In our ongoing conversation about the value of the Law in the life of the Believer, someone has pointed out that the apostle Paul declares that “The Law is Holy,” in Romans 7:12.
Let’s look at that.
First, yes, Paul says that. In fact, the whole verse reads, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment [of the Law] holy and just and good.”
Context, of course, is everything, when interpreting scripture. This is in the middle of Romans 7, one of the greatest dissertations on how the Law has failed us in the entire Bible.
The verse immediately before, says, “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” So the Law is not the thing that kills us (it’s sin that kills us), but law is the weapon that our murderer wields. Not so sure I want to be under that law.
And the verse immediately after clarifies it: “Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” The product of the Law in my life is death, death “through what is good,” yes, but death nonetheless.
This is not the influence I yearn to have in my life.
And it seems that it was for this reason that the law was replaced in our lives:
“The former regulation [the Law] is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” – Hebrews 7:18-19
So while the Law is indeed “holy” (Rom 7:12), it is also “weak and useless,” and as far as allowing us to draw near to God, it has been replaced by a “better hope.”
The law has been replaced in the lives of the New Testament Believer. Don’t look to the Law to give you direction for what to do. Do not look to the Law to find favor with God.
The Apostle Paul made this rather forcefully clear:
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.
How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.”
– Galatians 3:2-5
You have left behind the death and barrenness of obeying the Law, and found life instead. Don’t leave the place of life in order to live in death again. Life is a good thing.
1 So those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned. 2 The standards of the Spirit, who gives life through Christ Jesus, have set you free from the standards of sin and death. 3 It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin. That way God condemned sin in our corrupt nature. 4 Therefore, we, who do not live by our corrupt nature but by our spiritual nature, are able to meet God’s standards. 5 Those who live by the corrupt nature have the corrupt nature’s attitude. But those who live by the spiritual nature have the spiritual nature’s attitude. 6 The corrupt nature’s attitude leads to death. But the spiritual nature’s attitude leads to life and peace. 7 This is so because the corrupt nature has a hostile attitude toward God. It refuses to place itself under the authority of God’s standards because it can’t. 8 Those who are under the control of the corrupt nature can’t please God.
9 But if God’s Spirit lives in you, you are under the control of your spiritual nature, not your corrupt nature. Whoever doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ doesn’t belong to him. 10 However, if Christ lives in you, your bodies are dead because of sin, but your spirits are alive because you have God’s approval. 11 Does the Spirit of the one who brought Jesus back to life live in you? Then the one who brought Christ back to life will also make your mortal bodies alive by his Spirit who lives in you.
12 So, brothers and sisters, we have no obligation to live the way our corrupt nature wants us to live. 13 If you live by your corrupt nature, you are going to die. But if you use your spiritual nature to put to death the evil activities of the body, you will live. 14 Certainly, all who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15 You haven’t received the spirit of slaves that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the spirit of God’s adopted children by which we call out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 If we are his children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with him.