Prominent theologian R. Albert Mohler, Jr., laid out seven purposes for God giving mankind the law, arguing that counter to popular belief, the law is an expression of God’s love.
Without the law, humans cannot know what is sin and we would “celebrate it and wallow in it and dive into the deep end of the pool,” said Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., at the 2011 Resolved Conference on Monday evening.
The law shows that God loves mankind because the commandments tell us what is good for us. It also is proof that God has not abandoned humans because of our sinfulness, preached the Southern Baptist leader to some 3,200 college-aged students.
“Folks, one of the most important ways that God shows His love for us is in showing sin to be sin,” stated Mohler during his hour-long sermon in Palm Springs, Calif. “We are not smart enough or wise enough; we are so sinful that we rebel against the truth.”
In contrast to modern-day complaints against the law – that it restrains and blocks people from enjoying their lives – Mohler pointed out that in the Old Testament, the Israelites were actually thankful to receive the law because it showed they were special (no one else had the law) and were loved by God (prohibited killing of children as sacrifice, among other rules).
The title of Mohler’s Monday night message was “So I really do need the law?” He contended that one cannot talk about the Gospel without the law – that they are two sides of a coin. Mohler began his address by noting that many churches do not have the correct balance between the law and Gospel, often emphasizing one side and dismissing the other.
For churches that only emphasize grace, they can “turn the Gospel into a license to sin,” said the respected theologian. Meanwhile, churches that stress the law, they can become legalistic and ignore the sacrifice of Christ’s death to free us from being slaves to the law.
Most of Mohler’s message was based on passages from Romans 5-7, where Apostle Paul makes the distinction between the law and the Gospel. Paul considered the law God’s gift because through the law he can know sin, and through understanding sin, Paul knows he needs a savior.
“If we do not know that we sin and if the law does not instruct us that we sin then we are unindicted in our own eyes and do not know our need for a savior,” said Mohler.
In listing God’s purpose in giving us the law, Mohler said the law is like an instruction manual on how the human race can flourish. Although people say the law is not needed and they can make up their own rules, only the Creator alone knows what is good for us and how humans can flourish, he maintained.
The law also helps restrain evil in a fallen world, so people, regardless of their faith, know what is right and wrong.
“You wouldn’t be planning to go out to dinner tonight if everyone in the restaurant was planning a way to take your wife, murder your children and steal your hamburger,” Mohler said half-jokingly. “Even though there are a lot of bad that goes on in the world, one of the most important ways God shows he loves us by the law is the law is given as a restraint for evil.”
7 Uses of the Law:
1) To show God loves us
2) Define and protect human flourishing
3) Restrain evil in fallen world
4) Show us our need for Christ
5) Instruct us in godliness
6) Show us the glory of God
7) Make us yearn for glory
Other speakers at the Resolve Conference, which concluded Monday, included: John MacArthur, head pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif.; C.J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries; Steve Lawson, pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala.; and Rick Holland, college pastor at Grace Community Church.