Here is the an outline of the sermon I preached at Rocky Creek Baptist Church on October 4, 2009
The audio can be found here or here.
What is the Law of God?
The question I have for us today is: What is the Law of God?
You may wonder why study this in this age of grace?
Many people today struggle with what to do with the law.
We need to understand the law so that we can understand grace so that we can understand the gospel.
Our focal passage for today is:
Romans 7:7-12 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.” (8) But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. (9) I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. (10) The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. (11) For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (12) So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
There are two primary questions that we will try to answer today.
1. What is the law? This asks us to define the law.
2. Why was the law given? This seeks for the purpose or the function of the law.
Question # 1 – What is the law? (Define the law)
The law is God’s standard for righteousness.
“The Law exhibits the righteousness of God – the righteousness which alone is acceptable to God” [Calvin 2.7.6]
The law outlines what God loves and that which offends God.
The Ten Commandments define the moral law of God.
God commands the behaviors that He loves to see and forbids that which offends him. The commandments reveal the moral principles in the eternal nature of God himself and to violate them is to commit a crime against the purpose of the universe which is to glorify God.
The first four commandments define our obligations toward God. The last six commandments define our obligations toward one another.
Jesus clarifies the essence of the commandments of the Law in Matthew 22:34-40
The first question is “What is the law?” The law is God’s standard for righteousness. The law outlines what God loves and that which offends God.
Question # 2 – Why was the law given? (The Purpose or the Function of the law)
We will define the purpose and function of the law together because they are complimentary of one another.
The purpose of the law was and is to display what is righteousness and what is unrighteousness. The law reveals sin as sin. The law exposes sin. Simply the law makes us aware of sin and its misery. The law also pronounces our condemnation.
The law is a description of the obedience of faith; it is not a job description of how to earn the wages of God’s blessings. The purpose of the law is not to reveal a standard of righteous living by which a person could be saved. Contrary, the law shows the depth of man’s sinfulness when measured against God’s righteousness.
1. To Reflect
The law can be looked at as a special two way mirror.
“As in a mirror we discover any stains upon our face, so in the Law we behold, first, our impotence; then, in consequence of it, our iniquity; and, finally, the curse, as the consequence of both” [Calvin 2.7.7]
When we look upon the Law, this mirror of God, we see through it to see the perfect righteousness of God and we see a true reflection of our own sinfulness and shortcomings.
The reflection of our sinfulness:
Romans 7:7; Romans 3:19-21; Romans 4:15
The reflection of God’s righteousness and holiness:
Romans 7:12; Psalms 19:7-10
“That divesting ourselves of the absurd opinion of our own virtue, we may perceive how we are wholly dependent on the hand of God; that feeling how naked and destitute we are, we make take refuge in His mercy, rely upon it, and cover ourselves up entirely with it; renouncing all righteousness and merit, and clinging to mercy alone, as offered in Christ to all who long and look for it in true faith.” [Calvin 2.7.8]
“The law was given, in order to convert a great into a little man – to show that you have no power of your own righteousness; and must thus, poor, needy, and destitute, flee to grace.” [Augustine from Calvin 2.7.9]
2. To Restrain
The law of God restrains evil.
Evil – a challenge to understand
“Evil is the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of light. . . Evil is the result of the creature’s turning away from the commands of God to the will of the creature. Herein is the essence of evil: it is the creature, not God, who is the creator of sin” [Augustine – City of God]
“Evil, therefore, finds its origin not in Creator God, but in the creature. God receives no blame for evil – we do. We get the credit for evil because we are the ones who chose to abandon God.”
“To disobey God was to initiate evil. Evil is not the presence of something. Evil is the absence of righteousness. Evil is the absence of perfection. Evil is the absence of holiness. Evil is the absence of goodness. Evil became a reality when we chose to disobey. . . Evil is not a created thing. Evil is not a substance. Evil is not an entity. Evil is not a being. Evil is not a force. Evil is not some floating spirit. Evil is a lack of moral perfection. . . Evil comes into existence when God’s creatures sin and fall short of the standard of moral perfection.” [John MacArthur]
God’s law keeps a world full of depraved people from exploding into total chaos. It is God who providentially controls this world. God establishes the governments and the leaders who in turn issue the laws of society. These laws inhibit lawlessness by the threat of punishment when a law is broken. This is especially true in judicial and political law.
Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and Deuteronomy 19:16-21 – Examples of instruction to judge and punish according to the Law of God
Romans 13:3-4; 1 Timothy 1:8-11
“By means of fearful condemnation and consequent dread of punishment to curb those who have no regard for right or justice.” [Calvin 2.7.10]
3. To Redirect
The Law (the Word of God) is the best instrument to enable the believer to daily grow and learn the will and knowledge of God. We need both sound doctrine and sound exhortation from the Word. By frequently meditation upon the Word we will be excited to obedience and drawn away from the slippery path of sin.
The law is a guide to the believer into the good works that God has planned for them. The believer is made alive spiritually, compelling in him by the renewed disposition of his heart, to give thankful obedience to his Savior.
2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:10
Jesus teaches His disciples to keep the law and to do all He commands:
Our obedience proves the reality of our love for Jesus:
Instruction for daily living in righteousness and obedience:
Psalms 25:4-5; Psalms 119:1-5; Psalms 119:9; Psalms 119:97-
What is the relationship between law, grace, and gospel?
To explain this relationship one must first define sin. Sin is disobedience. Sin is lawlessness. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin entered the human world in Genesis 3 (the Fall).
All people are sinners by nature and by choice.
The law gives us knowledge of our sin and works cannot save.
Our sin is deserving of it wage which is death.
Sin requires it wage be paid to satisfy the law. The payment must be the blood of a spotless sacrifice.
2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:23
God law had been broken. A debt was owed. The debt was ours. We have no ability to pay the debt. God paid our debt. He gave us the gift of grace. The gift was free for us but it was very costly for God. God showed his love for us . . .
Romans 5:6; 1 John 4:10; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-17
This is the Gospel
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Everything that was needed for you to be saved could not be done by you. There is no work that you can do to be saved. To be saved you must trust in the finished work of the cross of Christ as the only means of salvation. What is needed for your salvation has been done.
What must you do to be saved?
Confess your sin, Repent of your sin, and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the finished work of the Cross!