Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our topic is the third use of the Law. We learn in the catechism that the Law is God's will for us to live as His children. This Law was fully revealed in the 10 Commandments. They constitute the moral law, the will of God for all human beings. The question for Jesus in our text for today was, What is the most important commandment?
"And Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like unto this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Of these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. "
We speak of the first three commandments as the first table of the Law because they deal with our relationship with God, and the others as the second table, because they deal with our relationship with our neighbor. In both cases, the fulfillment of the law is love, to love God and to love our neighbor.
We only find this perfect love in Jesus Christ and no one else. Save for Jesus Christ, no one can fulfill the Law, that is, love God and neighbor perfectly. Therefore, the Law does not save us. The fruit of obedience to the Law is to care for our neighbors in their needs, not only to avoid harm to our neighbors. The product of the love of God is to worship God in all aspects of our lives. In times of adversity, as in moments of joy, we must invoke the name of God in sincerity and faith.
No one can do that perfectly, because of the human nature that is the inheritance of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and their disobedience in the beginning. Without the light of Christ, we are enemies of God and we can only know God as an angry Judge, not as our loving Father. The Law, which is the will of God, accuses us and condemns us.
Many people think they are good by their own interpretation of the moral law. However, we each know in our hearts that we have not fulfilled the Law of God. Therefore, by nature we rebel against God.
But in Christ, we can know the love of God. The Father sent his Son to suffer and die in our places. Because of Christ, we are free from the condemnation of our sins, we are free to live as children of God. The light of Christ illuminates our hearts. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to show us the love of God and fill us with the love of God to share it with others.
What is the purpose of studying the Law? First, as a restraint on the acts of evildoers against the innocent in this world. God has given the civil authorities the right and the responsibility to punish the outwardly wicked and protect the public. Also, God allows evildoers to suffer the evil consequences of their deeds according to the order of creation. This is the first use of the Law and applies to all, believers as well as non-believers.
Second, the Law serves as a mirror, to show us our sins. The Holy Spirit is active in preaching the Law to touch the hearts and call all to repentance. To call non-believers to baptism and the Christian life, and believers to confession, absolution and the Lord's Supper. We are all sinners, we are believers too, and we must fight against the sinful nature until the physical death of the old Adam.
There is a third use of the Law, only for believers. When we receive the Holy Spirit, He transforms us in heart and mind. Now, to obey the Law of God is not a duty, it is our desire. It is our joy to worship God and serve our neighbor.
When the Bible speaks of love, it does not talk about love like movies and soap operas. Love is not a feeling, it is a way of life. Therefore, the Lord teaches us to love our enemies. As humans, we can not feel good about people who mistreat us. But as our response to the love that God has shown us, without merits on our part, we try to deal with others, all others, in the same way that God has treated us. The Law is our guide. As sinners, we have the Law as a mirror to show us our sin when we fall into sin. As children of God, justified by faith, we have the Law as our rule to live according to the desire sown in us by the Holy Spirit.
In this sense, the Law is the gift of God for us believers. With the help of the Spirit, we can live in hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.