Is the law done away? (part 4)

     Is the law done away? Yes, as a means of dealing with human nature, because the lesson we learn from Israel in the Old Testament is that the law is not powerful enough to contain or control our passions. Our nature is so powerful it knocks the props right out from any law imposed on it.

     We see the brutal proof of that in the world in which we live. It’s a world ruled by law, thousands upon thousands of laws, backed up by a merciless justice system and police force designed to make life miserable for lawbreakers. But has that mighty machine of law stopped crime? Has the law made people better? Is our world improving? Do children always obey their parents’ instructions? Do people stop cheating? Has bullying stopped in schools? Can big banks be trusted to never be greedy again?

     It’s all too obvious that the law doesn’t change our nature. It may have considerable influence in controlling people’s behaviour, but push the law too hard on people and it’s like waking a monster. Human nature roused comes out fighting. It doesn’t like being told what to do. It doesn’t like being controlled. And there’s no law in existence that can change that attitude in human nature, “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death (Romans 7:5).” The law only stirs human nature, not changes it. 

     So now what do we do? We’re stuck with a nature that boils with passions we cannot control, and we depend entirely on a system of law enforcement that can never fully contain it – and, what’s more, if we push the law too hard on people, it only rouses their nature to resist and fight, as anyone with teenagers knows, or anyone in a legalistic church knows. Too many rules and people get feisty.

     And from the sad tales of Old Testament Israel we discover that even God’s law is no cure for our nature, either. But that was never what God’s law was for. God’s law, or any law, was never meant to change our nature, which is why God “released us from the law (Romans 7:6),” because as a means of dealing with our nature, the law simply doesn’t work.  

     So what on earth was the purpose of the law, then?…

 



 

     In its place God has provided us with what Paul calls, “the new way of the Spirit,” Romans 7:6. The Spirit replaces the law as the means of dealing with our nature. 


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