Invariably, when I bring up “the law” among Christians, I get a very predictable response. In fact, it is so predictable that by now I could have amassed a sizeable fortune – had I been a betting man.
It’s interesting that I’ve never had anyone say to me, “Oh yes. The Bible says about the blessed man that ‘his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.'” (Psalm 1:2) Neither have I ever had anyone quote Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul”, much less Psalm 119:44 which says “So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever.”
Nor have I ever heard anyone share James’ perspective that ” . . he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Even more enlightening, nobody has ever referred to the Master in Matthew 5:19 where he says “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
No, what I always get is a quotation from Romans, or Galatians or Colossians or Ephesians. Interesting, isn’t it? All of these letters were written by the same man – Paul. So, on one side, we have Moses (obviously), David and all the other psalmists, all the major and minor prophets, Jesus and all of the apostles, who are pro law and on the other side – Paul, whom we are told, is anti law.
There’s a giant, pink elephant in our living room
Let’s think about that for a moment. We are expected to believe that one man, Paul, wrote letters that successfully over-turned everything written in Scripture before his time. In fact, we are expected to believe that Paul’s authority exceeds that of the 12 apostles who each spent about 20,000 hours seeing and hearing directly from the Master. Paul, of course, did not spend one minute with Jesus while he was physically on earth. But I consider that to be immaterial.
What trumps them all though, is that we must believe that Paul carries more authority than the Master himself!!
But wait! There IS one other, possible alternative to this scenario. The alternative possibility, is that we may somehow have misinterpreted what Paul wrote. That couldn’t be true, could it? If so, it could mean that all of these people are actually on the same side of this issue after all!
STOP!! Proceeding any further without deciding which of these is correct is intellectual suicide. They cannot both be correct. Do NOT ignore the pink elephant!!
We were warned
OK. So you insist on ignoring the pink elephant. (You wouldn’t need to read any further, if you didn’t.) As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the apostle Peter warned us about this. He said of Paul that “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Pet 3:16) Ignorant and unstable? Ouch! If believers were doing this while Peter and Paul were still alive, imagine how bad it is today!
There is another warning however, that comes directly from the law itself. It says “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (Deut 17:6 – NKJV) On the basis of one witness (Paul), many believers are attempting to put to death (in their own lives) the “perfect law of liberty” as James states it. Their attempt to kill the law on the basis of one witness, is a solid indictment that they don’t know or understand the very law they seek to kill.
Next, I will visit one of Paul’s letters that, on the surface, seems contradictory. For some of you, this will be a wild ride, so please tighten your seat belt.