Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fourth Use of the Law

Out of the Reformational tradition we encounter the idea of the Three Uses of the Law. They are:

1. Civil - The Law is given to restrain sin in community and society, Christian and otherwise.

2. Didactic - The Law tells us what to do. (The imperatives.)

3. Pedagogical - The Law reveals and rebukes our sin as we see the high standard and our inability to measure up to it.

But if Christ is the end of the Law of righteousness (Rom. 10:4), perhaps there is a fourth "use" as well:

4. Reflective - The Law reveals a glimpse of the perfect righteousness of Christ.

As we stagger under the lengthy, weighty mass of Scriptural imperatives, breathlessly gasping our own depravity, let us also find the answer to the question "How perfect is Jesus' righteousness imputed to us?" with "This perfect." (And more perfect still.)


Noah said...

I've had the same thought too, but you've explained it much better than I could think it, so thank you!

Gabe said...

I've gotten into a number of discussions on this topic and I have yet to be fully satisfied with even my own position concerning the law.

Even today I spent a good deal of time reading some old writing and finding out just how and where I stand.

I will confess to much confusion and consternation concerning my relationship to the Law, my obligations to it and how I can fully come to bear with it in terms of sanctification.

dave bish said...

Strikes me this fourth use probably ought to be the dominant one, far better than the other three... which feel like false divides at best, and might border on Galatian heresy at worse.

Law is wonderful scripture. It shows me the gospel, it sets the grammar of the gospel, it shows me what kings and priests will be, it shows me how to approach the God in the true tabernacle, it shows me that the Triune God wants to have relationship with us - and that this will centre upon the Son.

How can we read Genesis and not long for the seed to come? How can we read Exodus and not believe in the saving Son, and long to eat with him? How can we read Leviticus and not cry 'better is one day...' - it's gospel wake-up juice.