“Do ye then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
The regenerated child of God according to the new principle of life which he has received from God always desires to have the law established and never seeks to have it made void. It is the flesh and the world that has nothing but the flesh that seeks at every turn to get rid of God’s law. And in such a lawless world, we find ourselves today.
Of course the whole human race has been lawless ever since man fell into sin in Paradise. It is nothing new that the world in which the Church lives is a lawless world. Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil was an act of the head of the human race whereby he chose to take the whole human race into the fields of sin which the law forbids. There we all are born. And though man has progressed and developed in that sin to a new height—or should we say depth?—the Church has always lived in a lawless world.
That world has not succeeded in getting rid of God’s law. It has not made it void, but it has lived outside of that law and turned its back upon it. That law they cannot make void. They cannot get rid of that law. It cannot be destroyed, because it is the expression of God’s will for the rational, moral creature. And man cannot destroy God. Man’s desire to destroy God is so clearly to be seen in the cross. Then God came in our flesh where we could touch Him and kill Him; and the human race did not hesitate to do exactly that as soon as it became plain to it that this was indeed the Son of God. His miracles they enjoyed. The bread He supplied them they greedily ate and ran after Him for more. But when He presented Himself so very clearly as the Son of God, they accused Him of blasphemy and rushed Him out of this world. Here the lawlessness of the world reached its climax. The Lawgiver they slew. On Him they gnashed with their teeth. The love of God was not in their hearts.
Living in the day and age in which we do, we will as those who are under the grace of God shudder at the lawlessness which is so clear in the world about us. Without the grace of God in our hearts that will never be the case. It is true that the world often expresses its concern about the present generation. Books are written. Magazine articles are published. Lectures are delivered. Educators speak and write all in an attempt to stem the tide of immorality, of violence and crime that reaches down into the tender ages of childhood and runs rampant in teenagers and youth in general. Surely the world is not getting better. Truly there IS a development of sin. The sequel of the days before the Flood is upon us.
Then you saw a phenomenal thing! Men lived to be nine hundred years old before their life of sin was brought to an end. Think of all the generations to which they could hand down their crimes and evil practices! Modern prisons are condemned by educators and social workers, for so very often youth for a “minor” crime is confined with hardened criminals and learns new “tricks” and ways to live a life of crime and violence and get away with it for a longer period of time before being apprehended. The same thing was true in the days that preceded the Flood. Not only children but grandchildren and great-grandchildren were taught and trained by wicked men to live a lawless life before God. Until it is stated in Genesis 6:5 that “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” What a sad commentary on the human race that had been created in the image of God! What a lawlessness there must have been to cause the world to be ripe for judgment so soon after creation!
As we said, we are rapidly approaching that same situation and condition today. There are several factors that serve this rapid development of sin in the days in which we live. Men do not live to be nine hundred years old anymore. But is it an undeniable fact that in the comparatively brief span of three-score years and ten man today does far more than the world before the Flood did in nine hundred years. We travel from one end of the world to another. With our automobiles we are able to speed from one carnal amusement to another. With our means of communication we can spread our evil propaganda with speed and ease. With the printing press we can produce and flood the world with copies of our atheistic, lawless theories and practices. By means of our radio and television we can contact the masses and teach them crime, violence—even the world decries this fact—humanistic philosophies and enticements to immorality and sin. Hollywood comes in your living room! Godless, adulterous, sin-hardened, blasphemous, cursing and swearing outlaws speak in your home! They wink at you and urge you to sin with them! They ridicule the things of God’s kingdom! They play with things that are holy! And when you “open the door” and let them in your home, your children and grandchildren accept this as approval of the ways and sayings of these evil men and women and hasten to pattern their lives after these worldly heroes and idols. Woe unto us! Does it appear in our homes that we are under grace or from under grace and into lawlessness?
Another element that contributes to the rapid development of sin is the shrinking of this earth by the means of transportation invented by man. We live in each other’s back yards. We breathe down each other’s necks. The various nations, tongues and tribes which came into being at the confusion of tongues at Babel have developed their own individual and personal brands of sin. Now they bring them to our door, or we fly and speed to their doors to eat and drink of their sinful delicacies, and we and our children learn new ways to dedicate ourselves to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Soon, as Jesus pointed out, men will be eating and drinking and be giving in marriage as before the Flood. Men will be making more and more ambitious plans of sin and lawlessness. And then with swift destruction Christ will come with the fire of God’s wrath and consume the whole world in His holy indignation. The law is still there; and men will be judged according to it.
Revelation 20 teaches us that all, both small and great shall be judged. Those whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life also shall be judged according to the things written in the books that are opened. Paul includes himself and the Church at Corinth in this judgment when in II Corinthians 5:10 he declares that “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in the body whether they be good or evil.” Indeed, we too shall be judged.
But do you not see that this is quite impossible if the law is made void? According to what shall we be judged? Then the child of God never sins anymore in this life. And that surely is not true. John tells us that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” I John 1:8. And how could Paul be so wretched when he cries that the evil that he would not that he allows, and the good that he would that he does not do? What teaches him the good and the evil? What determines good and evil? That law of God which never changes, never grows out of date, never wears out and never ceases to point out the way in which we must go. We repeat, we are not under the condemnation of that law, for we are under grace. We are not under God’s wrath and punishment as that law demands because of our transgressions, but we are under the obligation to keep it. God cannot withdraw that demand. For then He would cease to be God and we would be His equal, if indeed we would not be superior to Him.
But in that lawless world the man under grace seeks to establish himself by that grace of God in the law and to have that law established in his life. He will testify against lawlessness. He will teach his children to keep that law. He will not spare the rod and spoil the child but exactly apply discipline to him whenever he walks contrary to that law. The Church likewise will not look the other way when her members walk contrary to that law but apply discipline with the desire to save.
Jesus points out to the seven churches in Asia inRevelation 2, 3 departures from that law and does not commend the churches for living a lawless life. We are not in good company when we decry the reading of that law in our worship- services. We are not in good company when we support those who want to make it void and try to expel it from our lives and thinking. We are in good company when we uphold it as the rule of our life and admonish one another to keep it. To the church at Pergamos Jesus points out the sin of idolatry and fornication which the law forbids. And He declares that He has somewhat against the church at Pergames because she harbored these evils. He admonishes her to repent quickly or He will fight her with the sword of His mouth. That does not sound as though we are not under the obligation to walk according to God’s law. The same is true of the church at Thyatira. Indeed we are in good company with Christ Himself when we do not make void the law in our own lives but establish it and recognize it as the sphere in which God created us.
It makes it harder for us to keep that law in a world that is developing in its lawlessness. And that is exactly why we ought to be careful that before our children and before others we do not encourage lawlessness by our walk or speech. As Paul declares in Philippians 3:20—as correctly translated—”our citizenship is in heaven.” Let our walk of life be then according to the laws of that kingdom. And let us remember that it has no new set of laws but that its principle is one and the same with the Decalogue or ten commandments: Love to God.
With the love of God in our hearts we will love that law and desire to keep it not as the condition for our salvation but as the way of expressing our gratitude unto God for a salvation that is full and free. And we would conclude with the word of the Heidelberg Catechism on this matter, “Why will God have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them? First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of our sins, and righteousness in Christ; likewise that we constantly endeavor and pray to God for the grace of His Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of His Son, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.” And that perfection is to be filled with the love of God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth forever.”