Tag Archive | Moral Law

Either Gross Ignorance or Malignant Opposition

John Murray, “Law and Grace:”

It is symptomatic of a pattern of thought current in many evangelical circles that the idea of keeping the commandments of God is not consonant with the liberty and spontaneity of the Christian man, that keeping the law has its affinities with legalism and with the principle of works rather than with the principle of grace. It is strange indeed that this kind of antipathy to the notion of keeping commandments should be entertained by any believer who is a serious student of the New Testament. Did not our Lord say, ‘If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)? And did he not say, ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love’ (John 15:10)? It was John who recorded these sayings of our Lord and it was he, of all the disciples, who was mindful of the Lord’s teaching and example regarding iove, and reproduces that teaching so conspicuously in his first Epistle. We catch something of the tenderness of his entreaty when he writes, ‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth’ (I John 3:18), ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God” (I John 4:7). But the message oi John has escaped us if we have failed to note John’s emphasis upon the keeping of the commandments of God. ‘And by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps his word, in him verily the iove of God is made perfect’ (I John 2:3-5). ‘Beloved, if our heart does not condemn, we have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are well-pleasing in his sight . . . And he who keeps his commandments abides in him and he in him’ (I John 3:21, 22, 24). ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments’ (I John 5:3). If we are surprised to find this virtual identification of love to God and the keeping of his commandments, it is because we have overlooked the words of our Lord himself which John had remembered and learned well: ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love’ (John 15:10) and ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me’ (John 14:21). To say the very least, the witness of our Lord and the testimony of John are to the effect that there is indispensable complementation; love will be operative in the keeping of God’s commandments. It is only myopia that prevents us from seeing this, and when there is a persistent animosity to the notion of keeping commandments the only conclusion is that there is either gross ignorance or malignant opposition to the testimony of Jesus.

~originally a part of  the Payton Lectures delivered by Professor Murray in March of 1955 at Fuller Theological Seminary. The entire lecture series was expanded and reprinted by Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1957 in book form with the title, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics by John Murray.

Read more of what John Murray has to say on how the law and the gospel interrelate here: http://www.the-highway.com/lawgrace.html

Immutable and Universally Obligatory

Amongst professing Christians in the West today, there seems to be a belief that God requires us to follow no law but the law to love one another (defined without respect to any of God’s stated commands).  Here is a quote from William Findley that I came across while reading on another topic that shows that Christians once acknowledged the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments:

800px-Bloomington_-_Grace_Fellowship_Assembly_of_God_-_commandments_-_P1040521“As a clear and exact knowledge of the moral law of nature is peculiarly important, in order to understand the whole system of revealed [8] religion, I will state, that it pleased God to deliver, on Mount Sinai, a compendium of this holy law, and to write it with his own hand, on durable tables of stone. This law, which is commonly called the ten commandments, or decalogue, has its foundation in the nature of God and of man, in the relation men bear to him, and to each other, and in the duties which result from those relations; and on this account it is immutable and universally obligatory. Though given in this manner to Israel, as the foundation of the national covenant, then about to be entered into, it demands obedience from all mankind, at all times, and in all conditions of life; and the whole world will finally be judged according to it, and to the opportunity they had of being acquainted with it, whether by reason and tradition alone, or by the light of the written word. This law is spiritual, reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is necessarily the foundation of all transactions, between the Creator and his rational creatures; and, in this case, was very properly revealed, as the foundation of the covenant of peculiarity with Israel. See Scott on Exod. xx. This was incorporated in the judicial law, as far as divine wisdom thought proper, and is explained and applied by the Saviour, and by the prophets and apostles.”

~William Findley, Observations on “The Two Sons of Oil” (LF ed.) [1812], Chapter 1, Editor: John Caldwell, available online at http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/findley-observations-on-the-two-sons-of-oil-lf-ed

Did Jesus Cancel Out The Ten Commandments?

800px-Bloomington_-_Grace_Fellowship_Assembly_of_God_-_commandments_-_P1040521“Our Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to explaining the law and pointing out its spiritual character, also unveiled its living essence, for when one asked him “Which is the great commandment in the law?” he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” In other words, he has told us, “All the law is fulfilled in this: thou shalt love.” There is the pith and marrow of it. Does any man say to me, “You see, then, instead of the ten commandments we have received the two commandments, and these are much easier.” I answer that this reading of the law is not in the least easier. Such a remark implies a want of thought and experience. Those two precepts comprehend the ten at their fullest extent, and cannot be regarded as the erasure of a jot or tittle of them. Whatever difficulties surround the ten commands are equally found in the two, which are their sum and substance. If you love God with all your heart you must keep the first table; and if you love your neighbor as yourself you must keep the second table. If any suppose that the law of love is an adaptation of the moral law to man’s fallen condition they greatly err. I can only say that the supposed adaptation is no more adapted to us than the original law. If there could be conceived to be any difference in difficulty it might be easier to keep the ten than the two; for if we go no deeper than tile letter, the two are the more exacting, since they deal with the heart, and soul, and mind. The ten commands mean all that the two express; but if we forget this, and only look at the wording of them, I say, it is harder for a man to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself than it would be merely to abstain from killing, stealing, and false witness. Christ has not, therefore, abrogated or at all moderated the law to meet our helplessness; he has left it in all its sublime perfection, as it always must be left, and he has pointed out how deep are its foundations, how elevated are its heights, how measureless are its length and breadth. Like the laws of the Medes and Persians, God’s commands cannot be altered; we are saved by another method.”

~Spurgeon, “The Perpetuity of the Law of God,” http://www.angelfire.com/va/sovereigngrace/perpetuity.spurgeon.html

We Desire To Obey The Lord In All Things

Rombergpark-Ginster-IMG 2433

“Very great mistakes have been made about the law. Not long ago there were those about us who affirmed that the law is utterly abrogated and abolished, and they openly taught that believers were not bound to make the moral law the rule of their lives. What would have been sin in other men they counted to be no sin in themselves. From such Antinomianism as that may God deliver us. We are not under the law as the method of salvation, but we delight to see the law in the hand of Christ, and desire to obey the Lord in all things.”

~Spurgeon, “The Perpetuity of the Law of God,” http://www.angelfire.com/va/sovereigngrace/perpetuity.spurgeon.html

An Alley of Delight

Lilacs in Belleview Park, Paris June 2010

Hugh Binning, Works, p. 197:

The way to life, by the guiding of the Spirit, is easiest, plainest, shortest, and broadest. It hath all the properties of a good way, none so pleasant and plain; how sweet and pleasant sights all the way! It is an alley of delight, the way of his commandments; it wants not accommodation in it to refresh the traveller. The most delightful company is here; the Father and the Son, who sought no other company from all eternity, but were abundantly satisfied and rejoiced in one another. This fellowship the Christian hath to solace himself with, and he is admitted to be partaker of that joy. There is nothing that doth disburden the soul so of care and anxiety, nothing doth rid a man of so many perplexities and troubles, as this way. But the way of sin in itself is most laborious, most difficult. It hath infinite by-ways that it leads a man into, and he must turn and return, and run in a circle all the day, all his time, to satisfy the infinite lusts and insatiable desires of sin. O how painful and laborious is it to fulfil the lusts of the flesh! How much service doth it impose! How serious attention! What perplexing cares and tormenting thoughts! How many sorrows and griefs are in every step of this way!

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89271-All-the-properties-of-a-good-way, Comment 1

Liberty From Our Sins And Corruptions

Jens Juel - A Running Boy. Marcus Holst von Schmidten - Google Art ProjectHugh Binning, Works, p. 142:

Some promise to us liberty, but they themselves are the servants of corruption; it is no liberty to be above all law and rule. It was innocent Adam’s liberty to be conformed to a holy and just command; nay, this was his beauty. This Spirit indeed gives liberty where he is, but this liberty is from our sins and corruptions, not to them. It looses the chains of a man’s own corrupt lusts off him, to walk at freedom in the way of his commandments. The Spirit enlargeth the prisoner’s heart, and then he runs, but not at random, but the way of his commands, Ps. 119:32.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89119-Freedom-in-the-way-of-his-commandments, Comment 1

Godliness by the Study of the Law

Calvin on Psalm 1:

Dürer, Albrecht - Hand Study with Bible - 1506In the second verse, the Psalmist does not simply pronounce those happy who fear God, as in other places, but designates godliness by the study of the law, teaching us that God is only rightly served when his law is obeyed. It is not left to every man to frame a system of religion according to his own judgment, but the standard of godliness is to be taken from the Word of God.

When David here speaks of the law, it ought not to be understood as if the other parts of Scripture should be excluded, but rather, since the whole of Scripture is nothing else than an exposition of the law, under it as the head is comprehended the whole body. The prophet, therefore, in commending the law, includes all the rest of the inspired writings. He must, therefore, be understood as meaning to exhort the faithful to the reading of the Psalms also.

From his characterizing the godly as delighting in the law of the Lord, we may learn that forced or servile obedience is not at all acceptable to God, and that those only are worthy students of the law who come to it with a cheerful mind, and are so delighted with its instructions, as to account nothing more desirable or delicious than to make progress therein. From this love of the law proceeds constant meditation upon it, which the prophet mentions on the last clause of the verse; for all who are truly actuated by love to the law must feel pleasure in the diligent study of it.

Source: http://theaquilareport.com/how-do-you-view-gods-law/