It is a hard lesson to live above the law, and yet to walk according to the law. But this is the lesson a Christian has to learn, to walk in the law in respect of duty, but to live above it in respect of comfort, neither expecting favour from the law in respect of his obedience nor fearing harsh treatment from the law in respect of his failing.
God’s law, as a rule of life, is not opposed to grace. Rather, used in the right sense, it is the handmaid of grace. Or, to use an analogy, it is like a sheepdog that keeps driving back into the fold of grace, when we stray out into the wilderness of works.
Love provides the motive for obeying the commands of the law, but the law provides specific direction for exercising love.
Human morality and submission to God’s law are entirely different in principle, though they may appear to be similar in outward appearance. Human morality arises out of culture and family training and is based on what is proper and expected in the society we live in. It has nothing to do with God except to the extent that godly people have influenced that society. Submission to God’s law arises out of a love for God and a grateful response to His grace and is based on a delight in His law as revealed in Scripture. When the societal standard of morality varies from the law of God written in Scripture, we then see the true nature of human morality. We discover that it is just as hostile to the law of God as is the attitude of the most hardened sinner.
Being under the law is the opposite of being under grace. Because of our sin against the law, being under law implies the wrath of God, whereas grace implies forgiveness and favor. Law implies a broken relationship with God, whereas grace implies a restored relationship with Him. So when Paul said we died to the law, he meant we died to that entire state of condemnation, curse, and alienation from God.
We should delight in God’s delight. Mere outward conformity to the law is not what God requires. The person who does what God says with a resentful heart and begrudging obedience does not bear the mark of the true child of light. The heart renewed by the Spirit desires to please God, is anxious to find out what He desires, and is motivated by the sense of bringing God pleasure.
Prior to our faith in the pardoning grace of the cross, the law ultimately could only be a condemnation code specifying the reasons for our death penalty. Now that Christ has paid that penalty, however, the Law is a map of blessing showing how those God has made right with Himself can further experience His love, bring honor to the One they love, and share His love with others. Understanding that the Law no longer condemns but guides us to spiritual safety, worship and fellowship makes its standards a delight, and indicates why antinomianism shackles God’s people to unhappiness. Denying people access to God’s path of spiritual safety is a contradiction of grace.
Understanding the freedom from darkness that God’s law provides helps us reconcile biblical calls to duty with the gospel promises of grace (1 John 2:7-11)… Grace does not forbid giving directions, promises, corrections, and warnings. Only cruelty would forbid such help.
God’s law is an expression of His grace because it is also an expression of His character. Commands show us what God is like, what He prizes, what He detests, what it means to be holy as God is holy. To hate all rules is to hate God Himself who ordained His rules to reflect His nature. The law is God’s plan for His sanctified people to enjoy communion with Him.
So what is the place of the Law in the life of the Christian? Simply this: We are no longer under the Law to be condemned by it, we are now “in-lawed” to it because of our betrothal to Christ! He has written the Law, and love for it, into our hearts!
When the law of God is written in our hearts, our duty will be our delight.
How shall a work please God, if it proceeds from a reluctant and resisting heart? To fulfill the law, however, is to do its works with pleasure and love, and to live a godly and good life of one’s own accord, without the compulsion of the law. This pleasure and love for the law is put into the heart by the Holy Ghost.
No human law without sanction is complete; a law without a penalty is an altogether worthless and pitiful thing. Are God’s laws of this pitiful kind?>
For we do not keep the Law to be saved. But rather, in keeping the Law we show ourselves to already have gained salvation through the cross of Christ. In light of the cross of Christ and the liberation from the (sting) of sin we receive from it, we are now free to keep the Law (Gal. 4:31).
We are not Legalists when we keep the Law, because we do not look to the Law for life. Rather the Law shows us we have true life in our hearts. We keep the Law to be obedient to Christ and show Him how much we love Him for rescuing us from the damning influences of trying to keep the Law to gain eternal life. Obedience is a far cry from Legalism.
How can we understand righteousness as the positive opposite of sin unless we construe it as the opposite of what sin is? And if sin is the transgression of the law, righteousness must be conformity to the law.
The Law’s demands are inward, touching motive and desire, and are not concerned solely with outward action (Ernest Keven).
God’s Law convicts of sin only as I appreciate whose Law it is I have broken (Derek Prime and Alistair Begg).
We are to order our lives by the light of His law, not our guesses about His plan.
The law by which God rules us is as dear to Him as the Gospel by which He saves us.
The law of God was not designed by a capricious tyrant in order to keep his people miserable.
It will do no good to say, “God can do it, if they will only let Him.” I can do great things with men, if they will “let” me. The law of God could have done great things with men if they had “let” it. The law was good. The law was holy. But by itself it could not give men the inclination of heart to follow it. Only God could to that through Christ.