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Catechism Class, H/C LD34A, Q92-93, The Law

03/07/2020

Catechism Class

Lord’s Day 34, Q92-93 – The Law of the Lord

Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

The catechist has been teaching us about how to live in such a way to please God who saved us by his grace (unmerited favour) alone, and has given us a new life in Christ.  We are to respond to his unconditional love for us by being grateful, and demonstrating that gratitude in our lives. In the obedient life we are not following our own notions and ideas, and nor are we counting as good works such things as we are made to do, either by earthly authorities, or by peer pressure, or cultural acceptability etc. 

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The catechist asks his question:

Q.92 What is the law of the LORD?

The Catechist answers by giving us a simple recitation of the Ten commandments as found in Exodus 20 – which we read at the beginning of this lesson.   And that brings us to a point where we must remind ourselves of the three uses or applications of the law

  1. The Law convicts us of our sin.  Galatians 3:24.  The law is our schoolmaster, placing a heavy burden of learning upon us, a burden we can never shake off, an obligation that we can never hope to fulfil.  Our only hope is to run to the only One who could pay our debt, indeed could pay for the sins of the whole world.  The Law makes us realise our hopelessness and drives us to Christ for relief.
  2. The Law sets the standard for our civil administration of just and the proper ordering of society.  Our common law is loosely based on the Ten Commandments.   What’s the alternative to common law based on the Decalogue?  Sharia Law?
  3. The Law regulates and governs our Christian lives.  It’s this application of the law that we are concerned with here.  Reformed churches place it as the third use of the Law, Lutherans give it more prominence, placing it as the first and primary use.  The Law of God is our supreme standard, it is how God expects us to live if we want to be obedient followers of Christ.   

Psalm 19 (Sung on the Podcast)

7 The perfect law of God
Revives the soul of man;
His statutes which are sure
Make wise the simple one.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right
And fill the heart with great delight.

God’s radiant commands
Shed light on what we see;
9 The fear of God is pure
And lasts eternally.
The standards of the LORD express
His perfect truth and righteousness.

10 Of far more worth than gold—
Than much pure gold—they are;
Than honey from the comb,
Than honey sweeter far.
11 They warn the servant of the LORD;
In keeping them is great reward.

(Sing Psalms – Free Church of Scotland)

Connor Quigley – The Psalms Sung

Just as there are three applications of the law, there are three aspects of the law.  The law (Torah) contains three different types of Law.

  1. The religious laws.  The laws that regulated the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, that regulated the worship in the temple, the feasts and fasts and the important ceremonies and rites.  These all pointed the people to Christ.
  2. The civic laws.  In Egypt the people had lived under the rule of the Egyptians, and it was a vicious and cruel rule.  When the Hebrews left Egypt at the Exodus, they needed to order their society. These laws also have been fulfilled in Christ.
  3. The moral law.  Now this is what we must concentrate on, and they are encompassed in the Ten Commandments.  Like the rest of the Torah they were all fulfilled in Christ, they were not abolished – they are still God’s standards – they are in fact REINFORCED IN THE NT, by Jesus and the apostles.  

The MORAL LAW is still the basis of the Christians code of ethics and behaviour, and it is, as we have seen summarised in the Ten Commandments.  You can see that it is the job of the Christian pastor preacher, teacher, the job of every believer too, to exercise discernment and properly understand the biblical text so as to determine which aspects of the law have been fulfilled and abolished by Christ and which are still applicable – and its one of the reasons why non-Christians ask stupid questions like, “How come you people can eat shellfish but can’t marry a person of the same sex…”. Well, because those are different aspects of the law.

Listen to the lesson as a PODCAST

So, what happens when we break the law?

  • The unbeliever breaks the law.  No matter how good we may be we break the lawn, and to break it in one point, is to break it in all.  James 2:10  So for the person who has never known the forgiveness of sins, the law condemns us before God, and we cannot even answer back.  Romans 3:19,  We are sinners, and the wages of sin is death, and we have no hope in eternity.
  • The believer breaks the law.  What happens when a Christian sins, breaking the law of God?
    • You DON’T look for loopholes or excuses!  You have sinned and you MUST admit it, for you will hate that sin.  When God demands our obedience we do not look for loopholes to find ways to do whatever we want to do.  We want to obey the Lord and it grieves us when our human imperfection prevents us from giving him the obedience we ought.
    • You acknowledge your transgressions before God and you repent. Psalm 51:1ff   

Now we come to another division of the law.  There are three applications of the law, three aspects of the law, but there are only two TABLES of the law, and it is to these two ’tables’ that our instructor turns next:-

93. Q. How are these commandments divided? 

A. Into two parts.  The first teaches us how to live in relation to God; the second, what duties we owe our neighbour.   

  • How we relate to God.  You shall have no other gods before Me, No images or idols, not taking God’s name in vain, Sabbath observance.
  • How we relate to our neighbours. Honour for our parents, no killing others, no adultery, no theft, no lying about people, no jealousy.

 Later Jesus summarised these two tables of the Law.  In Matthew 22:34-40 asked Him a question…   “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus summed up the two tables of the law in this simple formula, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

So, we have taken our first look at the Law, and learned a little about its structure and purpose.  In our next catechism class we will move to look at the first commandment,. And the Catechist’s question, “What does the LORD require in the first commandment?”

© BobMcEvoy, July 2020

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