Christians are not bound today to the law of God as a covenant of works to be justified or condemned. (Ephesians 2:9) It is however of great use to us and others as a rule of life and practice: informing us entirely of the will and character of God – It informs all Christians how to live righteous lives; ( Psalm 1:2-3 ) thereby armed with the law may examine themselves to conduct their lives in obedience to the unchanging ( Isaiah 40:8 ), holy, just and good ( Romans 7:12 ) entire law of God – our foremost understanding of his character.
The Scots confession of Faith reads: “The law of God we confess and acknowledge most just, most equal, most holy, and most perfect; commanding those things, which, being wrought in perfection, were able to give light, and able to bring man to eternal felicity” This is true; as the entire law of God is the mechanism through which we might establish a righteous family, community and commonwealth.
The early apostolic church contested for many years against the members of the Christian church who had proclaimed the grace of God as a license and excuse for lawlessness and sin, Jude 1:4 reads “ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” St Paul’s writings were enormously clarifying on the question of the role of God’s law in the church writing “What then, shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid” Romans 6:15 “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31
Expressing his gratitude to the grace of Christ, St Paul writes in Romans 7:25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” previous to Christ the law of God had been a curse and a burden, the means through which men were almost always condemned to hell for their fallen, sinful nature – “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”
We must understand that Christ never said a negative thing of the law, and in-fact said “Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” in Matthew 13:52 ; He never proclaimed at any time that his followers should abandon and cease their obedience to the law. Christ infact spoke clearly about his demand to follow the law “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
The proposition that Christians are not required to follow and respect the law of God is so modern and so far-removed from the history of the Church; Theologians only rarely through history made explicit arguments against it. Reformed Christians must read Chapter XIX ‘Of the law of God’ in the Westminster Confession of Faith; it reads:
VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.
It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.
VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.