How Reformed Teaching Reintroduces the keeping of law into New Testament ChristianityFirst we define sin as breaking or not keeping the law or commandment of God. Next, we see that we have 2 choices: Either keep the law and be righteous or break the law and commit sin. Which do you choose? It seems very logical and even “airtight” as being correct in approach. So they bring law front and center as the “rule of life” for the Christian. If Jesus had to keep the law, they say, how much more we do as well. You almost never hear them quote Paul (Bible passages mind you) where it says the law was and is the ministration of death because that sounds like the law is a bad thing. They often quote Paul where he does say that the law is good. And I have heard some quote Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” and act as if it is saying “that the law might be fulfilled BY us”. So how do we sort all of this out? I first want to start by suggesting that Jesus because he had no sin nature and was filled with God’s Spirit just lived His life on Earth and it perfectly fell in line with the law. In other words, He was not trying to keep the law by memorizing all the individual commandments and then reminding Himself, “Oh, I better do this or not do that”. No. He naturally had righteousness and love perfectly imprinted on His heart and mind and that is what His life produced without effort or fail. To an outsider, they would assume He was living by self effort to “keep” the law just as they had to try and keep the law. But it wasn’t like that at all. He had the “law of the Spirit of life” in Him and it naturally “kept” or fell in line with the written law and was even higher than the written law and would fulfill even the Sermon on the Mount level of living.From the epistles of Paul we learn that the law was our school master until Christ came and its function was 1) to show us the righteous and holy nature of God and what He represents and 2) to show us we don’t live up to that standard. After 1500 years of living under OT law, the Jews should have been greatly humbled by the law and should have cried out to God, “God be merciful to me the sinner”. Instead, they looked at the law as a way to become morally equal with God by keeping large portions of the easy parts of the law. They neglected the really important laws related to love, mercy and justice because it wasn’t in them to reach that level of living. A person living under the law will either be greatly humbled by it or cut corners with it and become self-righteous with themselves. And so Paul says the law was imperfect. It pointed to the good and righteous and holy thing but gave absolutely no power or ability to keep it. The law is always a demand placed upon a person. It is up to you to fulfill this demand. You either do or you don’t. After 1500 years of trying to live up to the law you would think that the Jews would have been so miserable and humbled by it that they would have welcomed Jesus and the new thing He was introducing yet it was hidden from their eyes because of their proud hearts.Perhaps the main thing God is showing me in all of this is the importance of not putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. Yes, we are to live righteous and holy lives as Christians. But it is a life that is received and not achieved. We receive this life by grace through faith and not by works. And once being saved in this way we go forward in progressive sanctification in the same way. I know how much people want a really crisp neat formula for how this all works and that is why people usually do fall back on law keeping as the rule of life because it is extremely simple to understand. But Christianity is first and foremost about relationship and life and once that is settled and correct, then the behavior and conduct part sorts itself out. Sanctification as a process working in the life of a Christian is a cooperative effort. We have a part to play and God working in us by grace and Spirit is the other part we have to synchronize with. It just isn’t possible to put a super fine edge to exactly how things mesh together but I will say that humility (seeing our need) and faith (seeing His supply) and being hungry to be filled are imperative. -Daniel
Breaking or not keeping the law or commandment of God is not the only way to sin.If we only try and keep the commandments of God then we most likely end up cleaning the outside only and not the inside.If we think we can perfectly clean our inside to God's absolute Holy standard then we don't know our own depravity and God's absolute and perfect Holiness.At age 69 John Piper organised a conference titled: "What Is Sin? The Essence and Root of All Sinning". You find it on "desiring God"After about 43min he starts to summarise sin and to give us a Biblical definition.Very important message !