devotional

05JAN
2020

LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 171

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

 

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.

 

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Chapter 19. “Of the Law of God.” Paragraph 6b: “…together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin…”

 

A short section I’ve selected here, but one packed with insights. We’re still talking about the Law in this chapter of the confession. I’ve always seen the Ten Commandments of the Law as an escort to the widest part of the Grand Canyon. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but I’ve gone a few times. It’s immense. Maybe that’s why this analogy has helped me so much. The Law escorted me to the widest section of it and told me to jump across. In that moment I realize that this must be some kind of a parable or something. Maybe a test? And yes, it is. It’s a Gospel-diagnostic to this day. God can’t really expect such a jump to end successfully. The canyon represents naturally the distance that’s always existed between fallen men and holy God, and the futility of human strength to jump it. Because of my escort I see how all the world’s religions foolishly tell me that I can make it. They all (outside of Christ) show me how to stretch before the jump. How to maximize distance by arms and torso. How to convert speed to distance in my stride as I approach the edge and how to stick the “bless (with a hiss) ed” landing they say they’ll make one day too when they jump. With sometimes loving wisdoms in pillars, popes, paths and piths they all bid me only to my death. They’re all Satan talking. Liars. God has saved me. Because this Law escort is in the Holy Spirit, I see another brilliant point to the challenge—to admit the obvious impossibility of self. Jesus only then became clear. As I looked out across the canyon, with my escort protecting me from the loving pushers who all believe in me and want me to as well, I see the spiritual absurdity of even beginning to stretch. In that I admit to my escort it’s not possible I’m led to the bridge that Christ (the Godman) built that spans the distance. God, with the Law as a guide, and my conscience bearing its witness, makes the point clear. The Cross takes the leap away entirely. What a sturdy bridge! And what a wise master builder it has. Millions have crossed it safely. The Law, as one of God’s merciful escorts, shows me that “clearer sight” of the need I have of Christ at the Grand Canyon of his righteousness.

There’s a little discussed other aspect of the Law that I find is perhaps its main purpose. Yes, it tells me of sin. Yes, it shows me my need of a Savior. Yes, it reflects God’s own character. All of this. Amen. But I think above it all, it shows me the excellence of Jesus. He was perfect according to the Law. Sinless. The lamb without blemish. Holy. Righteous. Spotless. Impeccable and impeccably so in fact. The Law is literally a crown on his only begotten head. Yes, he walked among us, but he was not entirely like us. He became sin in God’s judgment for a time, but not in his heart. Nothing ever defiled him. The Law, in its every detail, only underscores his own perfections. The more I see his obedience to it, the more I can see how he rightly built the bridge across.

And lastly here, of course the Law constrains my behavior. For example, Jesus says to us, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28. This is as true of a woman as to a man. Pornography is a gross evil in the lives of most men (typically) reading this. Even of those who want to follow Jesus, but yet Jesus says what he says here. If you’re playing with God, this may not be a real problem for you. If you’re serious about your love for God, then you know what effect these words have on your soul every time you read them. They demand your restraint. And that’s hard. It’s called “war.” It’s one thing back in the days these words were written. Physical passions were in some ways far less restrained and done more easily in secret then, but they were still for many somewhat easier to avoid. This teaching would demand even back then that we not go to certain places. It’d demand we avoid any outright committal of sexual sin and that we avoid the places it’d be more likely to be seen, sure. Today, it gets another level of hard because it’s right in our living rooms. So it becomes even more of a heart issue in that right now as I’m typing this here on my computer with all my family downstairs I could go take my fill of filth online if I had no God, or no maturity. Or, if I presumed on his grace (which is perhaps even more dangerous). Pornography removes intimacy by taking the other person out of the equation and perverts God’s gift of sex to man into a pathetic child’s toy. It’s wicked and violates Jesus’ given commandment. We are not to look with lust. Repent if that’s you. Get angry at your sin in light of such a gracious Savior who opposes what kills either your soul or your joy. The Law, just like Jesus’ later teachings, restrains and guides our behavior in many ways.

The Law always functioned this way. The message of it was always ultimately the heart of the hearer. Always to love God from it. Whoever loves God, whenever, was always made by the Law to yearn for a full expression of that love without restraint. The Law puts us outside the hall in the cold. Its point is to show us we’re outside and naked. The blessing of the obedient, however, is that this is only for a time. Before the frostbite sets in we’re brought into the warm banquet hall of the Gospel and seated near the head table.

The Law will always be of these uses in our life if we’re built up in Scripture.

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