In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Last time we started looking at the use of God’s law for sinful people. We saw that the law of God is useful as it helps us know how sinful we really are. But is there any other use for God’s law?
God’s law is useful in showing sinful people the perfection of Christ’s obedience.
The Bible teaches us repeatedly that Jesus was sinless. Jesus is often referred to as the ‘Holy One’ or ‘Righteous One’. This of course points to his sinlessness. For example, Peter says to the Jews ‘You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you’ (Acts 3:14). The early church asked God to ‘stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus’ (Acts 4:30). And Stephen says to the Jews ‘Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him’ (Acts 7:52).
But how righteous was Jesus? It is only when we understand how extensive the law of God is that we can understand the extent of Christ’s righteousness.
If you are only required to follow a few laws, it is not hard to be righteous. For example, when you were a baby, laws applied to you by your parents were very simple. You were not expected to do much other than eat and sleep. But as you grew, more and more was required of you. As the number of laws grew so did your holiness – if you kept them.
The same principle applies when you look at the height, width and breadth of God’s law and then marvel at how anyone who could possibly keep it all.
When you understand that God’s law requires man to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37), you are amazed that Jesus was able to do so. Similarly, when you read that the law requires man to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39), you are stunned that Jesus was able to do so.
Yet Jesus did keep God’s law completely. He said: ‘”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:17-18).
Even the Roman governor Pilate admitted Christ’s innocence: ‘Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death’ (Luke 23:13-15).
So the law of God does have a use for sinful humans. It magnifies Christ in your eyes and causes you to run to him. So have you marveled at the perfection of Christ’s obedience to the law?