Gospel Freedom to Love the Law   

‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law’ (Romans 7:7).

How can one stand firm in the shifting sands of a post-Christian, progressive age? How can we be equipped to discern God’s voice amongst the world’s alluring alternatives?

The answer is certainly not blowing in the wind, nor can it found by looking within. It’s actually where it has always been: The undivided, unchanging, Word of God. As Christians not only do we need to reflect on the good news of the Gospel, but also about why it is good news. That realisation can only come through a growing love for God’s ‘Law’ and how it relates to the cross of Christ. Of course, ‘Law’ in this sense is not to be understood as a set of rules tied to a judicial system, but rather as God’s loving instructions for life.

Any attempt to treat ‘Law and Gospel’ as exclusive entities and not two threads intricately woven by the same divine hands, is to render the Gospel no Gospel at all. Loving the God of the New Testament but rejecting the God of the Old is a bit like believing the sun can set despite never having risen. It’s not only confusing, it’s a theological absurdity.

Salvation is by grace through faith, but does that render God’s Law obsolete? Certainly not. Grace detached from the conviction of God’s Law can become a grace accepted on one’s own terms, a grace that universally accepts sinners as they are without acknowledging the need for repentance according to God’s unchanging Law.

‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.’ (Titus 2:11-14)

The question that must be asked then is, what kind of grace or forgiveness is needed if sin is not recognised as sin? Put another way, if the Law of God does not function as an exposing light to illuminate our sin, pointing us to the need for Christ as saviour, then why would any of us see the need for forgiveness at all? The answer is: we wouldn’t!

When the relationship between God’s Law and God’s Gospel are not properly understood, the result is a broken theology. Here lurks the potential to be led down dangerous and harmful roads, preferred scenic detours that avoid ownership of personal sin.

Living in and for Christ in an age where progressive agendas relentlessly bombard society from every angle is futile without teaching the whole of God’s Word. A cautious avoidance of talking about sin in the hope of not offending anyone surely weakens the immovable foundation of rock on which God intended his children to build their lives.  

People need the Gospel, but the Law too has an important role to play. It’s only in the face of the Law that the Gospel actually becomes the ‘good news’. To believe that God loves everybody just as they are, well that’s one thing, but to leave it there is to embrace a confusing half-truth. God does lovingly call people just as they are, it’s true, but he also calls them to become changed people. The Bible does reveal Jesus’ love for the outcasts of society, the poor, the sick, and sinners of all kinds. But sinners who encounter Christ, as the Bible tells us, never walk away unchanged and affirmed in their sin. Instead, they are transformed; they are born anew.

If Christians really desire to live a life in Christ, it cannot be done without grasping the proper relationship between Law and Gospel. The Christian life is built on a real hope, one that rests in the unchanging good news of the Gospel, one that rings true because it reflects the reality of sin in the world, in others, and in all of us. If we are going to survive the onslaught of post-Christian ideologies, we need to embrace the freedom we have to love God’s Law, freedom that comes through the saving gift of the Gospel. For in knowing that Christ, who fulfilled the Law perfectly, and who is now righteousness for us, we are free to love his Law and to strive to uphold it, without fearing the consequences of the inevitable failures we bring to it.

‘Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart’ (Psalm 119: 1-2).

‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 8:1-2).

– Ben Swift