Works and the Law

No faith without works, no works without Law.

The Law of God Miscellanies (3)

“You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I amthe LORD your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 18.4, 5

Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Romans 7.12

Reflect and discuss.
1.  Christians have been redeemed and saved for good works (Eph. 2.8-10). Which good works? How can we know which works are truly good?

2.  How would you explain the relationship between the Law of God and love?

Think about it.
That the Law of God prescribes specific works which are pleasing to God is beyond doubt. He would not command them if they were not according to His pleasure and will (1 Jn. 3.22). 

Taken together the works of the Law outline the path of holiness, righteousness (justice), and goodness (Rom. 7.12), thus describing the kind of people God calls us to be, the type of works we should do, and the effect these works can have on ourselves and our neighbors. 

The works of God’s Law direct us in the ways of love for God and neighbors. We increase in holiness by engaging God in His glory, revealed to us in His Law (and in all His Word, 2 Cor. 3.12-18). Increasing in holiness makes us want to do the works of the Law so that justice and love come forth in all we do, as justice and love were in Jesus (1 Jn. 2.1-6; 3.7). 

The result of walking the path of God’s Law is that grace flows through us, by the power of the Spirit (Jn. 7.37-39), so that we realize the promised blessings of our salvation. Thus, the good works which the Law commands must not be understood as unto salvation, as though doing them would save us. Rather, they are intended for the sake of salvation, so that we might know more of the good blessings of God which are contained in our salvation and realized as we work out – not for– our salvation in obedience to God’s Word and in the power of His Spirit (Phil. 2.12, 13). 

True faith, therefore, does not despise the Law, whether by denial or neglect. True faith delights in the Law, for it shows the way of salvation, the way to the benefits and blessings of the salvation we have received as a free gift of God’s grace.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Since the Law is good, and Christians are called to do good works, shouldn’t we devote ourselves more to reading, studying, and practicing the works of God’s Law? How does Psalm 1 counsel us in this regard?

2.  Some might say that we don’t need the Law, we only need to follow the Spirit of God to do the good works He commands. How does Paul answer that claim in Romans 8.5-9?

3.  James says we should keep in mind that a day is coming when God will judge our works according to His Law (Jms. 2.8-13). How does he counsel us to prepare for that day?

“To fail in one point is to lack perfect love, for this is the source of all good deeds. If something in the head is not right, the rest of the body suffers as a result. The entire purpose and plan of God is designed to lead to perfect love. That is the meaning of the commandments such as ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not kill’ and so on.” Andreas (7thcentury).

Pray Psalm 40.1-8.

Thank the Lord for His many blessings, and seek His help so that you begin increasingly to delight in His Law and hide it securely in your heart.

Psalm 40.1-8 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry, 
Lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.

Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare?  None with You can e’er compare.

Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord. 
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.

T. M. Moore

For more insight to the Law of God and its role in the life of faith, order the book The Ground for Christian Ethicsby clicking here

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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