God and His Good Law
Our Creator reveals to us his laws, and in them he lovingly instructs us in how we should rightly think, speak, and act. He reveals his ordinances in the following ways:
- Principles from God’s natural order (General Revelation)
- Principles from conscience and logic (General Revelation)
- Principles from the Moral Law (Special Revelation)
- Principles from the Ceremonial and Civil Law. (Special Revelation)
Within these are found specific regulations and general principles that cover all areas of our lives — personal, family, church, vocation, commerce, finances, and government. Our God is so kind and loving to us. His ordinances and precepts are so wise and good. How blessed we are to have ready access to his thinking, wisdom, and will.
God and His Lawless Thugs
However, things are not going well between us and our Teacher. The problem is not with God or his law. No, we are the ones at issue. We all disbelieve God’s affection, doubt his wise counsel, dismiss his blessing and cursing, turn from his commandments, and replace them with human rubbish of our own liking. In the words of St. Paul, “Professing ourselves to be wise, we become fools.” Tragically, we make gods of ourselves, and God becomes our enemy.
God as Officer, Prosecutor, Judge, and Warden
Therefore, God plays the role of a police officer. It is he who roams over the world and watches the conduct of all within his precinct. God never takes a break from his omniscient overseeing, reviewing, uncovering, arresting, and dragging lawless idolaters into his court.
Then God plays the role of the prosecuting attorney. As we find ourselves before the Judge, we present our own lists of appeals and excuses as to why we are “not that bad.” However, our fantasy in this regard is short-lived. God is so masterful in his knowledge and usage of the Law, and as a briliant prosecuting attorney tears apart our arguments one at a time. Our Prosecuting Attorney, he has made copious notes in his book. The evidence he presents is undeniable and insurmountable, and easily he presents our satanically-inspired character which manifests itself in our devilish conduct. Ultimately, we are left speechless as our lawless affections, thoughts, words, and deeds are exposed. The gavel is slammed against the bench, and the Judge agrees with the Prosecutor. Guilty, vile, rebels we are. None of us are naturally lawful and good — no not one.
Then God readies himself to play the role of the prison warden. Following the verdict of “guilty” comes this sentence:
- Immediate excommunication
- Continued depravity
- Increasing personal misery
- External damnation in the Lake of Fire
Consequently, for the rest of our days, unless something dramatically changes, we find ourselves on God’s death row. Here we are in are lawless, hopeless, hellish, and hell-bound situation.
Do you think this to be too narrow, negative, and rough? O my friends, this is the traditional teaching of God, his Word, and his ministers. Hear the adjusted words of Martin Luther as he describes man’s condition in view of God’s good law:
The true function of the Law is to reveal to us our sin, blindness, misery, wickedness, and ignorance. It continues to inflame within us a growing hatred and contempt for God and of the wrath, hell, and judgment we deserve.
Or consider the adjusted words of John Calvin:
The Law is given to make our transgression obvious. It does its work in such a way that it compels us to acknowledge our sin and declare ourselves guilty.
But better yet, listen to the Apostle Paul:
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (Galatians 3:23)
Yes, this is our natural condition. God is good, the Law is good, but we are not. And because of our sin and sins, the Law has nothing good to say to us. What a horrid condition!
However, there is hope. When people come to faith in Jesus Christ, everything changes.
God as Law Keeper
So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:24-26)
Now please, notice our situation does not change when we:
- Receive water baptism
- Complete some confirmation class
- Become church members and are invited to the Lord’s Table
- Sufficiently hate and bemoan sin
- Permanently leave behind some heinous transgression and habit
- Look good enough in the estimation of watching judges
- Do more good deeds than bad
And notice, our situation does not change because:
- God changes his mind
- God lowers his expectations and gives partial credit
- God merely smiles, nods, and looks the other way
O my friends, things change for us on the glorious day that our eyes are opened, our hearts are adjusted, we believe the Gospel story of Jesus Christ, and in faith call out to him for substitution and rescue. It is on that day that we are gifted his “lawful” status. It is on that day that our penalty of eternal excommunication and damnation is removed from our accounts. Friends, we are saved by faith, and not by works, and on the day of our prayer of faith and repentance everything changes.
God as Defense Attorney
No longer do we cower under the Law as in the hands of a prosecuting attorney. In our new condition, the prosecuting attorney has become our defense attorney. Jesus, who formerly pointed out our record of disobedience, now points out our gifted righteousness. Consequently, we now find it enjoyable to go before the bench of the Great Judge. Because of Jesus Christ, we now look forward to Judgment Day. Why? This is because everything is different. That will be a day filled with thanksgiving and praise instead of moaning and groaning for us. For the Christ-covered saint, it will be fantastic to hear the benefits of Christ’s law-keeping placed on our account.
God as Law Teacher
Now, we get to enjoy, like never before, our Father and his good law. God and his Law are still so good. God and his Law are still so wise. God and his Law are still so beneficial and fruitful. And now, we are learning to love the Law we formerly loathed. In God’s Law, it tells us how our Heavenly Father would have us desire, think, speak, and act. In God’s Law, we find what he is doing with in us. There, in God’s good Law, we are reminded of our glorified and perfected condition and what we will will look like in paradise.
Yes, the good law of God is God’s good gift. And as we realize this more and more, there is no way we are going to run from his wisdom and call it grace.
So today, let us run to the Law, then run to the Gospel, then run to the Law.
- Let us run to the Law and be reminded of our sin.
- Let us run to the Gospel and be blessed with salvation, communion, intimacy, and motivation.
- Let us run back to the Law and be blessed with really good information.
God’s Law is good; let’s not forsake it in the name of grace.