Stan Smith
One thing we Christians know for sure from the Bible is that we are not "under the Law". That's clear as glass. We have that down. Just reference some Old Testament Law and you'll likely get, "We are not under the Law" in response because we are not under the Law. Look. It's simple. The Bible says without ambiguity, "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law" (Galatians 5:18 ). Interpret by the explicit, right? And that's pretty explicit.
So, we are "lawless", right? We are no longer "under the law". We don't care anymore about the law. We're free to do as we please. Now, the second I make that implication, any genuine Christian is going to slam on the brakes and step back. "No, that's not right. That's not right at all." So what is right? I mean, are we objecting because we're refusing to accept the Word at face value? Or is there really a reason to think there's something wrong with that conclusion?
Well, the Bible would disagree with the conclusion that we are lawless. Indeed, John wrote, "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). So, while we are clearly not "under the law", we are also not lawless. So what are we? Paul wrote:
To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law (1 Corinthians 9:20-21).
In his description of what he became to reach certain people, Paul also claims two facts. First, he affirms that he is not "under the law". That's what we've already affirmed. But when he goes on to those who are "outside the law", he says that he was "not ... outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ*." That's what we are. "Not under" and "not outside". "Not under the Law" but "under the law of Christ".
Christians are not under the Law. The Law was provided as the standard to be met to enjoy an unbroken relationship with God. The Law tells us what sin is (Romans 7:7). The Law tells us what God values. But as a perfect standard to be met, it becomes an unbearable burden to those of us who cannot meet that standard ... which would be all of us. Now, thanks be to God, we are no longer under the Law. Neither are we outside the Law. We are under the law of Christ. We seek to please our heavenly Father out of a grateful heart and see His laws as a perfect guide for doing so rather than an unbearable standard we cannot meet.
There are voices that would like to tell us that we are no longer connected in any way to the Law. They point to the claim that we are not "under the Law", and they are correct. But, while we are not under the Law, neither are we outside the Law. It is God's perfect guide. It's like a bridal registry that God filled out. "These are the things I'd like." Anyone who would want to please Him would want to fulfill them. While radical types like the Pauline Dispensationalists will tell you that the Law is pointless, Paul tells us that "The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12). To anyone seeking gratefully to please our Lord, that makes perfect sense.
*Lest you think that "the law of Christ" which we are under is a much easier row to hoe, think again. The "law of Christ" includes things like "love the Lord your God" with all that you have and are and "love your neighbor as yourself". This is more difficult because 1) it is more nebulous and 2) it is more comprehensive. It includes "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). We know that "the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians 5:14). While the Law demanded 10%, the law of Christ demands 100%. Oh, yeah, "the law of Christ" is a big one. You're not getting off easy with that. It's good to be forgiven, isn't it?
"Point of Reference" from
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I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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