Friday, June 15

Romans 3:31 (The good news)

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

After making an emphatic case that justification (being saved) is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, Paul asks if we should toss the law overboard. His answer is an equally emphatic by no means. God’s righteous law is the standard by which godliness and righteousness can be measured, and humans are not able to meet this standard of perfection that is required. Praise God that Jesus Christ met these standards for all who place their faith in Him and his work on the cross of Calvary. Men can, therefore, be counted as righteous because of Christ. Through the Holy Spirit and regeneration, men are saved from their sin and not left to wallow helplessly in it. In the New Covenant the law has been restated by Jesus and the Apostles and saved sinners are enabled by the Holy Spirit to participate in their own sanctification. Believers are not perfect in this endeavor and fail often, but over time they progress toward a goal of more and more actual righteousness. They have a desire for progress and that is why Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.”

Jesus and the Apostles taught ethics and principles that have the law as a foundation. Christians aspire to be conformed to these ethics and principles. They do it due to a new attitude that is derived from the heart of flesh that was given to them when the Holy Spirit quickened them from spiritual death to life. Do Christians overthrow the law because it condemns and cannot save? No, they love the law because it is the perfect standard of righteousness that they hunger and thirst to achieve.

Praise God that believers are being conformed to the image of Christ during their sanctification and at death this conformity is made perfect as believers are glorified.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read this and it best describes how I feel about the law being fulfilled..
In Matthew’s record of what is commonly called, “The Sermon on the Mount,” these words of Jesus are recorded: "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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18).

It is frequently argued that if Jesus did not “abolish” the law, then it must still be binding. Accordingly, such components as the “Sabbath day” requirement must be operative still, along with perhaps numerous other elements of the Mosaic Law. This assumption is grounded upon a misunderstanding of the words and intent of this passage. Christ did not here suggest that the binding nature of the law of Moses would remain forever in effect. Such a view would contradict everything we learn from the balance of the New Testament record (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). Consider the following points.

Of special significance in this study is the word rendered “abolish.” It translates the Greek term “kataluo,” literally meaning to “loose down.” The word is found seventeen times in the New Testament. It is used, for example, of the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Romans (Matthew 26:61; 27:40; Acts 6:14), and of the dissolving of the human body at death (2 Corinthians 5:1). The term can carry the extended meaning of “to overthrow,” i.e., to “render vain, deprive of success.” In classical Greek, it was used in connection with institutions, laws, etc., to convey the idea of “to invalidate.”

It is especially important to note how the word is used in Matthew 5:17. In this context, “abolish” is set in opposition to “fulfill.” Christ came “...not to abolish, but to fulfill.” The meaning is this. Jesus did not come to this earth for the purpose of acting as an opponent of the law. His goal was not to prevent its fulfillment. Rather, he revered it, loved it, obeyed it, and brought it to fruition. He fulfilled the law’s prophetic utterances regarding himself (Luke 24:44). Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience, or else imposed a “curse” (see Galatians 3:10,13). In this sense, the law’s divine design will ever have an abiding effect. It will always accomplish the purpose for which it was given.

If, however, the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, as it did before Christ came, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what he came “to do.” On the other hand, if the Lord did accomplish what he came to accomplish, then the law was fulfilled, and it is not a binding legal institution today. Further, if the law of Moses was not fulfilled by Christ, and thus remains as a binding legal system for today, then it is not just partially binding. Rather, it is totally compelling system. Jesus plainly said that not one “jot or tittle” (representative of the smallest markings of the Hebrew script) would pass away until all was fulfilled. Consequently, nothing of the law was to fail until it had completely accomplished its purpose. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus fulfilled all of the law. We cannot say that Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system, but did not fulfill the other aspects of the law. Jesus either fulfilled all of the law, or none of it. What Jesus' death means for the sacrificial system, it also means for the other aspects of the law.

jazzycat said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for that explanation. I believe it reconciles this for me better than any explanation I have ever heard. I will look at it closer later today. But again thanks.
Wayne

donsands said...

Good words jazzy.

We are dead to the law that was written on stone that condemned us. And yet God used His finger to imprint it on our hearts. We now love the law and we live it out, as we live out the Gospel of grace by faith.

We are His workmanship.

jazzycat said...

Don,
Thanks Don. Good point.

Anonymous,
Thanks again for your point. Yours and Don's have helped me understand this difficult passage better.
wayne

mark pierson said...

Anonymous, are you familiar with NCT?

Jazzy, I love what you said here, "Jesus and the Apostles taught ethics and principles that have the law as a foundation. Christians aspire to be conformed to these ethics and principles. They do it due to a new attitude that is derived from the heart of flesh that was given to them when the Holy Spirit quickened them from spiritual death to life. Do Christians overthrow the law because it condemns and cannot save? No, they love the law because it is the perfect standard of righteousness that they hunger and thirst to achieve.

Praise God that believers are being conformed to the image of Christ during their sanctification and at death this conformity is made perfect as believers are glorified."

Great theology, IMHO.

Susan said...

Anonymous stated this very well.
Wayne, I'm glad you're posting about the Law. I think many people have a cavalier attitude about it, to the extent that "Jesus set us free from all that," with a carefree and careless attitude henceforth about repentance and obedience. We're not that free - in fact, we should be bondservants to Him. We were bought at a price.