In this discussion on the Sabbath day, we have flown over quite a bit of ground that merits further discussion. One of those things being the nature of God's law in the life of the believer. We know, and I am certain that we almost universally agree, that the law is holy and just and good. We also agree that no one will ever be justified by keeping the law; salvation is by grace through faith.
So how does the law function this side of Calvary for the believer? I do not agree that it no longer serves any purpose. I believe that it continues to bring us closer to Jesus Christ, not by obedience to it, but by the constant revelation that we need Christ Jesus to be our mediator. Positively, it teaches us about the wonderful, holy nature of our God.
No commandment of God is harsh or mean. Not even the commands not to trim the beard or wear mixed fibre clothing. The Bible teaches that every command God issues hangs on the principle of love. While some of the Old Covenant commands may seem absurd to us (I can't live without fried catfish!), they were given to us as an opportunity to love God through obedience.
It is for this reason that I disagree with Daniel on one of his statements. That is, I believe it is worse to steal a computer than to steal a pencil. Both are wrong, both make us lawbreakers, but the fact that more people are harmed in one instance than in another does actually make one sin worse. If part of the law hinges on the command to love our neighbor, the more dastardly we behave towards him, and the more neighbors that we offend, heaps guilt upon us.
It is not I who distinguishes between the severities of commandment breaking. It is a principle laid down in God's Word by God Himself. We see this even in the New Testament. Even a cursory examination of the evidence will illustrate that sexual immorality is particularly devasting in consequence to the believer. Certainly, the man who steals his neighbor's wife incurs more guilt than the one who steal his pen! Both are theives and lawbreakers, but one is exceedingly more abhorrent. However, both men are in dire need of grace and forgiveness.
I also understand that we, as Christians, are not "under the law." But I do believe that this means that it is no longer applicable in any way or valid for us. I believe that this means that we are no longer under the condemnation that lawbreaking brings. After all, the law is good and just and holy. The commandments of God are not burdensome. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments, etc. What the law does for the Christian is to remind him that he serves a holy God who punishes sin, and it reminds us of the tremendous debt we owe to Jesus Christ for bearing our punishment in our stead. We may still break God's commands, and when we do, we may rest assured that Christ suffered for it. So then, our love for Christ compels us to be obedient, faithful children.
In the end, for the Christian, the law plays a role in our justification only in the sense that it reveals to us our dependance for mercy from God. We recognize that the law is just and fair and good, and that we are lawbreakers, therefore our punishment for law-breaking is just and fair and good. Graciously, God in Christ reconciled us to Himself apart from the works of the law. The law drives us to grace to escape its deadly sting.
The question now remains to see if the law plays any role in our sanctification, and if so, how? If it does, which laws should we pay attention to? Oddly, besides the varying degrees of guilt for sins, Daniel and I basically agree up to this point I believe. The Lord's Day falls under the category of my second question here, and the principle I am pushing for is to find out if observing Sunday as a special day may somehow help in sanctification.
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