Aug 2, 2010

A new law based on easier terms (or duties) - Gery Schmidt

"...the Mosaic Law demonstrates that duty has no place in the matter of salvation. The apostle Paul speaks of the Law as a tutor (Gal. 3:24), and with respect to our theme, the Law instructs us on two critical points. First, it illustrates the total depravity of man. When we take a panoramic view of the Old Testament history of Israel, the Sinaitic covenant witnesses time and time again the sinfulness of the Israelites. From the time they came up out of Egypt, to the time of their exile, and upon their return from captivity, the depravity of the Israelites is always made manifest in the light of the Law. But this very manifestation of the Israelites' depravity was in fact one reason why God gave the Law unto Israel. In Romans 5:20 Paul writes that "the Law came in that the transgression might increase." Now the Law which God gave to Moses was both perfect and holy, and it represented a duty-ridden system. Well what was the outcome when this duty-ridden system was given unto Israel? It only exposed their depravity in that not one soul was able to keep the Law perfectly. The Law made manifest man's natural enmity toward God, and consequently, the transgressions of the Israelites only increased, precisely as God had intended. And the grand lesson here is that the Law, in exposing man's depravity, points him away from himself, and away from the performance of duties.

Secondly, the Law illustrates the absolute necessity of grace in salvation. In Gal 3:24 Paul writes that "the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith." We just saw how the Law exposes man's depravity, and that it points sinners away from both themselves and the performance of duties. The apostle Paul notes that this very Law directs sinners unto Jesus Christ. It is Christ alone, the God-man, who was able to both keep the Law and offer himself up as a propitiatory sacrifice in the stead of his elect. In demonstrating both man's depravity and inability to save himself, the Law shows forth the absolute necessity of God's grace, and thus points to Christ who alone is the all-sufficient Saviour of his people. The Law does not point sinners away from one set of duties only to direct them to another set of duties.

Neonomianism, however, actually propounds just such a view. This heresy posits that the gospel is a new law based on easier terms (or duties). But such a view misunderstands the purpose of the law, and destroys the very truth that salvation is all of grace. For in replacing one set of duties with another set of duties (the duties of repenting, believing, etc.), one still ends up with salvation by works, the very thing the Mosaic Law intended to direct sinners away from. Further, since the Law only exposes man's depravity, so that transgressions only increase, and points him unto Christ, how can the introduction of a new law, based on supposedly easier terms, possibly improve the situation for the unregenerate? The Law however, points sinners to Christ, and not to duties of any sort. And thus it reveals that duty has no place in the matter of salvation." -Gery Schmidt

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions