Here's my somewhat lengthy reply to someone who asked me about those who say that I'm teaching "it's OK to sin" when I say things like I did in a recent post about the law being done away with. He also mentioned that things like adultery and murder are still wrong, and he asked if I agree that the 'laws' haven't been done away with, but the 'Covenant of Law' has. Here's my response:
I think you bring up something that's important, in that we don't want to come across as saying that sin is ok or that it's ok to sin. There can be a fine line between teaching freedom from the law and a person thinking that what's being said is that it's ok to sin.
Something even bigger to me, though, is that it's a fact that through the law, sin increased. Through the law, sinful passions are aroused. Through the law, sin took opportunity and produced "all manner of evil desire." "The strength of sin is the law." The same Bible through which I preach freedom from the law also says all of these things. The same people who might think I'm saying it's ok to sin are actually preaching the very thing that gives sin its strength. They are doing it ignorantly. I am preaching freedom from the law as Paul taught it (or as God has called me to do it, using the words of the New Testament epistles).
So I don't personally have a problem with worrying about whether or not people will think I'm saying it's ok to sin. What I teach - freedom from the law, along with the Spirit of the living God in us - is the very thing through which true righteousness comes, and freedom from sin. Some people might not 'get' it, but it's just the truth. They'll keep on being the ones who preach the thing that gives sin its strength and I'll keep on preaching the very thing through which we are sanctified, justified and made righteous, and through which we have died to sin.
Regarding the law itself, I don't differentiate between "the laws" and "the covenant of law." The 613 laws are what makes up "the law." The law is a covenant between God and Israel. They were told to follow it, and they said they would follow it. But they never did. We Gentiles were never given the law. We had our "conscience" (Romans 2), and we are "without excuse" because what may be known of God and His ways is clearly evident to us through His creation (Romans 1). Murder isn't wrong because the law says it's wrong. Adultery isn't wrong because the law says it's wrong. People instinctively know what is right and what is wrong, whether they have the law or not. The problem, as Romans 1 puts it, is that they know what may be know about God, but they "suppress the truth" in unrighteousness.
The law never helped anyone do what is right or avoid what is wrong. Again, it actually only strengthened sin and caused sin to abound. But "where sin abounded... grace abounded all the more." And grace is the very thing that teaches us to say no to unrighteousness and ungodliness.
2 Cor 3 says the law was the "ministry of death" and the "ministry of condemnation." Colossians 2 says that the law was "against us" and "contrary to us." The same passage goes on to say that the law was then "wiped out," "taken out of the way" and "nailed to the cross." Ephesians 2 says that the law was "abolished in His (Jesus') flesh."
The law only produced guilt, condemnation, bondage, death, and increased sin. It was taken out of the way so that we could have a "new and living way." We don't need the law to know that murder is wrong or that adultery is wrong or that coveting is wrong. Paul said that he wouldn't have known coveting until the law said, "You shall not covet." But it didn't actually stop him from coveting. It only produced all the more coveting! Thank God He took it out of the way and nailed it to the cross!
We now have something entirely different, that has absolutely nothing to do with an ineffective list of rules/laws regarding what is right and what is wrong. We have the Holy Spirit of God living in us. Paul said he had to die to the law in order to "bear fruit unto God." Through the law he bore "fruit unto death." Through Christ, completely apart from the law, he now bears fruit unto God. That's the way it is!
So I'll put up with people misunderstanding me, because I'm actually preaching the very thing that enables people to bear fruit unto God. It's the fruit of the Spirit. It's His fruit that He produces in us. We have the privilege of bearing it (not producing it). It's His work in us, completely apart from the law.
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