Friday, September 12, 2008

The Function of the Law

I love and have been reading Andy Standley's tiny little book, "Since Nobody's Perfect How Good is Good Enough?". It is fantastic and recommend it to everyone.

I want to mention, in this post, what the law was intended for. I know a lot of time when we think of the law we only think of the Ten Commandments, but there were way more commandments in Deuteronomy and in Leviticus.

Andy mentions, "If you read the entire book of Exodus, you will discover that there aren't just ten commandments; there are dozens of commandments, most of which none of us have kept" page 41.

Not only are there commandments, but also consequences. Stanley goes on and lets us know that in Exodus 21:17, just a few verses from God's Top Ten, it says, "Anyone who curses his father and mother will be put to death." I think that this definately extreme, do you?

If you look in the Old Testament, there is no promise of heaven if you keep the commandments of God. The standards are to high. Why do you think they need to offer sacrifices for sins? The Isaelites failed time and time again abandoning the law of God. Yet God never threatened them with the consequence of hell.

The law made the Jews aware of their sinfulness and need of a Messiah (even though they didn't undestand what the Messiah was about). We read in the gospels that Christ didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

While the Jews were guarded by the Law, however, the also became the law's prisoners. But listen to this great news by Paul, "Christ achieved the profection demanded by the Law, and thereby, freed us from the consequences of our disobedience (Gal. 3:13; 5:1).

Why do you think some Christians today are slaves to the law? Can you be a slave to the law and have joy in being a Christian? Why do those who live by law judge those who have been set free from the law? Can this happen in a church? How? Have you seen this happen in a church? What are the consequences of legalism and being enslaved by the law? Is there any hope of freeing someone who enslaved by law? How can it be done? Have you seen it done?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Blogger NaNcY said...

i will add the book to my book list.

God's Love to you.

7:25 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you so much sis.
It means so a lot to me.
Your blog is definately one of my favs and would recommend it to everyone. I hope you have a blessed weekend.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Gigi said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and for your nice comments...glad you found your way there!

Great post! I believe that the further we (as a Nation) move away from God, the more we enact and adopt laws in an attempt to replicate the sovereignty of the Lord. It doesn't work...If only we would return to our roots. Our poor country. I do believe we are on a path headed for judgment if things don't change.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Gigi said...

By the way - I'd like to add you to my blogroll, if that's ok with you...

9:11 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I am humbled.
Thank you sis.
God bless you!

9:40 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

You ask some difficult questions, and I find these difficult questions have difficult answers.
Personally, I think of Paul's statements about keeping the body in check. That, Paul would beat his body seems harsh. And, possibly has been misunderstood.
I say this because we see in the history of the church certain well known monks who were as·cet·i·cal.
They were cold and severly strict. They believed that works, was something like, climbing the steps of Saint John Latteran Cathedrial on one's knees. All of this, to obtain Holiness.
So, what does one do if you can not obtain holiness by doing acts that punish the body? Maybe, we punish everyone else. We become absolutely intolerant of evil to the point that we are dispised because of our inability to forgive another. Or, we seem to elevate ourselvs with our inspection of what is wrong with another.
This is ofcourse, leagalism at its best.
We make up something of our own laws, in our churches to bar anything beyond what we feel is the boundary God does not permit us Grace when we cross.

10:05 PM  
Blogger jeleasure said...

Hey Preacherman,
I just wanted to say thank you for being tolerant of my errant past few weeks. Of course, you were not aware of what I was going through. But, I gave a brief explanation.

My friend is not a practicing Christian. So, there is a lot of secular ideology aimed at me when we disagree.

I will pray for your headaches. My wife, Vicki gets migrains. I'm glad to know there is a shot for them. If you ever have one that you think you may be able to chase away if you just had the right thing, well, Pedia lite works for my wife.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Lynn Leaming said...

Thank you for your nice comments on my blog. I am always humbled by who drops by my blog and even more so when a post resonates with someone else. I know exactly what you are saying as I was in ICU for 3 weeks and rehab for 6 months myself just 3 years ago. I didn't quote scripture but constantly sang "He is Able, more than Able". I hope that you continue to heal and that we can help each other keep our eye on the prize.
This was a thought provoking post with some deep thought and great questions. I am glad that I am a grace reciever and not a law keeper. I am not sure if we can free other people, but we can live a life of freedom that draws them closer to wanting it for themselves. My parents have been law keepers and little by little I have seen them let go and embrace grace. The growth for me was in letting go of thinking I had to change them, but knowing that they loved God deeply, they just didn't know Him the same way I did and therefore they did not have the same joy in their relationship. The more they heard my prayers and worshipped with me, they began to embrace the freedoms themselves.

10:17 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

You are always welcome and want you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers brother. Thank you for letting me know about the pedia lite. I will give anything a try. Thank you for the information.

For all my readers I have had a migraine for the last 6 days. I went to the Dr. yesterday he gave me a shot in my neck, gave me a D-pack and a couple of other meds to help get rid of it. I would appreciate it if you could keep me in your prayers. I want to thank you all for all you readers have done already for me. God bless each and every one of you. The good news is that the medications are beginning to work and for that I praise God. God is so good.

Other questions I have on this topic:
How does grace affect the law? When we hang on to the long and become legalists do we cheapen the grace of God? How do you think Christ feels when we don't understand that has come to fulfill the law? What commandments that God has given us? Isn't two? What are they?
What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

10:30 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I think the more we let go of the law that satan wants to enslave us with we appreciate the grace and love of God. Thank you for sharing your thoughts you are always welcome on this blog. I forgot, thank you for sharing with us the wonderful things that is going on with you parents. I think it wonderful to see people grow in God.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Unfortunately many in our tradition believe Jesus died only to give us a new chance to try to be good enough for God's approval by keeping a new set of laws.

If I was on a pulpit search committee one of the questions I would ask each prospect would be this. "Will you tell me in a few sentences your understanding of the doctrine of justification?" If he couldn't answer the question he would be disqualified.

In many of our churches the pews are packed by people who think they are going to heaven, based at least in part, on their law keeping. All you need do is ask and you will find it is true.

Paul said I would not have known sin but for the law. When I share the gospel I start with the demands of the law and right away establish that all of us have fallen short, that we are sinners and deserve to die because of our sins. Only then is the good news really good news.

In Him,

8:22 AM  
Blogger Scott Packett said...

Kenny, I just wanted you to know that I replied to your questions on my post about anxiety. So go check it out.

In regards to your post, I have seen people enslaved by the law growing up in an independent baptist church. I believe people who live this way, know what they don't believe in, but have a hard time communicating and defending what they do believe in.

I have read this book, and really enjoyed it. The law for us should point us to the cross and the life of Jesus. He came and fulfilled it all, except for his second return, which we are now awaiting. However, most Jews are still awaiting his first visit to the earth. Many Christians today seem to be living much like the Jews. They are bound to the law, because they still can't wrap their minds around grace. The law makes it easy for these people to live what they think is a righteous life, because it takes little faith to follow a set of rules. However, to live the life we are called to live in Christ, takes all the faith we can muster, because we have no control. That's it, we fear to live by faith, because we have to admit that we are no longer in control of our lives, but instead God is. Pride and fear is the root to all our sin. We have the same problem that Adam and Eve have, we want to be as God and have the power that only he has. Therefore, we rely heavily on written law, because we wrap our minds around them. Just my thought.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

People who call themselves Christian, yet are slaves to the law, do not understand the nature of grace, mercy or salvation.

If there were a way to attain salvation by keeping the law, then Christ died for nothing, and wasted His time on the cross.

But He did not die for nothing. He died to pay our sin debt for us.

It's paid! In full! Hallelujah!

Col. 2 spells it out for us.

Galations, Philippians and Ephesions reconfirm it for us.

And Romans...Ah Romans!

6:57 PM  
Blogger thoughts of a person on a journey said...

I also will add the book! thanks for alerting us to it!

for me there are only really two commandments and that is to love our God with every ounce of our being and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.

the problem is that most of us are rubbish at loving ourselves and God so we fall short of loving others....

it is the 3 legged stool syndrome - we manage 1 or 2 of them, but it isn't going to balance if we don't have the third one... this is one of the things I say to my students right at the start of the academic year! If they don't have a capacious heart for God and the young people they won't do well on the course, but if they don't start to learn to love all people, what are they doing on the course. Some of them do find it hard to love others, especially one or two find it hard to understand how we can love Muslims etc... This is especially pertinent as we have as part of our department a Muslim youth work course and some of our students have found it hard to reconcile us agreeing to have such a course in a Church founded University. We simply tell them that it is about loving our neighbours as we love ourselves. Most of them get it by the end of the 1st year, some take a bit longer as they come from a more legalistic background..

5:40 AM  
OpenID said...

Anyone think that binding laws have been added in some circles (outside of God's will)?

Can you think of any examples?

3:02 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

I will pray for your migraines. Have a great week!

11:46 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Sorry to hear of your recurring migraine. Hope you're substantially better now, and really over it. Am praying.

My wife is reading Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" That's a wonderful read related to what you talk of here. I'm sure Andy Stanley's book would be great.

I think the key is that people are just not attuned to the function of the law and the role of grace in it all. The law's function is manifold, or more than one, and grace is in all of that, of course.

12:21 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

It's a two-edged sword. You can't exalt God's mercy and love to the point that God's justice is non-existent, nor vice versa.

Otherwise, why would Paul have said that he keeps his flesh under submission, lest he be disqualified? Why would Paul have reminded churches to avoid especially certain sins that would prevent them from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven?

God DOES still have a law, and all those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are bound to it. We ARE in a covenant, aren't we?!

Of course, this is the NEW and ETERNAL covenant in the body and blood of Jesus, not of some animal. This is not the Mosaic Covenant, this is the Christian Covenant. Or is Christ lawless?

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. ~ Romans 3:31

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. ~ Romans 13:8-10

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law -- not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ -- that I might win those outside the law. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:21

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ~ Galatians 5:13-14

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2

But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing. If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. ~ James 1:25-27

If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. ... So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. ~ James 2:8,12

12:27 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I think of legalism, I automatically think of Galatians. Christ died so that we could have Freedom, why we keep trading that for the slavery of law I can't figure out.

2:37 PM  
Blogger KMiV said...

I kind of see the law/Torah as a maturing process. In Galatians Paul calls it a pedagogue (the slave hired to take someone to school, keep the older homosexual advances away, and beat the kid into submission). I guess we would see this as a negative thing but in the ancient world this was part of the normal "maturing" process.

Since the Greek word for mature and perfect is the same (telos) it seems that if we use maturity instead of perfection, the law becomes a necessary component of a process.

Exodus = these people were abused by Pharoah and went into the wilderness to find and get to know God. The laws were designed to mature them. They failed but empowered the next generation to grow closer to God.

Jesus = fulfills the law and become our model of maturity. He mentons that the law is completed (matured) in love for God and others.

So it seems that the law is always about love and development.

Maybe the church has taken the concept of love and development out of the law. That's why so many are afraid of it.

Just some thoughts.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Sometimes, if people get so focused on all the little details that they forget about the huge love of God.

10:14 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

If people lose sight of the love of God in their attempts to follow His law, they're forgetting that His law is love.

Love God with everything you have. And with what remains -- and believe me, when you love God with everything you have, you lose nothing! -- love your neighbor as yourself.

10:30 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Might the law been given to remind them of the God they served. Who God is and is about. His attributes? Or is it a set of moral codes to strive live by?
I think God knew mankind could not obey completely so the people had to offer sacrifice for their sins. What do you thin?

I appreciate everyone's comments and ideas on this issue.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Liz Moore said...

Yes, there is obviously a place for law. There is a time and place for everything. But if we are too rigid about the law, where does grace factor in? I'm not saying we use grace as an excuse for bad behavior but God does give us freedom in Christ. Great thoughts!

I pray your migraines get better!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Frank Bellizzi said...

Soooo sorry to hear about the migraines. I live with them too.

I don't know what you already do or don't do in an attempt at preventing them. However, I'm convinced that there are food and drink triggers. If you can identify them, that will go a long way towards reducing the frequency, duration and intensity of migraines.

First, if you haven't already tried it, give up eating beef. I know, this is cattle country, where beef gives meaning to life. You don't have to tell people you don't eat beef anymore. But you should try it. Beef is an absolute migraine trigger for me.

Keep a food and drink journal. You might be able to identify your personal buttons. It would be worth the trouble.

Also, go to bed and get up at the same time. Regulate your sleep. No all-nighters etc.

Some people swear by B-2 vitamin supplements.

Best wishes.

4:49 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Thank you so much Frank but for the helpful ideas. I appreciate our friendship.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Spherical said...

What are the consequences of legalism and being enslaved by the law?

From Galatians 3 (TMSG)

Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping.

I think it is always easier to live by sight, and the law is tangible. Walking by faith demands that we let go, and that is scary.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Franklin Wood said...

hi preacherman! Thanks for commenting at my blog recently.
Good question you pose here.
I think for some people, the law brings stability and knowledge of boundaries. Kind of like how kids like to know just how far they can go without getting in trouble! There's a humorous book (with some serious points, too) called "The Year of Living Biblically." An agnostic man tries to live out the Bible as literally as possible. Several times, he states how comforting it is to have routine and laws to go by.
However, there is great emotional freedom to be found under God's grace!
I think only in dealing with sin (personal or otherwise) can one deal with their legalism.

10:49 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Wonderful thoughts and illustration of us needing boundries. I believe that the law is a moral code of what God expects. It cannot save. It helps us see the attribute of God and what kind of morality we should strive for in our everyday life.

I appreciate everyone's comments and thoughts.
Listen to what Paul says, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law, rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." Romans 3:19-20.

I also like what Paul writes in Romans 7:1-6 about the law and the illistration of marriage. Powerful stuff.

I think Paul hits the mark in Romans 8:1-4 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might fully be met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." Wonderful News!!!!!

Again thank you everyone for you thoughts and comments. I greatly appreciate all of you.

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