Saturday, March 09, 2013

How God's Grace Frees Us to Love God's Law

Lutheran Christians, as you may know, love to say that we are saved by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ and not by good works. It's a truth that is freeing!

But some take this Biblical truth to mean that God's law, the ten commandments and all the places that amplify and explain them in the Bible, is a bad thing.

But not according to Martin Luther, whose teaching and preaching started the Lutheran movement and the Reformation.

In his newest book, Lutheran Slogans: Use and Abuse, Robert W. Jenson points out Luther began both The Small Catechism and The Large Catechism (the first for laypersons, the second for clergy, with a discussion of the law.

And Luther talked about the commandments in his Large Catechism explanation of the Apostles' Creed, where this statement appears:
The faith...makes us pious and pleasing to God; for through this confession we acquire a desire and affection for all God's commandments.
Says Jenson:
...according to Luther, the reason faith makes us pleasing to God is that it lets us love the law. Faith does not excuse us from the commandments, it makes obeying them a joy, such as is expressed in so many psalms and such as God likes to see in his creatures.
I doubt very much that Luther would be on board with the contempt for God's commands that is in vogue in many contemporary mainline denominations in North America and western Europe.

The denigration of God's moral law, seeing it as irrelevant, inoperative, or even bad, is, so far as I can see, an old false teaching that seems to always be cropping up in Christian circles. The name of this heresy is antinomianism. It argues that because of Christ, Christians are exempt from keeping God's law, even though many of the letters of Paul, the apostle of grace, argues against it.

God's Law, the moral commandments of God, are not the vestiges of a primitive religion, as some smarty pants argue today, but the statement of God's will for all human beings who live on earth until the day of the risen and ascended Jesus' return.

Happily for us, Jesus, perfect God and perfect human, obeyed God's Law perfectly and by His death and resurrection, has erased the Law's power to condemn those who repent and receive the gift of faith in Him.

And when we have faith in Christ, the law, which once only served to hem in our sinful inclinations or to show us, by our inability to obey its commands, how desperately we needed the grace that comes from Christ alone, is transformed for us.

Through Christ, the Law becomes a delight to us, freeing us to spend each day in repentance and renewal through Jesus Christ, as we seek to live according to the Law by which human beings were made by God to truly and fully live!

So, think about that: We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ...because faith in Christ plants a love for God's Law that makes us acceptable to God.

Through faith in Christ, God sets out to sync our hearts, wills, and minds with the heart, will, and mind of God and like the psalmist, we can say: "Happy are those...[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law they meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).

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