Freedom from Justification by the Law!

Here is a gem from one Obadiah Sedgwick, Westminster Assembly member:

They [believers] have immunity or freedom from justification by the Law, from all legal trials for life.   Although you are not freed from the Law as it is a rule for life, yet you are freed from the Law as it is a Covenant of life; although you are not freed from the Law as it is the image of the good and holy will of God, yet because you are under the Covenant of grace, you are freed from the Law as it is a reason of salvation and justification.  The Covenant of grace takes you off from that Court and Bar which pronounceth life upon your own good works, and pronounceth death upon your own evil works; Rom. 3:28, We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.  Gal. 3:11, No man is justified by the Law in the sight of God, for the just shall live by faith.  As the law calls for perfect and personal righteousness of our own; so the Law will not justify you, it will not give life unto you, unless it finds that righteousness in you; you live not, if you be not perfectly righteous; absolution is pronounced upon your own perfect innocence, and condemnation is pronounced upon any defect or breach.  And verily on this account no living man can or shall be justified; therefore here is comfort, that being in Christ, and in this Covenant of grace, ye are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses; see the Apostle, Acts 13:39.  Your life doth not lie now in your own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ; nor doth it depend on your own works, but upon the obedience of Christ.  That expression of Luther is an excellent expression … ‘Though my works have been very good, yet not those but Christ doth justify me; and though my works have been very ill, yet the righteousness of Christ can and will justify me; my evil works shall not damn me, and my good works cannot acquit me; it is Christ, it is Christ, and not the Law which justifies me.’

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Bowels of Tender Mercy Sealed in the Everlasting Covenant (London: Printed by Edward Mottershed, for Adoniram Byfield, 1661), 81.

I’m actually writing up Sedgwick on the free offer (some excellent sermons on Rev 3:20) at the moment and this was in my notes – thought it was worth sharing!

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21 Responses to “Freedom from Justification by the Law!”

  1. A Westminster Divine on Freedom from Justification By the Law « Heidelblog Says:

    […] Posted on December 30, 2009 by R. Scott Clark Thanks to the James Durham Thesis for posting this encouragement and reminder that the way of Reformed orthodoxy is neither antinomian nor […]

  2. John Pesebre Says:

    I just love this:

    “Although you are not freed from the Law as it is a rule for life, yet you are freed from the Law as it is a Covenant of life; although you are not freed from the Law as it is the image of the good and holy will of God, yet because you are under the Covenant of grace, you are freed from the Law as it is a reason of salvation and justification.”

  3. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Thanks, yes, it is a wonderfully balanced way of expressing the truth.

  4. Tony Says:

    There are definitely some good quotes in Sedgwick on the free offer. I look forward to what you will post in the future.

  5. Ken Says:

    Anyone know the source of the Luther quote? It alone is a wonderful summation and perhaps more understandable to present day lay readers/listeners.

  6. The Marrow of Modern Divinity « Gairney Bridge Says:

    […] Here is an excellent post over at James Durham Thesis which relates to works such as the Marrow on providing a middle […]

  7. Nick Says:

    This thesis is actually built upon an error that misunderstands the fundamentals of St Paul’s teaching. The Law never saved, and was never intended to, regardless of kept perfectly or not, and that’s because the Law never promised eternal life.

    Gal 2:21 and Phil 3:9-11, among other places, state clearly that the Law in itself cannot save.

  8. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Why then the instructions of the Lord in Luke 10:25-28, 18:18-22, Mark 10:17-21? Or of Paul in Rom 2:13?

    The law can no longer justify because of sin but that does not negate the original demand of “do this and live”.

  9. Nick Says:

    Donald, that is a good question. If you read Jesus’ words carefully, He was not speaking of the Mosaic Law itself, but rather His New Law that built upon some of the Old principles. This can be proven simply in the texts you cite, I’ll give two examples. In the Luke 18:18ff account, Jesus makes it clear the Rich Young Man was on the right track in obeying those principles, but still had to sell all and come take up his cross and follow Him. In the Mark 10 example, earlier in the chapter Jesus made it clear that Moses’ rules regarding marriage did not apply to Christians, and that Jesus’ new rules were the standard. These two examples show solidly it wasn’t the Mosaic Law in itself that was offering eternal life, but rather the New Covenant, under Christ’s rules. As for Romans 2:13, that is speaking in light of the Gospel, as one led by the Spirit: Rom 2:29 (the circumcision God seeks is of the heart by the Spirit, not physical which is done by human hands).

    The Law was abolished by Christ, the Old Covenant is no longer binding, so to say it’s still a demand man must meet to be saved (even vicariously by Christ) is the Judaizer heresy.

    Rom 7:6 – we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code

  10. Nick Says:

    A quick edit to the above comment:

    Original Comment: The Law was abolished by Christ, the Old Covenant is no longer binding, so to say it’s **still** a demand man must meet to be saved (even vicariously by Christ) is the Judaizer heresy.

    Revised: The Law was abolished by Christ, the Old Covenant is no longer binding, so to say it’s **a** demand man must meet to be saved (even vicariously by Christ) is the Judaizer heresy.

    The word “still” should not have been used there; the Mosaic Law never promised eternal life, only earthly blessings (e.g. health, wealth, promised land, etc).

  11. Donald John MacLean Says:

    I think we are approaching this from vastly different hermeneutical points of view which are difficult to unravel in blog comments.

    For instance, I and all historic reformed theology, deny that the Law was abolished by Christ. Although we need to distinguish between moral law, and laws that were temporary (ceremonial & judicial which have expired) I struggle to see how Christ abolished loving God or loving our neighbour (on which the law and the prophets hang!). Faith does not make the law void, rather it establishes it as a rule of life! This is a fundamental theological and hermeneutical point we do not appear to share.

    In any event it is evident in the passages that Christ was not pointing to any new law that he was propounding for (Luke 18:20, Mark 10:19) the commandments were already known to the enquirer! It is evident Christ is referring to written scripture – and then quotes from the 10 commandments. There is no difficulty here.

    It is no heresy to say we need the righteousness of Christ to save us, rather it is heresy to say our righteousness (in the least degree) justifies us!

  12. Nick Says:

    I see what you mean, but I think quite a bit can be discussed in the comment section, your example included.

    For Reformed theology to deny the Law was abolished is to deny
    the New Covenant by definition. The New Covenant is such precisely because the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) was abolished. This is the plain teaching of many texts as well (e.g. Eph 2:15; Col 2:14). The Law was a package deal, the 10 Commandments were the heart of it, and it could not be divided into moral+ceremonial in such a way that a time would come when only the moral could be kept.

    The passages Christ pointed to where to be read in His new revealed sense, else it’s absurd for Him to say “you lack one thing, follow me,” and “Moses says X, but I say Y”.

  13. Donald John MacLean Says:

    If the law as a “package deal” is abrogated then can you explain which of loving God or loving my neighbour was abrogated? To say that temporary national aspects were removed by the death of Christ seems the teaching of scripture (i.e. an understanding of law as permanent moral but temporary judicial and ceremonial) but to abolish love to God and love to my neighbour seems to me a decidedly retrograde step from one who came not to abolish but to fulfil! (Matt 5:17).

    If the law is abolished what is Paul doing in Ephesians 6:2?

    I’m afraid that I still don’t see how you can deny Christ is pointing in the original passages we were discussing to the law as the source of eternal life – to convince them of their inability to keep the law and therefore their need of a Saviour.

    PS Yes, I think this has been a good discussion.

  14. Nick Says:

    Donald: If the law as a “package deal” is abrogated then can you explain which of loving God or loving my neighbour was abrogated?

    Nick: They were not so much abrogated in the sense that there is no moral code anymore, but rather they were ‘upgraded’ under Christ’s new standards. Mark 10:2-12 is a prime example of this.

    Donald: To say that temporary national aspects were removed by the death of Christ seems the teaching of scripture (i.e. an understanding of law as permanent moral but temporary judicial and ceremonial) but to abolish love to God and love to my neighbour seems to me a decidedly retrograde step from one who came not to abolish but to fulfil! (Matt 5:17).

    Nick: 2 Corinthians 3 says the Ten Commandments (the epitome of the Mosaic Law) were the ‘ministry of death’, and that the Old Covenant was abolished, meaning man is not under compulsion to obey the Ten Commandments. Take this example, when the Pilgrims came from England to America, they went from being under English law to (the new) American law. While American law borrowed heavily from English law, it was not the same code they were bound to.

    Donald: If the law is abolished what is Paul doing in Ephesians 6:2?

    Nick: He was using the OT as a guildeline. Which is perfectly fine. The Ten Commandments were originally addressed to the Israelites alone, with promises for them alone. And notice how Eph 6:3 brings out the fact the promise was temporal (earthly) blessings, highlighting that the Law never promised eternal life.
    When Paul says we are justified by faith “apart from works of the Law,” don’t you believe he was speaking of the Law as a whole and not just ‘ceremonial’ stuff?

    Donald: I’m afraid that I still don’t see how you can deny Christ is pointing in the original passages we were discussing to the law as the source of eternal life – to convince them of their inability to keep the law and therefore their need of a Saviour.

    Nick: I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. I don’t see where Christ was trying to “convince them of their inability to keep the Law.” Christ looks with favor upon the Rich Young Man who has kept the Law, but Christ said He demanded more; nothing about the Rich Young Man’s “inability”.

    Donald: PS Yes, I think this has been a good discussion.

    Nick: I agree. This discussion is especially important because it also relates to “works of the Law.”

  15. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Nick

    Apologies for the delay in responding. Two sources which might be worth looking at are John Murray’s seminal commentary on Romans and Patrick Faribairn’s magisterial treatment of this topic in The Revelation of Law in Scripture. They would both collate to my views fairly well and give much more detail than I am able to here.

    Nick: 2 Corinthians 3 says the Ten Commandments (the epitome of the Mosaic Law) were the ‘ministry of death’, and that the Old Covenant was abolished, meaning man is not under compulsion to obey the Ten Commandments.

    Donald: We need to be careful here as the gospel can also be a savour unto death. To those who reject Christ and cling to law of course Sinai thunders and pronounces judgment. No one denies that the 10 commandants can not, since the entrance of sin, give life. That is the point of these verses, law without Christ is only condemnation. Clinging to Moses while rejecting Christ is not the way to salvation. I dont see any difficulty in affirming this and also that the law, in itself, is good, holy, and perpetually binding.

    Nick: He was using the OT as a guildeline. Which is perfectly fine. The Ten Commandments were originally addressed to the Israelites alone, with promises for them alone. And notice how Eph 6:3 brings out the fact the promise was temporal (earthly) blessings, highlighting that the Law never promised eternal life.
    When Paul says we are justified by faith “apart from works of the Law,” don’t you believe he was speaking of the Law as a whole and not just ‘ceremonial’ stuff?

    Donald: But why use something which is “abolished” which is “death” which is inimical to “spirit” as a guideline? If gospel is opposed to law in every respect, if I am freed from the law in every respect, why should I listen to it here? I think verses like this are key to a much more positive understanding of law as of abiding validity as a rule of life.
    What Paul is saying here is true of believers under the Mosaic covenant (c.f. his later reference to David). It is a general statement that justification by any works are excluded. For a more in depth discussion check out John Murray’s commentary on Romans which, from my perspective, is an excellent guide on the issues we are discussing.

    Nick: I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. I don’t see where Christ was trying to “convince them of their inability to keep the Law.” Christ looks with favor upon the Rich Young Man who has kept the Law, but Christ said He demanded more; nothing about the Rich Young Man’s “inability”.

    Donald: But had he kept the law? If he loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, strength and mind would he have hesitated to obey a command from his Lord & God? Take Paul – on one level, as touching the law blameless, but on another level utterly condemned by the commandment not to covet. So if the law was only outward and interpreted exceptionally narrowly, sure maybe he was blameless, but he did not know that the law was “spiritual”. That I think is what these instances in the gospels are trying to teach.

    Donald: In summary, I still love the law of God, am thankful for the covenant promise to write it on my heart and pray that as an expression of gratitude (not as a means of earning favour!) for the complete and secure salvation given to me in Christ, I will be enabled to live like my Saviour and in some measure “magnify the law and make it honourable.”

  16. Nick Says:

    Donald: Two sources which might be worth looking at are John Murray’s seminal commentary on Romans and Patrick Faribairn’s magisterial treatment of this topic in The Revelation of Law in Scripture. They would both collate to my views fairly well and give much more detail than I am able to here.

    Nick: Thank you. I will see if these are online, else I’ll have to hope the local bookstores have them for browsing.

    Donald: We need to be careful here as the gospel can also be a savour unto death. To those who reject Christ and cling to law of course Sinai thunders and pronounces judgment. No one denies that the 10 commandants can not, since the entrance of sin, give life. That is the point of these verses, law without Christ is only condemnation. Clinging to Moses while rejecting Christ is not the way to salvation. I dont see any difficulty in affirming this and also that the law, in itself, is good, holy, and perpetually binding.

    Nick: You seem to be saying the Mosaic Covenant is coexisting (even “perpetually binding”) with Christ’s Covenant and “with Christ” the Mosaic Law Covenant actually saves. Then what of all those passages of being released from the Law and the Old Covenant being abolished? If the Mosaic Law is still binding, there are no grounds by which to cease circumcision and dietary laws and such. If the 10 Commandments are perpetually binding, we must follow the 4th Commandment Sabbath rules and regulations.

    Donald: But why use something which is “abolished” which is “death” which is inimical to “spirit” as a guideline? If gospel is opposed to law in every respect, if I am freed from the law in every respect, why should I listen to it here? I think verses like this are key to a much more positive understanding of law as of abiding validity as a rule of life.

    Nick: The Gospel is not opposed to the Law “in every respect,” so it’s not a problem to use it as a guideline. The point is the Mosaic Covenant did it’s job and now is abolished. If you are looking at the 10 Commandments as still binding, you must also abide by the 4th Commandment Sabbath rule. But Christians don’t do that, because we’re not in the Mosaic Covenant.
    What do you make of Gal 4:24, which says the old covenant is from My Sinai (where 10 Commandments were given) and bears slave children?

    Donald: What Paul is saying here is true of believers under the Mosaic covenant (c.f. his later reference to David). It is a general statement that justification by any works are excluded. For a more in depth discussion check out John Murray’s commentary on Romans which, from my perspective, is an excellent guide on the issues we are discussing.

    Nick: In David’s case (or any OT saint) it wasn’t the Mosaic Law in itself that saves. I actually read a short paper by John Murray against the Dispensationalists where he rightly points out the Law wasn’t eternal NOR supplanting the existing way of salvation (faith in the Seed, Gal 3:15-18), but rather “the Law was added” (Gal 3:19) meaning it was appended to the already existing situation, and after the Law served its purpose it is over with (Gal 3:24-25).
    The Dispensationalists were saying God had one way of salvation with Abraham (faith), then God changed to another way of salvation (the Law), but Murray refutes this showing no such thing happened and that the Abraham path was always the way even during the Mosaic Law period.

    Donald: But had he kept the law? If he loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, strength and mind would he have hesitated to obey a command from his Lord & God?

    Nick: Yes he had kept the Law, otherwise Jesus would have called him a liar for saying he did keep all those commandments. The Mosaic Law didn’t demand one give all their possessions away and take up their cross after Christ, that’s Christ’s New Standard.

    Donald: Take Paul – on one level, as touching the law blameless, but on another level utterly condemned by the commandment not to covet. So if the law was only outward and interpreted exceptionally narrowly, sure maybe he was blameless, but he did not know that the law was “spiritual”. That I think is what these instances in the gospels are trying to teach.

    Nick: Agreed, and this is precisely why the Law was never intended to save. On the earthly level, it promised only temporal blessings; on the spiritual level, it exposed sin. When Paul says he was righteous under the Law (Phil 3:6), he truly was righteous under the Law, but his point is the Law’s righteousness isn’t a saving one, it’s a temporal/earthly righteousness.

  17. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Nick: You seem to be saying the Mosaic Covenant is coexisting (even “perpetually binding”) with Christ’s Covenant and “with Christ” the Mosaic Law Covenant actually saves. Then what of all those passages of being released from the Law and the Old Covenant being abolished? If the Mosaic Law is still binding, there are no grounds by which to cease circumcision and dietary laws and such. If the 10 Commandments are perpetually binding, we must follow the 4th Commandment Sabbath rules and regulations.

    Donald: No, not the Mosaic Covenant but the moral law “summarily comprehended” in the Decalogue. Yes, the 4th commandment is still binding, but it does not follow from that that all the Jewish regulations are. The 4th commandment is grounded in creation so it is not “Mosaic” in any event.

    Nick: The Gospel is not opposed to the Law “in every respect,” so it’s not a problem to use it as a guideline. The point is the Mosaic Covenant did its job and now is abolished. If you are looking at the 10 Commandments as still binding, you must also abide by the 4th Commandment Sabbath rule. But Christians don’t do that, because we’re not in the Mosaic Covenant.
    What do you make of Gal 4:24, which says the old covenant is from My Sinai (where 10 Commandments were given) and bears slave children?

    Donald: But if the law is not of faith, if the Decalogue is a ministration of death, if Sinai genders to bondage why is it still a guideline? And which bits are guideline and which are not? The 4th commandment is still binding and every seventh day is set aside for worship of the Triune God. Christians still do this because the 4th commandment is not inherently Mosaic, and because there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

    The NT speaks of the Mosaic covenant in different ways. Here is something from Charles Hodge on the various ways the NT refers to the Mosaic Covenant:
    “(1.) When viewed in relation to the people of God before the advent, it is represented as divine and obligatory. (2.) When viewed in relation to the state of the Church after the advent, it is declared to be obsolete. It is represented as the lifeless husk from which the living kernel and germ have been extracted … (3.) When viewed according to its true import and design as a preparatory dispensation of the covenant of grace, it is spoken of as preaching the same gospel, the same method of salvation as that which the apostles preached. (4.) When viewed, in the light in which it was regarded by those who rejected the gospel, as a mere legal system, it was declared to be a ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. iii. 6-18.) (5.) And when contrasted with the new or Christian economy, as a different mode of revealing the same covenant, it is spoken of as a state of tutelage and bondage, far different from the freedom and filial spirit of the dispensation under which we now live.” (ST, 2:376).

    I’d take Gal 4:24 in reference to point 4 in Hodge.

    Nick: In David’s case (or any OT saint) it wasn’t the Mosaic Law in itself that saves. I actually read a short paper by John Murray against the Dispensationalists where he rightly points out the Law wasn’t eternal NOR supplanting the existing way of salvation (faith in the Seed, Gal 3:15-18), but rather “the Law was added” (Gal 3:19) meaning it was appended to the already existing situation, and after the Law served its purpose it is over with (Gal 3:24-25).
    The Dispensationalists were saying God had one way of salvation with Abraham (faith), then God changed to another way of salvation (the Law), but Murray refutes this showing no such thing happened and that the Abraham path was always the way even during the Mosaic Law period.

    Donald: Yes, of course the “law” did not save David. But the truths reveled in the Mosaic covenant, as an administration of the covenant of grace did. Murray was a passionate advocate of the abiding validity of the moral law.

    Nick: Yes he had kept the Law, otherwise Jesus would have called him a liar for saying he did keep all those commandments. The Mosaic Law didn’t demand one give all their possessions away and take up their cross after Christ, that’s Christ’s New Standard.
    Donald: As a general point the Mosaic law was very concerned with the poor. Does Christ’s “new standard” demand that I give all my goods to the poor? But why would Christ have to call him a liar? Why could Christ not, with a specific example, reveal that this man had an idol in his heart (possessions) which was contrary to the Law’s demand? In general remember Paul’s statement that the law is “spiritual”.

    Nick: Agreed, and this is precisely why the Law was never intended to save. On the earthly level, it promised only temporal blessings; on the spiritual level, it exposed sin. When Paul says he was righteous under the Law (Phil 3:6), he truly was righteous under the Law, but his point is the Law’s righteousness isn’t a saving one, it’s a temporal/earthly righteousness.

    Donald: But for Paul “the doers of the law will be justified.” That is not about the land. Of course none now meet the standard of the law, but that does not negate the truth that, in itself, law obedience would bring life. No, Paul, plainly says in Romans that the law utterly condemned him, outwardly he may have been “blameless” (or judged so by his peers) but once the truth of the “spirituality” of the law came to him he knew he was an undone sinner.

    In general, there is a lot to chew on here. We have obviously both given this some thought and come to opposite conclusions. Whilst your view is common in Evangelical circles today it is a relative novelty in Reformed churches – whether that is a concern or not I don’t know – so I do commend again the older resources I mentioned at the tope of the last comment. I’m sure they will be available on inter library loan if nothing else.

  18. Nick Says:

    Donald: No, not the Mosaic Covenant but the moral law “summarily comprehended” in the Decalogue.

    Nick: How do you derive this “moral law” to which the Decalogue ‘republishes’ in the Mosaic Law? I don’t see Paul speaking of this transcendent moral law when he speaks of “the Law”.

    Donald: Yes, the 4th commandment is still binding, but it does not follow from that that all the Jewish regulations are. The 4th commandment is grounded in creation so it is not “Mosaic” in any event.

    Nick: The Seventh-Day Sabbath was given to Israel only, it never was commanded before then. If it is still binding, then the Mosaic Law is still binding

    Donald: But if the law is not of faith, if the Decalogue is a ministration of death, if Sinai genders to bondage why is it still a guideline?

    Nick: Because the laws themselves weren’t evil, they were good. It’s only in the context of a legally-binding code is where the problem is, it was the old covenant that demanded this, and the old covenant is now gone.

    Donald: And which bits are guideline and which are not?

    Nick: All are guideline. The key is that the Torah is now read with “Christian glasses” on, with hindsight being 20/20.

    Donald: The 4th commandment is still binding and every seventh day is set aside for worship of the Triune God. Christians still do this because the 4th commandment is not inherently Mosaic, and because there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

    Nick: Are you Seventh Day Adventist? The great majority of Protestants don’t follow the seventh-day sabbath. You say it isn’t inherently Mosaic, yet Moses is the first time it’s commanded in Scripture.

    Donald: The NT speaks of the Mosaic covenant in different ways. Here is something from Charles Hodge on the various ways the NT refers to the Mosaic Covenant:
    “(1.) When viewed in relation to the people of God before the advent, it is represented as divine and obligatory. (2.) When viewed in relation to the state of the Church after the advent, it is declared to be obsolete. It is represented as the lifeless husk from which the living kernel and germ have been extracted … (3.) When viewed according to its true import and design as a preparatory dispensation of the covenant of grace, it is spoken of as preaching the same gospel, the same method of salvation as that which the apostles preached. (4.) When viewed, in the light in which it was regarded by those who rejected the gospel, as a mere legal system, it was declared to be a ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. iii. 6-18.) (5.) And when contrasted with the new or Christian economy, as a different mode of revealing the same covenant, it is spoken of as a state of tutelage and bondage, far different from the freedom and filial spirit of the dispensation under which we now live.” (ST, 2:376).
    I’d take Gal 4:24 in reference to point 4 in Hodge.

    Nick: 1 and 2 and 5 I agree with. 3 is not too clear, because texts like Genesis 15:6 are part of the Torah but not part of the legal-code of Moses. So Torah can be used in different ways. Number 4 is tricky, because the Judaizer heresy started with Jewish Christians who accepted the Gospel but still thought the Mosaic Law was binding (Acts 15:5).

    Donald: Yes, of course the “law” did not save David. But the truths reveled in the Mosaic covenant, as an administration of the covenant of grace did. Murray was a passionate advocate of the abiding validity of the moral law.

    Nick: I guess this really comes down to whether Paul speaks of the “moral law” or not, because I don’t see where he does. Further, I think the notion of ‘moral law’ is insufficient because all the ‘ceremonial’ laws continued in the NT, but in a fulfilled sense (Col 2:16-17).

    Donald: As a general point the Mosaic law was very concerned with the poor. Does Christ’s “new standard” demand that I give all my goods to the poor? But why would Christ have to call him a liar? Why could Christ not, with a specific example, reveal that this man had an idol in his heart (possessions) which was contrary to the Law’s demand? In general remember Paul’s statement that the law is “spiritual”.

    Nick: Christ’s new standard demands you look towards Heaven and not to earthly blessings. The Mosaic Law was all about blessings here and now. Christ calls everyone to different types and amounts of giving of their gifts (e.g. Lk 19:8-9 shows salvation on Zaccheous for giving away ‘only’ half of his wealth). As for Christ calling him a liar, the model in the Gospels is for Christ to expose hypocrisy, such as he does with the Pharisees who keep the law only externally. Nothing of the sort occurs in the Rich Young Man case, for it says “Jesus loved him” and said “ONE thing you lack” (as opposed to flat out hypocrisy or not really keeping the commandments). His love of money was fear motivated when Christ commanded him to leave it behind (which the Law didn’t demand he do).

    Donald: But for Paul “the doers of the law will be justified.” That is not about the land.

    Nick: That is speaking of escatological justification, for those who fulfill the law (e.g. receive circumcision not by hands but by the Spirit, Rom 2:29, Phil 3:3).

    Donald: Of course none now meet the standard of the law, but that does not negate the truth that, in itself, law obedience would bring life.

    Nick: The Law never could nor was intended to bring life, only the Holy Spirit has that power. That’s the heart of Paul’s message.

    Donald: No, Paul, plainly says in Romans that the law utterly condemned him, outwardly he may have been “blameless” (or judged so by his peers) but once the truth of the “spirituality” of the law came to him he knew he was an undone sinner.

    Nick: Agreed. Paul was only looking at the Law in an earthly sense (with all it’s earthly promises), and in that sense he was blameless. What Romans 7 shows is that with “Christian glasses” on, he sees the Law in a spiritual sense, as a tool to expose sin. And this is where Rom 7:6 comes in, where he says to be freed from that exposed-sin and condemned state we must “die to the law” and serve in the new way of the Spirit.

  19. Jon Sedgwick Says:

    Thank you for posting this. What clarity! There is a somewhat vested interest for me as you will note my last name. I have read two of Obadiah’s books and am currently on the third. I am looking forward to meeting him in glory. Thank you again for posting some great words on true freedom in Christ.

  20. John Thomson Says:

    Sorry I missed out on the above discussion, I would have relished it. Nick I think is pretty well right apart from his desire to limit the Law to temporal life. Paul’s contrast in Galatians and Romans simply won’t allow this. His contrast is not between life as temporal or eternal, he assumes ‘life’ in gospel and Law is the same. His contrast is between the ineffectiveness of law to deliver what it promises because of human sin and the effectivenenss of gospel, because it is all grace.

    However, it won’t do to try to argue that the Law is a rule of life. a) the law is a covenant. You cannot pick and choose which bits you accept and which bits you will alter or change. It is either accepted in its entirety or not at all. Paul does not divide it up for thological convenience into moral, civil and ceremonial. b) the question we must ask as those who are ‘in Christ’ is what is his present relationship to the Law. Or even more basic still what is the relation of any dead person to the Law, mosaic or otherwise. The answer to these questions is our present relationship as believers to the Law.

  21. Donald John MacLean Says:

    John

    Thanks for the comments. I’m just back from holiday and hope to get back to you early next week.

    Thanks
    DJ

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