The Law and The Gospel

LAW & GOSPEL

A T  T H E  D I S T R I C T  C H U R C H 

Growing up, there were a few things I despised: meatloaf and math class. Literally, I could think hundreds of things I’d rather contend with…in school suspension…watching Barney… corkscrew to the temple. Needless to say, I was eager for freedom from those evils, even if they both were probably good for me. Guess what? I have not eaten meatloaf since I was 12. I haven’t taken a math class since my sophomore year of college. They will not be on my bucket list, so I will not be going back to them, which leads us to this question: 

Are Christians to go back to the law once they have been saved by grace? Aren’t we free from the obligations of law, because of faith in Jesus? 

Understanding how to reconcile the law and the Gospel together can be a great challenge and is of great importance for us.

THE LAW IS GOOD

Kids love vegetables….the words no parent has ever uttered. I’ve been trying to con my kids into eating vegetables for years. I’ve used the persuasion methods of ranch dressing and honey mustard to mask the taste of vegetables, which is really code for manipulation. They just do not like it, though it serves for their good. 

The law is like vegetables, we do not like it, but it serves for our good. 

The Psalmist and the writer of Proverbs describe the law as perfect and that is serves us for our good and delight. Also, when God redeemed the Hebrews from the harsh enslavement of the Egyptians, He gave them the Ten Commandments as a means of fostering a relationship with Himself and others. Especially important to remember, since God is the author of the law it must be good, because it would contradict His righteous and holy character (God is not the author evil). We can concluded several reasons of why the Law is good.

  • The Law is good, because it serves as a litmus test. The law is a dialogistic tool. It reads us like a book. It shows us how miserably short of God’s glorious character we fall, therefore revealing our sinfulness. It is a mirror that reveals our flaws as broken and distorted image bearers. 
  • The Law is good, because it shows God’s Character. Books bear the fingerprint of the author. God’s fingerprint is in the law. God gave it to Moses and the Israelites to not only guide, but highlight what He is not.
  • The Law is good, because it reveals our need for the Gospel. The law reveals the character of God and brings awareness of our sin, leaving us helpless and thus pointing us to our need for a Savior. The Gospel delivers us from the demands of the law that we could never meet. 
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” - Romans 7:7

The law helps understand how bad we really are and how good God really is through sending His son, Jesus, to die in our place and for our sin. Jesus fulfilled the demands of the law we could never meet because He followed them perfectly. It took a while to get here, but this leads us to our original question: how do we reconcile the law and Gospel? 

GOSPEL OBEDIENCE 

Gospel Obedience can be summed up like this: the Gospel frees us to obey the law through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Jesus not only died in our place for our sins, but He perfectly obeyed the law and now resides in us. I am now accepted before the Father, because of the obedience of the Son. The grace experienced through the Gospel empowers us to joyfully obey the law. When we obey the law under grace it is act of worship, not a woeful duty. 

 

Jeth Looney, Pastor of Disciple Making