THE LAW – ITS CHARACTER
Again it should be pointed out that the character of the law would not divulge from the character of the author. In the scripture the law is never looked on as a bad thing. It is always looked on in a good way. The testimony is quite clear. There are certain things the law can do and certain things the law cannot do. Our relationship to the law will depend on our relationship to Jesus Christ. But underlying all of these important issues is the reality that the law is good. Again, not meaning to be redundant the scripture declares.
Romans 7:12 - Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
There are not too many ways in which to understand this simple statement. The law is holy. It only stands to reason then that it would be just. If holy and just how could it be anything but good? The law is good because it is holy and just. The law is never a bad thing. It is always a good thing. It must be noted that a good thing can be used in a bad way. The law, even human law, can be used unlawfully. Likewise, the law of God has the potential to be used unlawfully.
1 Timothy 1:8-11 - But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Clearly the law can be used in such a way that it is rendered not good. It is not that the law ceases to be good but simply that it is used unlawfully. Using the law to condemn a man who has been justified is an unlawful use. If a man has been justified there is now no condemnation. Under no circumstances is it appropriate for men to indicate that in some way they must achieve some standard in order to have favor or maintain favor with God. Christ did that for us. Yet, that reality is not to be stretched to mean that the law does not identify certain unlawful things. Things like lawlessness, disobedience, ungodliness, sinfulness, the unholy, profanity, murder, immorality, oppression, liars and a host of other things. Now a man being justified by faith in the finished work of Christ does not separate himself from the realities of what the law identifies as sin. If it is unholy it matters not whether the man that committed the act was saved or unsaved, the act is unholy because the law says so. The difference is that that law condemns the unsaved man while that same law in Christ justifies the saved man.
Referencing the law to determine what is holy and what is unholy is not a misapplication of the law.
In fact Paul goes on in Romans chapter seven to make the argument that the problem is not with the law but with himself, or with us. The law is good we are not.
Romans 7:14 - For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
There is no problem with the law. There is a problem with us. It is not the law that is faulty, but we who are faulty. The law is spiritual. The word “but” denotes a contrast. Paul was not like the law, he was not spiritual, but he was carnal. It is amazing how men seek to find fault with the law because the law finds fault with them. Paul adequately expresses his assessment of the difficulty that exist between him and the law.
Romans 7:16 - If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
What was it that determined what he would not do? Was it not the law? Yet when he found that what he would not do he did his conclusion was not that the law was bad but to the contrary that the law was good. His failure to live up to it revealed something about his inability. It did not manifest a problem with the law. In spite of his difficulty and the laws penetrating affirmation of his inadequacy he did not develop an antagonist view of the law by saying such things as, “Well, that’s in the law.” In fact it appears that his esteem for the law was elevated.
Romans 7:22 - For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
He did not come to despise it but he delighted in it. That is in the inward man he did so, the flesh never delights in the law of God because the law always runs contrary to the flesh. I do not understand why there seems to be so many bible-believing people who are so quick to judge the law instead of allowing the law to judge them. It is as though just because a moral precept is discovered in the law then it is rendered invalid. Or could it be rendered invalid simply because we do not want to be faced with the daunting task of conforming our life to the revealed will of God? For a believer to delight in the law of God today is to run the risk of being labeled a legalist or a Pharisee.