Romans 7:1 – 12
The Law and its use.
[From John Wesley sermon 34]
The concept of the Law (of Moses, not a general legal code) maybe one of the most misunderstood subjects in theology. In the Old Testament Law, there is a moral, civil, and ceremonial code. Let’s look at what Paul was saying when he talked about the Law.
I. The origin of the Law:
A. The moral Law was established at the “beginning.” It had three components.
1. “Understanding” – The ability to discern truth from falsehood. This came from the Word of God.
2. “Liberty” – The capacity of choosing the one and refusing the other.
3. “Love” – The offering of a free and willing service as acceptable and pleasing to God.
B. The Law is a complete model of all truth.
1. It is intelligible to a finite being. It is clear an not difficult to understand, unless it is corrupted.
2. It makes provision for increasing happiness.
3. It is put in the heart of every person so everyone is “without excuse.” [Romans 1:20]
II. The nature of the Law:
A. What it is NOT:
1. The Law is not the “ceremonial code.”
a. The ceremonial code described the “how to” offer what sacrifice and when to observe what event.
b. The ceremonial code does not show us sin, it imposes a discipline as a consequence of sin.
2. The Law is not a “dispensation.”
a. Under the Law, a person is justified and lives by faith. Faith is the only dispensation (means of salvation) humans have ever had.
b. The blood of bulls and goats must be constantly repeated. This means the lack of their power.
B. The Law is the “moral code.”
1. It is an incorruptible picture of Almighty God.
a. God is manifested to His creatures AS THE ARE ABLE TO BEAR IT.
b. It is the heart of God, disclosed to us.
2. It is all virtues in one.
a. The original idea of truth and good.
b. It is unchangeable reason.
3. It is a copy of the eternal mind of God.
a. It reflects God’s divine nature.
b. It is rooted in God’s holiness.
III. The properties of the Law of God:
A. The Law is holy.
1. Holy describes the Law’s nature not effects!
2. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all PURE; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” [James 3:17, emphasis mine]
3. It is not the cause of sin, it exposes sin.
a. It exposes sin by taking away the disguise.
b. It eliminates the excuses by insisting, “this is what God wants.”
4. Because it exposes sin, we react AGAINST it [Romans 7:7 – 11].
a. Paul notes that sin “seizing the opportunity...”
b. Sin is deceptive.
B. The Law is just.
1. The Law describes what is right.
a. It describes precisely what ought to be done, said, or thought.
b. It is suited to everyone’s circumstances.
1.) “All people.”
2.) “At all times.”
3.) “Everywhere.” [from Josh McDowell]
2. Problem: We tend to separate “God’s will” from God.
a. The immutable (unchangeable) rule of right and wrong depends on the nature and fitness of things in their essential relationship to one another.
b. The nature and relations of all things depends on God, because God created all things.
c. Sometimes God wills something because it is right in relationship (e.g. children honoring parents).
d. However, it is right (and good) in all things (e.g. “Love your enemies.”)
C. The Law is good.
1. It is good because it is a reflection of God’s goodness (character).
2. It is good because it is an expression of God’s goodness (action).
3. It is good in its effects.
IV. The uses of the Law:
A. The Law convinces the world of sin.
1. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. “By this is the sinner discovered to himself.” [John Wesley]
B. The Law destroys the false.
1. False things are exposed and change is demanded.
2. The Law makes clear we are void of all spiritual life.
C. The Law points to life through Jesus Christ.
1. It serves as a “school master” to drive us by force (if necessary) to the only source of salvation... Jesus Christ.
2. Only love can tear away our confidence in the flesh.
D. The Law keeps us alive in Christ.
1. The Law prepares us for the life of God (vs the “Self-Life”).
a. It deals with the sin that remains.
b. It teaches dependence on God for strength to do what He commands.
c. It gives hope of what is yet to come.
d. It opens the door to receive “grace upon grace.”
2. It allows us to “obey.”