This summer I had a blog “debate” of sorts with Andrew Farley, the author of The Naked Gospel, about the relationship of the Christian to the moral law. I come from the perspective of Covenant Theology which sees a connection between the various covenants in the Bible. While apart from Christ, the moral law serves as a manifestation of the covenant of works (do and live, don’t and die). With regard to justification, it is Christ’s obedience that is imputed to us. So, in this respect, we are dead to the law. We are not to rely on the law to gain acceptance with God. As a Christian, we are sanctified by grace such that we increasingly obey the moral law. It is in the context of sanctification that Paul affirms a relationship with the law (as does James & Peter).
Andrew comes for the perspective of a New Covenant Theology that is similar to hyper-dispensationalism in some ways. For instance, he thinks that the commands of Jesus given prior to His death and resurrection are not for us. He says we are not under the moral law of the Old Testament, but are under the Royal Law or the Law of Perfect Freedom (this is why he says he’s not an antinomian). He takes these out of context (the context is James 1-2 in which James then quotes from the 10 Commandments). He says the content is: Love the Lord with all your heart mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Never mind that these are both given in the Old Testament and mentioned by Jesus long before His death and resurrection.
I guess I now have 2 questions for anyone who has a view similar to his which thinks that in sanctification we are not led by the Spirit to fulfill the moral law (see Romans 12 for instance). I could not help him understand that we (Reformed guys like Thomas Boston, John Owen and Sinclair Ferguson) do not think we are sanctified BY the law. We are sanctified by the power of the Spirit, who applies the work of Christ to us, SO we obey the law. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me. We only love Him because He first loved us and have His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. (Hmm, what commands did He have in mind in the upper room when He said that? oops, 3rd question)
Okay, first question. This came to me in the shower the other day. I’m not sure why. But I pondered the man that Paul told the Corinthians to discipline for incest. This clearly violates the moral law. But how does this violate the “royal law”? What particular sin, as defined by the “royal law” has this man committed?
In my view, the moral law defines what it means to love God and my neighbor. This is seen because Jesus said all of the law and the prophets hang on them. It is also clear from Romans 12 where Paul uses the moral law to define what it means to love my neighbor. But when you gut them of the moral law, what command is it breaking and WHY?
2nd question relates to the Great Commission. This is given by the resurrected Jesus, so it is binding on us. The discipleship process is described as baptizing them and teaching them to obey all that He has commanded them. So what precisely is the all He has commanded us? When did He do this since we have no record of Him giving any commands to the disciples/apostles after the resurrection except for this one?
Had I been wiser & quicker I may have asked these questions. Or are these questions merely more evidence that I am foolish and slow?