The first use of the Law

We’ve talked about the second use of the Law (which convicts us of our sin and drives us to the Gospel) and the third use of the Law (its role in the Christian life).   But we have perhaps neglected the first use of the Law, the civil use, which restrains external evil so as to make life in society possible.   The civil use doesn’t save anyone, and it isn’t even religious as such, applying to all people whether they are believers or not.  But the civil use would seem to govern the extent and limits of Christian political involvement.

We ARE to promote civil righteousness in the social order–opposing abortion, working for justice, fighting corruption, protecting families, etc., etc.  That does NOT mean we are trying to impose our religion on anyone, much less trying to seize power to bring on a Christian utopia.   It does NOT politicize the church.  In the civil arena, we battle abortion in an effort to restrain our sinful impulse to kill our own children; in the church, though, we bring forgiveness to women and doctors who have committed abortion.  Furthermore, believing in the first use of the Law does NOT mean just going along with whatever happens in the civil order, as some have mistakenly interpreted the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.  Those who believe in no morality at all are not following the first use.  The first use of the Law would seem to govern issues such as gay marriage, legalized euthanasia, and other controversial issues in the public square.

This is my understanding of the first use of the Law.  Do I have it right?  Am I missing anything?   How else could this doctrine be applied?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also argue that the First Use is not confined strictly to the use of government force, but that it encompasses the day-to-day social norms and rules that we follow in our homes with our families, at our work in our relationships with employers and employees, and in the civic realm where we interact with our neighbors as neighbors in our local churches (thinking here of maintaining the building, voter’s meetings and such), businesses (as patrons), in the Rotary or Lion’s or a neighborhood watch group, the PTA, or a Second Harvest food bank. For example, in many parts of the country, people will stop at a 4-Way stop sign, even when there are clearly no other vehicles around. Why? The First Use, but in this case not from fear of a ticket, but from a habit of politeness and letting others take their turn. We stop at stop signs out of concern for our fellow man, and we make this a daily habit. If we violate this norm, we may not pay any penalty, but we might – maybe an accident, or maybe a ticket. But, in the case of the first incident, the First Use is enforced by the insurance companies or the other owner of the car, who raise your rates, deny you coverage, and demand payment for damages. In most cases, we comply, and not out of fear that the government will come after us or that we will be dragged into court. In the second instance, the state does intervene and hands out punishment. Let’s face it – if adherence to the First Use was entirely, or even mostly, contingent upon the state to enforce, the First Use would be Useless.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also argue that the First Use is not confined strictly to the use of government force, but that it encompasses the day-to-day social norms and rules that we follow in our homes with our families, at our work in our relationships with employers and employees, and in the civic realm where we interact with our neighbors as neighbors in our local churches (thinking here of maintaining the building, voter’s meetings and such), businesses (as patrons), in the Rotary or Lion’s or a neighborhood watch group, the PTA, or a Second Harvest food bank. For example, in many parts of the country, people will stop at a 4-Way stop sign, even when there are clearly no other vehicles around. Why? The First Use, but in this case not from fear of a ticket, but from a habit of politeness and letting others take their turn. We stop at stop signs out of concern for our fellow man, and we make this a daily habit. If we violate this norm, we may not pay any penalty, but we might – maybe an accident, or maybe a ticket. But, in the case of the first incident, the First Use is enforced by the insurance companies or the other owner of the car, who raise your rates, deny you coverage, and demand payment for damages. In most cases, we comply, and not out of fear that the government will come after us or that we will be dragged into court. In the second instance, the state does intervene and hands out punishment. Let’s face it – if adherence to the First Use was entirely, or even mostly, contingent upon the state to enforce, the First Use would be Useless.

  • Dan Kempin

    The first use is that working of the law that compels us to obey out of fear. This would certainly apply to civil laws, but it is by no means limited to them.

    Also, the “three uses” of the law are not three different things or three different types of law. They are the three differing ways in which the ONE law works.

  • Dan Kempin

    The first use is that working of the law that compels us to obey out of fear. This would certainly apply to civil laws, but it is by no means limited to them.

    Also, the “three uses” of the law are not three different things or three different types of law. They are the three differing ways in which the ONE law works.

  • fws

    First:
    The Law ALWAYS accuses. It always kills. The word “mortification” says this. Mortification is latinate for “deathing.” Mortification is “the Law in action”, just as sanctification is “the Gospel in action.”

    So Luther says: “Life is Mortification.”

    This is because ALL we can see and do in our bodies that is Fatherly Goodness and Mercy is driven and extorted out of us by the Law.

    The ONLY part of sanctification that we can see is the New Man taking up the killing Sword of the Holy Spirit, the Law, in order to mortify his Old Adam. This is Saint Paul telling us this looks like the discipline athletes use to train. This is NO different than the discipline of the Law any morally scrupulous atheist also does.

    Second:
    As Dan points out there is ony one Law. This Law is Divinely written and FULLY revealed in the reason of ALL men, even those without Bibles . (Rom 2:15) Reason agrees with the Decalog precisely because it is the SAME Law (Apology art IV).

    Third: Dr Veith you listed the Law as Mortification or Virtue. Virtue is self restraint and to do no harm. But virtue that does not produce Goodness and Mercy for others is useless and always the sacrifice of idolatry.

    If there is not courtroom style, rational evidence that Goodness and Mercy are being provided to someone, then whatever is being done is NOT God’s Will. Doing something just to obey God without that obedience being about the necessity of this doing being the production of Goodness and Mercy to others is always , always the sacrifice of Idolatry.

    Scripture for this: “The Law was made for Man (to serve man) and not man for the Law (to serve God) ” and Christ explains this as meaning “God would rather have Mercy than Sacrifice.”

  • fws

    First:
    The Law ALWAYS accuses. It always kills. The word “mortification” says this. Mortification is latinate for “deathing.” Mortification is “the Law in action”, just as sanctification is “the Gospel in action.”

    So Luther says: “Life is Mortification.”

    This is because ALL we can see and do in our bodies that is Fatherly Goodness and Mercy is driven and extorted out of us by the Law.

    The ONLY part of sanctification that we can see is the New Man taking up the killing Sword of the Holy Spirit, the Law, in order to mortify his Old Adam. This is Saint Paul telling us this looks like the discipline athletes use to train. This is NO different than the discipline of the Law any morally scrupulous atheist also does.

    Second:
    As Dan points out there is ony one Law. This Law is Divinely written and FULLY revealed in the reason of ALL men, even those without Bibles . (Rom 2:15) Reason agrees with the Decalog precisely because it is the SAME Law (Apology art IV).

    Third: Dr Veith you listed the Law as Mortification or Virtue. Virtue is self restraint and to do no harm. But virtue that does not produce Goodness and Mercy for others is useless and always the sacrifice of idolatry.

    If there is not courtroom style, rational evidence that Goodness and Mercy are being provided to someone, then whatever is being done is NOT God’s Will. Doing something just to obey God without that obedience being about the necessity of this doing being the production of Goodness and Mercy to others is always , always the sacrifice of Idolatry.

    Scripture for this: “The Law was made for Man (to serve man) and not man for the Law (to serve God) ” and Christ explains this as meaning “God would rather have Mercy than Sacrifice.”

  • Lou

    Gene, I do agree with the First Use of the Law, as you’re using it. God’s Law is good and holy and beneficial for all of His creatures.

    I suppose, where I get concerned is with how we are to apply that use of the Law and punishment for breaking the Law in the public/civil sphere. Some hold to a strict Mosaic application even our modern governments, while traditionally the reformers (I include Augustine, Luther and Calvin here) have always understood that the civil consequences for disobedience of the Law are dependent upon place and time and situation. In other words, the Law given in the Pentateuch, can only be directly applied to the specific nation of ancient Israel. To try to do otherwise would go against the Lord’s intent and would contradict the teaching of the New Testament.

  • Lou

    Gene, I do agree with the First Use of the Law, as you’re using it. God’s Law is good and holy and beneficial for all of His creatures.

    I suppose, where I get concerned is with how we are to apply that use of the Law and punishment for breaking the Law in the public/civil sphere. Some hold to a strict Mosaic application even our modern governments, while traditionally the reformers (I include Augustine, Luther and Calvin here) have always understood that the civil consequences for disobedience of the Law are dependent upon place and time and situation. In other words, the Law given in the Pentateuch, can only be directly applied to the specific nation of ancient Israel. To try to do otherwise would go against the Lord’s intent and would contradict the teaching of the New Testament.

  • Dennis Peskey

    The first use of the Law is primarily the second table of commandments, those which apply to our neighbor. These are written on the hearts of all mankind and known to even those who claim no moral absolutes exist. (The simplest path to acknowledging the existence of these moral absolutes is to reach out to anyone denying their existence and take their wallet – see how fast they proclaim “Thou shalt not steal” [I choose this example over the fifth, sixth and eighth commandments since the consequences are much easier to reverse - give the wallet back!])

    I concur with SKPetersen (#1) – the application of this Law is not limited to governmental entities. Your mother teaches you not to lie (bear false witness); your father teaches you not to steal; prayfully, they both teach you the evil of adultry or murder. I would caution any christian not to rely upon the government’s admonition regarding false witness – but that’s my personal bias. St. Paul is very clear in the openning chapters of Romans – the Law is written on everyone’s heart; we know what we ought to do whether we choose to obey, disobey or deny the existence of this Law.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The first use of the Law is primarily the second table of commandments, those which apply to our neighbor. These are written on the hearts of all mankind and known to even those who claim no moral absolutes exist. (The simplest path to acknowledging the existence of these moral absolutes is to reach out to anyone denying their existence and take their wallet – see how fast they proclaim “Thou shalt not steal” [I choose this example over the fifth, sixth and eighth commandments since the consequences are much easier to reverse - give the wallet back!])

    I concur with SKPetersen (#1) – the application of this Law is not limited to governmental entities. Your mother teaches you not to lie (bear false witness); your father teaches you not to steal; prayfully, they both teach you the evil of adultry or murder. I would caution any christian not to rely upon the government’s admonition regarding false witness – but that’s my personal bias. St. Paul is very clear in the openning chapters of Romans – the Law is written on everyone’s heart; we know what we ought to do whether we choose to obey, disobey or deny the existence of this Law.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Lou

    Dennis — Very well put!
    Would be interested though in finding out how you would apply the consequences of disobedience under the First Use of the Law? Surely, you would not follow the Pentateuch in this regard, or would you? And if not, how then should we deteriment the proper punishment for disobedience?

  • Lou

    Dennis — Very well put!
    Would be interested though in finding out how you would apply the consequences of disobedience under the First Use of the Law? Surely, you would not follow the Pentateuch in this regard, or would you? And if not, how then should we deteriment the proper punishment for disobedience?

  • Lou

    Dennis — Very well put!
    Would be interested though in finding out how you would apply the consequences of disobedience under the First Use of the Law? Surely, you would not follow the Pentateuch in this regard, or would you? And if not, how then should we determine the proper punishment for disobedience?

  • Lou

    Dennis — Very well put!
    Would be interested though in finding out how you would apply the consequences of disobedience under the First Use of the Law? Surely, you would not follow the Pentateuch in this regard, or would you? And if not, how then should we determine the proper punishment for disobedience?

  • Dennis Peskey

    Lou – Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And yes, there is wisdom for training to be found in the Torah. While I do not advocate the practice of stoning, I do employ the practice of “putting a child outside the assembly” – nowadays, it’s termed a “timeout” and relegated to a corner area of the home. The “proper punishment for disobedience” should always be tempered by first, proper, then disobedience, then punishment and always administered in love for your child. Sanctioning or ignoring disobedience is a failure of the parent’s vocation and is evil towards the child. Consequences are taught by both parents (not wait until father gets home) but parents should be wise in the application of punishment for they are teaching not only the wrath of the Law but also the Grace of forgiveness when accomplished properly.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Lou – Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And yes, there is wisdom for training to be found in the Torah. While I do not advocate the practice of stoning, I do employ the practice of “putting a child outside the assembly” – nowadays, it’s termed a “timeout” and relegated to a corner area of the home. The “proper punishment for disobedience” should always be tempered by first, proper, then disobedience, then punishment and always administered in love for your child. Sanctioning or ignoring disobedience is a failure of the parent’s vocation and is evil towards the child. Consequences are taught by both parents (not wait until father gets home) but parents should be wise in the application of punishment for they are teaching not only the wrath of the Law but also the Grace of forgiveness when accomplished properly.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Lou

    Dennis, thanks. That definitely sounds like good parenting advice. I guess what I’m looking for is a Biblical take on the proper punishment for disobedience of the First Use of the Law in the public/civil sphere (not in the home).

    This seems to be the biggest fear factor with regard to using the Law of the Bible in the Civil sphere. And that’s where I have the most beef with fellow believers who, in my opinion, who seem to advocate the First Use, but who do not have a solid Biblical stance for how the Law is actually applied in civil matters.

  • Lou

    Dennis, thanks. That definitely sounds like good parenting advice. I guess what I’m looking for is a Biblical take on the proper punishment for disobedience of the First Use of the Law in the public/civil sphere (not in the home).

    This seems to be the biggest fear factor with regard to using the Law of the Bible in the Civil sphere. And that’s where I have the most beef with fellow believers who, in my opinion, who seem to advocate the First Use, but who do not have a solid Biblical stance for how the Law is actually applied in civil matters.

  • http://enlivenonline.com Jason Barker

    I like what Gene (#4) and Dennis (#5) say.

    I find the discussion particularly interesting in light of a study I’m creating on the Sermon on the Mount. In reading Luther’s commentary on the Sermon, he continually looks at where the principles of the Sermon intersect — and do not directly intersect — with our vocations.

    Therefore, for example, Luther says this about being meek (Matthew 5:5):

    “Now, what does it mean to be meek? Here you must, in the first place, be again reminded, that Christ is not speaking at all about the government and its official authority; for it does not belong to this to be meek…for it holds the sword, that it may punish the wicked, and it has a wrath and vengeance that are called the wrath and vengeance of God; but he is speaking only of individual persons, how each one is to conduct himself towards others, aside from official position and control; as father and mother, if they do not live as father and mother towards their children, nor perform their official duty as father and mother, that is, towards those who are not called father or mother, as neighbors and others. For I have elsewhere often said that we must make a wide difference between these two, office and person. He who is known as Jack or Martin is a very different man from him who is called Elector, or Doctor, or Preacher.”

    Again, very interesting.

  • http://enlivenonline.com Jason Barker

    I like what Gene (#4) and Dennis (#5) say.

    I find the discussion particularly interesting in light of a study I’m creating on the Sermon on the Mount. In reading Luther’s commentary on the Sermon, he continually looks at where the principles of the Sermon intersect — and do not directly intersect — with our vocations.

    Therefore, for example, Luther says this about being meek (Matthew 5:5):

    “Now, what does it mean to be meek? Here you must, in the first place, be again reminded, that Christ is not speaking at all about the government and its official authority; for it does not belong to this to be meek…for it holds the sword, that it may punish the wicked, and it has a wrath and vengeance that are called the wrath and vengeance of God; but he is speaking only of individual persons, how each one is to conduct himself towards others, aside from official position and control; as father and mother, if they do not live as father and mother towards their children, nor perform their official duty as father and mother, that is, towards those who are not called father or mother, as neighbors and others. For I have elsewhere often said that we must make a wide difference between these two, office and person. He who is known as Jack or Martin is a very different man from him who is called Elector, or Doctor, or Preacher.”

    Again, very interesting.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dennis, #5,

    “The first use of the Law is primarily the second table of commandments, those which apply to our neighbor.”

    No, no. That is incorrect. The first use applies to all of the law, particularly the first table. I really don’t understand your reasoning here. Can you explain more fully your understanding of the first use of the law and how it differs from the second and the third?

  • Dan Kempin

    Dennis, #5,

    “The first use of the Law is primarily the second table of commandments, those which apply to our neighbor.”

    No, no. That is incorrect. The first use applies to all of the law, particularly the first table. I really don’t understand your reasoning here. Can you explain more fully your understanding of the first use of the law and how it differs from the second and the third?

  • Arfies

    It seems ro me rhat there are teo common misconceptions we need to avoid.
    The first is related to our use and quotation of St. Paul’s statement in Romans. We shorten and to some extent distort the apostle’s point when we say “”the law is written o the hearts” of people; but what he really wrote as “the works of the law.” In other words, humans may not know God’s revealed law, but they have a God-given innate sense of what’s right or wrong; that’s why their consciences accuse or excuse (justify) what thet have done–after the fact.
    The other matter, as Jason has pointed out, is the distinction between murder–the unlawful taking of someone’s life–and the legitimate power given by God to the civil authorities to impose punishment–including the death penalty–to protect society. We may not think the death penalty is a good use of governental power, but our opinion may not invalidate what God has established for our benefit.

  • Arfies

    It seems ro me rhat there are teo common misconceptions we need to avoid.
    The first is related to our use and quotation of St. Paul’s statement in Romans. We shorten and to some extent distort the apostle’s point when we say “”the law is written o the hearts” of people; but what he really wrote as “the works of the law.” In other words, humans may not know God’s revealed law, but they have a God-given innate sense of what’s right or wrong; that’s why their consciences accuse or excuse (justify) what thet have done–after the fact.
    The other matter, as Jason has pointed out, is the distinction between murder–the unlawful taking of someone’s life–and the legitimate power given by God to the civil authorities to impose punishment–including the death penalty–to protect society. We may not think the death penalty is a good use of governental power, but our opinion may not invalidate what God has established for our benefit.

  • stevesque

    Since the issue of gay marriage was raised, I’m wondering how much that really falls under the First Use of the Law. If the First Use is really the Second Tablet, this would seem to be more of a gray area in that there is not necessarily any overt and obvious harm being done to any of the participants (disregarding certain acts that are not really required for marriage). Even within the church, how does the First Use square with the notion of christian liberty in this regard?

  • stevesque

    Since the issue of gay marriage was raised, I’m wondering how much that really falls under the First Use of the Law. If the First Use is really the Second Tablet, this would seem to be more of a gray area in that there is not necessarily any overt and obvious harm being done to any of the participants (disregarding certain acts that are not really required for marriage). Even within the church, how does the First Use square with the notion of christian liberty in this regard?

  • Lou

    Arfies @12: “We may not think the death penalty is a good use of governental power, but our opinion may not invalidate what God has established for our benefit.”

    So, then are you saying that you would apply the OT civil law literally by having the magestrate put to death adulterers, homosexuals, and rebellious teenagers (particularly by method of stoning)?

    Or did you mean something else? If so, then what?

  • Lou

    Arfies @12: “We may not think the death penalty is a good use of governental power, but our opinion may not invalidate what God has established for our benefit.”

    So, then are you saying that you would apply the OT civil law literally by having the magestrate put to death adulterers, homosexuals, and rebellious teenagers (particularly by method of stoning)?

    Or did you mean something else? If so, then what?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There is a great deal of confusion here. Almost certainly, some of it is mine.

    This isn’t a discussion between different types of laws (e.g. ceremonial laws for Israelites vs. moral laws for all time or religion vs. government). This isn’t a discussion between different parts of this latter law (e.g. “first table” vs. “second table” sections of the Ten Commandments). This is, or was to be, a discussion of different applications of “the Law” — all of it, at least all of it that applies to all people.

    Still, I find this statement by Dr. Veith equally confusing:

    The civil use doesn’t save anyone, and it isn’t even religious as such, applying to all people whether they are believers or not.

    The first clause would appear to suggest that there are other uses of the Law that do “save” us. But surely that is wrong!

    And the final clause would appear to suggest that the “second use” of the Law does not apply to “all people whether they are believers or not”. But surely it does!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There is a great deal of confusion here. Almost certainly, some of it is mine.

    This isn’t a discussion between different types of laws (e.g. ceremonial laws for Israelites vs. moral laws for all time or religion vs. government). This isn’t a discussion between different parts of this latter law (e.g. “first table” vs. “second table” sections of the Ten Commandments). This is, or was to be, a discussion of different applications of “the Law” — all of it, at least all of it that applies to all people.

    Still, I find this statement by Dr. Veith equally confusing:

    The civil use doesn’t save anyone, and it isn’t even religious as such, applying to all people whether they are believers or not.

    The first clause would appear to suggest that there are other uses of the Law that do “save” us. But surely that is wrong!

    And the final clause would appear to suggest that the “second use” of the Law does not apply to “all people whether they are believers or not”. But surely it does!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Having said that, I find myself confused by these “three uses”. There’s not a whole lot on them in the Book of Concord that I can find. In fact, here’s pretty much all of, from the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, on the “Third Use of the Law”:

    Since the Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life

    Ignoring the “third use” for now (which the Formula goes on to discuss at length), it seems like the “first use” is to bring about fear (and thereby, external obedience). And the “second use” is to bring about contrition.

    Keep in mind that, while often termed the “civic” use, the “first use” of the Law still applies to God’s Law, not the political laws of men.

    I think of it like this. Say I am very angry with my neighbor. So angry that I want to take his life — perhaps out of revenge. Because God’s Word is written on my heart, I know that killing is wrong. But I don’t care. But! I also know that the same law against murder is written on the hearts of everyone else. I fear what they would do to me if they discovered I murdered my neighbor. So I do nothing — outwardly, at least. I keep the peace, civically, even if internally I am still every bit as full of hatred towards my neighbor. Thus, the “first use” of the Law has restrained my external action.

    Later on, I realize I was being rash. The things that provoked me to anger, after the passage of time, or a more loving consideration, do not seem so bad. Now comes the “second use” of the Law. I realize that I was full of hatred towards my brother. The Law tells me not to murder, but I very much wanted to. I realize what a wretched sinner I am, even if I didn’t do anything externally.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Having said that, I find myself confused by these “three uses”. There’s not a whole lot on them in the Book of Concord that I can find. In fact, here’s pretty much all of, from the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, on the “Third Use of the Law”:

    Since the Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life

    Ignoring the “third use” for now (which the Formula goes on to discuss at length), it seems like the “first use” is to bring about fear (and thereby, external obedience). And the “second use” is to bring about contrition.

    Keep in mind that, while often termed the “civic” use, the “first use” of the Law still applies to God’s Law, not the political laws of men.

    I think of it like this. Say I am very angry with my neighbor. So angry that I want to take his life — perhaps out of revenge. Because God’s Word is written on my heart, I know that killing is wrong. But I don’t care. But! I also know that the same law against murder is written on the hearts of everyone else. I fear what they would do to me if they discovered I murdered my neighbor. So I do nothing — outwardly, at least. I keep the peace, civically, even if internally I am still every bit as full of hatred towards my neighbor. Thus, the “first use” of the Law has restrained my external action.

    Later on, I realize I was being rash. The things that provoked me to anger, after the passage of time, or a more loving consideration, do not seem so bad. Now comes the “second use” of the Law. I realize that I was full of hatred towards my brother. The Law tells me not to murder, but I very much wanted to. I realize what a wretched sinner I am, even if I didn’t do anything externally.

  • SKPeterson

    The First Use is designed to curb anti-social behavior. As such, it applies to the Second Table of the Ten more than to the First. The First Table deals with God’s relationship with Man, the Second deals with the interrelationships between Men. Now it has been said, quite accurately, that Commandments 2-10 derive from the 1st, and that all sin begins with “Thou Shall Have No Other Gods.”

    As to whether we should apply the penalties given in the OT, we often have tempered responses given in the NT. Contrast “an eye for an eye” with “seventy times seven” as the standard for forgiveness.

  • SKPeterson

    The First Use is designed to curb anti-social behavior. As such, it applies to the Second Table of the Ten more than to the First. The First Table deals with God’s relationship with Man, the Second deals with the interrelationships between Men. Now it has been said, quite accurately, that Commandments 2-10 derive from the 1st, and that all sin begins with “Thou Shall Have No Other Gods.”

    As to whether we should apply the penalties given in the OT, we often have tempered responses given in the NT. Contrast “an eye for an eye” with “seventy times seven” as the standard for forgiveness.

  • Dennis Peskey

    To Dan (post #11) – When Lutherans address the issue of the Law, we recognize three functions of the Law; as a curb, as a mirror and finally, as a guide. These are not three separate laws but one Law with three distinct applications. The Mosaic Law is divided into two tables; the first table concerns God and our obligation to Him (one God, the name of the Lord and the sanctity of the sabbath); the second table concerns our relationship with our neighbor (honor parents and authority, murder, adultery, stealing, false witness and coveting).

    When the Law is functioning according to the first application as a curb it applies with equal validity to christians and non-christians alike. But the Law is not apprehended by faith; God has written the Law unto the hearts of all men as well as recording them on tablets of stone. Due to the absence of faith, the first table of the Law can not be known to unbelievers since the first three commandments deal solely with God. This does not excuse the unbeliever from obedience to the entire Law, it is just the Lutheran explanation of how God’s Law functions in society and its proper place in the authority of the State (be it government or family for parents should maintain authority within their households.)
    The second and third functions of the Law require the work of the Holy Spirit for christians to discern our failure to keep God’s Law (a mirror) and our response to the freedom of the Gospel in relation to the Law (Christ did not abolish the Law but replaced this with the Law of the Spirit given to us by faith in Christ). The Law then serves it third function as a guide. We are freed from the curse of the Law and our proper response should be to do what is pleasing to God, i.e. the Law becomes the guide to serve our neighbor in our vocation. For a more complete exposition of Lutheran doctrine regarding the Law, see the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V (the Law and the Gospel) and particulary Article VI (the Third Use of God’s Law). You may access this sections easily at this address: http://bookofconcord.org/
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    To Dan (post #11) – When Lutherans address the issue of the Law, we recognize three functions of the Law; as a curb, as a mirror and finally, as a guide. These are not three separate laws but one Law with three distinct applications. The Mosaic Law is divided into two tables; the first table concerns God and our obligation to Him (one God, the name of the Lord and the sanctity of the sabbath); the second table concerns our relationship with our neighbor (honor parents and authority, murder, adultery, stealing, false witness and coveting).

    When the Law is functioning according to the first application as a curb it applies with equal validity to christians and non-christians alike. But the Law is not apprehended by faith; God has written the Law unto the hearts of all men as well as recording them on tablets of stone. Due to the absence of faith, the first table of the Law can not be known to unbelievers since the first three commandments deal solely with God. This does not excuse the unbeliever from obedience to the entire Law, it is just the Lutheran explanation of how God’s Law functions in society and its proper place in the authority of the State (be it government or family for parents should maintain authority within their households.)
    The second and third functions of the Law require the work of the Holy Spirit for christians to discern our failure to keep God’s Law (a mirror) and our response to the freedom of the Gospel in relation to the Law (Christ did not abolish the Law but replaced this with the Law of the Spirit given to us by faith in Christ). The Law then serves it third function as a guide. We are freed from the curse of the Law and our proper response should be to do what is pleasing to God, i.e. the Law becomes the guide to serve our neighbor in our vocation. For a more complete exposition of Lutheran doctrine regarding the Law, see the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V (the Law and the Gospel) and particulary Article VI (the Third Use of God’s Law). You may access this sections easily at this address: http://bookofconcord.org/
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dennis, you said (@18):

    Due to the absence of faith, the first table of the Law can not be known to unbelievers since the first three commandments deal solely with God.

    I think I see where you’re going with that, but contrast your statement with Romans 1 (my emphasis):

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    I might think that the “first use” of the law, with respect to the “first table” of the Commandments, might restrict overt blasphemy.

    For example, consider the person who is angry at God for what has happened in his life. He wants to yell at everyone he sees, “I hate God — he doesn’t care about me!” But he knows he will be chastized if he does, so he remains quiet. Inwardly, however, he still seethes.

    I still don’t get the argument that the “second use” applies only to Christians. This would require me to believe that unbelievers do not feel guilt. They don’t know what to do with that guilt, of course, but I’m pretty certain they feel it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dennis, you said (@18):

    Due to the absence of faith, the first table of the Law can not be known to unbelievers since the first three commandments deal solely with God.

    I think I see where you’re going with that, but contrast your statement with Romans 1 (my emphasis):

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    I might think that the “first use” of the law, with respect to the “first table” of the Commandments, might restrict overt blasphemy.

    For example, consider the person who is angry at God for what has happened in his life. He wants to yell at everyone he sees, “I hate God — he doesn’t care about me!” But he knows he will be chastized if he does, so he remains quiet. Inwardly, however, he still seethes.

    I still don’t get the argument that the “second use” applies only to Christians. This would require me to believe that unbelievers do not feel guilt. They don’t know what to do with that guilt, of course, but I’m pretty certain they feel it.

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD (#19) What St. Paul records in Romans 1 is the existence of God and his wrath (as you highlighted). The best quote I’ve heard on this was a debate between Dr. Frank Turek and Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great). Dr. Turek concluded Hitchens position was God does not exist and I hate him! (see crossexamined.org for a video of the debate – I’m aware the sentence lacks sense – that was the entire point of the debate.)

    A non-believer can not apprehend the Grace of God shown by Christ’s incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection. This is the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit which allows us to known the Father through the Son by the working of the Holy Spirit.

    St. Paul continues in Romans 1, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Then the most frightening passages of scriptures, verse 24 “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity”; verse 26 “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” and verse 28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” St. Paul concludes the first chapter with verse 32 “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

    This is the situation our nation currently finds itself mired within where we deny the truth we know for the pleasures of the flesh. God’s Law still functions in societies such as these – as a curb against gross outbursts of violence and sin even if the perpetrators of such action deny their acts as sinful. People in this state of mind deny the very existence of God – this does not abrogate his existence.

    In such a condition as this, sinful mankind rejects the entire first table of the commandments; the commandments are not by any means nullified however. Yet the second table can and is applied as a means of order among mankind. This is the office of the first function of the the Law – a curb for all mankind to keep us from killing, raping, stealing and being a politician (forgive me – personal commentary).

    The office of the second function, as a mirror, can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit. We will not acknowledge our sinful condition without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We tell ourselves we’re pretty good, for the most part we’re moral beings, we give life a decent effort. This is not what Holy Scripture says about us however. When the Holy Spirit lifts the veil from our eyes, we realize we really stink up creation. It is the mirror Law which causes us to cry “Kyrie Eleison”; we then repent and are forgiven of our sins.

    The guilt feeling is certainly found in the second use of the Law; it can also be attributed to the first function as St Paul states in verse 32 (see above). They know what they do is immoral, evil and/or sinful – they simply do not give a damn. This is the condition of a debased mind – to do what ought not to be done. This is second table of the Law concerns – what we do to and with our neighbor. But it rests primarily in the office of the first function of the Law since the curb of the Law, enforced by earthly authorities, applies to all mankind, both believers and non-believers alike.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD (#19) What St. Paul records in Romans 1 is the existence of God and his wrath (as you highlighted). The best quote I’ve heard on this was a debate between Dr. Frank Turek and Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great). Dr. Turek concluded Hitchens position was God does not exist and I hate him! (see crossexamined.org for a video of the debate – I’m aware the sentence lacks sense – that was the entire point of the debate.)

    A non-believer can not apprehend the Grace of God shown by Christ’s incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection. This is the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit which allows us to known the Father through the Son by the working of the Holy Spirit.

    St. Paul continues in Romans 1, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Then the most frightening passages of scriptures, verse 24 “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity”; verse 26 “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” and verse 28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” St. Paul concludes the first chapter with verse 32 “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

    This is the situation our nation currently finds itself mired within where we deny the truth we know for the pleasures of the flesh. God’s Law still functions in societies such as these – as a curb against gross outbursts of violence and sin even if the perpetrators of such action deny their acts as sinful. People in this state of mind deny the very existence of God – this does not abrogate his existence.

    In such a condition as this, sinful mankind rejects the entire first table of the commandments; the commandments are not by any means nullified however. Yet the second table can and is applied as a means of order among mankind. This is the office of the first function of the the Law – a curb for all mankind to keep us from killing, raping, stealing and being a politician (forgive me – personal commentary).

    The office of the second function, as a mirror, can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit. We will not acknowledge our sinful condition without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We tell ourselves we’re pretty good, for the most part we’re moral beings, we give life a decent effort. This is not what Holy Scripture says about us however. When the Holy Spirit lifts the veil from our eyes, we realize we really stink up creation. It is the mirror Law which causes us to cry “Kyrie Eleison”; we then repent and are forgiven of our sins.

    The guilt feeling is certainly found in the second use of the Law; it can also be attributed to the first function as St Paul states in verse 32 (see above). They know what they do is immoral, evil and/or sinful – they simply do not give a damn. This is the condition of a debased mind – to do what ought not to be done. This is second table of the Law concerns – what we do to and with our neighbor. But it rests primarily in the office of the first function of the Law since the curb of the Law, enforced by earthly authorities, applies to all mankind, both believers and non-believers alike.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #16,

    Yes. Good simple example.

    Dennis, #18,

    Ok, now I’m tracking with you again on your first paragraph. I don’t agree, though, that the first use of the law does not apply to unbelievers in the first table of the law. I suppose you can make the argument that the second table is more reasonable to the unbeliever, since there is a demonstrable public good in the second table, but the first use of the law is about compulsion, not reason.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #16,

    Yes. Good simple example.

    Dennis, #18,

    Ok, now I’m tracking with you again on your first paragraph. I don’t agree, though, that the first use of the law does not apply to unbelievers in the first table of the law. I suppose you can make the argument that the second table is more reasonable to the unbeliever, since there is a demonstrable public good in the second table, but the first use of the law is about compulsion, not reason.

  • norman teigen

    I think that the author’s point in the opening of paragraph 2 is troublesome. The argument advanced is that a religious principle should prevail in the civil world even though the author denies that he is doing so.

    Does the author choose to propose that God-given Law is to prevail in the civic arena over the consent of the governed? If so, this is a dangerous and unacceptable argument to my way of thinking.

  • norman teigen

    I think that the author’s point in the opening of paragraph 2 is troublesome. The argument advanced is that a religious principle should prevail in the civil world even though the author denies that he is doing so.

    Does the author choose to propose that God-given Law is to prevail in the civic arena over the consent of the governed? If so, this is a dangerous and unacceptable argument to my way of thinking.

  • fws

    There is a problem with the “uses” of the Law that even rephrasing as “functions” does not resolve.

    A misuse of this doctrinal distinction of the 2 to 8 uses (the Old Orthodox Lutheran Quensted lists 8 uses) can directly result in a confusion of Law and Gospel in an indirect way that is not at all obvious.

    It is in this way: the Law is always how God works his goodness and mercy here in the Earthly Kingdom to do the underserved Goodness and Mercy listed out in the First Article of the Small Catechism Creed. This is precisely and only why the Law is Good!

    We fail to see that God works those mercies through the Law and so confuse Law and Gospel by only thinking of the societal function of the Law as being a Curb. The Law IS a Curb, but it is that only in order to make Old Adam manufacture Fatherly Mercy and Goodness.

    This is not so obvious though is it? That is why Lutherans have always taught Law and Gospel in the modality and form of Two Kingdoms.

    Two Kingdoms is just another format of the same Law and Gospel distinction.

    This distinction that is a Law and Gospel one, tells us that God rules EVERYTHING in order to make Goodness and Mercy happen among men. It also tells us that God does this in two ways: In the Eartly Kingdom that fully includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies, God extorts Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam with the Law. In the Heavely Kingdom God incarnates New Man as Goodness and Mercy with the Holy Gospel that is faith alone in the Works of Another. God brings THIS Kingdom in, with and under the Earthly Kingdom Ordinance and Command called Holy Baptism.

    So we hear the Law described as a “curb” and then we will not see that it is the Law that God uses to drive and extort the blessings that are listed in the first article of the creed in the small catechism. But we will also then confuse that mercy that is a fruit of the Law with that Mercy that is the work of Christ that alone is the Gospe. We will start to say that ALL Mercy and Goodness is a Second article gift.

    This is , in fact, the confusion of Law and Gospel that is the ELCA, mercy is always undeserved, so it sounds like the Gospel.

    The ELCA is merciful to gays for example (as the Law says they are to be) and then they commit the error of saying that the inclusiveness that results from that law keeping is Holy Gospel. Only the Mercy that is in the Works of Christ is Holy Gospel.

    It is not.

    The Law always accuses The Law always kills. Mercy is a fruit of the Law here on earth.

    And we will even hear a sermon from our dear Todd Wilken that will ascribe the First Article Mercy we give thanks for at Thanksgiving as being somehow due to the Mercy done by Christ in the Second Article. And this too is a Law and Gospel confusion.

  • fws

    There is a problem with the “uses” of the Law that even rephrasing as “functions” does not resolve.

    A misuse of this doctrinal distinction of the 2 to 8 uses (the Old Orthodox Lutheran Quensted lists 8 uses) can directly result in a confusion of Law and Gospel in an indirect way that is not at all obvious.

    It is in this way: the Law is always how God works his goodness and mercy here in the Earthly Kingdom to do the underserved Goodness and Mercy listed out in the First Article of the Small Catechism Creed. This is precisely and only why the Law is Good!

    We fail to see that God works those mercies through the Law and so confuse Law and Gospel by only thinking of the societal function of the Law as being a Curb. The Law IS a Curb, but it is that only in order to make Old Adam manufacture Fatherly Mercy and Goodness.

    This is not so obvious though is it? That is why Lutherans have always taught Law and Gospel in the modality and form of Two Kingdoms.

    Two Kingdoms is just another format of the same Law and Gospel distinction.

    This distinction that is a Law and Gospel one, tells us that God rules EVERYTHING in order to make Goodness and Mercy happen among men. It also tells us that God does this in two ways: In the Eartly Kingdom that fully includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies, God extorts Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam with the Law. In the Heavely Kingdom God incarnates New Man as Goodness and Mercy with the Holy Gospel that is faith alone in the Works of Another. God brings THIS Kingdom in, with and under the Earthly Kingdom Ordinance and Command called Holy Baptism.

    So we hear the Law described as a “curb” and then we will not see that it is the Law that God uses to drive and extort the blessings that are listed in the first article of the creed in the small catechism. But we will also then confuse that mercy that is a fruit of the Law with that Mercy that is the work of Christ that alone is the Gospe. We will start to say that ALL Mercy and Goodness is a Second article gift.

    This is , in fact, the confusion of Law and Gospel that is the ELCA, mercy is always undeserved, so it sounds like the Gospel.

    The ELCA is merciful to gays for example (as the Law says they are to be) and then they commit the error of saying that the inclusiveness that results from that law keeping is Holy Gospel. Only the Mercy that is in the Works of Christ is Holy Gospel.

    It is not.

    The Law always accuses The Law always kills. Mercy is a fruit of the Law here on earth.

    And we will even hear a sermon from our dear Todd Wilken that will ascribe the First Article Mercy we give thanks for at Thanksgiving as being somehow due to the Mercy done by Christ in the Second Article. And this too is a Law and Gospel confusion.

  • fws

    More:

    This is also why there is a confusion over the Third Use of the Law. We correctly indentify that Paul tells us that the New Man is busy doing Fatherly Goodness and Mercy. But then we fail to see that even the New Man does this here in Earth in any visible way, precisely by turing the Law against the Old Adam just as pagans also do by using the Law as a Curb. So we fail to see that it is the SAME Law Christians are to use. There is no special Law just for Christians that does not kill but rather “exhorts” and “encourages” and “reminds”.

    The Law ALWAYS Accuses, but it ALWAYS does this to the end of producing Goodness and Mercy. And this is the SAME Goodness and Mercy produced by both Law and Gospel.

  • fws

    More:

    This is also why there is a confusion over the Third Use of the Law. We correctly indentify that Paul tells us that the New Man is busy doing Fatherly Goodness and Mercy. But then we fail to see that even the New Man does this here in Earth in any visible way, precisely by turing the Law against the Old Adam just as pagans also do by using the Law as a Curb. So we fail to see that it is the SAME Law Christians are to use. There is no special Law just for Christians that does not kill but rather “exhorts” and “encourages” and “reminds”.

    The Law ALWAYS Accuses, but it ALWAYS does this to the end of producing Goodness and Mercy. And this is the SAME Goodness and Mercy produced by both Law and Gospel.

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    tODD@16: “There’s not a whole lot on them in the Book of Concord that I can find.” Per se there is not. But the clear distinctions between the political and spiritual uses of the Law are well delineated, especially the Apology, Article IV, para. 22-24. It is in the “righteousness of reason” Christians in the realms of this world meet our fellow citizens to maintain an orderly culture and society. In fact, the Apology says that, “…God requires the righteousness of reason” (Tappert ed.). No, this does not eternally saves us, but temporally it is of penultimate import. Stable families living in the culture of life is quite reasonable. So the Apostle Paul enjoins Timothy to render prayer for government so, “… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” and also so that the Gospel might be preached, see 1 Timothy 2: 1-7. This is also quite reasonable.

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    tODD@16: “There’s not a whole lot on them in the Book of Concord that I can find.” Per se there is not. But the clear distinctions between the political and spiritual uses of the Law are well delineated, especially the Apology, Article IV, para. 22-24. It is in the “righteousness of reason” Christians in the realms of this world meet our fellow citizens to maintain an orderly culture and society. In fact, the Apology says that, “…God requires the righteousness of reason” (Tappert ed.). No, this does not eternally saves us, but temporally it is of penultimate import. Stable families living in the culture of life is quite reasonable. So the Apostle Paul enjoins Timothy to render prayer for government so, “… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” and also so that the Gospel might be preached, see 1 Timothy 2: 1-7. This is also quite reasonable.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Certainly there is only one Law, and certainly it applies beyond just government. And I certainly do not advocate the specific death penalties of the old covenant being carried out today. (See my post tomorrow on the Second Use of the Law for what I do with that.) And by “law,” I mean not just specific Bible texts but the entire moral realm to which the Bible bears witness. As I understand it, the civil use of the law has to do with external compliance for the good of society.

    Thus, my parents taught me to be polite. So when I encounter someone doing something I do not like, my tendency is to hold my tongue. Inside I may be killing the person “in my heart,” but on the outside I refrain from that. Now there is no merit in my external civility, especially when my heart is going in another direction, but my sinful impulses have been “curbed,” and society is better off, despite my true nature.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Certainly there is only one Law, and certainly it applies beyond just government. And I certainly do not advocate the specific death penalties of the old covenant being carried out today. (See my post tomorrow on the Second Use of the Law for what I do with that.) And by “law,” I mean not just specific Bible texts but the entire moral realm to which the Bible bears witness. As I understand it, the civil use of the law has to do with external compliance for the good of society.

    Thus, my parents taught me to be polite. So when I encounter someone doing something I do not like, my tendency is to hold my tongue. Inside I may be killing the person “in my heart,” but on the outside I refrain from that. Now there is no merit in my external civility, especially when my heart is going in another direction, but my sinful impulses have been “curbed,” and society is better off, despite my true nature.

  • fws

    todd @ 16

    “Keep in mind that, while often termed the “civic” use, the “first use” of the Law still applies to God’s Law, not the political laws of men.”

    You are making a distinction between God´s Law and the political laws of men that I am not sure exists.

    Romans 2:15 is where I would point you to here.

  • fws

    todd @ 16

    “Keep in mind that, while often termed the “civic” use, the “first use” of the Law still applies to God’s Law, not the political laws of men.”

    You are making a distinction between God´s Law and the political laws of men that I am not sure exists.

    Romans 2:15 is where I would point you to here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@27), are you saying that the political laws of our nation (or, for that matter, any nation) completely describe God’s Law? That is, if it’s not illegal in our nation, it’s not sinful?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@27), are you saying that the political laws of our nation (or, for that matter, any nation) completely describe God’s Law? That is, if it’s not illegal in our nation, it’s not sinful?

  • boaz

    First use is just natural law. I naturally recognize that my life will be better and happier if I pursue good things like marriage, friends, justice, beauty, wisdom, and God. Yet sinful will corrupts my desire, and makes me act contrary to those good things. When that happens, bad things happen to me (from the authorities, neighbours, family, and from my own disordered consciousness). That desire for the good and to avoid the bad limits our ability to be completely selfish. It’s the same in every society everywhere. It’s essentially an invisible hand (much bigger than Adam smith) that governs and limits society, due to the nature of creation.

    It’s also the only basis by which we determine our laws, our economy, our culture, etc. The more these are in line with promoting the good, the more a society flourishes; the more they interfere with the good, the worse off society becomes.

    Once one recognizes that one cannot lead a perfectly good and ordered life, and suffers strife or depression for it, the second use of the law comes into play.

  • boaz

    First use is just natural law. I naturally recognize that my life will be better and happier if I pursue good things like marriage, friends, justice, beauty, wisdom, and God. Yet sinful will corrupts my desire, and makes me act contrary to those good things. When that happens, bad things happen to me (from the authorities, neighbours, family, and from my own disordered consciousness). That desire for the good and to avoid the bad limits our ability to be completely selfish. It’s the same in every society everywhere. It’s essentially an invisible hand (much bigger than Adam smith) that governs and limits society, due to the nature of creation.

    It’s also the only basis by which we determine our laws, our economy, our culture, etc. The more these are in line with promoting the good, the more a society flourishes; the more they interfere with the good, the worse off society becomes.

    Once one recognizes that one cannot lead a perfectly good and ordered life, and suffers strife or depression for it, the second use of the law comes into play.

  • boaz

    That’s also why the whole ten commandments are part of the first use of the law. If a person lives perfectly under the second table, they will still fail to be as happy and satisfied with life as they would be if they had a proper relationship with God. It’s so important that all governments have laws relating to religion, either promoting, limiting, or protecting from state interference. I can’t think of any country where it has been treated as a nonfactor.

  • boaz

    That’s also why the whole ten commandments are part of the first use of the law. If a person lives perfectly under the second table, they will still fail to be as happy and satisfied with life as they would be if they had a proper relationship with God. It’s so important that all governments have laws relating to religion, either promoting, limiting, or protecting from state interference. I can’t think of any country where it has been treated as a nonfactor.

  • boaz

    I think you can say the second table is more left hand kingdom, active righteousness focused, and the first part right hand, passive righteousness focused. But the first use of the law still has application in both realms.

  • boaz

    I think you can say the second table is more left hand kingdom, active righteousness focused, and the first part right hand, passive righteousness focused. But the first use of the law still has application in both realms.

  • kerner

    I didn’t have time to get involved in this conversation when it was going on, but I’ve been reading the comments, and I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what has been said. But I think it is worth noting that what has been discussed here doesn’t quite fit the purpose of a society that is actually trying to enact its sense of civil righteousness into a functioning body of law.

    When a society drafts laws by which it wants its citizens to live, it does not set out to create a law that cannot be kept. On the contrary, the society enacts laws that it expects its citizens to keep.

    Nor has any real society I have ever heard of been interested in enacting actual laws that “always accuse” and “always kill”. This is particularly true of a society in which the “rule of law” is paramount. In such a society, a law that “always accuses and always kills” would exterminate that society very quickly. God can resurrect His people with the Gospel, but the state has no such power.

    So when some of you say, “there is only one law”, do you mean that the laws of the state are really the same as God’s law? Because, the people who draft the laws of the state don’t believe they are drafting laws that hold citizens to a standard of perfection and that will kill them if they fail to meet that perfect standard. I mean, none of us can lead a perfectly good and ordered life, but most of us manage to stay out of jail, and the state expects that.

    Maybe the state drafting laws they believe citizens can obey most of the time (rather than demanding perfection) is showing mercy. But I don’t know that the legislature believes it is doing that either.

  • kerner

    I didn’t have time to get involved in this conversation when it was going on, but I’ve been reading the comments, and I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what has been said. But I think it is worth noting that what has been discussed here doesn’t quite fit the purpose of a society that is actually trying to enact its sense of civil righteousness into a functioning body of law.

    When a society drafts laws by which it wants its citizens to live, it does not set out to create a law that cannot be kept. On the contrary, the society enacts laws that it expects its citizens to keep.

    Nor has any real society I have ever heard of been interested in enacting actual laws that “always accuse” and “always kill”. This is particularly true of a society in which the “rule of law” is paramount. In such a society, a law that “always accuses and always kills” would exterminate that society very quickly. God can resurrect His people with the Gospel, but the state has no such power.

    So when some of you say, “there is only one law”, do you mean that the laws of the state are really the same as God’s law? Because, the people who draft the laws of the state don’t believe they are drafting laws that hold citizens to a standard of perfection and that will kill them if they fail to meet that perfect standard. I mean, none of us can lead a perfectly good and ordered life, but most of us manage to stay out of jail, and the state expects that.

    Maybe the state drafting laws they believe citizens can obey most of the time (rather than demanding perfection) is showing mercy. But I don’t know that the legislature believes it is doing that either.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@32), it appears to me that your confusion stems from believing that we are talking about a nation’s laws at all. We are not.

    We are talking about the “first use” of God’s Law.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@32), it appears to me that your confusion stems from believing that we are talking about a nation’s laws at all. We are not.

    We are talking about the “first use” of God’s Law.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    I realize that you are doing that, but see fws @27. Anyway, I think I’m agreeing you, so maybe I should just let it drop.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    I realize that you are doing that, but see fws @27. Anyway, I think I’m agreeing you, so maybe I should just let it drop.


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