“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12).
While as Christians we are not bound to keep the ceremonial laws of Moses, we are not exempt from the moral law. Few understand the significance of the law.
The Law cannot overcome our sin for it can only make it worse for us by revealing how sinful we are. Yet the law is good, for it shows us that we are in need of a Saviour.
The Origin of the Law
The Law of Moses was God’s moral code from Creation. Adam and Eve were given commandments to obey. These were engraved upon their hearts rather than on tablets of stone. The breaking of this law caused a rift between themselves and God … ” Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18.) Though lost in sin, mankind still has this law in their hearts.
Eventually this law was engraved in stone, what we know as The Ten Commandments. These were to be taught to all generations. Why on stone rather than our hearts? Because the heart has become hardened by sin. But God promised a time when He would re-establish the law as at the first … ” Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah … But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33.)
The Nature of the Law
The moral law reflects the high and holy God who gave it. It is His heart revealed to man. It contains an outline of all virtues in a form easily memorized.
The law is also supreme good sense. It is suitable for all people of every age. It is a product of God’s eternal mind, a demonstration of His will, and the beauty of His wisdom and holiness.
The Properties of the Law
It would be impossible to speak of all the properties of the law, so here we will limit ourselves to those mentioned in our text – “holy, just, and good.”
1. It is holy. The nature of the law is holy, it is the pure wisdom from above (James 3:17.) When this is reproduced in our hearts it becomes ” Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father” (James 1:27.) This means that it guides us on the pathway of holiness.
2. It is just. The judgements prescribed by the law for breaking it are just. It does not require man to do the impossible, nor does it unjustly pass sentence on the sinner. God’s laws are right and just in everything.
3. It is good. It is because God is good that He gave the law to man. It is good because it reveals that all are in need of the Saviour … “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23.) His love made a way for fallen man to realise their condition, and His love, once the law has done its work, offers the remedy for sin, His Son.
If these things are not true, how could the Psalmist sing, ” More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10)?
The Uses of the Law
The most important use of the law is to convince the world of sin. This is the special work of the Holy Spirit as the word of God is being preached or taught … “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7.) It is this which is “like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29) and “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12.)
After slaying the sinner, the law takes him to Christ so he might live. Once in Christ it directs his life, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, according to God’s will.
The law cannot save anyone; it simply lays us at the feet of the Saviour. From that moment it keeps us in Christ. We are not justified or sanctified through obedience to the law, or else what use is there for the blood of Jesus?
Those who dismiss the need of the law are found exalting themselves above it … “If thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge” (James 4:11.) But those who understand the reasons for it stand free in Christ … ” 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” (James 4:25.) By using the law in this way we will “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18.)