Online Text Sermon - The Believer's Rule of Life, Romans ch.13 vv.8-10
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Believer's Rule of Life (End Missing)|
|Text||Romans ch.13 vv.8-10 |
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"Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill (no harm) to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Romans 13, 8-10).
1.THE RULE TO LIVE BY
2.ARE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OUT-OF-DATE?
3.PAUL'S VIEW OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
4.CHRIST'S VIEW OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
5.THE VIEW OF THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION of FAITH
6.JESUS CHRIST - OUR ONLY PRIEST
7.LEGALISM and ANTINOMIANISM
1. THE RULE TO LIVE BY
Many of you realise we have been looking at a series of subjects over the last few weeks under the general theme of growing in the knowledge of God. We grow to know God through a study of the teaching of His Word. We have considered a number of such subjects including faith and repentance. However, the theme and the subject today that I bring before you is that of the rule of the Christian's life. What is the rule for us to live by? According to the Word of God, as I hope to show you, the only proper rule for living is the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments have become very unpopular in the last few years in this country. We can understand that the world - the unbelievers in society - should quarrel with the Ten Commandments. We can understand that they are irksome and unwelcome to the unbeliever because the unbeliever does not wish to be under any kind of restraint. We can well understand the cry that he makes all the time about human rights - that we must not restrict a man's or a woman's human rights. That's quite understandable. Those who have no faith, no love for God, no trust in Jesus Christ, of course, we can see very clearly that they will not welcome the Ten Commandments. But what is very disconcerting is that in the last few years - even amongst professing Christians and professing evangelical Christians - the Ten Commandments have become unpopular and their teaching not welcome. Indeed there are many evangelical Christians in this country today who are prepared to say that the Ten Commandments are no longer to be regarded as the rule of the Christian's life. They would argue that we are not under the Law but under grace. That is perfectly true but needs to be properly understood. One of the dangers of quoting those words - that we're not under Law but under grace - is that we fail to understand what the Bible means by them. Another reason why evangelicals, or some of them, have become dissatisfied with having the Ten Commandments as the rule of their life, is through the influence of the Charismatic Movement and similar movements by which they have tended to say that the rule of a Christian's life is the Holy Spirit. We are to expect the Holy Spirit to prompt us and to guide us as to what we should do. They would argue like this: that we're not bound by any set of rules but that because we're the children of God we have freedom from all rules. What God does is, He gives to us His Spirit in order to guide us and to prompt us and to direct us into those feelings and impressions which tell us what our duty is. Therefore, we don't look outward to a book or a book of rules for our rule of life. We look inwards and consult our feelings and in that way we feel that we are being guided and led by God. Well I'm here to say that all of that, in my view, is a great mistake and a departure from the teaching of the Bible, and most clearly and definitely a departure from the teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith. You and I in the churches to which we are attached, believe the Westminster Confession and the Catechisms to be a true exposition of the Bible in regard to this and other matters.
I have given you the subject and I have given it very self- consciously, explaining what the divergent views are. Without wanting to delay going into the subject I have to say that all round us in society are the evidences and the fruits of a loss of faith in and a loss of understanding of, the Ten Commandments. Life today is very much cheaper that it was fifty years ago. Property is very much more at risk now than it was in our country fifty years ago. One reason why this change is come about is very much in connection with the loss of the belief that our forefathers had that the Ten Commandments are the standard of right and wrong and they are God-given; they are the Law of the Lord: permanent, perpetual, eternal and authoritative.
2. ARE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OUT-OF-DATE?
Let's look at the subject this way first. The Ten Commandments cannot possibly be out of date and the reason for that is because they are the eternal Word of God. That's why I've announced this text. You may wish to look down at your text which I gave as the basis for my remarks today. Notice what the apostle Paul is saying at verse eight; "owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law" (text). What the apostle is saying to us there is that love needs to be defined. We need to have it explained to us. What is meant by love? There is a form of love which is right and there is a form of love which is far from right.
We are all familiar with what the television producers think about love. The word love for them has an entirely different meaning from that of the Bible. We're all familiar with what I shall call the Hollywood idea of love. The Hollywood idea of love really is not love at all, it is what the Bible calls lust: a desire for gratification of our natural and sinful passions and desires. The important thing about verse eight and following is that Paul tells us how we are to understand the meaning of the word 'love' in God's judgement of it. God's view of love is that it is defined by the Law. Love and Law go together. We only love our neighbour when we are keeping the Ten Commandments.
I grant you that the word 'Law' in the Bible has many different senses and I want to establish now with you that the sense in which verse eight uses the term 'Law' means nothing less than the Ten Commandments. Let me prove, establish and show that that must be so when you look down to verse nine: "For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment..." (text). I think you would have to admit that any candid, honest, fair-minded interpretation of the word 'Law' in verse eight, must be governed by what he is talking about in verse nine. There is no doubt, no ambiguity whatsoever but that the apostle Paul must be talking about the Ten Commandments. He is quoting them - several of them. It is true he does not quote all ten of them but he assumes by quoting some that the reader will understand he means them all. In order to make that still clearer, at the end of his quotation of these Commandments in verse nine he says, "and if there be any other commandment...." What he has done in verse nine is to give us a sample of the Ten Commandments. We all do this in common speech. You might say to a person in conversation when talking about the countries of Europe, "There's Scotland, England, France, Germany, Italy and the rest." Obviously, by the rest you are referring to Spain, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland and so forth. Therefore, any candid, honest interpretation of these words must mean that the apostle Paul has in view as the Law of love, nothing other than the Ten Commandments. He gives us these examples and then adds; "...if there be any others", and of course there are others. He doesn't particularly here mention the fifth Commandment - to do with honouring father and mother. He doesn't particularly mention the fourth - concerning the Sabbath day, or the first three. But insofar as he says "...if there be any other commandment...", we are to understand it to mean that he has all Ten Commandments in his view. If that is the case then what the apostle is here telling us is that love is Law in its fulfilment - indeed these are his very words are they not? You see that in verse ten, "love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law." If I want to know what it means to love my neighbour then I must go to the Law for information because the Law defines the meaning of love. When I need to know what God means by saying that I must love somebody I don't go to Hollywood and take their definition; I don't go to the television producers; I don't go to the daily newspapers; I don't go to the magazines and I don't go to the popular idea of the man in the street - I go to the Ten Commandments: the Law, the Moral Law is a definition of what is meant by love. Let me make this simple statement which I believe is very helpful. The Ten Commandments are definition - the Law that is, is definition but love is motivation. These two things are one in the same, looked at from two points of view. Love and Law are the two sides of the same coin; at least they are from God's standpoint and from the Bible's standpoint and from the standpoint of the Christian religion.
3. PAUL'S VIEW OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
I would like you, if you would, to turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter five. I want to look at two or three verses in that chapter which make the same point as we have in Paul's writings in the Epistle to the Romans chapter thirteen which is our text. We are turning to the Gospel of Matthew. We're in chapter five and I want you to look at verses seventeen eighteen and nineteen. "Think not," says Jesus Christ - this is the Sermon on the Mount - "that I am come to destroy the law," you see the word, "or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass (that means the end of the world), one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (till the whole of history is complete). 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." What am I reading these verses to you for? To show you my friends that the Lord Jesus Christ entertained exactly the same view of the Moral Law as the apostle Paul did. Of course He did. Paul was the apostle of Christ - they were inspired by the same Spirit and therefore you would expect them to say the same thing.
4. CHRIST'S VIEW OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
What is Christ saying here concerning the Ten Commandments which means the Moral Law? Well, Jesus Christ is dismissing the possibility in our minds that we may all have. And the misunderstanding that we might have is this - we might be inclined to say to ourselves that because Christ has now come and the New Testament age has now appeared the Old Testament is over. We might conclude that the Ten Commandments are now out-of-date and there are people who do that - we call them dispensationalists. They take this view that the Ten Commandments and all the laws of the Old Testament are out-of-date: they're not relevant any more. Jesus Christ anticipates that terrible mistake by saying to us here "Think not that I am come to destroy the law...I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matthew 5, 17). In case we should be in doubt as to what he means, he goes on to say this, "...Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
A JOT AND A TITTLE
You may say to me - What is a jot and what is a tittle? A jot is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. I wonder what the smallest letter in the British or English alphabet is? I suppose it would be the letter 'i'. Well, he means not the tiniest letter will pass from the Ten Commandments till the end of time. It will always be relevant, always authoritative. A 'tittle' is just a little part of a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. How can we illustrate this? You know when you have Roman lettering - that handsome typeface that you get at the heading of a good-class newspaper like the Times or one of these well-respected newspapers - usually the writing is done in classic form and each of the letters has a little, tiny embellishment at the end so that it doesn't end just straight but it has a little curved bit to make it look somewhat ornamental and stylish. This is the kind of writing you nearly always get on tombstones; ornate letters, beautiful letters with finishes which are elegant. Those elegant finishes in the Hebrew letters are called 'tittles'. In our language we call it serif; they have a serif on it, a little curl. What Jesus is meaning is nothing more or less than that the Ten Commandments will in no sense become out-of-date. They have not been outdated by my coming, He means. My appearance in the world and my bringing in of the Kingdom of Grace upon earth has not made the Ten Commandments obsolete. We are not to throw them away. To make it clearer still, in verse nineteen He makes this point, "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." We must apply that to ourselves.
If you and I break any of the Ten Commandments consciously, deliberately as Christians, we shall lose some of our reward; it's as serious as that. He is talking here about believers and if we do not carefully observe His commands and carefully rule our lives in terms of the Ten Commandments as Christians then we lose some of our reward. Of course, we can't lose our soul because we are saved by the blood of Christ; we are not saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. We are saved by faith in Christ but - if as Christians we are careless in our keeping of the Ten Commandments, if we are slack in failing to keep them as we should - then He says we shall lose some of our eternal reward in heaven. It will be a diminished reward of glory if we either break these Commandments or teach other people to break them.
You might say, well everybody breaks them, nobody keeps them, not even the best Christians; not even Paul kept these Commandments fully. Only Christ, you say, kept them fully. Yes, that is true. But the point is this - we are to strive to keep them. It is true we break them daily, in thought, word and deed but we are to understand that the Ten Commandments are the rule. No matter how far short we come, no matter how often we sadly break them, out duty is to strive to keep these Commandments - not with a view to obtaining salvation by the Commandments, no, but with a view to living carefully under the eye of God, living carefully under the judgement of God.
The more we keep these Commandments as Christians the more glory we give to God. This is why the great old heroes that our forefathers had are now becoming somewhat neglected. We used to hear of the great heroes of the faith did we not? We know their names: Robert Murray McCheyne; he was set forth before us once upon a time as a great example of a fine Christian whose life we should read and whose example we should follow, and that was good and right. But how did these men like McCheyne live? The answer is they lived in a daily, conscious attempt to keep all the Commandments of God, carefully and scrupulously - right down to the last detail. The way they spoke, their moods, their thoughts, their inward affections, their relations with one another; they were all governed by this understanding that the Ten Commandments are the ideal. They are the authoritative standard of God's righteousness.
When the people lose the Ten Commandments they have to have a new set of heroes because if you don't like the Ten Commandments then the chain is very burdensome. "He was too careful; he was too conscientious, so he had to have a new set of heroes who were of a different style." That is, I am afraid, what has tended to happen. I'm saying these things as a corrective to the spirit of the age.
5. THE VIEW OF THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH
I've given you Paul's view and I've given you Christ's view of the matter. Let me now give you the view of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I'm not quoting these words here as though they were on a level with Holy Scripture, of course not. Nothing is on a level with Holy Scripture but, having said that, we believe the Westminster Confession is one of the finest Christian statements of faith that has ever been made. I'm going to read you then their view of this whole subject of the Law.
Here it is. "This law," they say (the Ten Commandments), "after his (Adam's) fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six our duty to man." Well, there it is! That is the classic view; that is the standard, classic, Christian view to the Ten Commandments. Don't you think for a moment that I am over-labouring this point. The fact is that there has been a tremendous attack upon this entire view of the Commandments within the Christian church in this country and America and elsewhere over the last so many years. This is the standard, classic, Christian view and it has been greatly undermined, greatly weakened by many influences, one or two of which I have already mentioned.
The Moral Law - the Ten Commandments - has to be understood to have different uses. It is of use to the non-Christian, it is of use to the Christian and it is of use to the State, that is to say the Government, for curbing crime and restraining vice and wickedness in society. Those are the three God-given uses of the Ten Commandments or the Moral Law. Let me give you them again and then say something about each of those uses. The first use of the Moral Law is to help the unconverted. The second use is to help the converted. And the third use is to help the Government of different countries to control crime and vice in society.
THE MORAL LAW AND THE UNCONVERTED
I need to say a little about each of those things as they are of importance to every one of us. In what sense, we say, does the Moral Law help the unconverted man or woman? The answer to this is that it helps the unconverted man or woman to realise and to appreciate their need of Christ. If I go up to a person and say, "My dear friend, here you are standing in the high street (let us imagine) and I'm talking to you": If I say to this person, "You are a sinner needing Christ," he may very well say, "but I have no idea what you mean by my being a sinner. I'm not a sinner at all. I've never been to prison. I've never killed any one. I'm not an adulterer. I live a decent life. Why do you tell me I am a sinner?" You see he doesn't really know what God's requirements are so to help him to understand what we mean by being a sinner we say a sinner is anyone who breaks the Ten Commandments in thought or word or deed. Even to break the Ten Commandments in thought, let alone in word or deed, is still sin and he doesn't know that. He needs to be told that - he needs to have that made clear to him. Therefore, we preach the Law to help the unconverted to understand their sinfulness and it is in that way that the Bible says the Ten Commandments are like a schoolmaster: they drive the sinner to Christ when the sinner sees how sinful he is; he begins to see his need of Christ. We don't need Christ in our own thinking until we see how wicked we are and that is why the Law is given. It is to show us ourselves as God sees us. When we begin to see ourselves as God sees us then we do indeed begin to look for a Christ who can save us and a Calvary that can remove our guilt.
THE MORAL LAW AND THE CONVERTED
The second use of the Law is for the Christian. The Moral Law cannot save us. The Moral Law has no ability to make us holy of itself - it cannot give us grace, it cannot give us forgiveness. The Moral Law can only demand and require obedience to God: perfect, absolute conformity to God in thought and word and deed. Once we are converted, we need to know how we are to live. We are not left to our own devices as Christians as to how we are to live. Some Christians, I'm afraid, think that they are. Some Christians say that we have such liberty that all we need to do is live according to our own thoughts. That is not the Word of God. The Word of God teaches we are bound, obligated, under duty to live under rule to God. That is what conversion does. You remember how conversion is described sometimes in the Bible; God says, "I will write my laws in their hearts". That's to say He writes the Commandments in our hearts. So He doesn't leave us to our own devices as to how we are to live our lives. Conversion means that we begin to take very seriously God's demands and commands to conform our life according to His standards, no longer unto our standards.
What we are to do as Christians is, we are to study these Ten Commandments, to think of them daily and continually, to apply them to our own lives and to apply them to every aspect of our lives. In order to do that properly we need to realise how these Ten Commandments are given to us, what they mean and how they apply to our lives.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
Let's look briefly at these two Tables of the Law - the first Table and the second. We know these Commandments more or less off by heart, or we should do. The first one; "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That means it is a sin not to worship God. Atheism is a sin, agnosticism is a sin and secularism is a sin. Why? - because it fails to acknowledge the Being of God. All non-Biblical religions are sin because they fail to know that God is the God of the Bible. So you see, in one single Commandment a whole lot of error in society is put right. We know our duty is to worship one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and to worship no other god.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
Then, the second Commandment tells us that we are not to make any graven image (fully given in Exodus 20). Not to have any graven image. We are not to bow down to it. We are not to worship any graven image. Here again is something which people are ignorant of. It means we are not to have any picture of God or Christ. We are not to have any statue of Christ or God; we are not to bow down EVER, to pictures or statues of any kind. You see how relevant this is? Because there are churches that have crucifixes on the walls and they have pictures of Mary and the baby - the Madonna and child as they are called - and whenever they pass them, they bow down and they kiss them. We've got to know that God absolutely forbids the use of any pictorial form within worship. That's why we don't have crosses - either here, or in any of the churches that we build. That's why the Bible is in the centre of our worship. Some churches have the pulpit to the side, we have ours in the centre, the reason being is, the Bible is central. This is our Book; this is our life; this is our guide. We don't look to statues or pictures or symbols of any kind - even crosses - we don't have them because all of that conduces to a form of inward idolatry.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
The third Commandment tells us we are not to take God's name in vain. That means we are always to refer to God, when we do refer to Him, with awe and respect, and a sense of fear. We are never to talk lightly about God to anyone. Not even to think lightly about God. How different that is from the spirit of the world. The third Commandment teaches us reverence towards God and where there's no reverence there's no worship. Where people have no fear of God their worship is more or less worthless. That is not to deny that it is proper to have joy and comfort, gladness and assurance but we never treat God's Person with carelessness. We think of Him with awe. The very angels veil their faces in heaven in His tremendous presence. God is God. He has power to bless us and power to curse us - power to bring us to heaven and power to send us to hell. We can't treat such an august Majesty with lightness. Our God commands that we are to respect Him and we are to fear His glorious Name, not with the fear and terror of the devil but with fear of displeasing Him, fear of upsetting Him, fear of grieving Him, fear of breaking our duty of love towards him.
There's no contradiction at all between love and reverential fear. These are not contradictory, they're not opposites. Love and a certain kind of fear are perfectly consistent one with another, as indeed they are within marriage or any friendship. When you love somebody, you're afraid of upsetting them, afraid of offending them, afraid of grieving them by your stupidity. How often we're all guilty of that in terms of friendship, one with another. We say and do foolish things that upset one another and we regret it and bite our lip. How much more should we be afraid of upsetting and grieving the great God? So it is with all the Commandments. Jesus said they are not only outwardly to be kept but also in our very hearts and in our souls. He tells us that to look lustfully at a woman is already adultery, even without any movement of the body. Even the look, if it is a lustful look, is sin and God has seen that sin. Murder is not simply lifting up your fist to strike, or taking out the gun to shoot, or a knife to cut - murder can be done in the heart. To be angry with somebody without a real reason, without a just cause is murder in the sight of God. That's why these Commandments are given to us - that we might not only control our outward behaviour, our speech, our language, our actions, but also govern our innermost thoughts. The best Christians are those who are doing this all the time. They are watching themselves all the time and they are measuring themselves by the Commandments because the Commandments are a perfect rule of life and the happier you will be when you keep these Commandments.
ALL THE COMMANDMENTS
There are some people who have a false idea about keeping the Commandments. They think, "What a burden, what a bondage" and that the more they keep these things the more wretched they will be, the more Pharisaical they will become - not at all! In the keeping of God's Commandments, says the Bible, there is great reward. Great peace have they who love Thy Law, offence they shall have none. I will walk at liberty when I keep all Thy Commandments. That's the truth of the matter. The more you keep the Law the more free you are and the more happy you are because your conscience sings sweetly. You know you have peace with God. You know that you have His blessing and His approval upon your life. "Blessed are they who keep His Commandments" - we were singing in Psalm 119. Oh that my ways were directed to keep all Thy Commandments! I shall never be ashamed when I keep all Thy Commandments! That's the way the Bible puts it and very much more to the same effect.
On the one hand, the less carefully we keep the Law of God the less blessing we may expect in our lives, the less good we may expect to do in our lives; on the other hand, the more carefully, the more blessing.
THE MORAL LAW AND THE STATE
I have time just to mention the third use of the Law. I won't spend long on this because it's more something to do with Government and with the State and the Houses of Parliament if you want to use the British term. The Moral Law does have a third use for Governments concerning criminals. I'm going to refer you if I may to, 1 Timothy 1, 9-10. I would ask you to turn to this because this is a point of doctrine which is not so clearly grasped in many circles. We could begin reading at verse eight to make it clear. "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves, with mankind, for menstealers (or kidnappers), for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." Now you see, he's talking there about the Ten Commandments being of use in society and having an effect even upon criminals. Murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, manslayers, kidnappers, fornicators; now he's talking about those who are not in churches at all but are far away from God. This Moral Law is of use in society and in the State for them. How?
Well, to inform them first of all as to how they must change their lives. They mustn't go on living like that otherwise the State must punish them for it and the State must take action against them. It used to be done and of course up to a point, is still done - we still do something to murderers. We do not sentence them as they should be sentenced according to the Bible, to capital punishment in this country. That is the Biblical requirement. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. The government of the country is answerable to God on the Day of Judgement for not carrying out that divinely appointed penalty. That is the proper penalty for murderers, for a murderer. He must be put to death; he forfeits his life if he commits murder. If that were brought back our society would begin to come into the shape it used to be. We have no right to kill and abort the young child in its mother's womb for social reasons. That is a form of murder. Yet, you see, we've got soft on that in society but God says THIS IS MY LAW and these are My standards, not simply for the Christian but for everybody. God is the God who rules the entire world and the Christian church must not be ashamed to say what standards God requires.
6. JESUS CHRIST - OUR ONLY PRIEST
My time is finished and I'm going to wind up my remarks by reminding you that my original text was to be found in Romans 13, 8-10. Let me then draw attention finally to verse ten here. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." What is he saying? There is a bond of strength in our relationships one to another. It means that we are bringing heaven down upon earth because the Commandments are all perfectly observed in heaven. There is no breaking of the Law in heaven and there would have been no breaking on earth had it not been for Adam's transgression. The one man who perfectly kept the Law was the Lord Jesus Christ. We are becoming Christ-like if we observe the law in the spirit in which He himself also observed it.
My dearly beloved friends, if we desire to grow in the knowledge of God, one of those teachings which we require to remember is the place of the Law as the rule of the believer's life. We're not talking, of course, about the Ceremonial Law - that did indeed pass away when Christ died and the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. We don't have ceremonies any more, we don't slay beasts, we don't offer incense, we don't have priests in the New Testament age. There are no priests any more, or there should be none because they have all passed away. Christ is the only Priest, and He is quite enough for us all as the Priest over our souls and over the House of God.
7. LEGALISM & ANTINOMIANISM
There are just two words and with these two words I really will finish. I can't really finish without mentioning these two words in case anyone goes away with a question mark. These words are 'legalism' and 'antinomianism'. I know they are rather difficult words but they can be easily explained. What I have said to you this morning would be regarded by many people in many churches as nothing more or less than legalism. Legalism means - at least what they would mean by it, not the true meaning - teaching people to keep God's Law. I don't apologise for what I have said but I am having to say to you honestly, many - even preachers - today in this country, are totally confused in their minds by failing to realise that this is the rule of a Christian's life. They would accuse a preacher like myself this morning of being a legalist. What is the true meaning of a legalist as distinct from the false meaning? The true meaning of a legalist is someone who teaches people to keep the Law in order to be saved. I bear witness against myself; I have never, ever taught such a thing. I teach, bear me out in this, I teach that we are saved by Christ alone, by faith alone in Christ. However, as soon as we become Christians Christ takes us to the Law. Matthew 5, 17. We are to keep the Law out of love for God. We don't keep the Law in order to be saved but we keep it to show that we love the God who has saved us. The motive is wrong in legalism. The only thing wrong with legalism is the motive - it is done for the wrong reasons.
What then is this word 'antinomian', finally? The word antinomian means living without any rule of life: living without the Moral Law as the rule of life. That is the shocking state I'm afraid in to which so much Christianity has declined in our day.
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