The Law of God (1689)

By S.C. Shaw

The London Baptist Confession of faith is a beautiful and rich confession of the reformed Christian faith. I simply included the scriptures they reference after each section written out. It is a beautiful meditation and devotion time to read through. I pray you are blessed by it and it helps you see the bigness of God, exalt Christ higher and live by the power of the Holy Spirit more each day. There is no perfect and infallible authority except God’s Words revealed in the Bible. But there is much Christians can and should learn from other godly men and women.

Link to full confession: http://founders.org/1689-confession/

Chapter 19 – The Law of God (In Full) 

God gave Adam a law of comprehensive obedience written in his heart and a specific precept not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By these God obligated him and all his descendants to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience. God promised life if Adam fulfilled it and threatened death if he broke it, and he gave Adam the power and ability to keep it.

The same law that was first written in the human heart continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall. It was delivered by God on Mount Sinai in ten commandments and was written in two tables. The first four commandments contain our duty to God and the other six our duty to humanity.

In addition to this law—usually called the moral law—God was pleased to give the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typological ordinances. In some ways these concerned worship, by prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits. In other ways they revealed various instructions about moral duties. Since all of these ceremonial laws were appointed only until the new order arrived, they are now abolished and taken away by Jesus Christ. As the true Messiah and the only law-giver, he was empowered by the Father to do this.

To Israel he also gave various judicial laws, which ceased at the same time their nation ended. These laws no longer obligate anyone as part of that institution. Only their general principles of justice continue to have moral value.

The moral law forever requires obedience of everyone, both those who are justified as well as others. This obligation arises not only because of its content but also because of the authority of God the Creator who gave it. Nor does Christ in any way dissolve this obligation in the Gospel; instead he greatly strengthens it.

True believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it. Yet it is very useful to them and to others as a rule of life that informs them of the will of God and their duty. It directs and obligates them to live according to its precepts. It also exposes the sinful corruptions of their natures, hearts, and lives. As they examine themselves in light of the law, they come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred of sin, along with a clearer view of their need for Christ and the perfection of his obedience. The law is also useful to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions because it forbids sin. The punishment threatened by the law shows them what even their sins deserve and what troubles they may expect in this life due to their sin, even though they are freed from the curse and undiminished severity of it. The promises of the law likewise show them God’s approval of obedience and the blessings they may expect when they keep it, even though these blessings are not owed to them by the law as a covenant of works. If people do good and refrain from evil because the law encourages good and discourages evil, that does not indicate that they are under the law and not under grace.

These uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel but are in sweet harmony with it, for the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the human will to do freely and cheerfully what the will of God as revealed in the law requires.

 

Chapter 19 – The Law of God (w/Scriptures) ESV

-God gave Adam a law of comprehensive obedience written in his heart and a specific precept not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

(Genesis 1:27, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.)

(Ecclesiastes 7:29, See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.)

-By these God obligated him and all his descendants to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience.

(Romans 10:5, For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.)

-God promised life if Adam fulfilled it and threatened death if he broke it, and he gave Adam the power and ability to keep it.

(Galatians 3:10, For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”)

(Galatians 3:12, But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”)

-The same law that was first written in the human heart continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall.

(Romans 2:14-15, For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them)

-It was delivered by God on Mount Sinai in ten commandments and was written in two tables. The first four commandments contain our duty to God and the other six our duty to humanity.

(Deuteronomy 10:4, And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me.)

-In addition to this law—usually called the moral law—God was pleased to give the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typological ordinances. In some ways these concerned worship, by prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits.

(Hebrews 10:1, For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.)

(Colossians 2:17, These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.)

-In other ways they revealed various instructions about moral duties.

(1 Corinthians 5:7, Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.)

-Since all of these ceremonial laws were appointed only until the new order arrived, they are now abolished and taken away by Jesus Christ. As the true Messiah and the only law-giver, he was empowered by the Father to do this.

(Colossians 2:14, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.)

(Colossians 2:16-17, Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.)

(Ephesians 2:14, For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility)

(Ephesians 2:16, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.)

-To Israel he also gave various judicial laws, which ceased at the same time their nation ended. These laws no longer obligate anyone as part of that institution. Only their general principles of justice continue to have moral value.

(1 Corinthians 9:8–10, Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.)

-The moral law forever requires obedience of everyone, both those who are justified as well as others.

(Romans 13:8–10, Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.)

(James 2:8, If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.)

(James 2:10–12, For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.)

-This obligation arises not only because of its content but also because of the authority of God the Creator who gave it.

(James 2:10-11, For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.)

-Nor does Christ in any way dissolve this obligation in the Gospel; instead he greatly strengthens it.

(Matthew 5:17–19, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.)

(Romans 3:31, Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.)

-True believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it.

(Romans 6:14, For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.)

(Galatians 2:16, yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.)

(Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.)

(Romans 10:4, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.)

-Yet it is very useful to them and to others as a rule of life that informs them of the will of God and their duty. It directs and obligates them to live according to its precepts. It also exposes the sinful corruptions of their natures, hearts, and lives. As they examine themselves in light of the law, they come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred of sin,

(Romans 3:20, For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.)

(Romans 7:7, What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”)

-along with a clearer view of their need for Christ and the perfection of his obedience. The law is also useful to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions because it forbids sin. The punishment threatened by the law shows them what even their sins deserve and what troubles they may expect in this life due to their sin, even though they are freed from the curse and undiminished severity of it. The promises of the law likewise show them God’s approval of obedience and the blessings they may expect when they keep it, even though these blessings are not owed to them by the law as a covenant of works. If people do good and refrain from evil because the law encourages good and discourages evil, that does not indicate that they are under the law and not under grace.

(Romans 6:12–14, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.)

(1 Peter 3:8–13, Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?)

-These uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel but are in sweet harmony with it,

(Galatians 3:21, Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.)

-for the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the human will to do freely and cheerfully what the will of God as revealed in the law requires.

(Ezekiel 36:27, And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.)

Closing.

Please don’t let my word or any mans word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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