Horton on the Uses of the Law

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way I appreciate Michael Horton’s discussion of the uses of the law in justification and sanctification: in a word, the law drives us to Christ and it is a guide for living a thankful Christian life.

“The law remains the standard of measurement both for justification and for sanctification.  By it the sinner is condemned and even the best works of believers are found wanting.  Yet it remains the revelation of God’s will for our lives.  While the first use of the law drives us to Christ as the only hope for deliverance, so that we are freed from its condemnation, the third use ensures that we are freed from the burdensome rules, techniques, and formulas for sanctification often imposed by those who dispense with God’s moral law.”

“Now written on our heart and not merely on our conscience, the law is cherished by believers.  They long to keep it, not as a way of attaining life but as a way of living the life that they have been given by grace alone….  The law directs our steps in the way of faith-filled gratitude.”

“…God’s people are never at a loss for knowing God’s will for their life.  ‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Micah 6:8 NRSV).  Jesus summarized the law as the love of God and neighbor.  The fruit of the Spirit mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5 fits that summary; love, patience, kindness, self-control, and gentleness.  As the expression of God’s essential character, his moral will never changes.”

“…In justification, faith and works are entirely opposed; in sanctification, they are related as seed and flower.”

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, p. 673-5.

shane lems

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