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The Normative Use of the Law

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 34

What does the Lord say in his law?

The Catechism lists the 10 commandments as it’s answer. They can be found in the Old Testament, in either Exodus 20:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

How are these commandments divided?

Into two tables. The first has four commandments, teaching us what our relation to God should be. The second has six commandments, teaching us what we owe our neighbor.

 

The Normative Use of the Law

Thursday, July 27: Colossians 3:15-17

Today we are privileged to focus on the Normative Use of the law, in which the law functions as a rule of gratitude to guide daily life. It, therefore, serves two purposes. First, the law teaches us the character of our relationship with the Lord and with one another. Our love for Him is to naturally flow into love for others (Matthew 22:34-40). We receive grace, restoration and reconciliation, and, therefore, extend grace, restoration and reconciliation to others. Second, the law is God’s gift to protect us. It serves as His guardrail to keep us from veering off the path of life so that we are able to enjoy its fullness as He intends. Combined, the law as a rule of gratitude teaches that salvation by grace through faith means we have been restored to genuine humanness and that, therefore, our greatest privilege is to live in the likeness and holiness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). The law is no longer a system to earn salvation (Romans 6:14, 7:4, 1 Corinthians 9:20, Galatians 2:15-19, 3:25), but is a window through which we are invited to give concrete expression to our love for Him (Matthew 28:20, John 14:15, Ephesians 2:10). Yet, the real question is this: “Do I desire what God desires in Christ?” I believe this is an essential question when speaking of gratitude to God for the gift of new life. James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on Psalm 30, says that “if we are not speaking God’s praise, it is because our hearts are not full of him. Instead they are filled with the things of this world, things that will perish with the world and pass away. What a sad exchange! The things of this world for the glories of the eternal God” (Psalms, Volume 1, 266). Does your gratitude desire to both sing and display His praise? If so, then receive His law to teach you wisdom and understanding (Psalm 119:33-39), to bring joy to your heart (Psalm 119:97), and to shine the light of grace and truth on your path (Psalm 119:105). That is the life that is most befitting of the likeness of Christ (Matthew 26:39).

Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn