|Vol. 14 No. 4 April 2012||
T. Pierce Brown (deceased)
I have been amazed, discomfited, disturbed, chagrined and even dismayed at times when I read articles or hear discussion that implies 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. Romans 3:31) 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! For preachers in 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. Yet, 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 in Texas, at 75 mph. The new law was a bondage to me. It restricted my freedom, and I feel sure that 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, regardless of what the law allowed!
This, surely, is a part of what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 1:9, when he wrote, “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! 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! The reason is simple: I would not do them if there were no laws prohibiting those acts.
Do you not see the wonderful joy of this kind of freedom in Christ? In general, 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” (John 8:32)! 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 you feel no restriction because of them.
It is slightly similar to the idea that the laws of aerodynamics free us, in a sense, from the 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 that 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 beat her. You do not refrain from getting drunk because it is against the law. You obey the laws because they are written on your heart as you have developed the mind of Christ.
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 that 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. 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! May we never teach in such a fashion that someone thinks that because we are under grace, we no longer have an obligation to obey the law of Christ!
[Editor's Note: The insight shown in the above article and the ever timeliness of its instruction for faithful and wayward leaning Christians is unsurpassed! I hope that each reader finds himself or herself as edified from reading and digesting it as was when I read it. Some of the most personally instructive articles I have ever read have been at the pen of brother T. Pierce Brown. Being dead, yet he continues to speak to me! ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]