Christians and the Law: answering the objections, part 20

In the comments to Vox’s original post, Tiger wrote,

Daniel: The New Testament says the purpose of the Law is to reveal sin. This lets us lead Holy Sanctified lives, but eliminating sin, cleaning as we go. Until the Law is written on our hearts, it is still needed. And, since Christians are NOT keeping the Law, it is obvious that it hasn’t been written there. Therefore, the New Covenant has not yet come, even though it has been promised and assured.

Daniel responded,

For the moment, I’ll disregard the failures in logic in the above, and simply demonstrate how they violate what is evident from scripture:

“The New Testament says the purpose of the Law is to reveal sin.”

Not quite right. It says the purpose of the Law is to prove a man guilty. (Romans 3:19-20)

“This lets us lead Holy Sanctified lives, but eliminating sin, cleaning as we go.”

No – no – no. You’ve gone way off the rails here, both according to Deuteronomy and St. Paul. Moses (in Deut) makes it very clear that the key is to keep every law to avoid sin, because once you broke off, only God in his mercy could cover it. A righteous man can no more cleanse himself of sin, than a hunter can unkill a deer. The law was provided so that a man might live, but its path was impossible to keep. Don’t forget that Abraham was saved (righteousness was credited to him) before the Law.

There’s no “cleaning as you go.”

“Until the Law is written on our hearts, it is still needed.”

Again, you are confusing scripture here. The Law passes away when its purpose (above) is fulfilled. Once a man is convicted of violating even the least commandment, it has achieved its purpose for him. This is why Jesus doesn’t change the law (add to it or subtract from it) – it needs to be the same for as long as man is on this earth: it is the yardstick by which all men fail.

Once an individual has failed it, he stands convicted. Jesus then fulfills the law by taking the punishment for sin.

Stop going through the motions of Law-keeping. It makes you a zombie slave to what Jesus Christ paid dearly to rescue you from, and denies His promise to complete the work in you.

-Daniel

Daniel was very specific and patient in his responses to Tiger, so I will return the favor by pointing out from Scripture how Daniel is clearly incorrect on every single point.

Statement 29:  The purpose of the law is not to reveal sin, but to prove a man guilty. (Romans 3:19-20)

Daniel speaks as if the Law can have only one purpose, but like everything else that God created, the Law has multiple dimensions and multiple purposes. Even if that were not so, Daniel’s objection would be nonsensical. How can anything prove anything without revealing it? Here is Romans 3:19-20, which Daniel cites as the basis of his statement:

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: (20) because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

It is evident from this passage (and others, such as Romans 7:7), that the only way the Law  proves a man’s guilt is by defining sin. As Paul explained in Romans 7, he was free to go on living as he pleased until the Law said, “Thou shalt not covet.” It is only through the revelation of sin that the Law proves guilt. This seems so self-evident to me, I find it difficult to find more words to express it: Nothing proves anything without revealing it. Therefore, if the Law proves a man guilty of sin, then the Law also reveals his sin. It can’t do one without the other.

Statement 30: Moses (in Deut) makes it very clear that the key is to keep every law to avoid sin, because once you broke off, only God in his mercy could cover it. -Daniel

If the Law defines sin, as we are told by several New Testament writers, it seems completely obvious that you must keep every law in order to avoid sin. Since we have all sinned, we are all condemned by our sin. I don’t dispute that. Tiger didn’t dispute that. I can only conclude that Daniel is making the same basic mistake that almost every antinomian makes when arguing this topic. (And in the process he concedes Tiger’s previous point that the Law reveals sin.) He is conflating salvation and sanctification. Let me break this same erroneous logic down once more:

Premises

  • The Law defines sin.
  • If you violate the smallest part of the Law, you have sinned.
  • Once you have sinned, you are condemned.
  • You cannot save yourself from your sins.

Conclusion

  • One should not try to keep any part of the law.

As stated, Daniel’s argument doesn’t add up. His conclusion is completely irrelevant to his arguments. Let me show you a parallel argument to illustrate what I mean.

Premises

  • Road maps define permissible driving routes.
  • There are no roads to take you from New York and London.
  • If you drive into the water, your car will stall and sink.
  • There is a large ocean between New York and London.

Conclusion

  • One should not try to drive anywhere.

Even the most simple minded among us can see why this conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. What does the inability to drive from New York to London have to do with driving to other places? For this conclusion to be valid, one would also have to assume that the only possible reason someone would drive a car is to get from New York to London. But we all know that isn’t the case. People drive on roads for all kinds of reasons and to all kinds of destinations, and very few of them are related to London in any way.

So why is it so difficult for people to discuss the topic of Christians keeping the Law without assuming that the only reason anyone would ever want to keep the Law is to attain salvation?

Daniel’s conclusion is not only logically unsound and irrelevant to the discussion, it’s also hypocritical. I strongly suspect that he keeps many points of the Law every single day, and, just like almost every other self-described Christian, he almost certainly keeps some of those points primarily because the Law says to. Why then does he argue so vociferously and irrationally against the idea that he should keep the Law? Daniel is not alone in this.

At root this is not a logical argument.

There is a spirit of deceit at work in the Church that causes Christians to hear “You must keep the Law to be saved,” whenever anyone says “You must keep the Law.” For many people, I don’t believe it matters how many times we say that you cannot be saved by keeping Torah, they will still believe that we are saying you cannot be saved unless you keep the Torah. It’s a lie, but they will believe it because they are being deceived. There is no argument that will convince those people. We can only wait on God as we pray for their sight to be restored.

Statement 31: The Law passes away when its purpose (above) is fulfilled. Once a man is convicted of violating even the least commandment, it has achieved its purpose for him. This is why Jesus doesn’t change the law (add to it or subtract from it) – it needs to be the same for as long as man is on this earth: it is the yardstick by which all men fail.

Daniel appears to be saying that the Law passes away for each person once it has fulfilled its purpose for that person. This statement also contradicts numerous very plain statements in Scripture.

Yeshua said that not even the tiniest part of the Law will pass away until all is fulfilled and heaven and earth have passed away. The Law has multiple purposes, one of which is to convict us of sins. Therefore, the Law cannot pass away–even for one person–until all of its purposes have been fulfilled. Even assuming Daniel’s idea that the Law can pass away entirely for one individual while still being in force for another person, it cannot pass away for one simply because it has convicted him of sin. If so, then no Christian can sin again once they have been convicted and then forgiven. Paul’s statements about continuing to struggle against sin are nonsense. Yeshua’s threats against Christians in the Revelation are empty….Unless the Law continues to be a yardstick by which the failures of men are measured even after they are saved.

Does Daniel really believe that the God who declared “I change not” would have a definable standard of behavior for strangers, but not for his own children? The same God who said, “One law and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.”

Statement 32: Once an individual has failed the Law, he stands convicted. Jesus then fulfills the law by taking the punishment for sin.

Yeshua fulfilled the Law’s requirement of blood. However, he did not fulfill our ongoing obligation to obey his commandments. If a judge forgave you for speeding in a school zone and volunteered to pay your fine, if he swore to forgive you of every future offense and to pay every future fine for you, would that remove your obligation to obey the speed limit in school zones? That’s absurd. The judge would revoke his forgiveness and throw you in jail for contempt of court. That’s exactly what Yeshua has said he will do to those who abuse his love and forbearance  by willfully continuing to sin.

Statement 33: Stop going through the motions of Law-keeping. It makes you a zombie slave to what Jesus Christ paid dearly to rescue you from, and denies His promise to complete the work in you.

Yeshua did not pay dearly to rescue us from his own commands, and obeying him does not deny his promise to complete the work he started in us. What Daniel has forgotten is that “the work” includes the transformation of our behavior according to God’s standards.

No one is claiming that we can be perfect or attain perfect obedience under our own strength, but that doesn’t mean we are free to ignore God’s commands. Just because we can’t do everything perfectly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do some things better. Every day as we are enabled by knowledge, revelation, and the moving of God’s spirit in us we are to be better than we were the day before. We can never surrender to the world’s standards of behavior simply because the goal seems too far for human sight or legs. Our concern is to obey.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

part 18, part 19, part 20, part 21

Vox’s original article: Christians and the Law.

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