Sunday, September 18, 2011
How God's Commandments protect innocent children
This precious little baby was murdered by abortion. Her mother brought her to a place so that she could have her killed. Since as many as 80% of the women who murder their babies profess to be a part of the visible church of Jesus Christ, must must wonder, did anyone tell this baby's mother "God says: 'You shall not murder"'? Would those in her church tell her that God forbids the shedding of innocent blood? Even if she went to a crisis pregnancy center, would she have heard the four words of the commandment: 'You shall not murder'?
God has given His Law out of His kindness and yet, so few professing Christians are willing to share them. RC Sproul explains the threefold use of the Law:
The first purpose of the Law is to be a mirror... [It] reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. ..The law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, “The Law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feeling our weakness under the Law, may learn to implore the help of grace.”...The Law acts as a severe schoolmaster who drives us to Christ.
A second purpose for the Law is the restraint of evil. The law, in and of itself, cannot change human hearts. It can, however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust. Calvin says this purpose is “by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.” The law allows for a limited measure of justice on this earth, until the last judgment is realized.
The third purpose of the Law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the Law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.
By studying or meditating on the law of God, we attend the school of righteousness. We learn what pleases God and what offends Him. The moral law that God reveals in Scripture is always binding upon us.
(Excerpted from: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul/threefold_law.html)
I want to focus on the second use of the Law: the restraint of evil. This is often referred to as the 'civil use' of the commandments. Who doesn't want to RESTRAIN EVIL? Christians, most of all, should want to promote God's glory and because of the love for our neighbor, protect them from the wicked. The Holy Spirit declares: "O you who love the LORD, hate evil! ...The fear of the LORD is to hate evil" (Psalm 97:10;Proverbs 8:13) If the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, what is preventing us from sharing the Law of God, which RESTRAINS EVIL?
David VanDrunen writes about the second use of the Law of God:
Of the three uses of the law, the so-called “civil” use may strike us as the least interesting theologically. It involves no inward transformation of the heart or Spirit-wrought righteousness that is pleasing in God’s sight. By this use, the Law restrains the sinful excesses of sinners through the fear of shame and punishment, promoting an external obedience to moral standards and a measure of peace in society...
Matched against her two sisters, it is true, the civil use of the law has less curb appeal. Yet a few moments’ reflection quickly reveals the folly of underestimating its importance...The civil use may not directly involve the bestowal of saving blessings in Christ, but God wonderfully gives it an indirect role in promoting gospel proclamation and saving sinners.
In this article, I explore this civil use of the law and God’s generosity in restraining unrighteousness in the world. To do so, I first discuss how the civil use operates in bringing sinners to know and (externally) obey God’s law...
How the Civil Use Works: Common Grace and Natural Law
The pedagogical and didactic uses of the law involve the special saving operation of the Holy Spirit in the elect. In the former, the Spirit brings sinners to a true appreciation of their sin and illumines them to see the gospel as the answer to their miserable plight. In the latter, the Spirit utilizes the law to direct the life of redeemed saints whom He is sanctifying. Things work differently with the civil use. The civil use involves the Spirit’s work of common grace.
Common grace refers to general, non-saving blessings that God gives to all sorts of people. Believers and unbelievers alike share them in “common.” Perhaps the most familiar biblical verse describing common grace is Matthew 5:45, which says that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” The civil use of the Law is a work of common grace because it does not involve God’s special saving work among His elect. In its civil use, the law checks and bridles sinners from giving full vent to their sinful desires. It should be apparent, then, that the civil use is primarily for unbelievers. Though they do not render pure obedience, stemming from true faith and a desire for God’s glory, they very often render external obedience in response to the restraining force of the law. But we also see the civil use of the law at work in believers. At times we Christians refrain from doing evil only because we are afraid of getting caught and suffering for it, instead of from faith-inspired love of the good. This too is a common grace of God, for it’s better to refrain from evil for the wrong reasons than to do it. But Romans 13:5, for example, shows us a better way: “one must be in subjection..., not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
The idea of natural law is also important for understanding how the civil use works. Natural law refers to God’s revelation of His moral will in the created order as apprehended through the human conscience (Rom. 1:18–32; 2:14–15). It is true that God’s law as revealed in Scripture can also serve the civil use. Some people, without coming to true faith, hear the Scriptures and try to conform to its commands, driven by a general fear of God’s anger, social pressure, or the like. But most non-Christians do not read the Bible or listen to sermons. Their knowledge of God’s law comes primarily — or entirely — from the natural law. The natural law is God’s Law, and through its testimony to His will and His coming judgment it often serves to restrain wickedness and to work much external good in society.
The creation and enforcement of human laws supplement this work of natural law. Human laws that forbid bad behavior and threaten to punish it by the point of the sword can serve to restrain wickedness in particularly effective ways. This too is the work of God’s common grace...
The civil use of the law is a gift of God that should not be despised. Through it God permits His people, to varying degrees, to live “a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Tim. 2:2). Even more importantly, through keeping order and protecting basic liberties, it allows the church to gather peacefully and to carry out its mission...
Thank God for this common blessing of the law’s civil use. .. pray for its continuation.
(Excerpted from Restraining Sin: The Civil Use of the Law
Let us be faithful to use the moral Law of God in promoting obedience to the command to sexual purity and to protect infants from murder by their own mothers. The second use of the Law RESTRAINS evil. May we be faithful to preach, teach and counsel with the commandments which prohibit fornication and murder, that sinners might fear the Lord's holy wrath, both now and at the Judgment. It is my prayer that God would be pleased to use the preaching, teaching and counseling of His 6th and 7th commandments to stigmatize sexual immorality and the murder of children by abortion and bring great shame to anyone who has committed, or helped someone else commit, these great evils.
'So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth;
it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.'
~ God (Isaiah 55:11)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away.
~ Jesus in Matthew 24:35
Let My teaching fall like rain and My Words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
~ Deuteronomy 32:2
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at My Word.
~ Isaiah 66:2
Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to My people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
~ Isaiah 58:1
Listen to Ray Comfort preach about the consequences of failure to use the Law in evangelism:
Posted by Paula at 4:41 PM