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This is the third in a series that I am doing on LEGALISM. To see the complete document please go to www.rv85.net.


BIBLE STUDIES. Scofield Bible (p. 1614, study notes on “The Law of Moses, Summary”). “Law, as a method of divine dealing with man, characterized the dispensation extending from the giving of the law to the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:13-14, 23-24).” And “[t]he attempt of legalistic teachers (e.g. Acts 15:1-31; Gal. 2:1-5) to mingle law with grace as the divine method for this present dispensation of the Church, brought out the true relation of the law to Christians.”

The Christian Doctrine of the law (all below are direct quotes). (B-1) Law is in contrast with grace. Under the latter God bestows the righteousness which, under law, He demanded (Ex. 19:5; John 1:17; Rom. 3:21, note; 10:3-10; 1 Cor. 1:30). (B-2) The law is, in itself, holy, just, good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12-14). (B-3) Before the law the whole world is guilty, and the law is therefore of necessity a ministry of condemnation, death, and the divine curse (Rom. 3:19; 2 Cor. 3:7-9; Gal. 3:10). (B-4) Christ bore the curse of the law, and redeemed the believer from the curse and from the dominion of the law (Gal. 3:13; 4:5-7). (B-5) Law neither justifies a sinner nor sanctifies a believer (Gal. 2:16; 3:2-3, 11-12). (B-6) The believer is both dead to the law and redeemed from it, so that he is “not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; Gal. 2:19; 4:4-7; 1 Tim. 1:8-9). (B-7) And under the new covenant of grace the principle of obedience to the divine will is produced inwardly (Heb. 10:16). So far is the life of the believer from the anarchy of self-will that he is “under law toward Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21), and the new “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2; 2 John 5) is his delight; whereas, through the indwelling Spirit, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in him (Ro, 8:2-4; Gal. 5:16-18). The commandments are used in the distinctively Christian Scriptures as an instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; compare Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 9:8-9; Eph. 6:1-3).

ANALYSIS of the above remarks

Analysis of  the top paragraph.  It is true that the covenant given to Israel was characterized by the word “law.” It would be a mistake, however, to look upon the word “law” apart from what the Lord said with regard to the heart. Some of that which the Lord said can be read in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Micah 6:8, Joshua 22:5, and Isaiah 33:15. The “legalistic teachers” (a word not in the texts referenced) of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 attempted to incorporate/fuse two diametrically opposed standards into one. The gospel Paul preached was a gospel of liberty, while that which the “false brethren” proclaimed was the message of “circumcision” (Galatians 2:3). The word “circumcision” stood for the whole of the Law of Moses (Acts 15:1) – and the contexts of Galatians 2 and Acts 15 make this clear. The liberty in Christ stands in contrast to the bondage brought by the law that one is beholden to sin (cf. Romans 7:24). The specificity of sin, however, can (could) only be known by God’s revealed law (Romans 3:20). The law, in this context, was not designed by God to save, but to “point out.” Thus, to properly understand “law” in the remarks above is not to understand “law” in general, but “law” in the specific, that is, the Law of Moses.

Analysis of the second paragraph.  With regard to B-1 not a single referenced text establishes their point that God demanded righteousness from the old law, that is, a righteousness that one could attain on their own. With regard to Romans 10:3, the problem was not what God established, but what man attempted to establish. On B-2, the point is true. B-3 can be understood in a couple of ways. First, is the point made that before the existence of the Law of Moses the world was guilty of sin? Second, is the word “law” standing in front of the whole world pointing out its sinfulness? The first option is true because Paul addressed this point in Romans 5. The second option is not true at all unless the word “law” refers to the law of Christ. The passages of Scripture referenced only sustain the point with regard to the Law of Moses. B-4 will, once again, pertain only to the Law of Moses. It does not apply to “law” in general because Paul is contextually speaking of the Law of Moses. B-5 is true, but the passages referenced speak of the Law of Moses. The passages referenced in B-6 refer to the Law of Moses. The possible exception, by context, is 1 Timothy 1:8-9. I say “possible” because not all expositors concur that the Law of Moses is not the point under discussion (in a brief survey, the following expositors think the Law of Moses is what Paul had in mind: Ralph Earle, Phillip Towner, Gareth Reese). B-7 admits there is “law” that applies to the Christian, and it is certainly true that the Christian’s response to the law, as written in B-7, is accurate. The reference to Romans 8:2-4 (Galatians 5:16-18) is a point of contrast between two systems (both of God), only one of which justifies. Moreover, ALL God’s commandments are instructions in righteousness, but there is a distinction between the covenants wherein some commands apply to a specific group. The Old Covenant applied to those who lived under it (Israel); the New Covenant applies to all who live today (called the “law of liberty;” James 1:25).

James 1:25 – But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. ESV

James 1:25 – But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. KJV