The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
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Regarding the Law and the Law Principle
 
By Al Stoner
 
“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 . . . (I Tim. 1:9).
 

There is a reckless disregard for, and an unholy disinterest today in the law of God and its present ministry and applicability to men. For example, in fundamentalist camps there appears to be much oversimplification and shallowness of thought with regard to this subject. There, it is generally regarded to be unimportant for believers to have a thoroughgoing understanding about such subjects as the law and its pertinences. Many religious movements, from their very inception, have taught generally that “old testament law” has now in the present age been replaced by a so-called “new testament law.”  Others reason that, since “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” have been abolished by Christ’s death, somehow now the Law has little relevance to us.  Both extremes are wrong.
 
The erroneous position that believers in Christ are presently under a “new testament law” in much the same way that Israel was under “old testament law” interprets, to a large extent, why many legalistic factions and divisions exist today, and it also evidences a basic miscomprehension of the nature of the New Covenant that has characterized many religious movements from their beginning.  Even more than this, such thinking demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Father and the Son.
 
Historically, there appears to have been a failure to comprehend that the principle of law-keeping remains essentially the same in its effect and results for men, wherever law, even “new testament law” (as some often call it), becomes the basis of man’s approach to, and the means of acceptance with, the living God. Law, as well as the law principle, when considered in relation to flesh, has certain consistent and unfailing effects. Let us consider the following.
 
The Law, a Mouth Stopper. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19).  The ministry of the law, in the time of Moses and the Prophets, was, and is yet, to make men guilty before the living God. The flesh was, and is, weak (cf. Rom. 8:3-4), the law was exceedingly strong in its demands upon flesh, and consequently, men failed miserably to measure up to the law’s just and holy requirements (cf. Rom. 7:12). 
 
Something that religious men, by and large, obviously fail to consider is that the new covenant Scriptures, when viewed as a system of law, even as a new system of laws, will have precisely the same bottom-line effect as the Law given at Mt.Sinai, and even more so, of stopping mouths and making men guilty before God. This is the Law’s purposed ministry. And while this ministry of the Law to men is absolutely essential, as a schoolmaster, to bring men unto Christ (cf. Gal. 3:24-25), this is certainly not the “new and living way”, which the Lord Jesus has “consecrated for us” “through the veil” of His flesh (cf. Heb. 10:19-20). 
 
Men have been prepared of God to enter into this new and living way, the exclusive way of fellowshipping with His beloved Son, once the Law has served its thoroughgoing ministry of convincing them that they are utterly undone because of their sins apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.  The law brings men to Christ for salvation initially, and has an ongoing ministry of keeping men close to the Savior.  As it is written, “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9). So long as we are in this present evil world we are in the danger zone. The Devil is walking about as a roaring lion “seeking someone to devour” (I Pet. 5:7, NASB).  We also have the heavenly treasure in an earthen vessel (II Cor. 4:4-6).  The only place of safety is being in Christ, and near to Christ.
 
When considered as a law approach to God, the New Covenant Scriptures (Matthew through Revelation) are even more demanding than Moses and the Prophets were.  Jesus said, for example, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28; see also vv. 21-45).  Again, He declared, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mt. 5:21-22).
 
It shouldn’t require too much deliberation to come to the conclusion that, from the standpoint of flesh, keeping oneself from the act of lusting calls into action a much more intense effort and a greater liability than merely keeping oneself from the outward act of adultery. And it is likewise the same with regard to keeping oneself from an unrighteous anger.   But these are the kinds of liabilities that confront men if they are, in fact, under a supposed “new covenant law,” as is commonly taught.  Such ones are “in the flesh”, and “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). 
 
The Conferment of the Knowledge of Sin. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). It was the ministry of the law of Moses to convince all men that they had sinned. The new covenant scriptures, however, will also impart to men the knowledge of sin with even a much greater convincing power than did the law, if they are viewed as a law approach to God.
 
While there are laws and commands contained in Matthew through Revelation to be sure, the primary purpose of those scriptures, in particular, is much higher and nobler than that of the conferment of the knowledge of sin. That portion of God’s Word informs us abundantly, for example, of the great “hope” that men may now have through the “patience and comfort of the Scriptures” (Rom. 15:4). It announces to us that death has now been gloriously abolished by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that “life and immortality” have now been “brought to light” through the gospel (II Tim. 1:8-10).  It tells us “how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3). And again, it brings to our consideration “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God,” is “made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25-26).
 
The Law vs. the Promises? “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Gal. 3:21).  From this word of the Apostle, and other similar declarations, it can be seen that, at least in one sense, the objectives of both the law and faith were the same. That objective was the impartation of life and righteousness to men.  But the effects and accomplishments of law and grace proved to be drastically different.  Thus, if the law could possibly have given life to men, it would have done so, and in that circumstance, righteousness would have come to men by the law. But as the Scripture declares, “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4; cf. Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).
 
It should also be noted here that life and righteousness are inextricably bound together in the mind of the Apostle, and should be in our minds as well. In other words, the righteousness, for which God has respect, is coupled together with, and cannot be thought of in separation from, life, neither can this life be had independently of the righteousness of God.
 
The Law Not of Faith. “And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them” (Gal. 3:12). Though the law is not against the promises of God (as the Scripture declares), yet it is not of faith. As we have already stated, the purpose and objective of the law and faith were, and are, the same, namely that of bestowing life and righteousness upon men. However, it was the means of arriving at that objective that vastly differed.  The law depended upon a sinless performance of its requirements by men in order to confer life upon them (cf. Lev. 18:5).  And as James declared, “for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10). In stark contrast with this, however, faith summons men to absolutely depend upon the ability and provision of God through Christ to save, to justify, and to impart the life, for which the Holy One would have respect. It is in “believing” that men have “life through” Christ’s “Name” (Jn. 20:31).
 
The Law’s Self-Declared Obsolescence. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets” (Rom. 3:21). This was, of course, “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (v. 22). The law of God, by its many types and shadows pointing to the salvation in Christ, declared itself to be obsolete for the express purpose of imparting righteousness to men.  “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (cf. Rom 10:4).
 
Incidentally, the law was not rendered obsolete, in this sense, by the coming of another so-called “new testament law” (as it is almost universally taught today), but rather by the means of faith, which effectively saves and justifies men before God, “without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).  The law has not, however, become altogether “obsolete”.  God has always saved by faith, and ruled by law.  But in the New Covenant the law is written upon the heart and upon the mind, so that now, for those who are in Christ, there is a God-given affinity for His law. 
 
Outward vs. Inward Compulsion. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Law compels men to submit to its demands in one’s own strength. “This do, and thou shalt live.” Or to put it another way, “This do, or else.” Grace working together with faith, by way of contrast, does not leave men in a state of lawlessness (as many ignorantly insinuate), but rather it constrains men (cf. II Cor. 5:14) to earnestly obey from within.  In the New Covenant faith is obedience.  “And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (I Jn. 3:23).  “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him (Christ) whom He (God) hath sent” (Jn. 6:29).
 
Let us take a closer look at what grace does and is able to do both in and for men. It teaches us to effectively deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed Savior (cf. Tit. 2:11-13). (These are things, incidentally, that law could never get accomplished). Grace, when it is properly considered and received by men, becomes a much more effectual constrainer to do the will of God than any law ever was or could be!
 
The Conclusion of the Matter. In conclusion, if men (whoever they are) are not convinced that they have sinned and come short of the glory of God, then they must yet serve their tenure under law, and the law will effectually convince them that they have, in fact, sinned, and are in desperate need of Jesus.  That is its appointed ministry.  But, on the other hand, if men are persuaded that they have transgressed God’s law and that they stand sorely in need of the Savior, then for them the law has already done its appointed work.
 
Let such ones as this, after having “obeyed the gospel” (Rom. 10:16; cf. Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16), earnestly devote themselves to “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Let them give themselves to believing “the record that God gave of His Son” (I Jn. 5:10-11) and the “exceeding great and precious promises,” that by these, they may be “partakers of the divine nature,” “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Pet. 1:4).  For men to conduct themselves in matters of self-interest and self-indulgence, after they have professed a good profession, would give evidence of the insincerity of the faith which they initially professed.   –Editor
 

Run, John, run! the law commands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands
The gospel speaks of better things,
It bids me fly, and gives me wings!



"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).