“The Purpose of the Law”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The law, “was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary,” Galatians 3:19. Paul was referring to the Ten Commandments. He said the law was added because of sin.
The Apostle John wrote that sin is lawlessness, 1John 3:4. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God, “question and answer no. 14.
The Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The first part concerns man’s relationship to God. The second provides the basis for men to co-exist.
Even in society, the importance of law is reflected. All cultures depend upon what is called the rule of law. Removing law condemns a society to destruction. Therefore, we expect our leaders to submit to the rule of law as a guard to our freedom. A good example of the rule of law is the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the basis for our rule of law. No one is above the law nor is the principle of due process ever suspended.
God’s Law and Civil Law carry blessings and curses, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As God created man and woman in His image, we have a moral code in our hearts. All men have a knowledge of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments specify what is right and wrong because they reflect the character of God. At its root, the Law of God expresses His grace and is part of what is called, the Covenant of Grace.
Why do we need the grace of God in the Law? As Paul said, it was given by God because of sin. The sinfulness of man leads to law breaking. No man can keep the Law perfectly. Fundamentally, God gave the Law to demonstrate man’s need for a Savior, who would keep the Law perfectly. The Bible reveals God’s grace through the Law. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” Galatians 4:4.
Law provides additional benefits for all mankind. God’s common grace toward all is experienced by the rule of law in providing for relationships, contracts, economic prosperity and in summary the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
The Christian Church since the Reformation has taught that God’s Law has three uses. They are: first, to bound sin, second, to point to Christ and third to provide the guide for the Christian Life.
The Old Testament also reveals two principles regarding the Law. God said blessing results from obedience and curse is the result of disobedience, Deuteronomy 11:26-28. God declared that His way was the better way.
The importance of the Law will also be seen in the end of this world. The sign of the end will be apostasy. “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first…” 2Thessalonians 2:3. Paul was straightening out false teaching concerning the end of this world. Rebellion against God will be the first sign of the end. The visible sign of rejecting God is rejecting His Law.
History also records man’s awareness of his need for law. One example is the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient law code of the first Babylonian Dynasty ruled by Hammurabi circa 1728-1686 B.C. Much of his code parallels that of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations likewise depended on the rule of law. As law broke down, those civilizations ceased to exist. They became unable to fight against invaders. Western civilization and especially our United States will also stand or fall as a result of adherence to the rule of law.
In summary, without law we will perish. Because of God’s Law we are shown our desperate need for a divine Savior. May we commit to stand for the blessing of God’s Law and all law proceeding from it. May submission to the rule of law reflect the desire to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God, Micah 6:8. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15