Since It Is God’s Law…

Antinomianism downplays the law; legalism downplays the gospel.

Watson goes on to say that in a legal sense no one can obey the law because of the fall and our sinful nature.  However, he notes, in a gospel sense we can obey the law.  “Gospel obedience consists in a real endeavor to observe the whole moral law (Ps. 119:166):”

 

Our triune God has given us his law in Scripture.  Specifically, the Ten Commandments are at the heart of God’s law – summarized with the verb “love” (cf. Mt. 22:33-40).  Thomas Watson, thinking about God’s law and the preface to it (I am the LORD your God… [Ex. 20:1-2]), says because it is God’s law, several duties are enjoined upon us:

1) If God spoke all these words, then we must hear all these words.  The words God speaks are too precious to be lost.  As we would have God hear all our words when we pray, so we must hear all his words when he speaks.

2) If God spoke all these words, then we must attend to them with reverence.  Every word of the moral law is an oracle of heaven.  God himself is the preacher, which calls for reverence.

3) If God spoke all these words of the law, then we must remember them.  Surely all God speaks is worth remembering; those words are weighty which concern salvation.  God’s oracles are ornaments, and shall we forget them?

4) If God spoke all these words, then believe them.  See the name of God written upon every commandment.  The moral law fetches its pedigree from heaven.

5) If God spoke all these words, then love the commandments (Ps. 119:97).  The moral law is the copy of God’s will, our spiritual directory; it shows us what sins to avoid, what duties to pursue.  The commandments are our treasury to enrich us.

6) If God spoke all these words, then teach them to your children (Deut. 6:6-7).  He who is godly is both a diamond and a magnet: a diamond for the sparkling of his grace, and a magnet for his attractive virtue in drawing others to the love of God’s precepts.

7) If God spoke all these words, they must be obeyed.  If a king speaks, his word commands allegiance; much more, when God speaks, his words must be obeyed.  God, who spoke all the words of the moral law, will have them all obeyed.

Watson goes on to say that in a legal sense no one can obey the law because of the fall and our sinful nature.  However, he notes, in a gospel sense we can obey the law.  “Gospel obedience consists in a real endeavor to observe the whole moral law (Ps. 119:166):”

“Where my obedience comes short, I look up to the perfect righteousness and obedience of Christ, and hope for pardon through his blood.  This is to obey the moral law evangelically; which, though it not be to satisfaction, yet it is to acceptation [acceptance or approval].

Antinomianism downplays the law; legalism downplays the gospel.  Biblical and Reformed spirituality gives both their rightful place in the Christian life.  Watson’s discussion is a good example of this.  Note: The above seven points are abridged; you can read the entire section on pages 14-16 of The Ten Commandments.

Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

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