Please…’Tell me what to do!’


  ( read this with a pathetic, whiney, needy, helpless voice in your head)

“Yes, Christ lives inside of me.” (Rom. 8:10)

“Yes, I have been freed from religion by the blood of the Lamb.” (John 8:36)

“Yes, I have been baptized into a death like His.”(Rom. 6)

“Yes, I have also been raised with Him.” (in my Baptism – Rom. 6)

“Yes, I have received the gift of the Holy Spirit in my Baptism.” (Acts 2:38)

“Yes, the Holy Spirit is at work in me.” (Phil. 1:6)

“Yes, Christ Jesus is the end of the law for all those who have faith.” (Rom. 10:4)

Yes, all of that is true. But I have NO idea of WHAT TO DO !

Please…someone tell me WHAT TO DO, and  HOW TO LIVE!


 Please…give me the law again…please, it’s much easier if I have a list so that I can check items off as I go through life. And someone who is really GOOD at doing ALL those things to check up on me, and to make sure I am really living the right way.


What a load of “3rd use” horse dung.

You know what to do, already. I know what to do. We just flat out refuse to do it, my friends…and that is the truth about us. We don’t need the law to make us better…we need the law to kill us off.

Sorry if I burst anyone’s bubble. (not really :D)


 Thanks to, for the photo.



25 Responses

  1. By the way, the ELCA is one of the BIGGEST practioners of the “3rd use” of the law (even though they would deny it).

    They are constantly telling people how they ought feel, or what they should do to apologize for, or affirm homosexuality, what they should do to fix this world, and how not to offend people by claiming Jesus is the only Way.

    It may be a liberal, non-biblicist use of the law for betterment, but it is still using law (what we do) to make us “better” Christians.

    And we also know that the LCMS preaches and teaches the “3rd use” also.

    Of course I don’t mean everyone in each of those denominations. I am speaking ‘generally’.

    Those aren’t the only options, though. There are those who hold to the middle ground with the ‘Word alone’, through ‘grace alone’, by ‘faith alone’.

    There are those in each of those two denominations who hold to that middle ground. Not enough of them, though. But I thank God for each and every one of them.

  2. i don’t know what “3rd use” is — never heard of it. but i’m with you that we know what to do… and just plain refuse.

    reminds me of the kierkegaard quote:

    “The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.”

  3. JamesBrett,

    I think you have it exactly right.

    That quote from Kierkegaard has us pegged.

    Thanks be to God that the Lord knows just who He is dealing with and has decided to love and forgive us anyway!

    I appreciate you stopping by, James.

    – Steve

  4. man this stuff really bothers ya huh?

  5. Charlie,

    Yes it does. I just hate it when someone trys to slap the shackles back on me. When you have tasted the freedom of Christ, you NEVER want to go back under the yoke of slavery.

    If you look around, there are all kinds of people in the church trying to put the handcuffs back on us.

    It ticks me off somethin’ fierce.

  6. It just seems that everyone has something to add to the gospel, whether it be inerrant bibles, 3rd uses of the law, your works, bishops ordained in historic succession, Popes, or any other addition to what Christ has done for us.

    Nope, all that stuff is not needed, and can be dangerous in that it adds something to the Word alone.

  7. As many selected verses of Paul as you quote above, you missed the ones where he also engages in this “telling people what to do” behavior. In fact, he does it in the same chapter in Romans that you cited twice above.

    15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. – Romans 6:15-19

    Imagine the cockiness of that guy. Telling people it was all about grace and then throwing in those obedience bits and admonitions to “do what we know we should.” He even uses the word “slaves” which sounds a lot like handcuffs.

    Couldn’t resist, brother. 🙂

  8. Don’t forget Romans 7, Jeff. 😀

    No, we truly are free in Christ. We are free to live out our Christian lives as we see fit and as the Holy Spirit inspires us.

    I LOVE IT !

    Take care, my brother!

  9. Exactly, hence the encouragement in Romans 8 to live by the Spirit and not satisfy the desires of the flesh, and that instruction to “put to death the deeds of the flesh.” He really is persistent about this telling us what to do thing.

    Maybe you should whack him. 🙂

  10. Persistent about telling who to trust, maybe.

    In Romans 6 he tells HOW the deeds of the flesh are put to death.

    No whacking Paul! We’ve got too many churches named after him! 🙄

  11. I saw how you got coaching on the emoticons. You are really dangerous now. 🙂

  12. Somebody told me what to do..and it worked! 😀

    (but it’s only temporary)

  13. I hear and agree with much of what is said about not preaching third use of the law so as to return to bondage, but can we avoid third use altogether? Aren’t even statements like: “you have it exactly right”, “no whacking Paul”, “we don’t need third use of the law” all a third use? Whenever we instruct or advise aren’t we engaging in it?

  14. Hi Patrick,

    I guess if we are saying that ‘we are free’…’no law is necessary…because of Christ’…then (to me) that would be gospel language, and not law language.

    If sin increased when the law came in, then we ought ask ourselves ‘why?’.

    If we look at something and say, ‘I must do it’, ‘I’m supposed to do this’, ‘I should be doing this’…then we place ourselves back into the mix and our motives are shot.

    So, when we say with St. Paul, that “Christ is the end of the law for all those who have faith”, we can act out of freedom…no ‘should’, ‘ought’, or ‘must’, mucking up he works (so to speak).

    And…the 1st and second uses already inform us of what must be done, anyway.

    So, in my mind, it’s not only a waste of time, but it lets the fox back in the henhouse when it wasn’t all that easy to get him out of there in the first place (because of our self-obsessed nature).

    My 2 cents 😀

  15. Yes, I get that… My question is what do you call it when you say a thing like “don’t add to the gospel” or “don’t whack Paul” or such instruction?

  16. Language for Christ and against the law…is gospel language.

    When Paul tells them NOT to look to the law…He is not handing them another law…but the gospel.

    It’s the same for us.

    What do you think about it, Pat?

  17. Hmmm …. Not so much in my preaching (I generally avoid third use kinds of sermons) but when giving advice or counseling a young Christian couple about to be married or when encouraging some one to read scripture or advice to a parent etc. These may be instructive in a third use kind of way. My question is how such language is described by those who dismiss the possibility of a third use. I guess you could call it gospel language, but then it seems to be just a question of semantics.

  18. Pat,

    To me, what you are speaking of sounds like 1st use stuff. Things we need to do to get along better in this world.

    I do believe that the “3rd use” is already contained in the 1st use.

  19. Steve,
    Would you list the uses of the law as you’re using them?

    For clarification, I’ve often thought of the three uses of the law as follows.
    1. It shows me my sin and God’s hatred of it
    2. It troubles my conscience and drives me to Christ (the only remedy)

    3. For the Christian, it instructs in how we “get to respond” to the Gospel… Go, Baptize, Teach… “here am I send me” stuff. Not as a “have to” but a “get to” motivated by joy in Christ. If you ask me to pray for a loved one, it’s asking me to “do something” but not as a way to measure up or please God or climb some ladder. It’s merely an act of love & concern for your loved one.
    The third use for the Christian is heard by the unbeliever as 1 & 2.

    The three uses of the law are sometimes confused with the three kinds of law… civil, moral & ceremonial.


  20. Sory for the lare reply, Pat. I left the house at 6am and I jusy got home (almost 8 pm now)…sheesh.

    Lets see.

    1) Shows me what God demands of me

    2) Shows me that I am not uo to what God demands of me…and drives me to Christ.

    For the believer (as St. Paul tells us, “Christ is the end of the law”.

    I like this explanation better because it does not allow the door to open, or re-open to any legalism…because we are bent towards legalism, anyway.

    The law is written upon our hearts, anyway. We already know what to do…we just refuse to do it.

    Thanks, Pat.

    – Steve

  21. You say “the law is written upon our hearts, anyway”… no disagreement. So when you give that law voice… not as an accusing, condemning, legalistic or demanding command but rather as an opportunity motivated by the love of God in Christ that has made you ALIVE and then say to your son… “let’s go wash grandmas windows” That is what I refer to as 3rd use. It’s suggestive and instructive but NOT a return to the law as master.

  22. Pat,

    I think I would call that ‘encouragement’…when there are not specifics behind it.

    When specifics are there, then I would say that is 1st use of the law.

    Good that we ‘do it’…and to the extent that we don’t ‘do it’, or do it out of love, with no self motive attached to it (ha!…I never met a pure motive yet)…then it is 2nd use.

    So, the 3rd use is already in the 1st use. And therefore is not needed…especially when there is so much potential for misuse and misfocus.

    Methinks. I am a real Fordeian on this 3rd use stuff. He said that the law is a pit-bull, and for us to try and tame this beast is dangerous…or something like that.

    Thanks, Pat.

  23. You say potato, I say potato… I think what I call 3rd use, you call encouragement. I can live with that.

    I thought Forde called the old adam the pitbull… hmmm

  24. Encouragement when it’s general. ‘You’re free in Christ, free FOR something…for the neighbor.’

    When it’s specific. ‘go and wash the windows’…then I would call that 1st use.

    I think the Old Adam is all about law. So that makes sense to call him a pit bull…along with the law itself.

    “When the law came in, sin increased.” Tht’s one dog ho doesn’t want to play nice.

    Thanks, Pat. Off to the salt mine. Sheesh (more law).

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