Sunday: Paul and the Law
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Paul, it has been said, was the true founder of Christianity. That is wrong, of course. Though Paul contributed much to our theological understanding of Christian doctrine, including 13 of the 27 New Testament books, practically all the teachings in his writings can be found elsewhere in Scripture. The main reason why some claim that Paul started a new religion is the misconception over his teaching about law and grace.

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Look at the following texts: Rom. 3:28; Rom 6:14; Rom 7:4; and Gal. 3:24-25. From a first glance, why isn’t it hard to see why some think that these verses nullify the law?

Read in isolation, these texts definitely give the impression that the law is no longer relevant for the Christian. However, all these verses belong to a broader context that we must see in order to understand what Paul is truly saying.

Examine the passages in which each of the above texts occurs, paying special attention to Romans 3:31, Rom 6:15, Rom 7:7-12, and Galatians 3:21. How do these verses, as well as the context as a whole, help us to better understand Paul’s point about the law?

For those who don’t understand the concept of justification by faith, Paul may seem to be contradicting himself. In the same breath he claims that the Christian is not under the law; yet, the same Christian is obligated to keep the law. The problem is solved when we remember that God demands righteousness from those who claim to be in relationship with Him. The standard of righteousness is His law. However, when people measure up against His law, they fall short and are therefore condemned by the law. If the law were the means to salvation, then none would have any hope of eternal life. The hope of the Christian is not found in the law but in Jesus Christ, who not only kept the law perfectly but through God’s miraculous power allows believers to share in His righteousness (Rom. 8:3-4). The Christian can now serve the law of God with a free conscience because Christ has taken away the law’s condemnation (Rom. 7:25-8:2). The grace that comes through Christ does not release us from the law but rather compels us to obey it.

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Sunday: Paul and the Law — 6 Comments

  1. I would still like to call Paul the founder of Adventism. After all he was looking forward to Christ return in his life time. I look at Paul as my guro. I find no harm in imitating Paul. I do believe Paul spent 3 years learning from the Holy Spirit before he went into the ministry. It was not untill the 1st quarter of the 4th century that Christians for the most part totally gave up on the fourth commandment. So Paul in his life time never experienced apostity from the Seventh day Sabbath, least on larg scale. Hebrews 4 my have been a concern about the Hebrews falling short temporally. However theologians my have a different take on Hebrews 4
    Yes indeed our hope as Christians is found in Christ, who said, "I am not come to distroy the law but to fulfill it."
    In our contact with people of other faiths, our best is to live grace, grace is all about God's charcter.

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  2. Quoted from lesson: "In the same breath he [Paul] claims that the Christian is not under the law; yet, the same Christian is obligated to keep the law."

    Among the remnant there is a sense that some have a distaste for terms like obligations, demands, requirements, duty, etc. It is as if these somehow diminish love. Yet love which has no room for obligations or duty is imperfect. Love respects authority and is ready and willing to give what is due, especially to the Supreme Potentate and Highest Authority, even when it is inconvenient or unappealing.

    Although worship (the context of the first four commandments) should flow from love it is not automatic. We love fellow humans, and perhaps angels, but do not worship them. Worship is a decision we make based on principles of love, not consultation with feelings.

    Whether it is Sabbath keeping or something else sometimes we do not particularly enjoy or feel like doing what God requires. It is then our sense of obligation, which is based in love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), kicks in, and we honor the Creator until we become more like Him and have no difficulty with His commands.

    The lesson author rightly concludes, "The grace that comes through Christ does not release us from the law but rather compels us to obey it."

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    • Yes Hugh, well said. Love doesn't come automatically. The love we must have for many is something we must work at. Many of us need to learn how to love, starting with our willingness to learn. Asking God for the promised wisdom would be a good next step and the law of Ten Commandments is the mere base upon which our love is built.
      For example, Paul's admonition to love our wives as Christ loved the church isn't easy to find in the law, yet according to Paul love fulfils the law. So our focus ought not be the law, for it insufficient for our needs, so Paul is correct when he says we should use the law lawfully, that is to lead us to Christ wherein we find the love we need to fulfil it.

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  3. paul revealed that law cant give us salvation but it testfies our faith through Jesus christ..

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  4. To those who love God, they will cherish and enjoy keeping his commandments. It is imposible to keep His law without his love. Let us love him first and then we will be able to keep his law. May God help us to keep His law and enjoy staying within his love.

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