- Sunday, December 29, 2013
“Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; truly they are the joy of my heart” (Ps. 119:111). The law is a gift, instruction for God’s people, treasured guidance for daily life. The law is a light upon one’s path. The law is the love of learning. Law, being instruction, is similar to what the Bible calls wisdom.
“For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activities of the elements; the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:1720). “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; there is no limit to his wisdom” (Ps. 147:5). Lift high the law and let life prosper by law’s leading. When, in the fullness of time, Jerusalem’s vindication shines forth, “God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations” (Isa. 61:11).
The nations will see the law and say, “Behold, a crown of beauty.” The law was indeed given through Moses, but descending the holy mountain, Moses found a rebellious and idolatrous people. “As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’s anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain” (Ex. 32:19). “They have not known my ways, and so I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest” (Ps. 95:11).
Still, the law is praised, and again and again the people try to walk by the law’s instruction. In truth they simply cannot do it, not because the law is flawed but because they themselves are flawed. The law is leading sinners and showing sinners, moment by moment, that the perfect application of law proves impossible.
“In the beginning was the Word.” Like the Ten Words (Decalogue), this Word is from God, but the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word, Jesus Christ our Lord, is the fulfillment of the Law. He is the new human being. In Jesus Christ “faith has come” (Gal. 3:25).
Law, having functioned as a disciplinarian, is usurped by a change of status granted in union with Christ. “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (Gal. 4:4-5). To be sure, children need instruction, but the grounding and saving truth is the fact of being this new child who cries out, “Abba! Father!” In Christ the obedience of faith is a mysterious and inner working of the Spirit. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). We are no longer under the law as slaves, but in the law and the law in us (Ex Enarrationibus sancti Augustini in psalmos, 2). “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
Again, theological emphasis belongs to a transformed status. Once we were slaves, consigned to law and law’s accusing eye. Now we are children of God. “To all who received him, who called on his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). An astounding miracle — to be born a free child of God.
Look It Up
Read Ps. 119. Speak well of the law.
Think About It
In a sense we remain servants. We bear the yoke of Christ. But the yoke is easy and burden light. Perfect freedom in perfect service.