How Should A Christian Behave? A Look at the Third Use of God’s Law
Devotional/Discussion THought of the Day:
23 ‘Everything is permissible’; maybe so, but not everything does good. True, everything is permissible, but not everything builds people up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NJB)
11 Some of you used to be of that kind: but you have been washed clean, you have been sanctified, and you have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God. 12 ‘For me everything is permissible’; maybe, but not everything does good. True, for me everything is permissible, but I am determined not to be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:11-12 (NJB)
117 “What do I have to do to maintain my love for God and make it increase?” you asked me, fired with enthusiasm. Leave the “old man” behind, my son, and cheerfully give up things which are good in themselves but hinder your detachment from your ego… You have to repeat constantly and with deeds, “Here I am, Lord, ready to do whatever you want.” (1)
For those unfamiliar with the terms in this devotion, please feel free to ask me to define them, if I don’t do so enough to explain them. This topic is a valuable one… and I would hope I explain it okay.
In regards to God’s law, there are basically three ways it is active in this world.
The First Use of God’s Law is what we call “civil use”, that is, the law of God which is seen in natural revelation, and is seen in its basic form in all cultures, and in all religions and a-religions. Example, pre-meditated murder is wrong in almost every culture. Some cultures make exceptions like abortion, euthanasia or the killing of enemies can be seen, but the basic idea, “Thou Shall Not Murder” is universally recognized.
The Second Use of God’s Law is found in both general (natural) revelation and specific revelation. It shows us that breaking these laws results in brokenness that is beyond our scope to heal. We need a deliverer, a savior, a healer, a Way out of the debt we have got into, a way to make reparation. God’s revelation of Himself, what we call the Bible, provides that way to freedom.
It is the Third Use of God’s law that confuses people. How does God’s law work in regards to those who have been washed cleaned, made holy, counted as right in the eyes of God? does it have any force, any effect? It was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and St. Paul tells us it cannot be used to condemn us. So how does God’s law apply to the people of God? How should a Christian think of it? Or maybe more simply, how does someone who is God’s child behave?
Some would have us pay it no heed, since it’s power over us was broken at the cross. Some would have us enslaved to it again, mandating that we fulfill every single letter, if we are to be completely “faithful”. The latter would allow people to sin at will, the others create a system filled with guilt and shame. Both lead to hypocrisy and condescending pharisaical attitudes. Often these two options go against each other, theological treatises point out the other’s errors.
It isn’t rocket science folks.
Scripture is pretty clear about it. Look at the two Bible passages in red above. They set a pretty simple standard, even as they recognize the freedom we have, having been cleansed by Jesus.
Look at what will benefit your life? Look at what builds up, what does good.
Which means we have to have some standard of determining what is good, what is beneficial, what builds people up.
Look to Christ, there is your answer. Look to the love He shows you, the course He reveals in the scriptures that reveal Him. Look deeply into how He fulfilled the law, by loving YOU. By sacrificing all He was, so that you could be God’s child. Look at the kind of life you would live, if you followed Him, if you sought Him in every relationship, in every moment. he’s defined that in His law of love, in the example of His life which fulfilled it.
That is how to have a good life. Simply do what is best… and ask God to help you see that as you walk with Him.
His law? It helps draw a picture of it, but it isn’t the life. The law indicates what a life lived in a relationship to God would look like…..it maps the journey we walk with the Spirit dwelling with us.
So walk with Him… and enjoy the journey!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 614-617). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on October 11, 2014, in Devotions, Poiema, The Forge and tagged christ jesus, God's Law, Jesus, jesus christ, Life in Christ, Lutheran Theology, Pharisaical, Pietism, The Baptized Life, Third use of the Law. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.