Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 22:- Dead to the law (Part 1)

. No 22:- Dead to the law (Part 1)

Experiencing the Power of the cross (Part 22)

Dead to the Law (Part 1)

This morning we march on with our theme Experiencing the Power of the Cross. We have learnt so much from this theme so far. It is remarkable just how central our positional death in Christ is within the doctrines taught by Paul. We are trying to make sense of what was in his heart when he said in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” So what does it mean we died? Well, so far Paul has told us that we are dead to sin, we are dead to Satan, we are dead to the flesh with all its legalism and we are dead to the world and we are dead to racism.

Today we get to our next big one, and we are going to see a whole bunch of exciting stuff as we add to the statement of Paul: “because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;” TO THE LAW. Now let me immediately say that you must not confuse law with legalism even though the two go hand in hand, as some use the law as a kind of salvation legalism. Legalism is an attempt to arrive at our righteousness through the addition of extras over and above the work of the Lord Jesus, which is supposed to prove me as sufficiently good before my Father. The law however, is the inability to let go of the commands introduced by God in the Old Testament that stand against us and prohibits us from enjoying life in Christ, as if the law is still binding on the believer, and stands alone against the work on the cross as we saw with circumsision in Galatians.

I am sure that all of us hearing the word of the Lord to us today have a deep desire to grow in our maturity and in our spirituality. We do not want to live a life that is mediocre. We want to raise the bar to commitment. Now we all should be convinced of the fact that to grow spiritually we need to progress in our sanctification, but to do that will require that we conform completely to the will of God in our lives. To do that means that we have to have a full understanding of our position on the cross, and that we will have a full understanding of the revealed will of God which shows us how to align our day to day walk with that which we are in Christ due to the completed work on the cross. That is why we make dead sin, that is why we resist the devil, that is why we walk in the Spirit and that is why we do not trust in the system of this world which is under Satan and that is why we embrace our fellow believer irrespective of race and culture, as we are all one in Christ. We are dead to all of those, but in all of those we have a responsibility and that is to reckon ourselves dead according to 2 Corinthians 5 and then to live as the new creation that we are, where it is the love of Christ that compels us. For us then to grow spiritually, for us to progress in our sanctification, we have to bring our lives into complete conformity to the will of God which is revealed in the Word of God which is the Law of God, and contains both the spiritual and moral Law of God.

So for today and next week, our focus is on the topic. Dead to the law, and we will march on and see what we can glean from the text before us, as we seek to say with Paul: “for I have concluded this, that when why died for all, all died to the law.”

Many moons ago we looked at Romans 6:1-2 in our study on ‘dead to sin’. With Paul we were able to say that we died to sin. Now we fight sin, and we are called to make dead sin based on Romans 8:13 as sin controls our flesh. Now if we did simple verse by verse expository preaching we would have worked through to Romans 6:14 (ESV) that says: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” This verse in a real sense sums up much of Romans 5 and 6.

Now what does it mean not to be under law? Now this statement is maybe one of the most abused statements under the sun. Many Christians love to use this verse as well as Romans 5:20 (ESV) that says: “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,…” to imply a kind of license to sin. Many Christians have this kind of attitude that they can actually willfully sin, because it is okay, grace is going to kick in. Do these verses mean that we as Christians can simply just live like we want to without any thought of, and without any conformity to the law? Are we entirely free of law? Is this what Paul is implying or what does he mean when he says that we are not under law.

1. The Old Testament and Law.

Think back to the Old Testament and the statements that are made regarding the law of God. Psalm 19:7 (ESV) “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;” Some translations say that the law of the Lord is perfect, ‘converting’ the soul. No wonder the Psalmist cries out in Psalm 19:10 (ESV) that it is “to be desired more than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Now to all the capitalists here today. We all love money don’t we, because it helps us buy things, raise our standard, bless others, it provides comfort. In a real sense we can say that it gives a certain standard of living, so in essence it provides life. The Psalmist says: ‘okay, but I will tell you what is of much greater value, and that is the law of the Lord.’

Let’s look at the verses in between and you will see the love the Psalmist had for the law of the Lord. Psalm 19:8-9 (ESV) 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.” Now, do not confuse what we are talking about here with the legalism we saw in the Galatian church.

Look at all the keywords; law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules in these verses and you will have an understanding that you could summarize nearly all of them with four simple words namely “The Word of God”. The only odd one out seems to be the ‘fear of the Lord’. Think about it as a New Testament believer. The Word of God is critical for conversion, it is critical for making us wise, it is critical for the bringing of real joy and peace in the life of a believer. Without the Word of God you will never grow in your sanctification. I mentioned that fear might seem to be the odd one out. But you know what I am saying if I say that law produces fear. If you do not, why do you slow down when you see a speed trap and you are already below the speed? Scary cats! Well, at least you found reward and not punishment for keeping to the speed, right? Well, look at verse 11: “Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

The law of God, the Word of God helps us to discern our errors, and when we do so we taste reward. Listen carefully, if I stand aloof to the law, I will stand aloof to grace. No wonder the Psalmist basically eats, sleeps and drinks the law of God. Why do I say that? Look at verse 14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Here you see a man who was preoccupied with the law of God, he meditated on it, and he spoke it. He was a blessed man, right? Remember Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV) 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The longest Psalm in the Bible emphasizes the same thoughts over and over again. I wish we had time for it, but go and read it, there are only 176 verses. But the same thought is there. Just a few I want to highlight.

Psalm 119:16 (ESV) “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

Psalm 119:97-98 (ESV) “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.”

Then we must not forget that special verse we sang about this morning. Psalm 119:105 (ESV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:142 (ESV) “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.”

Then the last three verses: Psalm 119:174-176 (ESV) 174 I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.”

Can you join the Psalmists this morning from the depths of your heart and celebrate the value of the law of God? Do you love it, do you delight in it, do you meditate on it, do you keep it, do you and do you weep over those who do not?

Now this is what the Psalmist says. But what does God say about it?

Deuteronomy 27:26 (ESV) “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” Then of course we must not forget Ecclesiastes, which is most probably written by Solomon. Remember how he looks at fun, politics, hard work, people, money etc. and he comes to a conclusion that all of this is meaningless. As he grapples with all of this he comes to a final conclusion about life. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV) “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

So, God has revealed His law which is His will so that we can obey it which brings honour to Him and blessing to us. Church family, no matter what context we are living under, whether you lived with Adam and Eve in the garden, or with New Testament Believers in the end times, the Word of God, the Law of God, whatever is spoken by God is always relevant.

One of my favourite verses is with reference to Israel just before they crossed over into Canaan. Deuteronomy 6:1-3 (ESV) 1 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” If you were to look down further to Deuteronomy 6:6-9 you will notice the importance of teaching it to our children, tying it around your arm, your forehead, putting it on your doorpost day in and day out.

Now, if you have not got it yet that the laws of God are important. How about this one? Isaiah 42:21 (ESV) “The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious.” So for God the laws were important, for the Jews the laws were supposed to be important. To the point that the very last chapter of the Old Testament amplifies it’s importance. Malachi 4:4 (ESV) “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.”

2. The New Testament and law.

Now, when you enter the New Testament era, we see the Scribes, the Saducees and the Pharisees all having a very high regard for the Law. They were meticulous about the law, well I guess we need to be honest, they were meticulous about the parts of the law that suited them. Look at Matthew 23:23 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” They were sadly more concerned about the external revelation of the law, that the heart of the law, and therefore their own hearts for that matter.

Now it is within this context and not the Old Testament context that we must look at the statements made by Paul. So why would he say: “you are not under law?”

A few questions now come to mind. We have seen in the Old Testament just how glorious the law is, the question now is:

  1. Is its glory diminished or has it faded out in the New Testament?
  2. If we are now under grace, are we free to ignore the laws?
  3. Does it mean that when I become a Christian, I just live under grace and there is no regard for anything revealed in the Old Testament as law?
  4. Does it mean that I am free to do what I want to, and grace covers everything?

Let’s be honest, Paul says we are not under law but under grace and Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 3:3 (ESV) “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 3:14 (ESV) “But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.”

So, do these verses not teach us that the law has lost its place entirely as Paul seems to imply in Romans 7 as well when he says we are ‘dead to the law?’

Now next week, I am going to answer the question, namely what does Paul mean when he says we are dead to the law? Does it simply mean that the law is dead? Two sermons ago we saw that we are dead to the world and the world to us. Are we here saying that we are dead to the law and the law to us?

Now, do not jump to conclusions yet. We have seen how important the law was in the Old Testament, but we need to take note how important it is in the New Testament.

Hebrews 2:2 (ESV) “For since the message (Logos, word, law) declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution,…”

Acts 7:53 (ESV) “you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Back a bit to Acts 7:38 (ESV) “This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.”

Galatians 4:4 (ESV) “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,…”

Back again to Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV) “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

The question is then again. Does Paul have an attitude that it all is past? There are times that Paul seems an absolute enemy of law, but is this true? Look at Paul in Romans 7:12 (ESV) “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Well, what Paul is saying here is in harmony with what we saw in the Old Testament and in what Christ said.  Paul goes on in Romans 7:14 (ESV) “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” Look at Romans 7:22 (ESV) “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,” Are we missing something here? Paul says he is dead to the law, but here he says that he delights in the law in his inner being. Is this guy schizophrenic or what? Or is the law something for the inner man, and not for the outward man. Well, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees because they were outward legalists and did not watch the heart. Remember Jesus said that they ignore the weightier matters of the law.

Look at what Paul says to Timothy. 1 Timothy 1:8 (ESV) “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,…”

So what are we learning here in a sermon entitled dead to the law? Does it not mean that I as a believer simply ignore the law? Paul addressed this before in Romans 3:31 (ESV) “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” The real question this morning is. If God does His saving through faith, does that make the Law void? So this question has come up before with Paul as he is arguing the case for justification and asking, does justification void the Law since it's by faith? And now talking about sanctification, if we're no longer under the Law, have we just voided the Law, not this time in the name of faith, but this time in the name of grace?

Questions, questions, questions – right? So this poses our big question which we will look at next week. What does it mean to be dead to the law, and ultimately what is the believer's relationship to the law?

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 08 September 2013