Seeking to figure out the truth.

I am going to ask a question of all my friends (and others, if you prefer) out there in the blogesphere, that I can’t seem to figure out. question

I mean it. I really do want to understand the position of the advocates of the 3rd use of the law. So I ask this question in all earnestness, and with no ill will… just a desire to work this out in my own mind.

Here goes:

‘What benefit has the 3rd use of the law (preached to, or directed at you , either personally or as a believer in the pew) brought to your own personal life as a Christian?’

I will try and relate how the hearing of the law has affected me, being presented in only two uses, and see where the diferences and similarities might be.

Thanks for going along with me on this one.

                           – Steve M.

147 Responses

  1. St Steve,

    You make a great point. The third use of the law preached or directed AT you immediately moves it to the second use stance. “lex semper accusat” The law always brings accusation or if it is directed wrong it could produce a smug sinner. One can see two types coming out of a law oriented sermon, self righteous Pharisee or terrified sinner.

    Thank you for once again visiting my blog and commenting.

    God’s peace. †

  2. Given the objections of their Roman opponents (regarding the Reformer’s views on justification) it is not surprising that we see a very self-conscious effort to emphasize that the Reformers were not advocating antinomianism. In doing so, however, many have argued – then and now – that the Reformers ‘blinked’.

    Article 6 of the Formula recognized the controversy when it stated:

    ‘Some have judged that the Law should be urged, others have denied it.’

    So, even in the early days of the Reformation there was disagreement on this matter – and there probably always will be.

  3. Pastor Mark,

    The Formula said a lot more than that: http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-sd/thirduse.html

  4. “26] Accordingly, we reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness, the teaching that the Law, in the above-mentioned way and degree, should not be urged upon Christians and the true believers, but only upon the unbelieving, unchristians, and impenitent.”

    I went to the link you provided, Pastor Mark, and pulled the last sentence from the Solid Declaration of the Book of Concord (above).

    Thanks very much!

    I really do keep playing out scenarios in my mind in an effort to find where the law has been helpful in my Christian walk (apart from the two uses) but I am having trouble coming up with something concrete which would bolster the claims of those that advocate it’s use. I can only come up with scenarios like the ones that David from http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/ has pointed out.

    To me this adds much credence to the belief that political and theological compromises were the reasons that the 3rd use language even made it into the Lutheran Confesions in the first place. As you said, Pastor….”They blinked”.

  5. I think the confusion on the third use bit comes in when we think it means a third way of using it. That isn’t what the reformers meant at all by the word use. The law is the law and it will have its way with you how it chooses. There are three ways in which the law works on the Christian. The word “use” here means more of “function.” So when I hear a sermon that comes down hard on a sin I am particularly guilty of, then I feel accused. When the gospel comes I feel freed because I am freed, and as long as the pastor doesn’t think third use corresponds to third placement, I will probably try to avoid that sin, for the next few days anyway. (I’ll do that by replacing it with another sin, more than likely, but one I feel better about, because it is not as bad. )
    Ah, the law is a sword that kills those who live by it. Thankfully, the gospel can bring us back to life.

  6. To Nemo: And your point is?

  7. Primarily educational (I like providing links when I cite another source), but also because although the Formula admitted to the dispute, it also came down on one side of it.

    Anyway, Steve seemed to find the link helpful.

  8. What Bror writes makes the most sense to me. Thank you.

    There are however, other people out there, that postulate a law, which they call “Christ’s law”. It bothers me how this is being used. I am speaking about Arminians, if I may switch the topic. This is a law that is even more stringent than the first which is for Christians who are regenerate and have the grace and spirit to do it (such as loving your enemy). (Of course, we believe in loving your enemy, too.)

    For example, I am reading Ben Witherington III’s commentary on Romans. Has anyone read that? Luther comes out quite badly. And “simul justus et peccator” is wrong and “schizophrenic”. But the New Testament prof. at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton likes him a lot. I don’t know what to make of it. I’ll have to talk to him again, when I can. The commentaries are supposed to be really good, but I think there is a real confusion. Ben Witherington thinks there is an “attainable perfection” for the Christian in following the law (Methodist).

  9. Ben Witherington’s writings are pelagian and are not to be regarded as christian teaching.

  10. “Ben Witherington thinks there is an “attainable perfection” for the Christian in following the law (Methodist)”.

    This fallacy does the rounds regularly every couple of years – most of the cults teach something similar (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc) – the fact is that Christ’s work of redemption merely becomes an accessory to law-keeping. If people really want to take this route (they inherently deny the soteriology of the New Testament to do so), then perhaps they should depart from Christianity altogether – there are other faiths which apparently supply what they are seeking.

    ‘Dad’ (Dr Rod Rosenbladt) put out an excellent tape through CURE (Christians United for Reformation) in the 90’s on this – a lecture he delivered here in England entitled ‘Rightly Dividing the Word’, which brilliantly shows why Wesley and other perfectionists are so wrong (anyone interested should contact the White Horse Inn).

  11. “The law is the law and it will have its way with you how it chooses. ”

    Amen, Bror!

    St. Paul calls the law “the ministry of death.” (2nd Corinthians)

    The law brings death, and the gospel brings life.

    Anything that we ‘should’, ‘ought’, or ‘must’ be doing…brings us death….and anything that Christ has done, is doing, or will yet do (for us) brings us life.

    The Holy Spirit lives inside of every believer, and is quite capable of doing the good works that He deems necessary, in the life of that believer. The Holy Spirit handles this task quite aside from the prodding of the law.

  12. “Ben Witherington’s writings are pelagian and are not to be regarded as christian teaching.” (Brent)

    I haven’t finished the commentary, yet, but I think I will agree completely.

    However, the man seems to have a lot of depth and understanding in many areas, as well as influence. I think he should be read and engaged. (apologetics?) On his blog, I have challenged him on a few things, but I seem a lone luth. voice there, and am feeling a little ridiculous, though he is being kind (especially now, reading the commentary, he seems to have Luther more or less as an nincompoop). Calvinists keep coming on and arguing with him, but I see no other Lutherans.

    Several times, I’ve tried to put some distance there between Luther and Calvin. To him, that makes no difference. It is all Augustinian and therefore– wrong.

  13. Brigitte,

    I’ll poke my head in ovet at Witherington’s site and give you some support. I ‘d hate to see a fellow Lutheran take the brunt of a pelagian attack all by herself.

    – Steve

  14. He is quite sophisticated, much of the time in a good way. What he posted today, for example, is quite representative of his work. He corrects many mistakes of groups, which we would like to correct, too. But because of his church tradition, he keeps coming back to misinterpreting certain things over and over. You will also note in this chapter some of what he writes about the law.

    I think he posted todays chapter, because he had been doing a passionate critique of “Pagan Christianity” , recently. One part of “Pagan Christianity” dealt with paying or not paying ministers.

    We’d have lots of trouble with “Pagan Christianity”, too. If you go to slightly older posts, you can see his lengthy critique, chapter by chapter. He is really blasting.

    Anyways, I’d recommend reading some of his stuff, and people will understand why our NT prof. thinks he is really exiting. Nevertheless, he is really wrong about some things. His mind won’t be easily changed. He has written oodles of books about them already. He probably needs to be challenged on a more scholarly level, than what we can offer. Still…

    And we can pray for him. I find myself doing that.

    Maybe, I will exercise and exorcise (?) myself on my blog, just doing some quoting and critiquing from the commentary on Romans.

    Maybe I’ll write something now. Seem like no one is coming home for dinner, just yet. It is very hot and everyone is doing something.
    (my time postings are are really off. Do you know why? We’re in mountain standard time.)
    Blessed Sunday, all.

  15. Nicely done, Brigitte (re;the review on your blog – everyone should have a read). I think you’re right regarding the suppositions being made by Mr Witherington, having had a quick look at his page – a pity, as if he could jettison this baggage, he would be a very able communicator. Maybe something of what is said by yourself or another seeking to confess the Gospel will jolt him. Let’s pray this will be so.

  16. “The Holy Spirit handles this task quite aside from the prodding of the law.”

    Is sanctification synergistic or monergistic? Could the HS use “proddings of the law” as a means of accomplishing its work to grow the elect in holiness and obedience?

  17. RE: John

    No, not from a Lutheran pov. The idea of the Holy Spirit using the “‘proddings of the Law’ as a means of accomplishing its work….” comes from Calvin and not Luther or the Lutherans who wrote the article in the Formula on the third use of the Law. The reason Calvin thought this way is because he wrongly understands the nature of the Christian. For Calvin, the Christian is a part sinner and part saint. For Luther, the Christian is totally sinner and totally sinner all of the time.

    Lutherans on the another hand teach that while the Law “is is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing.” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration: The Third Use of the Law paragraph 4), Christians in so far as they are saints “yet do nothing from constraint of the Law”.

  18. I believe that God needs no law to inform Him of what needs be done.

    Since the only truly good work that comes from us, comes from the Holy Spirit (and not us at all), I don’t see how, or why any law would come into play.

    As Luther says in his explanation of the 3rd article of the Apostle’s Creed, “the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me, and sanctified me, and keeps me in the true faith…”

    It says nothing there about any cooperation on my part.

    St. Paul tells us that ,”He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” Again, there is nothing said about a cooperative effort.

    Since we are saved “apart from the works of the law”, I’m pretty sure we are sanctified apart from works of the law.

    ” Christ is the end of the law for all those who have faith.” (Romans 10:4)

    “When the Son of Man makes you free, you are free indeed.”

  19. To answer the initial question, “What benefit has the 3rd use of the law (preached to, or directed at you , either personally or as a believer in the pew) brought to your own personal life as a Christian?”

    The benefit of the theological category of the third use of the Law for me is that it reminds me that I am in Christ and Christ is me and in so far as I am a new creature I can and am able to do what God has commanded. This pratically means that I can not just be lazy and say I am a sinner and therefore can do no good thing for my neighbor. Even though, it is most certainly true that I am a lazy and selfish sinner. That is not the whole of me. In Christ, I am a saint, which means that althouh only imperfectly, I can do what pleases my Lord and Savior. This is not to say that I base my assurance on the the third use of the Law. I base my assurance that God is my Father on my baptism. Wher He said to me, you are my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased.

  20. Hi Steve,

    Great post!

    In my life the law has never caused me to live by faith. I don’t know how the 3rd use types can look to the law for a guide without it killing them in the process because they are not even close to pulling off the law’s standard. The Old Adam, not your blog, clings to our desire to cooperate with God…..How about die…then arise in your baptism and live by faith!

  21. Craig,

    I don’t know, Craig…you sound a lot like those freedom loving Christians that are relying totally on the grace of God.

    Don’t you think it’s high time you got serious about showing your willingness to get with the program?

    Remember…we’re watching you…

  22. Steven G.,

    Actually…you can just be lazy. The longer that I am in Christ, and He in me…the clearer it becomes just how lazy I am.

    Thanks be to God that He loves me and has died for me…a lazy, good for nothing (as far as my righteousness is concerned), self obsessed, idolator.

    Now, let’s see if I can be of some service to my neighbor.

    Once again, Steven G., we are close…but we just don’t see it quite the same.

    Thanks for your input, Steven…it is much appreciated.

  23. I will just the Blessed Martin Luther speak for me:

    That is what my Antinomians,too, are doing today, who are preaching beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee as if it were the very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the third article, of sanctification, that is, of the new life in Christ. They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and under no circumstances use these or similar words, “Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc.!” Instead they say, “Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has fulfilled it all!”
    Tell me, my dear man, is that not granting the premise and denying the conclusion? It is, indeed, taking away Christ and bringing him to nought at the same time he is most beautifully proclaimed! And it is saying yes and no to the same thing. For there is no such Christ that died for sinners who do not, after the forgiveness of sins, desist from sins and lead a new life. Thus they preach Christ nicely with Nestorian and Eutychian logic that Christ is and yet is not Christ. They may be fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for they do not preach de sanctificatione et vivificatione Spiritus Sancti, “about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit,” but solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (whom they extoll so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, he has purchased redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the old Adam into new men—we die unto sin and live unto righteousness, beginning and growing here on earth and perfecting it beyond, as St. Paul teaches.308 Christ did not earn only gratia, “grace,” for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christi Christi” He must be damned with this, his new Christ.

    Luther, Martin: Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.) ; Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.) ; Lehmann, Helmut T. (Hrsg.): Luther’s Works, Vol. 41 : Church and Ministry III. Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1999, c1966 (Luther’s Works 41), S. 41:III-114

  24. Re: Craig D. The Law does kill as it guides. Remember we are simul iustus et peccator. Of course the Old Adam clings to us. This is why the Law functions in its first and second use.

    Re: Steve M.: In what way is accepting the third use of the Law, not relying on the grace of God?

  25. The 3rd use of the law is not needed. The first two uses cover it.

    To keep us in check (the civil use) and to kill us off to ourselves so that the gospel may do it’s work (the second use)

    Do you really believe that the Holy Spirit needs help from the law to do a good work in us? You don’t need a guide. “The law is written upon your heart.” You know exactly what to do…you just refuse to do it. But you’ll be the first one to tell me and others that we have to do it. What a crock of crumbs.

    St. Paul tells us that the law was a tutor until Christ came, Well, for a Christian…Christ has come!

    This 3rd use business keeps people focused on their performance, or more properly stated…other people’s performance. The third use hasn’t helped you one bit in your performance, it has only made you worse (that is if you believe what scripture tells us about the law vis a vie our performance).

    I am free in Christ and He takes care of my good works. I have never done, and will never do one single good work. All my righteous deeds are as filty rags. (unlike some folks)

    Third use was a political and theological compromise. The Reformers blinked. Maybe in a similar situation we would too. But we are not in a similar situation. We can lift high the cross, and the cross alone.

    We do not have to blink. And we can worry about working out our own salvation…and not the salvation of others. Either it is necessary…or it is not. If it is not than let it go. If it is, then Christ’s cross was not enough.

    My focus will always be on Christ. I don’t care if a thousand Martin Luthers or a thousand St. Jameses,a thousand angels from Heaven tell me otherwise. (BTW it was Melancthon that pushed hard for the third use language…not Luther)

    I have been set free and I will never go back under the yoke of slavery…which is the law.

    How do you like them apples, Steven G. ?

  26. Just stop sinning and get holier! You can attain this by shear will power and effort on your part! Ooops… maybe that’s not pious sounding.. certain religious disciplines that you must undertake will increase your own power over your vices.. and the credit will go to….? The BENEFIT will go to you and your neighbor! Transformation does occur in the life that is being redeemed, glory and thanks be to God alone, for we all can attest to the occurrence of the ‘realization’ that we don’t “DO” those nasty sins quite as much as we did…OOPS! Don’t we then find that we’ve done it again?!
    The law ( we are NOT antinomian) is ALWAYS accusing. The law is just and pure. It must be preached along with Gospel so that it may condemn and kill off sinners. Life and freedom then is given by Christ through the preaching of His word of forgiveness. Preaching Christ without the law is what Luther is referring to. He is not suggesting that the Christian must attain some kind of ‘sinless perfection’ in order to be declared righteous.
    When the conscience is properly vexed by the Holy and righteous law of God then rightly thrown into despair and fear of a wrathful and Holy God, does Christ appear to save and restore. Christ does this by His own merit alone not by our striving to fulfill or cooperate with any ‘supposed’ 3rd use of the law.
    It must be all Jesus or nothing.. Let’s not forget the words of Christ to the whore .. “go and sin no more”… the LAW is still in effect! It is STILL a sin to commit adultery etc. The penalty of such sin was taken on by Christ himself for you.. So, welcome to the paradox of living in Christ.
    You find as I do, that the sin you hate you end up doing.. the good you ought to do, you refuse to do.. we are BOUND to sin.. not as weak victims, but as willing participants! ” men LOVE the darkness”.. that’s you’re condition and mine.. Who then will rescue those who can’t save themselves? Christ and He alone, no thanks to you or me. What’s left to say? The words of the thief on the cross will do for me.. “Lord, when you come into your Kingdom, will you remember me?” I will says Christ. I will. Now, doesn’t that inspire gratitude and love and a warmed heart? I should think so…. if it doesn’t Christ will keep speaking that Word to you.. He doesn’t give up so easily on a withered vine, but asks the landlord for a little more time, because He knows He can get some fruit out of this, that by all rights is DEAD!
    Folks, it’s all Christ or nothing. He alone is mediating for you. Be FREE and LIVE! Jesus has already completed you’re spiritual life for you.. He IS your spiritual life.
    Brent

  27. Well… everything you say is true, Brent, but you just can’t live any way you want. The 3rd rail, Oops…I mean the 3rd use of the law, will lead you to do the things that the Holy Spirit wants you to do.

    The law accuses AND it helps. It gives death AND it gives life. It is Christ AND the tutor.

    Look, Brent, if Melancthon could say in some early documents that we are saved by Christ AND our good works, then you’d better toe the line…after all, Melancthon was a Lutheran.

  28. But seriously folks…take my wife…please.

    You’d better not. It’s because of her (and God) that I’m a Lutheran.

    If one side or the other is in error on this 3rd use issue, then I much prefer to err on the side of God’s grace and mercy, and His all sufficient sacrafice for me.

    For if I err on the side that says I must be doing, exhibiting, bearing good fruits or works (even imperfectly…that just kills me) …I’m going to fail anyway…and then I’ve placed some of the chips on my side of the table.

    I’d rather go ‘all in’ with all the chips on His side of the table. Then I am not gambling, but trusting in the fact that when He told me that I belonged to Him (in my baptism), lock stock and barrel…He wasn’t bluffing.

    See you on the ‘river’.

  29. “Well, isn’t that convenient?” Welllll, It sounds like you’ve got your ‘OUT” doesn’t it Steve? Grace, grace, grace………..(you lutherans rely too much on God’s grace for my liking…) Charles Finney produced better christians than Luther! They took their righteousness seriously!
    Hhhmmph….. ( I’m glad at least I can prescribe the 3rd use of the law for other ‘so called’ christians……..)

  30. Give me the law, and give it to me now. “My sin is ever before me” says the Psalmist. There is no escaping the law and it’s crushing weight. The believer knows this. His or her sin is ever before them.

    The believer is anything but antinomian. One cannot have the living God inside of them and not know what I am talking about.

    The first two uses do their job on me every day. I ‘have to’ measure up in the world and I don’t measure up with God.

    There is no making me a “better Christian”. It aint gonna happen…and when I try, it only makes me a worse Christian (if we can even talk in those terms).

    I’m as good a Christian as I’m ever going to be… in my baptism, completely aside from anything I think, feel, do, or say.

    The living God has called and chosen me that I might be His. He is working His righteousness in me. As Luther said, “He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies me as He does the whole Christian Church on Earth.”

    As an outcome of that, the ‘good works’ will come, but it will not be because I had anything to do with it. I won’t even know what those good works are. God will use, according to His purposes, all that I do…even my sin.

  31. “God will use, according to His purposes, all that I do…even my sin.”

    Careful Steve, you are sounding Calvanist… 🙂

  32. Nemo,

    Not a chance!

    …Excuse me while I go study my Westminster Confessions.:D

  33. I think you both sufficiently killed your straw men. The third use of the Law has nothing to do with justifying ourselves coram deo. It has everything to do with showing us what works God would have us to do.

    Re Brent G: The Luther quote stands despite you attempt to twist it.

    It is obvious that both of you only want Christ to justify your sin.

  34. Steven M. said: For if I err on the side that says I must be doing, exhibiting, bearing good fruits or works (even imperfectly…that just kills me) …I’m going to fail anyway…and then I’ve placed some of the chips on my side of the table.

    If you truly understood the third use of the Law, you would know that no one is putting any chips on their side of the table.

    Sanctification is God’s work not my. When I love my neighbor is not because I am just so loving. It is because “Christ did not earn only gratia, “grace,” for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

  35. Here is what Luther had to say about Melancthon’s treatment of the Law:

    After this conversation Master Jobst127 showed him [Martin Luther] statements which declared that the law should not be preached in the church because it does not justify. Deeply moved, he [Martin Luther] said, “To think that this should be said by our own people even in our lifetime! This is the opinion of Agricola,128 who is driven by hatred and ambition. Would that we might pay heed to Master Philip!129 Philip teaches clearly and eloquently about the function of the law. I am inferior to him, although I have also treated this topic clearly in my Galatians.130

    Luther, Martin: Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.) ; Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.) ; Lehmann, Helmut T. (Hrsg.): Luther’s Works, Vol. 54 : Table Talk. Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1999, c1967 (Luther’s Works 54), S. 54:III-233

  36. To Steven G.
    Then why don’t you do them? btw,… what are they?

    And, yes, I only want Christ to justify me and forgive my sin. Do you have something better than Christ?

  37. More imortantly… the point of these topics by ‘The Old Adam’ , always end with Christ being lifted up and championed as our Saviour and rescuer..
    Steve M., Myself, Howard Pastor Anderson and Many others here in these discussions, always land on the power and will of Christ alone for everything… If not Christ alone, then we are still on the hook. Ok then.. bring out the 3rd use of law. Turn it like a water cannon on us… to what end? Where is Christ? Is He waiting for the 3rd use to do something to us/for us , before He moves in on us? Or are we now without excuse because we should know better? Not very ‘good news’ is it? As for some ‘antinomian’ ‘we want to live in sin’, argument. Nonsense! This is the same dust that was thrown at St. Paul when he argued for the doctrine of justification alone.
    Can anyone give me the list of the 3rd use of the law, that does something differently the the 1st use does?

    Take for example.. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultry”..
    The law will accuse me when I lust after some cute girl at the mall…. sorrow for that sin will drive me to repetance and seek the forgivenes that Christ brings..

    Now.. what is the 3rd use of this law? To teach me that God will be pleased with me if I don’t lust?
    No. God is pleased with Christ alone and that is credited to you as a sinner. God was angry and punished Christ for my lust. When the law does it’s first work, it causes repentance from my condition and brings to me Christ. Sadly, I still struggle (sometimes I don’t put up much of a fight) with lust etc.
    Who then will save me from this condition? My WILL POWER?!
    No. Christ alone.
    What benifit has anyone gotten in their Christian life, by paying lip service (and that’s all anyone can do) to a 3rd use of the law? If we don’t understand the 3rd use, then pray, enlighten us from our error.

  38. Steven G.,

    Maybe you are right, Steven. Maybe I don’t understand what it is that the 3rd use is doing for you that my two uses are not doing for me.

    I admit it. I just don’t see it.

  39. I will give my response by using the same example that you used.

    Take for example.. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultry”..
    The law will accuse me when I lust after some cute girl at the mall…. sorrow for that sin will drive me to repetance and seek the forgivenes that Christ brings…

    We agree here.

    Now.. what is the 3rd use of this law? To teach me that God will be pleased with me if I don’t lust?

    No, that is not what the third use of Law does at all. This is more akin to the first use. Lusting is a sin therefore I will be punished (In the very least my wife may complain that I am looking at other women or the cute chick may slap if she catches me looking. Also this sin could wreck my faith.) if I lust and not punished (No chance of this particular sin wreck my faith.) if I don’t lust. Rewards and punishments lead to good external behaviour. The danger here is that I don’t lust and attribute my salvation to my not lusting, or that I do lust, and despair completely of God’s love for me.

    No. God is pleased with Christ alone and that is credited to you as a sinner. God was angry and punished Christ for my lust. When the law does it’s first work, it causes repentance from my condition and brings to me Christ. Sadly, I still struggle (sometimes I don’t put up much of a fight) with lust etc.
    Who then will save me from this condition? My WILL POWER?!
    No. Christ alone

    Exactly right except that Christ earned for us by His death also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. In other words, now we have the Spirit who wars against the flesh and gives us the strength not to give way to the tempation, but because of the Old Man that clings to us, we more often than not give in to the tempation to lust.

    what is the 3rd use of this law?

    The command, You shall not commit adultery, functions in this third way. It describes Christ. Christ lead a sexually pure and decent life in word and deed and loves and honor His spouse (the Church) sponteously and without compulsion by the Law. In other words, Christ does not break the sixth commandment because He is afraid of being punished, nor does He break because of a promised reward.

    In our baptism, what is Christ’s becomes our and what is ours becomes Christ’s. We now have the Spirit of Christ so we can also without fear or compulsion keep the sixth commandment. We do it (lead sexually pure and decent lives in word and deed and honor and love our spouses) freely and without compusion.

    I will conclude with this line from Scaer:

    Christians hear the gospel and by faith are perfected in Christ and share his righteousness (third use), but within the reality of their own experience, they see themselves more and more as sinners condemned by the law (second use). We live and die as sinners (second use) pleading only for God’s mercy in Christ (gospel).

    and

    The third use considers man in that moment, which exists in faith rather than in real time, when he is without sin and sees the law not as demand but as fulfilled. When he stops to consider whether he has fulfilled the law, faith is lost.

    Here i sthe link to the paper that quotes are taken from:
    http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/1969

  40. Steven,

    That was quite an explanation. Thanks for it.

    I might be slower than the average bear, but I am still not understanding how if the Spirit in Christ is in us and if it is the Spirit of Christ that does every good work in us, how is it that the law is somehow informing the Spirit of Christ, when the Soirit of Christ clearly does not operate inder the law.

    Unless, of course, it is not the really the Soirit of God at work, but OUR realization of what Christ has done for us and now we are free to act in a good way. In which case we are somehow doing a good work of our free will.

    If you might simplify your explanation even further, I would appreciate it.

    Is anyone else out there having the same trouble with Steven’s example?

    Thanks!

    – Steve M.

  41. “we can also without fear or compulsion keep the sixth commandment. We do it (lead sexually pure and decent lives in word and deed and honor and love our spouses) freely and without compulsion.”

    You might be able to kid yourself…but you can’t kid God. He knows every thought you’ve ever had.

  42. Steven,

    If what you say is true, we ought be able to lead pure, sinless lives. if the Spirit is working this third use in us towards that end…then why not? Or is the Holy Spirit so weak that it is unable to accomplish this 3rd use at all times and in all circumstances?

    Is it possible that there could be a fourth use that we also are not taking advantage of? It looks as though (from the poor performances of the believers in the pews) that a fourth use might be needed to take up where this third use has failed to get us to lead those pure, holy, and faithful lives you were mentioning.

  43. You know, now I think I see what all that “Jesus shaped” spirituality that the Internet Monk, et al, have been talking about.

    And to think, I always believed those guys were full of soup.

    There just might be a future in the religious life. Books to read, seminars to attend, brass buttons to polish and navels to gaze into (bless you).

    I wouldn’t normally think those things would be necessary, being in Christ and all…but something is not happening. The 3rd use just doesn’t seem to be kicking-in the way it ought, so maybe a jump start is in order.

    Uh oh. Maybe the Spirit of God isn’t really in me after all. Could it be that my baptism didn’t stick?

    (don’t answer that, Brent)

  44. I have to say, from what I just glanced at, Steven G.’s explanations make a good amount of sense to me, and it seems to be what other pastors are explaining also.

  45. L.L.,

    Can you tell me how this use of the law has made you a better Christian?

    Thanks!

    – Steve

  46. To Steven M.:

    You’re right that this is the experience of the Christian. All we see is our damnable sins. I don’t think this has to do with some deficiency in the Holy Spirit, the deficiency is in us! The good works that the Spirit does work in us are for the Christian forgettable. Amsdorf said that he didn’t remember ever doing a good work. Luther said that it is false works of monks and papists that are memorable. Therefore, the good works that we are first by their nature ordinary, and secondly they are hidden beneath the rumble of our sins.

    “Or is the Holy Spirit so weak that it is unable to accomplish this 3rd use at all times and in all circumstances?” Isn’t that the preeminent complaint about Christianity? The same thing has been said about the Father and Son, so it is not surprising to hear someone say it about the Holy Spirit. This is what the mockers at the foot of the cross said to Jesus. “If you are God, save yourself?” We have all heard, what the cynic says about the Father in regards that He doesn’t save everyone.

    To Brent G.:

    You’re right I break this commandment daily. I repent and will pray that the Father forgive me. You of course know that doctrine is not based on our experience, right? You also know that ad hominem arguments are logical fallacies, right?

    To no one in particular:

    In Luther’s morning prayer, we pray, “I pray Thee to keep me this day also from sin and all evil, that all my doings and life may please Thee”

    In Luther’s evening prayer, we pray,”I pray Thee to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong.”

  47. Steven G.,

    “I pray to Thee…”

    So right, and so true. It is He who does it all. And He does not take marching orders from any law.

  48. I was taught, and have learned from Holy Scripture that the law kills and the gospel raises to new life.

    I ‘m having a hard time with the notion that the gospel uses the law in order to accomplish it’s purposes.

    Once the law has done it’s job (daily) then the gospel does it’s job.

    I’m having a hard time seeing where they work in conjunction with each other.

  49. Therefore, the good works that we are first by their nature ordinary, and secondly they are hidden beneath the rumble of our sins.

    This sentance should read.

    Therefore, the good works that we do through the Holy Spirit are first by their nature ordinary, and secondly they are hidden beneath the rumble of our sins.

  50. Thanks for your patience in trying to explain this to us, Steve G.
    I just don’t see it. Honestly.. it just escapes me.

    I know I don’t live as I ought, God help me. Jesus tells me, I will help you. He does for me what I could never do. End of story. I live me life, and when the opportunity is there, I like to tell others about this same Jesus that has done so much for me. 3rd use of the law? Whatever.. might as well be a 4th , 5th.. also for all I can see… all I know are the words of St. Paul, from whom I have recieved the message.. “Christ is the end of the law, for those who have faith”..
    I think we have all agreed that the law condemns and accuses.. We have also agreed that Christ forgives and restores by His work and merit alone………
    “go and sin no more” I’ve sinned again! “Christ forgives again” , untill we’re put in a box. Christ then promises to raise us on the last day.. without the accusation of our past.
    Is the 3rd use meant to gin up our cooperative efforts in order to have something to show for all our serious hard work in living out the christian life?
    Anytime we look at ourselves to see how we’re doing, the law moves in on us and accuses..
    Let’s start talking about the 10th use of the law..
    Thanks for your continued dialogues on these topics.

    May Christ alone be magnified!

    Brent

  51. Steve, Now i don’t much find polishing brass buttons to be worth while. I do though like to stare at the occasional navel. Just not my own, its fat white and hairy.

  52. Bror,

    “I do though like to stare at the occasional navel. Just not my own, its fat white and hairy.”

    Really? Mine is Jesus shaped.

    – steve

  53. Steve Martin

    I answered your question on my blog.
    Gotta run!

  54. This thread dramatically illustrates the sad development of a poor understanding of Law and Gospel.

    They are distinguished, they are not separated.
    The law always accuses, but it does not only accuse.

    I’m sorry to read here even pastors, who should know better, going wrong on these issues.

    An aversion to sanctification has, indeed, set in and taken hold. Very tragic to see.

    The Gospel does not instruct you how you are to please God. It shows you nothing of God’s will for your life, or what it is that you are to do, and not to do. That is the Law.

    Yes, it accuses. And for the regenerate it is also a guide for daily living.

    Luther was correct. We have many fine Easter preachers, but many poor Pentecost preachers.

    Lord, have mercy.

  55. So is preaching repentance an example of the 2nd use of the law? I’m just wondering what one would say to a “believer” who indulges in sin just because he realizes keeping the law is hopeless so what’s the point – it seems he could just keep saying “hey, i was baptized, i’m in Christ, can’t keep the law so not going to bother fighting temptation on this occasion since i fail in countless other sins”. What is the sign (to others or ones self) that one is not a believer or has become apostate or to be barred from communion?

    I think blogmaster Steve said he was the holiest he’ll ever be at baptism in another thread and I can understand that, but it seems that can just make one easily breeze over passages exhorting/urging good works and resistance to sin or to examine ourselves – for example what did the NT writers mean by:

    “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
    “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
    “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him…”
    “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”
    “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”
    “Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

    Are we not to mature and grow and struggle/fight with ourselves in our walk at all? Or do we merely throw our hands up and remain in a stagnant spiritual state our whole life – that seems antithetical to sanctification and its purpose in preparing us for heaven? Is there no room for preaching the new life in Christ to which we are called and for which we are empowered by the Gospel?

    Found these quotes from Walther -maybe helpful?
    “In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is
    described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.”
    and
    “whoever has trusted in a Christ who would allow him to remain in his sins yet to come into heaven without repentance, without conversion, without sanctification and without self-denial needs to know that there is no such Christ.”

    Kind of an aside, I wonder do martyrs or those who sacrifice themselves keep the law perfectly as “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”?

  56. Rev. McCain,

    I too, think Luther was right. In his explanation to the 3rd article Luther says that the Holy Spirit calls , gathers, enlightens and sanctifies.

    St . Paul tells us that the law is the ministry of death.

    You can have it, Pastor…I’ll stick with Jesus and let Him create in me a clean heart. Jesus does this out of love. I doubt Jesus needs a shot in the arm from the law to help Him work His love in me and through me.

    After hundreds of years arguing this point, you are sorry to see that many (pastors) still do not see it your way.

    The third use opens the door to legalism and has done nothing towards the sanctification of any of it’s adherants.

    They still flat out refuse to live up to the law. What good does being informed of what pleases God do, if you just refuse to do it anyway?

    Besides, the first and second use contain within them all I need to know about what God demands from me.

    The law is written upon our hearts anyway. We know exactly what to do. We just refuse to do it. Maybe you have a better handle on it than most, Pastor.

    Lift high the cross (but not too high…leave a little room for my sanctification project)

    Lord have mercy, indeed.

  57. John,

    Of course the scriptures are filled also with law language. What are we to do with them?

    Jesus tells us in Luke 14:33, “Whoever does not sell everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

    How are you doing, at that one, John? Probably about as well as Pastor McCain, and myself.

    That is a case of Jesus telling us what He expects from us. And we just ignore Him and do as we will, anyway. Gee whiz, wouldn’t you think third use people would be on ebay liquidating everything? Well, normally one would think that with all the pious talk about sanctification. But that is all it is…pious talk. Just lip service to try and get others to act, while we just lay on the couch and watch the olympics or the ballgame, or go on vacation..or whatever.

    What is it that the gospel of John says is to do the will of the Father? To put in an effort at those other passages you mentioned? No. Jesus says “to do the will of the Father is to believe in the One whom He has sent.”

    From time to time, people have actually understood this. Contrary to Rev. McCain’s viewpoint, I don’t think anyone understood it as well as Dr. Forde understood it.

    Hey, religion (that which we do) has always been popular.

    Thanks John!

    – Steve

  58. Rev. McCain,

    I think the world of the late Dr. Forde. I am not alone in believing that his viewpoint is correct (because it keeps Christ’s work central).

    I distrust anything that takes our eye off of His work and shifts the focus (even unwittingly) to us.

    You can tell someone a thousand times that they are saved by faith alone, through grace alone and then make a subtle (or not) suggestion that they really ought be doing ‘this or that’, and then the ‘this or that’ takes center stage in the heart and mind of the hearer. Because we are already wired that way.

    That is why I believe that He must increase and we must decrease. In your system, it seems to me, that we (by our efforts) need to increase.

    i don’t buy it. I don’t have to. i’m free in Christ and I have a Savior that has done …IT ALL…FOR ME.

    Radical stuff… this gospel of Jesus Christ….radical stuff.

  59. Well I thought I could count on Jesus for everything that was needful for salvation, now I’m not so sure.. Rev., I’m feeling uneasy and unsure..
    So, then I MUST be fulfilling some list of conduct AND trust in Jesus?
    How can I measure my sanctification so that I know that I am doing ok and keeping my salvation in tact? Does one check in daily or bi-weekly?
    Who decides if I’m being guided by the 3rd use of law adequately? Have the clergy been instructed on this? I suppose I could check in with a bishop or more conveniently, a Roman Catholic Priest is right down the street from me.. They have this whole transcendence progress down..
    I was just a happy go lucky christian before I started reading this blog..
    Good thing I found out I was still in hot water, now I can get busy figuring out how I am going to get out of my mess and start doing stuff get myself out of trouble.. My neighbor is a mormon I bet he’ll have some good advice for me.
    ( I still don’t know how I’ll know when I’ve done enough to demonstrate that I have real faith and not a said faith…) after all my baptist friend told me that not only do I have to accept Jesus as my saviour, I also must make him my lord.. I guess that’s true. I don’t know, but I really don’t feel good right now.

    I’ve got a book by Charles Finney around here some where.. I suppose I can read that and start getting busy… ( but how will I know if I’m doing well enough)…….
    Thanks, ( I guess)……

  60. Hi Steve,
    “The third use opens the door to legalism and has done nothing towards the sanctification of any of it’s adherants.”

    Yes, I can see this, but as I was kind of trying to say, the pendulum can also swing into license and “sinning so that grace may abound” – again, how would you respond to someone obstinately sinning who has become indifferent and says well it’s impossible to keep the law anyhow and refers to his baptism? Maybe you wouldn’t? What’s your view of repentance – maybe you would say if he’s unrepentant, there’s danger, but then as you’ve said before we are free to not sin…or not, which seems to make repentance optional? What if he also just stops going to liturgy and partaking of communion and no longer interested in prayer or scripture – can *anything* set off any red flags at all?

    I don’t know that it necessarily would cause legalism if the other 2 uses are preached along with it; I think most who are striving to obey the Lord, and recognizing they also fail constantly and are unprofitable servants in what meager gifts they can offer the Lord, realize they can’t keep it perfectly and aren’t ebaying their possessions or going on mission trips every vacation, but also realize they should honor their heavenly father and try to obey Him. Thanks to Steven G, I read up a bit more on the Reformed use of the 3rd use; do you think most Calvinists are legalists?

    Yes, the law is on our hearts so we know what to do and ignore it many times, but just as we know the gospel, having it repeated strengthens us, and having the law reiterated accuses yes, but also help us realize our calling and empowerment in Christ and reinvigorate our desire to obey and honor Him. Even Luther in the LC on the 10C where Law is all over the place says “Only occupy yourself with them, and try your best, apply all power and ability, and you will find so much to do that you will neither seek nor esteem any other work or holiness.” “Your best”? What was he thinking?

    The view here almost seems like why bother, go bury your talent in the ground and keep your lamp empty. If a child tried to please you by spontaneously and unexpectedly cleaning the house, but left the lawn unmowed, would you scold him just as if he had done nothing at all? Have you read JC Ryle’s (classic and online) Holiness? I’ve only read parts; is he full of hot air 🙂 you think?

    Tough balance for me at least – this sanctification and law business. Good stuff as always Steve.

  61. What is the 3rd use of the law again? I’m so confused with all the wordsmithing going on here… Rev. can you bottom line this whole thing for me? I don’t understand what the 3rd use means, but you seem to be really sure of it.. just can you please tell me what I should do now? 1st use: restrain civil evil. 2nd use: convict, accuse and drive sinners to Christ. 3rd use:….. I’m drawing a blank….
    what is it? The only thing I can carry away from this is, suddenly I feel my foundation has shifted and I am no longer feeling secure in trusting God for everything.. I was not raised a Lutheran.. in fact I was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist. After that I spent 20 years in the non denominational denomination.
    I finally walked into a Lutheran church and heard the gospel separated from the law. The ‘doors of Heaven ‘ opened for me and I was so comforted by hearing that Jesus Christ has done (is doing) everything for me by himself.
    It gave me such peace and assurance and confidence and hope. That message inspired me to love God whom I had hated before. Now Rev. McCain you are telling me that after 10 years as a Lutheran, my pastor has deceived me and not told me the truth about the 3rd use of the law. I still don’t know what it means but you seam to be pretty convinced, so.. ok I’m listening..
    Why would a Lutheran pastor want to teach me error..or even worse, out of his stubborn willful sinful nature, teach me to trust in Christ alone in spite of the fact that I can’t overcome my sin!…….. I can’t overcome my sin, The harder I try to be very pious and pure hearted and have pure thoughts… I find I can’t do it. Is there power in the law to help me attain sinless perfection? I know my Pentecostal friends kept telling me, that if I only spoke in tongues, that would prove I had real faith and was baptized by the Holy Ghost and could then attain sinless perfection. Is that the 3rd use of the law? Are the pentecostals right on this matter? What if I can;t stop sinning? Maybe if I just SAY that I’m trying, I mean REALLY trying! Does this count as doing the 3rd use of the law? Couldn’t the Holy Spirit just do this for me by Himself? Is He waiting for my free will offering before He meets me half way? 80/20 split?
    Now I don’t know whom I can trust……

  62. If your pastor has not explained that the Law, in the life of the believer, is used by the Holy Spirit to help them know what they are to be doing, as Dr. Luther explains in our catechism, we are to be thanking and praising, serving and obeying Him, in grateful response to all He has done for us, then your pastor has been wrong.

    I see a lot of people making these issues too complicated.

    We are saved by Christ.
    We are always IN Christ.
    It is always Christ at work in us.

    We live our lives according to the Law, in the power and freedom that the Gospel gives us. We are no longer slaves to sin, but to righteousness.

    Perhaps this little pamphlet might help:

    Click to access wa_10commandments.pdf

    Of course we are to strive to do good works! That’s a perfectly Biblical truth. We do not “strive” to do so to merit God’s favor, nor because we believe in this life we can be perfectly holy.

    But, as we read throughout the New Testament…yes, we are to strive to do good works and to live in the holiness which we are given, and continually given, in Christ.

    There is no power in the Law not to sin. The “power” is Gospel. The Gospel however does not provide us the norm and guide for what we are to do and not to do, otherwise the Gospel would be something other than good news and power for salvation.

    What I notice here on the third use of the law is a negative legacy from the ELCA where this doctrine has been doubted, questioned and in some cases cast aside for years.

    You might also enjoy reading: “Law, Life and the Living God” by Dr. Scott Murray, published by Concordia Publishing House. It explains the history of these issues over the past fifty years or so in Lutheran circles.

  63. Rev. McCain.,

    Of course we learn about the law at classes and in the catechism. But more than that, when the law is preached in our congregation, it is ‘done TO us’.

    Our sin is ever before us. Our duty to thank, praise , honor and obey Him is law. A law which we are unable to fufill (unless we kid ourselves).

    We don’t need to be prodded by the law. We are sons and daughters of the living God and have His favor already. When we do something good, it is because of Him…not His law.

    I thank God that my pastor doesn’t have a legalistic mindset and that he doesn’t lay a lot of burdens of the law upon us in our Christian walk. I thank God that the freedom of the Christian for us is a real freedom and not an imaginary one that is overshadowed by the yoke of slavery that is the law.

    I’m no fan of the ELCA. In our congregation, you’ll find no harsher critics of the liberal policies of the ELCA. The ELCA’s problems do not stem from their lack of third use of the law, but rather their disregard for ANY law.

    Properly understood, the two uses of the law does everything that the 3rd use advocates propose, with the exception of putting the focus on behavior and turning the believer into a modern day Pharisee, or phoney.

    That Melancthon was a humanist who believed we ought contribute to the Christian project, doesn’t mean that we have to believe as much.

    This Southern Baptist doctrine of the Word stems from a wooden understanding of scripture where the living and active character of the Word is replaced by an ossified, religious view that gives man some sort of power to act on his own behalf when it comes to fulfilling the law.

    I don’t live under the law for my sanctification or justification.

    I feel sorry for the poor folks that do.

    I know you’d love for me to see the error of my ways and run back into the shackles of a phoney performance regimine. But this is one Lutheran who is not a lemming.

    I am secure in my Lord.

    Good luck with your little sanctification project!

  64. Steve,

    This has been quite the discussion (and although I haven’t commented much, I have followed it). Lets, for a minute, take it out of the realm of the intellectual/theological and look at the question in practice.

    What would you say to the woman who claims that, since she is in Christ and forgiven irregardless of her actions, continues in her prostitution?

    What would you say to the thief, who, because he is in Christ and free from the law, continues to steal?

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21)

  65. Hello Nemo,

    I’d say to that woman, “your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.” Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.

    We do go and still keep sinning. Not just “the woman”…ALL of US !

    What does Christ say to US? Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.

    In that Word, there is power. The Word creates faith. Faith acts out of love…not the law.

    Is it possible that the ones that will not enter Heaven will be turned away because they were relying on their own ability to keep the law and not trusting in what Christ has done for them?

  66. “Of course we are to strive to do good works! That’s a perfectly Biblical truth. We do not “strive” to do so to merit God’s favor, nor because we believe in this life we can be perfectly holy.

    But, …”

    I pulled this paragraph out of your last comment, Rev. Mc Cain because the ‘yeah, but’ struck me as something I quite often hear from my Roman Catholic, Baptist, non-denominational friends.

    “Sure, we are saved by Christ and His work alone…but…”

    The ‘yeah but’ syndrome is all about ‘us’.

  67. ……….maybe I should go back to the ‘Purpose Land”…………

  68. Brent,

    The only ‘Purpose’ that I know of that has any staying power, any saving power, any power of love and truth…is Christ’s purpose for us on the cross.

    Everything else is just lipstick on a pig.

  69. John,

    I think you have raised some good points.

    Why bother being”good” if we don’t have to? Because the Spirit of God inspires us to be so. In ways we don’t even realize. Because of the presence of the Living God within us…we can’t help but do as He desires even as we sin.

    Can the law inspire us to “good works”? No. It either motivates us on fear of puinishment or hope of reward. No good motive (pure love)…no good work.

    John, since our “meager” offerings to God are worthless (filthy rags), we need not direct our efforts and gifts there…they are for the neighbor.

    When the law works it’s power of demand on us and we fail, we are brought to repentance by the Spirit of God. Repentance is not a work we do of our own accord. Outward repentance might be of our own doing, but true repentance always comes from the Spirit .

    I believe Calvinists are legalistic. God chooses you, but now it’s incumbant on you to keep His law.

    You mentioned Luther. Luther was the one who told Melancthon to sin boldly. Not to run roughshod over the neighbor, but to live…in the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness of sins…not to legalistically focus on yourself and your performance, but to throw yourself into the world with abandon…for the sake of your neighbor.

    Concerning “red flags”…yes, we ought to be concerned with red flags. That is one of the pastor’s jobs, to shepherd the flock, to guide them and help keep them in the faith…using the Word. Law and gospel and the sacraments. When need be, the pastor will exercise the office of the keys. We all should. But not as some method of getting the person to strive more, or be more serious, but to help lead the person to repentance by the use of the law, and the gospel. When someone in the congregation is willfully unrepentant and flaunting his sin, he should be askd to leave lest he poison the others.

    The problem with the third use is one of focus. It shifts the focus back onto ‘me’. The focus belongs on Christ. “You can do nothing part from me.” “I am the Vine you are the branches.” The good works will flow from the juices of love carried to the branches that eminate from the Vine…not any law.

    The question I always like to ask “third use” folks is…”to what end?” “What are you after?” Who will oversee this project and be the judge of your application of this “third use”?

    I see it only as a detriment, taking away from Christ what rightfully belongs to Him and Him alone, the justification and sanctification of one who does not really want Him after all.

    Great questions, John! I’m sure you can get answers just from this small group that are all over the map!

    Lord willing, Christ and His work for sinners will be lifted higher and higher, while our work recedes lower and lower.

  70. Hi Steve,
    “It either motivates us on fear of puinishment or hope of reward. No good motive (pure love)…no good work.
    since our “meager” offerings to God are worthless (filthy rags), we need not direct our efforts and gifts there”

    Why does God then test our works by fire and approves some of them (yes, much will be burned up as you rightly note) and rewards us for our deeds? If you’re saying our own natural works are filthy rags, of course they are. But works done by grace are indeed pleasing to God – yes we don’t keep the law, but yet our works please Him – you seem to think that if we make any conscious effort or are aware of our sanctification in any way whatsoever, grace is completely nullified. In this way, sanctification is just as monergistic as justification which you can assert of course, I just thought most views of sanctification in classical Protestantism is synergistic, we are partakers of the divine nature and co-laborers (but again, as Augustine says, the gifts he crowns are his own – no believer boasts in his striving to obey the Lord; one who thinks he is without sin is a fool).

    In the NT passages I cited, there doesn’t seem to be any qualifiers added by Peter,John, or Paul. Now, John does not say “strive to keep his commandments”, but he also does not say “to keep the commandments is impossible” – I don’t think you would say believers do not “know him” because they can’t keep the law, just like unbelievers do not “know him” because they can’t keep the law would you? Would you tell a believer to “pursue holiness”?

    “When someone in the congregation is willfully unrepentant and flaunting his sin, he should be askd to leave lest he poison the others.”
    Is being lazy about our calling in Christ to obey and do good works sinful? As you say, you are free to help your neighbor or not, to sit on the couch and drink beer while neglecting your neighbor – are you being unrepentant here? Shouldn’t you repent of this rather than just saying, “eh, I’m way too much of a sinner anyways, I can’t possibly help my neighbor the way the Lord wants so forget about it” Do you feel convicted at all when choosing to neglect your neighbor, yet don’t bother trying to amend things since it’s futile?

    “You can do nothing part from me.” “I am the Vine you are the branches.”
    Of course 3rd use ppl aren’t saying they can save themselves or their natural works count for anything. Can the branches be cut off? If so, was it the vine’s fault or the branch’s fault?

  71. Yeah Steve!

    “If you keep preaching grace, a flood gate of iniquity will arise”!
    You just can’t live the way you want to.. You may say you’re ‘free’ in Christ, but you know we’re really not free in Christ. Face it, you’re lazy. If you continue, you’ll be lazy and negligent, you may not get into Heaven, so KNOCK IT OFF! Get busy! There is no rest. Start pleasing God like these others are successfully doing.
    Guys like you………………………….sheesh……..
    I for one have been convinced! I’m returning to the law in order to live out a REAL life in Christ, not like you guys who just SAY you are in Christ.

  72. John,

    I guess I do not buy the synergistic sanctification model.

    I believe (as Luther explains in the small catechim – 3rd article of the Apostle’s Creed) that the Holy Spirit does it all.

    Could the deeds that we are rewarded for… be our trust in Him? Or acting on the neighbor’s need without having on our mind some thought about our sanctification? I believe when the third use model is put into play, one can’t help but think about what they are doing towards being a better Christian.

    We should repent of being lazy, and of being greedy, and of overeating, and of ill thoughts, and of worrying (the ultimate way to show a lack of trust in the Lord – worrying), and of…you name it. There is always much to be repentant about. Being repentant isn’t fixing the problem and going back on your merry way. Being repentant is a real sorrow over your sin. That IS the Christian life…repentance and forgiveness. Luther said that being sorry was enough. Otherwise, no one would really be repentant for we all have those nagging sins that we just can’t seem to shake.

    I would tell a believer to pursue holiness. But I wouldn’t lay out the program, or show him a guide (third use). I would let him live his life in his Christian freedom, and act as he saw fit. Then preach the law and gospel to him to kill him off and raise him again, and administer the sacraments to him.And trust that the Holy Spirit will take care of the sanctifying.

    Can a branch be cut off? Sure! The Lord does as He wills. We are free to turn our back on the Lord. Will He take us back? We hope so. He loves to forgive. Will He take everyone back? The scriptures talk of those seeds that fall on rocky ground, and of shallow roots that wither and die…so I guess we can be lost.

    We can be lost by our doing, but we can’t be saved by our doing.

    That’s how I understand it.

    I believe that knowing Him has absolutely nothing to do with keeping the law. Jesus said of the publican vs.. the Pharisee, that this one went home justified. He knew his wretched condition and he knew he needed mercy from God. The Pharisee, on the other hand, was doing a pretty good job at keeping the law, but he knew not his need of God.

    I may not have made a whole lot of sense answering your questions, but I appreciate the fact that you bring up great points that make me think, John.

  73. Brent,

    He said “My yoke is easy.”

    If you want to put back on the Pelagian collar of a self focused religious regimine…then go ahead. This freedom and trusting God stuff isn’t for the faint of heart.

  74. Steve M. said:

    I’d say to that woman, “your sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.” Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more (emphasis mine)

    “The go and sin no more” is Law. As Law it functions for the woman and all the truly believing since we(the woman and all those in Christ) are saints as instruction whereby we learn to serve God, not according to her or our own thoughts, but according to God’s “written Law and Word, which is a sure rule and standard of a godly life and walk, how to order it in accordance with the eternal and immutable will of God”.

    The “go and sin no more” as Law also functions for this woman and us since we are sinners as accusation because we go and sin.

  75. Meant to include this above, what I stated in the comment dated August 15 at 3:37 am that the first paragraph is a paraphrase of paragraph 3 from the BOC Solid Declaration Article 6.

    I also left out:

    13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

    14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Galatians 3 KJV)

    The Law and love are not antonymous.

  76. Steven G.,

    That’s great. How are you doing with your instruction? How are you doing with your going and sinning no more?

    That was a rhetorical question. I already know.

    You and your third use are doing no better than me and my first two uses.

  77. I like the example of the woman caught in adultery.

    1. She is caught and is supposed to be stoned. First and second use. (I presume she is also informed at this point, but she gets another lesson).

    2. She gets to go free. Justification. No penalty. No payment.
    All done. The terror is over. Imagine the relief.

    3. Christ “informs” her to stop it. –She might do it–just for Him.

  78. I like your analysis, Brigitte.

    1. Of course she is informed.

    2. Now, that’s the gospel!

    3. She might try to stop sinning (that’s the word in the text, ‘sin’.) but will continue to sin. But Christ’s admonishment along with her hearing of the gospel, will lead her to repentance…over and over and over again.

    We are that woman.

    Nicely done, Brigitte!

  79. She might stop committing adultery. That’s what Jesus meant.
    It is possible to stop doing that. She might struggle her life long, or not.

  80. Brigitte,

    The text says, “go and ‘sin’ no more.” We can never be sure what was in Jesus’ mind. That’s why I think it’s important to work with what the text actually says.

    Now if we want to do some thoelogy on that sentence, I think it makes more sense that He would want her to go and not commit any sin, including that of adultery.

    Thinking of it that way helps us to remember that Jesus would have us not get into any kind of trouble.

    But we are all like sheep and go astray…regardless of what He tells us to do.

    Great comments, Brigitte. Got me to thinking and that is always not an easy thing to do!:D

  81. Steve, how do you know what those works are that God prepared in advance for you to do, for which you were created in Christ?

  82. Rev. McCain,

    Love God and your neighbor as yourself.

    The gospel provides the freedom for me to act on behalf of my neighbor without fear.

    Love doesn’t need to be told what to do. Only acting out of a sense of law needs that, and that is not what God is after.

  83. That’s not what I asked you Steve. You are confusing things here.

    What is the guide/standard/rule by which you know you are doing what is pleasing to God? It is not the Gospel, it is the Law.

    And that is what the “third use” is all about.

    In your well-intentioned desire to keep clear works from justification, you are actually turning Gospel into Law.

    Your “love doesn’t need to be told what to do” approach is precisely how the gay-rights movement in the ELCA advances its agenda. It is antinomianism that is behind most of the problems facing the ELCA, and will be the undoing of your little splinter group.

    I hope you come to a better understanding of these things.

  84. Rev. McCain,

    You misunderstood my answer, Rev.

    I was trying to say that God works “good works” through me with His Spirit…out of love. I am not doing the good works that are pleasing to God, for how could I, since all my righteous deeds are as filthy rags.

    When you measure a work by the standard that is the law, the only result could be a filthy rag, since the law demands perfect obedience.

    But acts done out of love (by the prompting of the Spirit) require no law.

    I’m turning gospel into law? I think you have that exactly backwards. The gospel is Christ died for sinners…period. Am I the one that is adding on to that with some required obedience or lip service brand of piousness…or are you?

    The gay rights thing in the ELCA is not a third use issue. Not at all! It is a total disregard for any use of law.

    If you think I am a cheerleader for the idiotic decisions of the ELCA leadership, you are mistaken. I criticize them more than I do the ossified legalists in the LCMS.

    That is the one thing about being free in Christ, we are not beholdin’ to people and doctrines that wish to rise above, or contribute to what our Lord Jesus has done for us…whether they be on libertine left, or the legalistic right.

    What is it to ‘do’ the will of the Father…anyway?
    ” Believe in the One whom He has sent.” If you want to do a “good work”, that ought to cover it.

    Rev. McCain, I guess we just see things differntly, that’s all. When we get to Heaven, I love to buy you a beer. I’m sure at that point, we will all have a good laugh over all the things that we maybe didn’t get just right.

  85. Yes, good works are the work of the Spirit in your life. They are, therefore, pleasing to God, not because YOU are doing them, but because they are what God is doing in and through you. But it is you. You are not a robot. You are old man/new man. As such, you are not in heaven yet. You require and need a sure and certain guide to know what it, and what is not, pleasing to God. That guide is the LAW, not the Gospel.

    I’m not suggesting you are a cheerleader for the ELCA, by no means, but I’m trying to help you see that the antinomianism that characterizes your understanding of God’s Law in the life of the Christian is precisely what provides a fertile ground for the errors in the ELCA.

  86. I thought in Christ we were freed from the law?

  87. “But it is you” “You require…”

    Rev. McCain, with all due respect, you sound just like my enthusiastic non-denominational friends who tell me that I just can’t live any way I want. I always tell them, “you mean just like you are doing?”

    ‘Yeah Christ did it all , but lets talk about ‘you’.

    I don’t buy it. I’d rather be antinomian than to have ‘my action’ be on my mind.

    For hundreds of years Lutherans believed as I do about third use issues without throwing out the law as the ELCA has. It is ironic that since they have thrown out the law, they are all about the law. Now, it is all ‘social gospel’ and ‘doing’. It’s all law…but not to kill…to make better. They’ve got it bass ackwards.

    You can be in the ‘center’, still have law and gospel, and not be antinomian.

    In my congregation we are centered on Christ. We study the catechism, have unmitigated law preached to us. We are not antinomian, but we believe we are freed from the ‘doing project’. We still ‘do’. But that is Christ’s business. We don’t know who is doing what for what motivation, or who are the real Christians. That is not our concern.

    I do think it’s a matter of focus, Pastor. You cant stop the believer from doing, but you can put someone’s focus in the wrong place by planting the seed of his ‘ability to do’. They get ‘the law’ on the brain, instead of the works from the heart, out of gratefulness.

    The ‘center’ (Christ’s work…for us) is where we ought to be.

    Thanks very much, Pastor.

  88. Brent,

    We are. Now get back to work.

  89. Steve, the point simply is that you are still old man, even as you are new man. It is the Law that shows you what those good works are that you are to be doing, not the Gospel. That’s the Holy Spirit’s use of the Law in its third function, a word, I prefer, to use, since all three are the Holy Spirit’s uses.

  90. To Steve M.: You can’t live anyway you want if the way that you are living is violating God’s Law. If that were the case than why do oppose the ordination of women or the blessing of same sex couples? Who are you to judge them! Maybe the Holy Spirit led them to do those things? After all the Holy Spirit is not beholden to the very Law He gave? Aren’t you by opposing those being just as legalistic? After all they have freedom in Christ, to do and live how they please, right? You have said on another blog that you are free in Christ to commit adultery than why are they not to free in Christ to have homosexual relations? Let me repeat myself here. Christ freed us from the CURSE of the Law NOT the LAW itself, because the Law after all is God’s holy, just, and good Word, too. The Spirit through God’s Word both Law and Gospel works both faith, whereby we trust that Christ’s sacrifice was for our sins, and love, whereby we serve our neighbor.

  91. Steven G.,

    Why talk about others?

    Why don’t you include yourself? Unless you happen to have an unstained way of living out your Christian life. Are you telling me that you don’t willfully ignore God’s command to love your enemies and help the poor and have pure thoughts at all times?

    We (those of us that understand Law and gospel) don’t condone any of it, including the things you said and the also the list of sins that you (and I) commit on a regular basis.

    If anyone wants to play that holier than thou game, that is their business. I’m not going to do it. I realize that the list of my own sins is long and dirty. I guess if I had the ‘third use’ going for me I be all cleaned up and tidy by now.

    Actually… I am. For I am baptised.

    St. Paul says that all things are lawful. But all things are not profitable. For Christians, the last judgement has already been held…at your baptism. So any sin that you commit in this life, past present, or future…is forgiven. That is called the gospel.(Christianity 101)

    It cracks me up that you think of homosexuality as a ‘real sin’, but the littany of sins that you regularly commit are somehow just baby sins, and God will wink at those.
    Your sins would also be enough to send you to hell…if it weren’t for Christ…so get down off that high horse of self righteousness and admit the fact that you can’t cut it either…just as I can’t cut it.

    But Steven…there is One who has ‘made the cut’ for us.

    “Christ freed us from the CURSE of the Law NOT the LAW itself…”.

    Oh contrare, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for all those who have faith.” Got faith? No law. No faith. Then law.

    The law will not be mocked and there is always a price to pay in our creaturely existence, but there will not be a price paid by us for righteousness sake because Christ already paid it! Again, that’s the gospel.

    Is this thing on?

  92. And he has expertly evaded yet another direct question.

    When you learn how to answer a question instead of engaging in sophistry give me a holla.

  93. Steven G.,

    I oppose the ordination of women because I do not feel that the majority of women are able to keep their emotions seperate from the job at hand. Women by nature, are more nurturing and feelings oriented and men seem (for the most part) to be more pragmatic and focused more to the task at hand.

    Can God use the ministry of women pastors? He can and does.(He uses everything for His purposes…good or bad) Was it a mistake to go down that road? It certainly may have been, but we’ll see how it all plays out.

    The blessing of same sex couples condones sin and undermines the invaluable contribution of the mother and father as the cornerstones of the family. This is vitally important in the raising of children.

    You ought realize that I don’t judge anyone.Keeping rules and good order is not passing judgement. If you were a member of my congregation and I knew you were a habitual sinner (say you always went over the speed limit on the way home from church), I wouldn’t confront you about it, because you are most likely saddened about your poor performance, and you won’t poison the congregation by your flaunting your disregard for the laws of the state (which is sin).

    Everything in life is not cut and dried, black and white. The complexities of our existence and the depths in which we all find ourselves in bondage to sin are enormous.

    That is why I’m a firm believer that Christ is the only One that is up to it.

    I agree with you that we are still under the law, as creatures of God (just not as children of God). Not one jot or tittle of the law will be undone until Christ returns. But for us, as His children, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

    If I err, it is on the side of God’s forgiveness in Christ…for us.

    That may not have been the answer you were looking for, but right now (late on a Sunday evening) it’s the best I can do.

    The two camps of Lutheranism were divided on these issues right from the start (of the Reformation) and we are still divided on these things now. How each camp understands the doctrinte of the Word, is basically different. One camp is more Christ alone oriented, and the other camp believes in a certain amount of synergistic cooperation.

    Are both camps Christian? I’d say so. But that flame that is the gospel might burn a bit brighter in one or the other.

    You think it’s (the brighter flame of Christ) in yours, and I think it’s in mine.

    Thanks Steven G.

  94. Steve, if you believe you are “free” to sin, you do not understand the Law or the Gospel. And if your pastor is teaching you this stuff, then he doesn’t either.

    It’s that simple, and sad.

  95. Rev. McCain,

    Galatians 5:1

    ‘For obedience Christ has made us obedient.’

    Is that what you wish it really said?

    You keep whipping them into shape, and we’ll keep giving to them the Word that will free them.

    This has been quite a clarifying discussion.

    Thanks for helping to make the freedom that Christ brings stand out in stark relief from all those that would keep us bound to the law.

  96. Steve, do you believe you are “free” to sin?

    You are taking the Bible out of context and quoting from it only very selectively.

    The antinomianism you are advocating on this blog site is not Biblical, nor is it Lutheran. It is a false and misleading teaching.

    Does your pastor teach that you are free to sin?

  97. “little children, we ought not sin, but when we do, we have an advocate”

    Dear, Rev. Now you’re sounding a bit desperate… Please, these kind of attacks can’t be profitable. Certainly you don’t mean the discussion to sink to this level..
    I read your latest blog entry and I feel you grossly misrepresented the discussion on this blog. The debate is over the 3rd use of the law..not the law in general
    (ei. 1st and 2nd use). It is unfair of you to charge Steve and others here with antinomianism. You should know better than that. As for the ‘selective’ bible verses…. I like this quote from Luther.. “for those that would use the bible against Christ, we use Christ against the bible”.
    Rev. It is clear that Steve is so confident in the glory, power,mercy,forgiveness,restoration,freedom and friendship that our dear Lord gives us freely that he is bending over backwards to give the Word away to others for free! No strings attached. Your word to us seems to be, ‘there are strings attached’, ‘there is no free lunch even when it comes to Jesus’. No thanks Rev. We’ll take Jesus for everything He’s giving. I’d rather be counted with the sinners who recognize their need of God and get excited when they hear about the wonders of Christ for them.
    “Lord, when did we feed you, clothe you, visit you etc. ” meaning these were the ones who were unaware of their ‘christian good works’. I believe this story tells us that this group was JUST LIVING their lives in the confidence of Christ and all these ‘good works’ just poured out of them, totally unconsciously, for the neighbor around them.
    The publican who beat on his breast and cries to heaven for mercy because of his sin.. He is the one who is justified, says Jesus, NOT the ‘righteous’ man who is minding his P’s and Q’s and being careful not to sin.
    The man who had the demon cast out of him, cried to the Lord.. “I am ready to follow you!” Jesus tells the man , just go home (just go back to your life) and if you want to do something for me, tell them what God has done.
    Rev., when Christ gets a hold of a heart of stone, His Word of love and forgiveness is so powerful, He can change that heart to flesh. That’s the message on this blog. It’s all about Jesus. Before you get our dear Pastor in your cross-hairs, listen to his preaching.. http://lightofthemaster.com before you make your disruptive, hurtful assumptions and besmirch his character.
    Lastly Rev. If we are not ‘free to sin’ as you put it, ( I take it that means that we can stop sinning, with a little effort on our part), then why don’t you stop sinning? Why aren’t you progressing, or getting better, or producing more fruit, or doing more good works? Why aren’t these things happening more and more in your life? Are you more sanctified by your efforts today than you were yesterday? If you answer yes, how can you be sure that you are? Who will tell you that you are? Who is the judge of such sanctification? Perhaps you just suppose you are………….
    It’s Jesus or nothing Rev. He has done everything for us that is needful for a right standing before God. We ARE free to LIVE ( that includes all those sins that we will regrettable commit). Jesus in His love, has taken on everything for us. So, relax your shoulders Rev. ‘It is finished’. Christ has promised life and forgiveness to sinful people who don’t deserve it. This includes me and you Rev. “If you want to do anything for me, tell them what God has done”..
    Brent

  98. Brent,

    Very nice job proclaiming the gospel!

    It is free! It is the ‘good news’! There is (as Luther says) not one thing that we must do to attain it, to maintain it, to contribute to it, or to improve upon it.

    It is the Lord’s work! And that goes for sanctification also.

    “Sanctification is getting used to your justification.” – Gerhard Forde

    Forde was right. Pastor Mark is right. You are right. And many more good and faithful Lutherans and Christians of many stripes. (many others right here on this blog)

    Unlike some, we don’t believe that we are the ONLY ones that know the truth. (the Word…Jesus Himself)

    But we do know it. We do know Him. He’s in the Bible. He’s in the Lutheran Confessions, He’s in the poor words of pastors and laypersons all around this globe. And He’s in our hearts.

    But there are other words out there (much of which eminate from inside the church itself) that aim to qualify, to reduce Christ’s work , and to lift up the work of man.

    Christ’s forgiveness is either everything…or it is nothing.

    And now… the incessant chorus of…”YEAH BUTS!”

  99. There are no strings attached to God’s grace. We are called to a new life in Christ, called to a new new life, in Him, one marked by devotion to His Word. That Word makes it very clear that life in Christ is not a life of freedom to sin, or for sin, but from sin. The comments on this blog site that would leave the impression that it matters not if Christians sin, or it matters not if they do good works, are in conflict with the teaching of Jesus Christ, and His Apostles. It is a position known as “antinomianism” — a position thoroughly rejected by our Lutheran Confessions.

    If your pastor is teaching you that you are free to sin, then he is teaching a false word.

    I can not believe that he is.

    I would challenge you all to take these remarks to him for his review and ask him, simply, if he agrees with some of you who are asserting that the Gospel sets us free to sin.

    Please take him that question.

  100. Rev. McCain,

    Just because we are freed by Christ, and not subject to condemnation under the law for sin, does not mean that we advocate it.

    I don’t ever remember telling someone that they ought to go out and willfully sin.

    I think Luther did tell some people that openly sinning in front of (legalistic) clergy would be a good way to demonstrate their Christian freedom to those still living under the law.

    What I am saying, what we preach, teach and confess, is that there is no sin too big for Christ not to forgive and that He forgives our sin daily…without our cooperation.

    We don’t advocate sinning. We advocate living…in freedom. Freedom from having to worry about your performance. What good does trusting in our baptism do, if we have to toe the line in addition to it?

    Your form of Lutheranism says that we have a role to play, we must (try) to keep our nose clean.

    Our form of Lutheranism says nobody keeps their nose clean, and nobody really wants to. We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We like being in bondage to sin. “Men loved the darkness.”

    The gospel creates freedom, the law does not.

    Freedom creates acts of love with an un self-consciousness. The law creates works out of fear of punishment or hope for reward, always with a self awareness that makes it a filthy rag.

    Antinomianism? My pastor preaches the law (HARD), every Sunday…that it might kill us off. Is that antinomian? But he realizes that the law cannot make us good, and cannot contribute to our salvation…so he follows up the law with the gospel, that we might be raised to new life. What else is there? Our performance? Give me a break, Reverend, it’s way too late for that. In the shadow of the cross our performance is but a selfish, religious enterprise, that seeks to keep us in the saddle.

    We basically have a different doctrine of the Word.

    Ours is totally based on what Christ has done. No ‘yeah buts’ allowed.

    I will take your question to him. Fasten your seat belt.

  101. Steve,

    Yes, we are free in Christ, and that is why precisely we strive to serve and obey him. Not because we are trying to earn brownie points, trying to merit more grace, trying…to do anything…other than love the One who first loved us. It’s not a “got to” but “get to” situation.

    Your comments on this blog however, in trying to make those points clear are confusing these points ultimately when you assert that there is simply no function of the Law for the Christian, other than exposing his/her sin.

    Christians ARE zealous for good works, precisely because they are not saved by works. This is a point you don’t seem to understand.

    You still have not answered my question, Steve:

    Do you believe you are free to sin?

    PTM

  102. Rev. McCain,

    ” All things are lawful for me.” There’s your answer, Pastor. I’ll stick with Paul on this one.

    St. Paul actually says it twice in case you didn’t hear him the first time. He goes on to say that not all things are profitable, however.

    “When the Son of man makes you free, you are free indeed.”

    If I drive around town and am always over the speed limit …am I cut off from Christ? if I overeat all the time… am I cut off from Christ? If I worry about things from time to time…am I cut off from Christ?
    Or is it only the “big sins” like homosexuality and murder and rape that are the problems for folks that constantly tout the law? The sins that are common to themselves are just too easy to ignore.

    We don’t advocate sinning! We advocate freedom…in Christ!

    “What is it to do the will of the Father?” Live by the law, and do not commit sin! (try believe in the One whom He has sent)

    Isn’t that enough?

  103. Steve,

    “All things are lawful” — a reference to the ceremonial prohibitions in the Torah, of course.

    Are you seriously suggesting St. Paul would regard sins to be “lawful”?

    Is it “lawful” for you to commit adultery? Are you free in Christ to do so?

    I think Paul said somewhere something about “What then shall we say? Shall we sin more so grace may increase? May it never be.”

    You appear to be incapable of making proper distinctions and understanding the difference between faith and works.

    So, Steve, and I’m increasingly wondering why you refuse to answer my question:

    Are you saying we are free to sin??

    Paul

  104. Rev. McCain,

    You do not accept my answer, that’s all. I don’t know how much clearer I could make it. Law is law is law.

    If you want to turn “all things” into “ceremonial laws” you are free to do so, but you are not reading what the text says.

    Why else would Luther have written and said the things he said to the humanist Lutheran theologian Melancthon? “Sin boldly!” You know that Luther was not telling Philip to go out and sin willfully, but Luther knew that Philip would go out and sin. He knew that Melancthon needed a promer on the forgiveness of Christ and the freedom that was won on the cross.

    Why else would He have told people (on occasion) to flaunt their freedom in front of the legalist clergy?

    “We could comitt murder a thousand times a day…do you think our Lord’s forgiveness is so cheap and stingy that He wouldn’t forgive that.?”

    You then refuse to tell me how it is that you believe it is incumbant upon you not to sin, but yet you seem to flat out ignore Christ’s commands.

    The cross plus nothing. Not the cross plus my efforts. That is semi-Pelagian.

    At Lutheran Church of the Master, we rely on Christ…ALONE.

    The trouble always revolves around the” freedom”. Many people just don’t like it (freedom), and are more than willing to tell others where it is that they need to get with it.

  105. Steve,

    You have not answered my question. “Are you free to sin?”

    I am not saying, or even remotely suggesting, anything close to “cross+ = salvation.”

    You however are ignoring the clear text of Holy Scripture that makes it very clear that Christians, saved by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, are FREE to live lives to God’s glory and are to be zealous for good works.

    Steve, are we free to sin?

    Pastor McCain

  106. Rev. Mc Cain,

    I know that you do not love God and your neighbor as yourself. And since no one is stopping you from those sins, I guess you are free to commit them. You’ll have to pay a price for that sin that you committed, but not in Heaven, for righteousness sake. That’s the gospel.

    “When the Son of man makes you free, you are free indeed.” Isn’t that a great Bible verse?

  107. Steve,

    Yes, I’m a poor miserable sinner. No question. Saved by grace alone, in Christ. No question.

    I am called by Christ to a life of struggle, daily, against sin. As you are. You and I are not set free to sin.

    Your views are very much in line with the views of libertine Gnosticism, but they are not Christian.

    You are set free from sin, not set free to sin. Will you sin? Yes, of course. Is the Gospel your “ticket” to sin? Of course not.

    You are called to a life marked by striving to do good works, serving Christ by serving neighbor, not wallowing and remaining in your sin, but manfully resisting it, in Christ, with the grace He supplies.

    To teach otherwise is to teach contrary to the Word of Christ. It is anti-Christian.

    The views over against remaining in sin, living in sin, and such are neither Christian, nor Lutheran.

    Pastor McCain

  108. Rev. Mc Cain,

    ” Set free to sin.” You have twisted a postive (saved by grace alone…we contribute nothing) to a negative ..’ (we”ll..you just can’t do anything you want.’)

    Sinning or not sinning is not the point. (we all do it – we can’t stop it).

    The point, my point, our (likeminded Lutherans and other Christians as well) point is that we have been saved, and this is not of our own doing, but our Father in Heaven through the cross of Christ.

    Anyone in Christ does not want to run around trampling on people, nor suggest to anyone else that they do.

    Now that you do not have to ‘do’ anything…what do you want to do?

    That, I believe, is the pertinent question for the believer.

  109. Steve…yes, we are saved, not of own doing, but our Father in Heaven through the Cross of Christ. Absolutely true! Most certainly true. Why do you keep twisting and misrepresenting my words to try to say I’m saying anything else, Steve? You are just not reading what I’m saying.

    You do nothing to save yourself. Yes. Of course. I’ve never said otherwise.

    What do you want to do? What Christ wants you to do: trust Him, serve neighbor. Do you have good works to do? You bet you do! You get to do them, not to save yourself, but to serve your Savior?

    Are you going to fall flat on your face, of course!

    Are you free to sin? That’s crazy talk.

    What do you want to do? That’s not the question, now is it. It’s not what we want. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  110. Rev. McCain,

    Talk about twists. If you were doing the trampoline in Beijing you be getting perfect 10’s for those acrobatic twists.

    I keep trying to bring it back to and keep it on the gospel and you keep turning it right around to being ‘free’ to sin. My focus is on Christ, yours seems to be on us.

  111. Don’t blink Steve!

    “Stand fast in the freedom for which Christ has set you free”! The 1st and 2nd use of the law is all that is necessary. God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does. You’re free to do them, ..or not. You are FREE! Sins and all.
    Thanks be to God who delivers sinners from death and transfers them to life.
    Don’t focus on yourself. Look to Christ.. you’ll find plenty to do for your neighbor..
    “The good you do won’t save you, the evil you do won’t condemn you”
    “are you free to sin”? It’s a snare question designed to lead you down the primrose path.. Because of Christ, despite your sin, you are free from the power of sin. Others may keep track of what they are doing for Christ, we’ll keep telling people of what Christ has done for us!
    Brent

  112. Rev. McCain,

    As stated before , I wasn’t raised a Lutheran.. I never understood the difference between the Missouri Synod and a centrist, confessional Lutheran witness.
    If this is the voice of LCMS, now I have ‘heard’ the difference loud and clear!
    Strange how we both name Luther as our witness to the christian faith, but we have two completely different messages. We endeavor to let Christ have the last Word for us, and apparently the last word in the LCMS witness is well, us and what we do for God! It leaves me feeling a bit sad. I take no joy in these quarrels on this blog. I wish the sweetness of Christ would finally be left standing.
    Brent

  113. Brent,

    You both name Luther? From what I have seen from you and Steve, most of your references to Luther (besides the “sound-byte”) are distinguishing or discounting what he wrote. See especially the previous thread (https://theoldadam.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/get-back-to-work/#comments). Say what you like, after reading your discussions, and presuming that you are fairly representing your pastor’s teaching, I cannot conclude that your church is “confessional” Lutheran (“confessional” meaning that you hold unequivocally to the Lutheran confessions). As has already been established, the Formula of Concord concluded (by way of a double negative) that the third use of the law was appropriate. They even went so far as to “reject and condemn as an error pernicious and detrimental to Christian discipline, as also to true godliness” the position you are advocating. You can argue that the confessions are wrong on this count (if it is, by all means discount them), but it is being intellectually dishonest to deny that you are breaking with the confessions. When it comes to Lutheran doctrine, Rev. McCain is correct.

    Rev. McCain,

    I was wondering if anyone else was seeing the shades of libertine Gnosticism advocated here. Thank you for holding the line on this one. From what I understand, the Pastor Mark Anderson who posts on Steve’s blog is his pastor, and it appears as if he holds and encourages Steve’s view.

  114. Well, so much for Christ having the last Word…

  115. Brent,

    Thanks for the encouragement in the face of those that have blinked.

    It is hard not to blink. Especially when the constant drumbeat of ‘your performance is necessary’ pounds on you and pounds on you.

    I was not raised Lutheran either, but in the Roman Catholic and then non-denomonational churches.

    What I’m hearing from some on this blog is a throwback to those days when I was in bondage to the law. The constant wondering if I was good enough, striving to become a better Christian, never quite arriving. It was terrible. No peace, no joy.

    Whe I went to Lutheran Church of the Master, I heard the law preached to me in it’s FULLNESS. It crushed that old Adam, and didn’t give him a helping hand. And then I heard (for the first time in my life) the gospel…. clear, unambiguous, unmitigated, no strings or “yeah buts” attached. I was set free.

    Once someone has been set free, I mean really set free by the gospel…there is no going back to the prison cell of your perfomance. There is no going back to a yoke of slavery…which is the law.

    “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God thhrough our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

    So keep your laws,Pope, keep your your good works and so-called third use baloney, preachers of bondage, keep your sincere efforts(what a joke), ministers of death. I don’t need them.

    I have Christ. That is enough. He is enough.

  116. Nemo,

    We don’t need a perfect Bible, or a perfect Confession, to utilize them in our witness to Christ. Maybe you do…that’s your problem.

  117. BTW-we’re still not going to blink. We will hold fast to our freedom in Christ.
    “Having begun in the Spirit are you now going to perfect it in the flesh”?
    “Don’t return to a yoke of bondage”.
    Good luck with your projects boys! Now the scrutiny is on….
    Remember, not to witness falsely to the discussion at hand.. it has sort of taken on a wax nose… it’s the 3rd use of the law, not the 1st and 2nd use, which we affirm, that we are discussing. Any failure to perform the good that we should, the sorrow for our struggle and capitulation to sin, is in the 2nd use of the law. The ‘fruit’ of a christian life, ei. worship, gratitude, witness and service are inspired by the Holy Spirit by His Word of forgiveness and reconciliation to the ungodly. Where even those actions don’t measure up, Christ is there to forgive yet again.
    You guys sound as if you’d have been following Jesus around, correcting Him on points of the law!
    As for my Pastor, Steve and others, we still choose to trust Christ with everything… even trusting He forgives us our sin. Where we are wrong, He can correct us, where we are right, He can bless and prosper His Word..
    Christ is everything for us.. You can stick labels on us if it makes you feel better, God Himself has given us to Christ and we pray He won’t let us go!
    Just how gracious do you want God to be?!

  118. Dear All:

    1. I don’t understand that when Steven is asked: “Are you free to sin”, he can’t just say “No. That’s not an ok option.”

    2. I understand Steven, having myself come from a pietist tradition to start with. I know what he is beaming up against.

    You had no sense of joy until you knew that your progress or lack thereof does not matter in your being right with God. Because you can NEVER be happy with yourself. I think we all know and understand that. We’ve all learne , by sheer need, to trust in Christ alone.

    *3. Where it all hangs together systematically, I have learned, is in something we don’t talk about enough, but with what has come up several times. This is the matter of the daily struggle, daily grace and daily repentance. It is your daily bread. You live off grace continually because you live with the law continually. When this daily struggle and cycle comes up, Steve and others, just simply ignore this topic, like it means nothing to them. I wonder if they are familiar with it.

    You live in your baptism, indeed, in your daily dying and rising!!! This is not a project. This is your life. You are having a knee-jerk reaction, when everything is a “project”.

    In many ways, nothing is ever “my project”. I am particularly useless at anything “pull yourself up with your own bootstraps”. Not only do I need God and his word, I need the fellowship of others. (Perhaps others are better leaders and more disciplined, I need at least one other person to be effective at almost anything.) Hence, I even need God to supply me with the others that I need (church).

    Where am I going? The daily struggle is fierce and Rev. McCain is right to point out that it needs to be fought “manly”. Temptations are to be resisted. When we fail, we ask for forgiveness again, and we get it. This does not eliminate the struggle!

    All that is being said, is: “fight your battle and check yourself periodically”, –not –“never sin again”, “watch your improvement or else”, “better make significant progress”, because indeed who will judge all these things properly? God knows everything.
    —————-
    I better go steel myself to attack my housework (cleaning up the home office in the large kitchen) for this morning, and I have to do it all by myself. Buhu.

    But I do have visitors coming soon (gift of God), which is motivating me, so I do it “freely”, but only semi-freely. 🙂 There are a hundred things I’d rather be doing. Get going, Brigitte.

  119. All contained in the 2nd use of the law.

    Drowning and being raised again daily, law and gospel. No 3rd use. The Holy Spirit working in your conscience is enoough. The law of God held up is enough to accuse and condemn, Christ is enough to save. No 3rd use of the law.
    Freedom in Christ is enough. No 3rd use of the law.
    The Holy Spirit given in your baptism is enough to convict of sin. The Word of grace is enough to inspire good works. Christ alone gets all the glory. No 3rd use.
    I feel like shouting like William Wallace…
    “FREEDOM”!
    Is there any ‘good news’ from the LCMS witness to share on this blog?

  120. …as to Steve not answering the ‘question’. ..
    not to make a comparison, but even Jesus knew not to answer stupid questions from the pharasees!

  121. Brigitte,

    Thanks for the comments, Brigitte.

    You know, Brigitte, I in no way wish to compare myself to Jesus, but when the legalists of His time tried to trap Him with questions pertaining to the keeping of the law, He didn’t give them a yes or no answer either. In fact He often answered their questions with questions.

    The theological and practical implications of a question like “are we free to sin, yes or no” do not lend themselves to a simplistic answer if we are to answer it thoughtfully, and honestly.

    I tried to make it painfully clear that none of us keeps the law.(some antinomian I am!) That we commit these sins WILLFULLY. Is this ok, of course not! Are we to be punished for it towards our righteousness…of course not…we have a Savior.

    This whole discussion evolved out of a discussion that there is some third use of the law that does something for us above and beyond that of the accepted two uses.

    Lutheran pastors and theologians differed on this score right from the start (of the Reformation). Those here who assert that there is some inherent claim to “authentic Lutheranism” have a bogus argument.

    That some feel nervous when the TOTAL SUFFICIENCY of CHRIST is proclaimed, is nothing new. The law is written upon our hearts and it is the way that we lean(naturally, out of our sinfulness) for our justification.

    It is only through the hearing of the gospel and the work of the law to kill off that desire to justify what we do for our own righteousness, that people can truly be set free.

    Luther said it, and I will repeat it once again, ” There is absolutely nothing you can do towards your justification or sanctification.” It is totally, completely, most assuredly, the work of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

    Brigitte, I hope you have a wonderful visit with your guests!

    – Steve

  122. “Stand fast in the freedom for which Christ has set you free”! The 1st and 2nd use of the law is all that is necessary. God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does. You’re free to do them… or not. You are FREE! Sins and all.”

    Free not to do good works.
    Free to sin.

    That doesn’t sound like freedom, but slavery, to the old sinful and fallen creature. Yup, the Old Adam does live, and these comments reveal that fact very dramatically.

  123. There is no freedom (or life) in the law.

    St. Paul states that all over the New Testament.

    But if we are still living under the law, we look to it rather than the gospel for our freedom.

    You can’t serve two masters. Either you live in the freedom of the gospel, or you’ll live in bondage to the law.

    You can’t have it both ways. – Galatians

  124. So, Steve, you then are asserting that the Christian is free not to do good works and is free to sin.

    Is that what you are saying?

  125. Rev. McCain,

    I am asserting what the scriptures assert…that “we are free in Christ.”

    It is not up to me to tell you how it is that you are to live out your life in that freedom, and it is not up to you to tell me how to live out my Christian freedom.

    We are truly free. Inasmuch as we sin and do works, the Holy Spirit will convict us and lead us to repentance, or use those works for His purposes…most of which we will never even realize.

    On Sunday, the preacher will give us the law and the gospel and the sacraments..then it is all up to the Spirit.

    We can’t shoehorn anyone into obedience or into repentance and we can’t give them new life…but the Spirit.

    Reverend, this conservation we are having almost makes me want to kick the bucket so I can ask God who is right. But I am too much of a sinner (would an antinomian say that?) to really mean it.

    I have a feeling that when we do meet our maker, everything will make sense to us at that point and there won’t be any finger waggings or I told you so’s.

  126. Oh brother………….let’s play along here just for kicks… ok. I’ll bite….NO! the christain is not free not to do good works and NOT free to sin.. Now what? I’ll agree to put the collar on and let me catch up to the lock step… now what Rev.? Where is the prescription for my daily life? Is there a list I can measure myself? Will the blessed clergy examine me and my bondage to performance of works? Or is it all an internal pious feeling that will wash over me, now that I’ve agreed to a 3rd use of the law? How will the christian know he is maintaining his christian life by cooperating with the law?
    I’ll wait….give me my marching orders, but give me at least the peace of mind to know how I can measure my performance in order to know I’m keeping my end of the bargain. (This makes the southern baptists look great! at least they’re excited about Jesus!)

  127. Let’s explore this “freedom” not to do good works, and “freedom” to sin.

    A prostitute confesses prostitution and is forgiven. Should she continue being a prostitute? Is she free to do that/

  128. No. She should be excommunicated. Banned from grace until she proves satisfactory penence. Even then I’d be suspect .

  129. Reverend,

    I’ve got a better idea…. let’s bring it home so we can really understand these realities.

    You don’t go go to the prisons and visit the prisoners. You don’t live on a thin margin of income and give the rest to the poor. You overeat. You invite your friends over for dinner and not the destitute in your community.

    You repent. But you still continue to engage in these sins to the point where you hardly give it a second thought anymore.

    Are you being forced to commit these sins? Or are you freely committing them?

    If the third use is in effect, then why do you continue in those sins?

    By the way, I am guilty of all those sins, also. (would an antinomian use that language- ‘guilt’ – ?)

  130. I’m wondering why questions asked are not answered. Odd.

    Let’s ask this:

    A homosexual repents of his behavior. Should he continue his continual homosexual behaviors, or manfully struggle against them? Or is he free not to? Free to continue in his homosexual behavior?

    Why? Why not?

  131. Note the question: Should they strive to resist temptation, strive not to repeat their sin?

    Why?
    Why not?

    Let me hear from you on this and about this “freedom” to sin and “freedom” not to do good works.

  132. Striving is fine.

    What has yor striving gotten you?

  133. You want me to anwer your simplistic trap type questions, and hypothetical questions about fictional sinners…but seem to want to avoid my questions that hit home where the real sinner lives. Inside you and me.

    What has your striving accomplished and if you are seriously striving then why is it you continue in your sin?

  134. Why should Christians not sin? Or are they free to just keep in sinning and never give it a second thought?

  135. Christians should not sin because it goes against what God commands and is rebellion against God.

    Christians should not sin because it is hurtful to themselves and to others.

    We do keep on sinning, and often don’t even realize the sins that we commit.

    We do not have a desire to trash ourselves and our neighbors (maybe sometimes we do), but sin is our condition, we can’t step in and out of it like a wading pool. It is inside of us like a virus. A virus unto death.

    But there is now no condemnation for those who have faith.

    The fact that we are all full blown sinners and will continue as such until we enter the grave does not deter Christ and His love for us.

    He works repentance in us through His Word and sacraments and keeps us in His faith.

    He sets a table in the presence of His enemies (us) and invites them to sup with Himself, in spite of our lackluster efforts to be obedient.

    What an awesome God we have!

  136. Amen!
    I like it when Christ is glorified for the awesome love He has poured out, is pouring out and will pour out for sinners. I mean REAL sinners, like me!

    I have no confidence in my will power, cooperative efforts, determination, zeal, promises or anything in my flesh, but every confidence in Jesus our Lord who has taken my sin(s) onto himself. I can’t trust me, I trust Him.

    Steve, talk more about God for us in Jesus Christ.. that story is music to sooth a savage beast..

  137. Thanks Brent.

    I think you are right. We ought speak more of what our Lord has done for us rather than what we ought , or ought not do…for Him.

    I really do think that putting this all in light of the positive (the gospel), rather than the negative (the law) is what would be most pleasing to our Lord.

    After all, this is all really about Him, isn’t it?

  138. Not that the law isn’t important…it’s just that the gospel trumps the law…everytime.

  139. So, Steve, you agree then that a sinner who repents should strive to resist temptation and not sin? Or is he free never to give it a second thought? To sin, or not to sin, as the case may be. To do good works, or not to do good works? Is that the “freedom” in Christ we have?

    And, it might also be interesting to ponder that we are actually free, to be slaves: slaves of Christ!

    Freedom from sin.
    Slaves of Christ.

    Interesting to ponder that for a bit.

  140. Rev. McCain,

    I like to put it in the affirmative. Yes we are free to strive (although we don’t). Yes we are free from the condemnation of sin. Yes we are free for the neighbor.

    When you are free, you don’t have to give it a second thought. We still do. We are sinners, and the law still has a hold on us. But if we were to trust in Christ completely we would not have to. If we were to trust in Christ we would always do what’s right.

    We believe the gospel is what gives us trust in Christ, not the law. The gospel engenders love, hope, trust. Not the law.

    I like what you said, Rev. “Freedom from sin. Slaves of Christ.” I like that very much.

    I also like… ‘freedom to live’, ‘freedom for the neighbor’, freedom from having to worry about being condemned for messing up.

    Slaves of Christ! I’ll drink to that!

  141. ‘Nuff said on this topic me thinks.. Put a fork in it Steve..
    Make another post about Jesus…

  142. Brent,

    Maybe you’re right. I think we’ve gotten to the point where we know exactly where everyone stands on the subject.

    I do appreciate the passion and the great comments from all the combatants..er…participants.

    You know me Brent, there will be more opportunities to hit me with a mud pie…and hopefully soon…I’m starving…

  143. “No. She should be excommunicated. Banned from grace until she proves satisfactory penence. Even then I’d be suspect .”

    This confuses me a bit. Haven’t you and Steve and others been saying we sin pretty much constantly in failing to keep the 2 Great Commandments – for instance, in sitting around watching tv or not sacrificing money or time to help the homeless or countless other daily examples. So if people recognize that is sinful, but continue to do it (as you all have said, we know what to do, we just refuse to do it), are we not providing satisfactory repentance (which I would gather consists of sorrow and a desire to overcome it/amend one’s behavior) you demand of the prostitute?

    It seems you’re here almost associating a gravity to certain sins but breezing over others – as Steve said “Or is it only the “big sins” like homosexuality and murder and rape that are the problems for folks that constantly tout the law? The sins that are common to themselves are just too easy to ignore.” Say it’s not a prostitute but someone who just speeds all the time or has football parties every weekend instead of helping his church or neighbor that you and fellow parishioners are aware of – should that person be excommunicated if they simply continue carrying on this behavior? Or does Lutheranism actually have some kind of grave/venial sin distinction in terms of excommunication/denial of sacraments? If not, it seems like everyone should be excommunicated(!) since as you have said, we constantly fail in countless instances in keeping the 2GC and may be genuinely sorry about it, but still failing to actually do anything to amend our behavior (i.e. as has kind of been expressed on the blog before, someone may feel bad about not helping a panhandler, but when they see a panhandler again, do they help him then and the next time and the next time? maybe, but probably not)

  144. John,

    I hope you and Brent don’t mind me cutting in here.

    Brent was being facetious.

    I think you did a very nice job laying out the problem, and really the only solution for people in such deep bondage to their sin. The forgiveness of sins (over and over again) through the blood of Christ.

    Brent and I pretty much see things eye to eye on this score and that is why he has retired to a mountaintop to rethink his position.

    Thanks John.

    – Steve

  145. Ah, my bad Steve thanks 🙂 But this does segue a bit into an earlier point you made to a question about excommunication/non-repentance:
    “But not as some method of getting the person to strive more, orbe more serious, but to help lead the person to repentance by the use of the law, and the gospel. When someone in the congregation is willfully unrepentant and flaunting his sin, he should be askd to leave lest he poison the others.”

    and concerning repentance that “Luther said that being sorry was enough. Otherwise, no one would really be repentant for we all have those nagging sins that we just can’t seem to shake.”

    Is one truly repentant/”sorry” if they do not bother trying to overcome or amend their behavior? The prostitute may feel sorry and regretful, but sees no other recourse for making money or some other wrongheaded justification and persists in the behavior. Should she still be excommunicated? And if so, I return to my previous point about the lax nature of keeping the 2GC in seemingly “trivial” ways and being complacent about sinning in those areas constantly which all members of the congregation are likely guilty of.

  146. John,

    ” Is one truly repentant/”sorry” if they do not bother trying to overcome or amend their behavior?”

    That’s a good point, John. I’m not really sure. I’m not really sure if the old Adam is ever really truly repentant.
    Maybe that’s why Jesus told us that we ought to forgive 70 x 7 (forever). Maybe that’s why repentance didn’t seem to take center stage with the theif on the cross.

    Maybe, since the work of repentance is ultimately the work of the Spirit, and we cannot tell real repentance anyway for we cannot know the heart, that we are left with maintaining good order in the church and the coraling of the larger, more open, more infectious type sins towards that goal.

    I’m going to run it by my pastor and get his take on it.

    Thanks John.

    – Steve

  147. … Hey all, I just got back from the mountaintop,, Boy were you guys way off!
    Just kidding…

    Yes John I was being a smart a** about the prostitute scenario. I was getting frustrated with the conversation and I resorted to bald sarcasm. It seemed to amuse me at the time, but probably wasn’t that profitable.

    My point still stand .. ” He must increase, we must decrease”…I still hold that the whole work , benefit and fruit of the law of God is contained in the 2 uses of the law. 1. Restraining evil and maintaining civil righteousness (positively upholding creation) 2. Convicting of sin, driving one to repentance and faith in Christ.
    After all the discussion opened up on the topic, I still don’t see any 3rd use of the law. The living God has poured Himself into our hearts and yet we need a list?! No, the Holy Spirit working in preaching, teaching and the sacraments is enough to justify and sanctify the sinner.
    Brent

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