This is the most commonly used purpose of the law in American evangelicalism today. While I am not going to mince words here (I think at this point, you all know I love you enough to say what needs to be said), I don’t want to harp too hard on this one, not out of a desire of minimizing sin, but because I know that at different points in our lives, we will need the law and others we will need the gospel. Being an admin in this group, we get to see many posts that we don’t push through and we also get sent many anonymous posts that we end up privately counseling group members in because we are not sure that the group would be an edifying place for their concerns. If you follow the group pretty closely, you probably see a lot of posts from ladies who really struggle with assurance and really truly see the magnitude of their sin as an offense to God. As I said in yesterday’s post, I am largely writing to ladies like you. And when this is the condition of your heart, you need to be reminded of the gospel because you have such a high view of the law. 

That said, as I was thinking about today’s post, I started thinking about Ray Comfort’s evangelism tactics. I have definitely sung his praises in this group often and this is going to be no different. He is such a great evangelist and I am so thankful for his ministry. But the reason I was thinking of him is how well he lays out all 3 uses of the law and ties it back to the gospel in his evangelism. So, I think he can also be a really good model for us as we go out and share our faith with others. We obviously don’t have to follow it to the T and I think we can adapt it based on the interactions we have with each other, but notice that he never leaves this as “you don’t deserve salvation, the end.” Evangelism is always going to be incomplete if it doesn’t include the second part of Romans 6:23.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So what is the first use of the Law?

The Mirror. God is holy. I think this is one of the attributes that we will never truly be able to appreciate on this side of heaven. We tend to reduce God’s holiness to hymns, things we can celebrate and enjoy. But as my pastor preached this past Sunday, when people in the Bible encounter God’s holiness, they know that there is something “other” about him and they are often afraid of God. This is even evident in the interactions people have with Jesus. My pastor preached on Mark 4:35-5:43 this Sunday and reiterated that in each encounter people had with Jesus, their interaction was awe and bewilderment. “Who is this man that can calm the seas and the storm?” He is beyond any capacity we have for goodness.

One of the ways God reveals these things about himself to us is through the Law. When the 10 commandments were given to the people of Israel, he starts the giving of the law by reminding Israel of the covenantal relationship he has with them:

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord (YHWH) your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:1-2)

So we see this, this is who God is. He is holy and he gave us his standard of Holiness. In Same Old Song’s episode called “You Can’t Handle the Law,” Aaron points out that people often think that the 10 Commandments and the moral law are actually something attainable, but God takes it beyond the letter of the law and gets into the spirit of the law, to our intentions. This is why I originally brought up Ray Comfort. If you’ve seen any of his videos, you kind of get used to him talking about sin. “So what you’re saying is, you’re a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, a murderer, and an adulterer at heart and you have to face God on Judgement Day. If he judges you by the 10 commandments, are you going to be innocent or guilty?” Man, does that pack a punch. Sin is serious to God. It is not something we should take lightly or be comfortable with. When held up to that perfect standard, we all fall short. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We cannot escape that part of our nature. But the good news is that God is just and his justice was satisfied. In the words of “Before the Throne of God Above”:

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

The Reformed Catechisms & Confessions address the Law here:

  • The Section of the Heidelberg Catechism on “Guilt” falls under Q&A 1-11
  • Savoy Declaration 19, section 6
  • WCF Ch 19, section 6
  • WLC Q&A 149 & 152
  • 1689 LBCF 19, section 6

Resources on the Law: