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October 21, 2020 12:01 am
One reason why many people shy away from studying God's law is because it requires us to examine our hearts before God. Today, R.C. Sproul reveals how the law alerts us to our desperate need for the gospel.
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Mirrors a handy tool when we need to fix an out of place here or straighten the time but what do we do if we need to identify something far more important. Stay with us Renewing Your Mind is next to his more difficult for us to see if we want an accurate reflection of our moral character different kind today. Dr. RC scroll shows that God's more is the only thing that reveals the sting of sin parcel was $20. He continues his series God's law and the question is we continue now with our study of the law of God, we are asking the question in what way and to what extent does the Old Testament moral law, particularly the 10 Commandments as an example bear upon the lives of New Testament Christians way of saying that at the time of the Reformation. Great attention was given to this question and the John Calvin for example, delineated three specific important uses of the law in the life of the Christian in our last session we began to give an exposition of those three uses the first one being the law as a mirror and we spent some time looking at the idea of where the law of God comes from in the first place.
You will recall that we discovered that the law is not something that God himself receives from some lawgiver outside of himself or from some higher standard, but the source of all law is God himself. Know what's the significance of their several significance that first of all when people are called to obey the law of God. What that means is that we are called to obey him. It's not simply that we are trying to conform to an abstract set of principles or to a disembodied list of rules but rather we are trying to live in relationship to our God. We are trying to please God were trying to do what God wants us to do and we also recall that part of the nature of God is that God has within himself supreme and absolute authority by which God and God alone has the authority to bind the consciences of his creatures. When we are concerned, for example with the science of ethics and we are all concerned about that we use words all the time like I or must force should and we load these terms frequently with a concept of moral obligation so you want to do this or you want to do that a legitimate response to that. If I say you want to do something is who sets why should I give me a reason for that.
My responsible will do everything that any person comes along and commands of me or must there be some ground basis of authority for somebody to impose an obligation upon another person who obligates you who has the right ultimately and absolutely to bind your conscience, I'm asking a question about authority and we notice that in the word authority there's contained another English word author while the one with the authority is the one who is the author in this case, the author of the universe and the author of law and the author of human life is the one who supremely has the right to impose obligations upon us. I've mentioned several times my response to the bumper sticker that you see frequently on the highways. God said it, I believe it, that settles it, and I've given my objection to that bumper sticker for introducing an element in it that ought not be there and that is the second element says God says it, I believe it, that settles it. Well, ladies and gentlemen of God says it, it's settled. Whether you believe it or not, because his authority is not a rule by referendum that requires your assent. We may believe that in terms of human government that government rests on the assent of the governed, but not in the cosmic scope of things God does not require our assent before he has the right to impose obligations because in God. He has that right sovereignly and absolutely and of God commands that something be done or that something should be done. The norm of norms and without norm has spoken and there is no higher court of appeal, we may choose to disobey that command. We may argue with the rightness of it and we may in that regard say I don't believe it. And so for me it's not settled, but cosmically it settled. I think there's a reason why when the Scriptures give graphic description of the last judgment. The final tribunal in the court of heaven were every human being is giving an account of himself or herself before God that the universal response of those who are being judged is silence because the final judgment is not a court of appeal that when God speaks and judges and judges according to his law and there is no argument to be given, and we are told and warned that he will find all of the world guilty before his law before his commandments. Now I'm laboring this point we may understand that the law to which we are called to obey is a law that comes from him.
It is his law is a law that defines a relationship. The relationship between create tour and creature between the sovereign and the dependent vassal between the king and his subjects not only visit his law in the sense that it comes from in but most significantly, it is a law that comes from his character and it reflects his own character. It reveals his character. It shows forth in this place. His righteousness, and therefore displays righteousness will notice that order is not that we first of all have a sense of righteousness and then say, oh God conforms to. First, there is God in his perfect character which is the standard of righteousness and it is the revelation of who he is but he realized that every time there's an ethical issue. People debate the pros and cons on both sides.
I can't think of any form of human behavior that somebody hasn't risen up to defend. We have all kinds of arguments and rationalizations to defend all kinds of disobedience in all kinds of evil, and we argue constantly about what is right and what is wrong. Well what Christianity is asserting when Judaism asserted was that there is an absolute standard that what is right and what is wrong is not a matter of relativity, but that that ultimate standard is the character of God, which character, then is manifested in his law now when I was a little boy I had to learn catechism for a short period of time to pass a test. Most of the words. The catechism lessons forgotten one of the simple questions in the catechism was this question what is sin or thought about that when we know it when we do it and we know it when it's done to us, but if we were forced to write a definition on a piece of paper, what would you say how would you define sin well in the catechism I learned the rote response that we gave was this sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God, we write that down. You might want to write it down. Sin is any one of conformity to that, archaic way to say things is not what we mean any want of conformity to something here, the want does not describe desire, but it means lack any lack or absence of conformity to or transgression of the law of God, whether some vitally important concepts in this. Sometimes we simplify this do well definition of sin by reducing it to the two kinds of sins that we elaborate sins of omission or sins of omission, a sin of omission is when we commit an action that transgresses the law of God. That means it goes across the border. It violates the boundary that steps over the line that God has drawn what he says you must not do this if God says thou shalt not, and we do it we have stepped over the line. We have violated the commandment we have transgressed his law by committing that act. A sin of omission is when God says you shall do such and such and we fail to do what we are required to do so on the one hand, we can sin actively by directly violating the negative prohibition or passively by failing to perform the positive requirement that God sets before us and so what were dealing with here is a lack of conformity to a standard we fail to live up to the standard we've seen that the New Testament word for sin are marked via means literally to miss the mark and usually the metaphor that is in view is that of a target where the archer fires his arrow at the target not only fails to hit the bull's-eye. He doesn't even hit the target at all. He's wide of the mark in the mark being the standard or the norm that we are supposed to reach and that's why the New Testament says all have sinned and fallen short again the metaphor of falling short, failing to reach failing to rise up to the level that is not only possible, or achievable, but is required. We miss the requirement so that sin is anyone of conformity to or transgression of the law of God will now here's the question. What if there weren't any loss, we see that in the catechetical response. Sin is defined for us in terms of a relationship to law. What if there weren't any loss on simple terms, the formula would be this no law, no sin, because you can't be guilty of sin, unless there is a law to transgress the apostle Paul says no without the law there is no knowledge of sin, and he labors in Romans the question of whether there was law in the world before Moses and how does Paul answer that he says yes because death reigned from Adam to Moses, and there would have been death had there not been sin, and so he argues that in addition to the tablets of stone that were delivered at Sinai.
There was also God's natural law that he revealed in nature and inscribed upon the hearts even of pagans so that everybody in this world has sunlight of nature some knowledge of the law of God, some awareness of what is right and what is wrong. The kind of thing that Immanuel Kant contemplated with his famous categorical imperative that no one is without some knowledge of the law of God and I sit and listen to people argue about all kinds of behavior. Sometimes it is once they hold your arguing as cleverly as you can for this mode of behavior but you know very well that's wrong you know adulteries you know that stealing you know that murder is wrong.
We can debate these things if you want but you and is the New Testament says not only do we approve of things we know are wicked, but we seek to persuade others of that same approval that only underscores the sinfulness of sin. All right the first function of the law, then, is as it manifests the character of the God whose law. It is, it is a mirror not simply a mirror that reveals the face of God, but it is a mirror for us while you use a mirror and said that we never see ourselves as others see us. That's because we don't have the perspective of being able to look at ourselves from without. The best shot we have is to look at a mirror which is to some degree distorted because it's a backwards image of who we are and we don't exactly look like our mirror reflection the way but we glance at the mirror to see that our hairdos okay now that there's no catch up on our tie, but we haven't left a stain of food on our cheeks. We look at that mirror out of our own vanity in our concern for how we look and the thing about the mirror that is so dreadful is that the mirror reveals to us are blemishes.
The stains can be observed now what Calvin is saying is we can have a looking glass to tell us whether there's soil on our faces. But how can we tell if there's a stain on our soul. There is no glass bright enough, reflective enough to penetrate to the core of our character if we want to see an accurate reflection of our moral character. We need a mirror far more powerful than the lenses or the glasses that we look at routinely and that mirror is the law of God, because in simple terms, beloved. What happens is I can deceive myself into thinking that I'm a righteously I can compare myself with other people and look at the laws of humanity and major myself and give myself a high school but once I look in the perfect mirror.
Once I examine the law of God, the state because I see the darkness of my sin when I see myself against the standard of perfect righteousness. Remember Isaiah arguably the most righteous man, relatively speaking.
Among the Jewish people. The paragon of virtue gets one slight glimpse of the un-baled splendor and glory of God, one simple glance at the absolute perfection of his righteousness and peace. Green's curse on himself. Woe is me.
He cries for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips as soon as he saw the purity of God. He at the same moment saw the filthiness of I say and Isaiah would have gone through his whole life diluted in his own evaluation of his righteousness of his personal excellency. Had he not looked in the mirror and looked at them and saw his own reflection.
We can only see ourselves as God sees us when we look at his law, such an important message that were focusing on how the Old Testament law applies in a New Testament context. This week here on Renewing Your Mind glad you joined us by Willie Webb and were so pleased to have the president of the Reformation Bible College, Dr. Steven Nichols with us here in the studio. Steve RC said that there is only one authority with the power to bind our conscience and that's the author of the law. But unfortunately, so many today say that God's word is an authoritative work or even true that's correctly and in fact we've we've got some statistics to bear that out. Folks listening to Renewing Your Mind know that one of the things that we've recently undertaken. Here is our biannual state of theology survey we started this back in 2014 and every two years. We administer the survey, the state of theology, and here we are in 2020, with the fourth time giving the survey in one of the questions on that survey.
Is this the Bible, like all sacred writings contains helpful accounts of ancient myths, but is not literally true. Well, when you look at the answer in the general US population to that question back in 20 1441% of Americans agreed with that statement. The Bible is not literally true, the answers to this question just steadily ticked up and so in 2020. It went from 41% up to 48% and so basically half of Americans do not think the Bible is literally true.
And of course we recognize the problems that that's going to cause and we see some of those problems. Still, even manifesting themselves, but the other issue here, Lee is the impact of that on American Christians and the reality is, were not immune from the culture that surrounds us, and sometimes those cultural views and attitudes conceived in and we can begin to reflect those same views of the culture around us. When it comes to that view of the Bible that our culture has well that's a deadly view of the reality is we follow an ancient book living here in this modern world of 2020 we are called to follow an ancient book and God's law is not to be adjusted not to be negotiated is not to be trifled with. And it's certainly not to be compromised.
God's law stands and it stands is authoritative and it stands is true and we as Christians need to recognize that and I think especially in this day we need to recognize that all the more. Thank you Dr. Nichols for that in there. That's exactly why we think of this series is a critical study for all believers.
So often we struggle to understand the purpose of God's moral law and our supposed to respond to it. So contact us today with a donation of any amount and we will send you this 15 part series on five CDs, along with Dr. RC Sproul's booklet. How does God's law applied to me.
You can give your gift when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org or when you call us at 804 354-3430. Certainly a lack of understanding of God's law can hinder our growth as Christians. And with that in mind, let's hear a final thought from RC I don't know about you, and I don't always enjoy looking in mirrors. I remember the first time I joined Weight Watchers and routine question that was asked by the teacher for new members is what brought you here what caused you to decide to come and enroll in this class and he would pass out drinking straws, soda straws, and we were to use the straw to symbolize the straw that broke the camels back. What was the last straw that drove you to come in here when asked me that I said because I got tired of averting my eyes from the glass in front of stores as I would walk past and I could see the reflection of my stomach. As such, I got so tired of saying that an artificially sucking in my stomach because of what I was saying in the mirror got me there.
That time and if you're looking at me now you're wondering why I don't look in the mirror and get over there again, but the point is, I found that I didn't even want to look in the mirror as I didn't like what I saw. I wonder if that's why we avoid the love God because we don't want to look we need to look in the because what we see in the mirror drives us to the gospel alerts us to our desperate need for the gospel. The mirror of the law of God. Beloved is bad news and until we look and it will never understand the goodness of the goodness over the past few days.
Dr. scrolled his examine how to relate to God's law and I hope you'll join us tomorrow and as he explains her obligation to man's law and will address some timely issues like civil disobedience, that's beginning Thursday here on Renewing Your Mind