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Paul: Apostle of Law & Liberty

Paul: Apostle of Law & Liberty

Noel Due

by Rev. Noel Due

Subject: Paul, Law, Liberty

Book Code: 115

Pages: 16 pp, Booklet

Pub. Date: 1985

ISBN: 0 86408 026 3

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Paul: Apostle of Law & LibertyIntroduction

Throughout her history, the church has stood in the danger of falling into two opposite, though not unrelated, errors. The first is that of antinomianism (from the Greek anti and nomos, `against law'), the second is that of legalism. We should not be surprised at this, for all of us individually face the same dangers. Law is fundamental to God's creation, and as His creatures we must live under it. However, as fallen creatures we have a great antipathy to God's law. Either we try to flaunt it (wrongly equating freedom with licence and suppressing the truth of the law in doing so), or we try to use our seeming obedience to it in an attempt to bribe God into action on our behalf. Whichever may be the case, we have abused God's good law because of our own rebellion.

Truly perceived, liberty and law are not two opposite principles, but complementary ones. There can be no true liberty apart from God's law, which is why the Psalmist can write,

I will walk at liberty,
for I seek thy precepts (Ps. 119:45).

To live 'lawfully' is to fully live, but to seek liberty apart from the law is to end in bondage. Paul has much to say on the topics of `law' and 'liberty' (not that he ever treats them as distinct), and as a young Christian I found this all very confusing. I was constantly faced with questions like, 'What did Paul mean when he talked about the "law"?' 'Are Christians free to do what they like? 'What happens if we disobey the law?' In fact I used to shy away from reading those parts of Paul's epistles which dealt with the law because I could not understand them, and thus much of Paul remained a rather closed book to me.

I strongly suspect that my experience is not unique, which is why this little publication has come forth. I have based this booklet on a larger academic paper on the same subject, which means that this is much more a personal study booklet than an `easy reader.' For maximum benefit, Biblical references should be followed through with the text, especially where they are discussed at length. I hope that this booklet proves useful in (a) alleviating the confusion to those of us who are young in the faith, and (b) underlining the important truths of the gospel for those of us who are a little older in 'the Way.'

Rev. Noel Due, 1985