How did Paul really feel about the Law?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Charles Meadows, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. Charles Meadows

    Charles Meadows
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    I thought I might plop this question out once more! There is a movement afoot in Paul studies lately. N T Wright, James D. G. Dunn and others have said more or less that the reformers and many protestants today have misunderstood the Jewish concept of the Law. The law was never seen as something that could save a person if fulfilled. It was merely the Jew "doing his/her part" - with salvation coming from the covenant with God, and NOT through the law!
    Paul's writing against "the law" was really an argument against Jewish Christians insisting that others continue with circumcision and food laws.

    This obviously has significant implications for understaning the concept of justification.

    What say ye??? [​IMG]
     
  2. David Mark

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    I think to those who realized that the Law could not save them, they were ready for a Savior. To those who trusted that the Law could save them, they rejected the notion of a Savior like the meek and lowly Christ sent from God.

    The Law is good, because it makes any of my sins more apparent. It is indeed a schoolmaster, leading me to The Christ.

    Dave
     
  3. Tim

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    Dave,

    I really don't believe that the OT Law serves in a role as schoolmaster any longer.

    Gal. 3 says that the Law was our (in context--the Jews') schoolmaster until Christ came, bringing the faith, i.e. Christianity.

    The gentiles came to Christ without the Law (Rom. 2:14,15).

    The Law's only active role in justification was by way of Christ's obedience to it. Through His obedience we are seen as obedient in Him.

    In Christ,

    Tim
     
  4. David Mark

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    Good point Tim,

    Thanks

    Dave [​IMG]
     
  5. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    Tim:

    I would have to disagree with you. I feel that the law is still serving in that role bringing the lost to a realization that they need to come to Christ.

    You wrote,
    I would argue that the Law's active role is the condemnation of the sinner. It is the law that shows us that "all have sinned," and "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

    I would agree with Charles when he wrote,
    Remember that when Moses came down off of Mount Sinai he brought two things. One was the law, which would prove impossible to keep and condemn the people for their inability to live without sin. The second thing was the plans for the tabernacle and sacrifice, all pictures of the perfect redemption that would come later in Jesus Christ. God knew they could not keep the law and gave them a way to receive forgiveness.

    I shared the gospel with a young woman recently who was living what we today call an "alternate lifestyle." (She is a practicing homosexual)

    This woman grew up in a good church and knows the facts of scripture. She made the statement to me that she no longer believes the entire Bible. She said that she did however still believe the 10 Commandments. She said, "I just try to follow the 10 Commandments and I think I will be all right if I can do that." Of course none of us can follow the 10 commandments. I did not go near # 7 (adultery) but I asked her about #5 (honor your parents). I asked if she felt she was keeping this law and she had to agree that she was not. She has not yet accepted Christ, but keep her in your prayers, at least she knows she is lost.

    Tentmaker
     
  6. Daniel David

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    The only law I know of and follow is the New Covenant enacted by Christ. When he established this new covenant and thus a new law, he did away with the old.

    The Old Covenant was for a nation of saved and unsaved people.

    The New Covenant is strictly for saved people.

    The 10 Commandments are part of the Old Covenant. Christ himself did away with them.
     
  7. Aaron

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    I have used this example multiple times without an adequate response.

    When Paul wrote about the right of ministers to receive compensation for their work, he appealed to the Law of Moses. Don't muzzle the ox that treads the corn. Both times he used this he was writing to Gentile congregations.

    If the OT was "done away" as many here assert, then the Paul's appeal is meaningless.
     
  8. wopik

    wopik
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    Daniel David --

    The 10 Commandments are part of the Old Covenant. Christ himself did away with them.

    In Romans 8, Paul says those who are carnally minded are not subject to the law of God, but those who are spirit-led are subject to the law of God, so that "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:4).

    That way we follow Christ's example of fulfilling the law.


    The first half of Romans 8, Paul goes to great lengths to contrast carnally-minded people and spirit-led people.

    The carnal mind is full of hatred against God (Romans 8:7). One the other hand (which is Paul's point here), those who love God will obey HIS laws and please God.

    [ December 27, 2003, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: wopik ]
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    I say that whoever said this never read Lev 18:5 which says that a man does have life by keeping the Law. The problem with the Law is not the Law; it was the perfect revelation of God. THe problem with the Law was man's inability to keep it. Therefore, there was, in the words of Heb 7, the bringing in of a better hope. They also ignore Paul's writing where he expressly addresses the false belief that salvation comes through the Law. So if we misunderstand, then Paul did as well.

    They are correct on Paul's writing about the Law. There were many who viewed keeping the Law as necessary to Christian living. Paul refutes that by pointing out that the Law was for OT Israel in its entirety. If you keep a part of it, you have to keep all of it.

    The bigger problem with the Law today is people's insistence that there is some kind of division--e.g. moral/ceremonial/civil or some like construct--and teachign that we are under part of it, but not the rest. Paul and James both taught that to be under part is to be under all. There is no such division. As believers, we are under none of the Law.
     
  10. Tim

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    NC Tentmaker,

    A person can know adultery is wrong even apart from the Law, and as you illustrated, a person can believe she is in obedience to the Law even when she clearly is not. That's why Christ went beyond the Law in the Sermon on the Mount--a far better passage of Scripture for convincing us of sin than the 10 commandments.


    Aaron,

    Your muzzle the ox example does not prove your point. Paul is NOT talking about oxen, as the law does. He is applying a principle from the Law to a situation. We can go the OT for illustrative principles without submitting the the Jewish Law.

    In Christ,

    Tim
     
  11. aefting

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    Larry,

    Would you agree or disagree with Craig Blomberg’s comments on Matt. 5:17-18 below?

    He goes on in the same paragraph to state something similar to what you said earlier:

    Andy
     
  12. Daniel David

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    Yes Aaron, the principle behind that is that those who do the work need to be taken care of that they may continue doing the work.

    The Old Covenant is NOT BINDING upon any New Covenant believer. Similarity doesn't dictate that the two are identical.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Disagree for the most part, at least as I read it here. It has been a while since I have read him so I don't remember all of it.

    [/qb]For starters 2 Tim 3:16 doesn't say anything about "normative and relevant." It says "profitable." It does not tell how that profitability is gained. In other places however, Paul explicitly denies the "normativeness" of the OT Law, while affirming its profitability. I think that shows Blomberg's thinking itself to be inadequate.

    I can't see this to be the case at all. There is a great deal of the OT that has nothing directly to do with Christ. It reminds me of something my systematic prof said. He tells of one of his profs who, in addressing those who like to spiritualize everything in teh OT said, "I am pretty sure some of those nails in the tabernacle were just there to hold it together." This bit of hyperbole shows the fallacy of finding Christ in every single little thing. We should strive to understand from the text what the original reader would have understood from it.

    I think this stems from Blomberg's progressive dispensationalism which is really an attempt to find some middle ground. I find much of it throught provoking in some ways and I find much of it to be useless. I think sometimes we can think ourselves right out of the solution by trying to be sophisticated and new. Just let the text stand. There is plenty there without reading things into it.
     
  14. aefting

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    Well, would you say that the OT Law, which is a subset of all Scripture, is profitable in the areas of doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness? If so, then the OT Law must be “relevant” at the very least.

    According to Blomberg, “normative” is defined in relation to Christ’s fulfillment of the law. To me, this makes sense. For example, all but one of the 10 Commandments remains “normative and relevant” as is for NT believers. There is nothing that Christ did in fulfilling the law that would make “Thou shall not steal” non-normative for me today. However, there is something that Christ did that affects how believers apply the 4th commandment today. While Christians may disagree about how it’s relevant, the fact that Paul says it’s profitable must mean that it IS relevant somehow.

    I have some in mind but, just for my benefit, could you list some of those references so that I could know specifically what passages you’re talking about?

    Earlier, you said that NT believers are not under the law. Could you also explain exactly what you mean by that? When I hear that phrase, I think in terms of (1) being free from an obligation to perfectly obey God’s laws in order to receive justification and (2) being free from the penalty that I deserve from disobeying those laws. I don’t think that it means that I am free from striving to please God in my life by obeying His laws. Why would I not want to obey OT laws and/or principles from those laws per their new relationship through Christ to me as a NT believer?

    That’s not how I understood Blomberg’s remarks. In context he is talking about OT laws and so all he’s saying (IMO) is that NT believers have to look at the OT (and specifically OT laws) in relation to Christ to understand how it applies to them. I don’t think he’s advocating that we spiritualize the OT, at least not with this statement.

    While not a progressive, I am only a very mild dispensationalist. Perhaps that is why I tend to agree with Blomberg and you do not.

    Andy
     
  15. Pastor Larry

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    Perhaps we differ on the meaning of "relevant." When I say it is not relevant, I mean that the believer is under no obligation to keep the OT Mosaic Law. The Law is to the believer what Germany's law is to American citizens living in America. It is irrelevant. We have our own standards to live by.

    I am not sure what this means. I apologize for my obtuseness.

    Exactly, but why are those nine commandments applicable today?? The answer is found in their basis outside the Law, and their repitition for the church. In other words, had we never had the Law, those commandments would still be normative. The fact that they are found in the Law is incidental. To continue the analogy above, it is somewhat like the fact that both America and Germany have laws against breaking into someone's house. If someone in America breaks into a house, they are charged under America's law, not under Germany's. However, America has a law about running for a third term as president. Germany does not (that I know of; if they do, play along for the fun of it). A German politician is under no obligation to bow out after two terms as president, simply because it is in our law. In the same reasoning, we as believers are under no obligation to do anything that is unique to Israel's Law, simply because it is Israel's Law.

    Again, depending on the definition of relevant, I wouldn't argue. But let's define what that means.

    [/qb]Romans 10:4; Gal 5 (all of Galatians really); James 2:10.

    They are under no obligation to obey Israel's Law, either in its precepts or prohibitions. They are not liable for its penalties. To use the analogy above, they are Americans, not Germans. (Don't read anything into connecting Germany with Israel; it is simply an analogy).

    Israel was not under number 1 tecnically. The Law could not bring salvation because man was unable to keep it.

    Nor do I. But remember, we are not bound to keep laws that God gave to someone else. We are bound to keep laws that he gave to us.

    Because OT laws were not given to us. They were given to Israel for living in Israel. Why wouldn't you want to obey Germany's laws?? Because you don't live there.

    [/qb]Could be. As I say, I haven't read him in a while and I can't recall. But I would argue that the OT Law has no application to believers, either in relation to Christ or out of it.
     
  16. wopik

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    Pastor Larry --

    As believers, we are under none of the Law.

    As believers and spirit-led people, we are subject to the law of God and therefore we please God.

    The carnal mind is hatred against God; it is NOT subject to the law of God; but we are not like them; we love God and keep His righteous law, so that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1-10).

    "The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; 'You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law' " (Romans 13:8-10).

    "....you shall love your neighbor as yourself..." (Leviticus 19:18).


    The whole law is summed up in a single commandment: you shall love your neighbor as yourself -- Galatians 5:14

    "You do well if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' ...For whosoever shall KEEP THE WHOLE LAW, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" -- James 2:8-12.

    [ December 28, 2003, 01:00 AM: Message edited by: wopik ]
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    Right, but notice I said the "Law" not the "law." Law (with a capital L) refers to the Mosaic Law, which we as believers are not under. To say we are not under the Law does not mean we are not under any commands from God. I made that clear in my previous post. It means we are not under the Mosaic Law.
     
  18. Me2

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    The laws of God are an integral part of the fulfilled life of Christ. The Laws of God is an integral part of the spirit of Christ.

    His spirit has been fulfilled, yet to live in the spirit, we must abide within those laws.

    in our flesh are two warring laws.

    the law of sin and death and the law of liberty.

    the law (10 commandments) become the law of sin and death when we fail to live by them.

    the law (10 commandments) become the law of liberty when we successfully live by them.

    problem is if we live by the law under our own carnal power, we fail.

    and if we live in the life of Jesus Christ "by faith". we succeed.

    (for only one man has lived under the law and succeeded.)

    Rom 7:10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death.
    Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].
    Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

    the law is not only designed to uncover sin but is designed to kill those works of our carnal flesh.

    Me2
     
  19. wopik

    wopik
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    At the time of the end, God's people are still a commandment keeping people: Rev. 14:12 and Rev. 12:17 and Rev. 22:14.

    The fourth commandment - Sabbath commandment - is the only reason people want to do away with the laws of God. Non of the other commandments are controversial.

    Saying the 10 commandments are not binding on Christians is a legalistic ruse for not wanting to keep the LORD's holy Sabbath.

    Matthew 12:8
     
  20. Tim

    Tim
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    Wopik,

    I used to go to a Reformed Baptist (Covenant theology) church. I know how good folks pride themselves in keeping the Sabbath/Lord's Day--the commandment everyone else neglects!

    But what changed my mind about the whole Sabbath-keeping idea was:

    1. First and foremost--an understanding of the superiority and church-orientation of the New Covenant, as opposed to the inferiority (by virtue of it's "shadows and types" nature) of the Old Covenant. A covenant summarized by the 10 commandments-which were given to Israel.

    2. And secondly, a careful reading of Hebrews chapters 3 & 4. A text that demonstrates the fulfillment of the Sabbath day type in our rest from the works of the Law (Mosaic) which Christ provides. Once we enter Christ's rest, we no longer need to do those typological works--for they are fulfilled in Him.

    As always--a believer in the new covenant,

    Tim
     

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