BONDAGE OF THE LAW?

T. PIERCE BROWN

I have been amazed, discomfited, disturbed, chagrined and even dismayed at times when I read articles or hear discussions that imply that the grace of God somehow frees us from law or from the necessity of obeying law. As we have tried to point out many times, it establishes law (Cf. Romans3:31) for without law one would not know how to accept that grace. It is almost impossible to conceive of one who cared about God at all becoming enmeshed in the blinding folds of denominationalism to the extent that one would deny the importance of obeying the commands of God! And for members of the body of Christ to do it staggers the imagination.

In my efforts to try to discover how brethren can get that way (for my natural tendency is to try to justify or excuse my brethren rather than criticize or condemn), I came across this thought: Are some who are teaching freedom from law really trying to say “freedom from the bondage of the law?”

I would like to affirm that, in a very marvelous sense, we are, in Christ, freed from bondage of law. But that sense needs to be explained or understood in the light of all God says about it, or one may, even there, fall into egregious error.

An illustration or two may help to clarify how we are, in a sense, freed from bondage of law. Back before the speed limit was set at 55 MPH, I was accustomed to driving, especially inTexas, at 75 MPH. The new law was a bondage to me. It restricted my freedom, and I occasionally broke it. However, it was no bondage to my wife, for she seemed to have an internal speedometer that kept her under 55, no matter if there was a law to that effect!

This, surely, is a part of what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 1:9, when he says, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient–.” For example, I think there is a law against child abuse, or maybe against wife beating. I feel sure there is one against selling alcohol to minors. But none of them ever had any effect on me of which I am aware! Note: I am NOT freed from them in the sense that I am not amenable to them, but I AM freed from the bondage to them, in the sense that they do not affect my actions, or freedom! That is, I sell exactly the same amount of alcohol to minors and beat my wife exactly the same amount as I would if there were no law related to those things.

Do you not see the wonderful joy of this kind of freedom in Christ? When one gets the mind of Christ, he is freed from the bondage of thousands of rules and regulations! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John8:32)! Notice again: You are not free from them in the sense that you are free to disobey them. You are freed from the bondage of them, in the sense that they do not restrict you.

It is a slightly similar to the idea that the laws of aerodynamics free us, in a sense, from bondage to the law of gravity! The law of gravity would pull the airplane to the ground. But a “higher” law overcomes that pull and makes it ascend!

When you have become a new creature in Christ and operate under higher laws — laws which are a part of the divine nature of which you partake (2 Peter 1:4) — you are delivered from the sense of bondage and restrictions of the laws under which you formerly may have operated. You do not refrain from beating your wife because the law says not to. You do not refrain from getting drunk because it is against the law, etc.

Modernists are ALMOST right when they say, “If you operate under the law of love, you are free from any other law.” It is true that if a wife loves her husband, she is free, in a special sense, from a law which might say, “Thou shalt not poison thy husband,” but she still needs instruction (law) about whether he likes his eggs poached or scrambled before she can demonstrate that love properly! Most denominational groups are ALMOST right on many things, but a person who is jumping a 20-foot ravine ALMOST made it with a 19-foot jump. That did not help him. Agrippa may have been ALMOST persuaded to be a Christian (Acts 26:28), but that is not good enough.

Being delivered from the BONDAGE to a law in the sense that we do not feel any restrictive force of it, as we are operating under a higher law, is not the same as being free from LAW! Let us make distinctions when there is a difference. We are never free to disregard God’s law, whether we feel it is a form of bondage. We are bondservants to Christ.

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