The uses of the law
“Wherefore then serveth the law?” Galatians 3:19
Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 26:12-16
I find that the proudest and most self-righteous people are those who do nothing at all, and have no shadow of pretence for any opinion of their own goodness. The old truth in the book of Job is true now. You know in the beginning of the book of Job it is said, “The oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them.” That is generally the way in this world. The oxen are ploughing in the church —we have some who are labouring hard for Christ—and the asses are feeding beside them, on the finest livings and the fattest of the land. These are the people who have so much to say about self-righteousness. What do they do? They do not do enough to earn a living, and yet they think they are going to earn heaven. They sit down and fold their hands, and yet they are so reverently righteous, because they sometimes dole out a little in charity. They do nothing, and yet boast of self-righteousness. And with Christian people it is the same. If God makes you laborious, and keeps you constantly engaged in his service, you are less likely to be proud of your self-righteousness than you are if you do nothing. But at all times there is a natural tendency to it. Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking-glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other.
For meditation: The more we learn, the more we realise how little we know; the more we do, the more we realise how little we do; the holier we become, the more we realise how unholy we are. Being sluggish is most unsuitable for the Christian (Hebrews 6:10-12).
Sermon no. 128 19 April (1857)
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