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The Law and Free Will

Everything, Liturgy and Devotion
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Scrolls by Ben White

Free Will

We talked about the Law last night, preceded by some thoughts around “Free Will”. I think John Piper’s post A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will’ is an excellent place to continue. It was hard to talk about our notions of free will purely in a biblical context, wasn’t it? While it is good to use our minds and our hearts to explore who we are, it is better to do that kind of reflection aiming to land on God’s Word. We read from the Book of Galatians. Specifically, Galatians 1:6-7, Galatians 1:11-24, Galatians 4:8-9, Galatians 5:1-12. This week, please read all of Galatians. I suggest reading it in one sitting first, then, take it slowly and think about what Paul has for the Galatians, because it is for us as well.

The Law

The discussion quickly and obviously stayed around “the (L)law” for a while, and with good reason. It is worthy of our effort to understand what it is, and what it is for. There are many ways that the word law is used in the scriptures. Here are a few:

  • Ceremonial Law or Law of Moses. These laws are what was given to Israel. 1Kings 2:3 HCSB “and keep your obligation to the LORD your God to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees. This is written in the law of Moses, so that you will have success in everything you do and wherever you turn…” This also can include the laws given to the Levites, and other tribes in order to maintain order and sacred practices.
  • Natural Law. These “laws” aren’t necessarily written; rather observable in nature, whether that be what we see in our own lives, or what happens around us. Interestingly, I like to consider the idea of supernatural laws, i.e., the laws that happen in the spiritual realms in the same “category” when thinking about this subject. To me, there is no better place in scripture than Romans 7:7-25.

These are just my two broad categories, and they are by no means the only way to understand the law. Ultimately, the question that always surfaces when I study these topics is simply this: What good is “free will” if there is a sin nature in me keeping me from completing the law?

Have additional thoughts? Feel free (pun intended) to share them below.

Jeremiah 26:1-15

Jeremiah, Liturgy and Devotion

Jeremiah Threatened with Death

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’”

The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the LORD and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the LORD. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.” — Jeremiah 26:1-15 ESV

We have been reading that the kingdom(s) that Jeremiah has been prophesying to weren’t really listening. They were in fact, quite obstinate in their response, wouldn’t you say? Even to the point of murder. It is a classic case of “I don’t like what you say, so you should die.” Apropos in this political climate. However, did you notice what Jeremiah’s response was? Read it again.

“But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you.”

Do we have that kind of confidence in the Lord?