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"Not... Without Law"
Bryan Matthew Dockens
Of his enthusiastic dedication to proclaim the gospel to all, Paul wrote, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
Elsewhere, the apostle emphasized that "we are not under law" (Romans 6:14-15). How can we reconcile these apparently contradictory statements?
Most certainly, we are under law, for it is our duty to "fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). The law to which we are bound is called "the law of liberty" (James 1:25; 2:12), "the law of faith" (Romans 3:27), and "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2).
The law we are without is the Law of Moses. It was this law, Paul argued, we have been liberated from. Freedom from one law is not freedom from all law. When the American colonists declared independence from the British Crown they were not proclaiming anarchy in the New World. Instead, they replaced one legal system with another. Likewise, liberty from the Law of Moses, an obsolete and old covenant (Hebrews 8:13), does not spell the end of obedience to divine law.
The very nature of sin confirms that law abides, as it is written, "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). Sin is defined as the violation of law, and "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), therefore all are under law, because "sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Romans 5:13).
To those attempting to live apart from law, there is a plain need to repent. Jesus foretold that "those who practice lawlessness" will be "cast... into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:41-42).
Bryan Matthew Dockens
When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, "the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Genesis 3:7). With "the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17), comes the realization that nakedness ought to be covered.
While this information is generally acknowledged and even relied upon to prove the wickedness of stripping, streaking, skinny-dipping, nudist colonies, and pornography, the principle is suspended in the minds of some to make "cultural" exceptions.
For instance, artistic nudity is given a pass. Those who would readily condemn Playboy magazine or an X-rated movie would just as readily approve of the Venus de Milo or Michelangelo's David. But why is modern day smut so reviled while ancient pornography is excused, even highly valued? Make no mistake; just because it's carved of marble does not remove it from the realm of pornography. Marble was the medium for such expression in the days before glossy magazines, videos, and the Internet. This artistic exception is arbitrary and exists in the minds of men, but not in the mind of God. The Lord Jesus taught "that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28), and that those who cause others to sin are themselves condemned (Luke 17:1-2). Thus, those who would expose the anatomy to the provocation of lust are wrong, regardless of time or artistic medium.
Another perceived exception, as often displayed in scientific journals such as National Geographic, is used to excuse the women of primitive tribes in remote parts of the world who choose to go topless. The argument goes that breasts are not sexual organs; therefore, their exposure does not constitute nakedness. On the contrary, however, the scriptures clearly teach otherwise. Solomon exhorted, "rejoice with the wife of your youth... let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love" (Proverbs 5:18-19). Ezekiel and Hosea described breasts embraced and bosoms pressed as acts of harlotry, lewdness, and adultery (Ezekiel 23:3, 21; Hosea 2:2).
A singular and agonizing procession follows this funeral of departed virtue. Tears stream which no hand can wipe away. Groans ascend which no comforter can charm to peace. Bosoms heave with anguish, which all the balm of Gilead cannot soothe. The object of lamentation is gone forever, and all that remains is living death. Ah, how shall we paint the evils of adultery? The social compact, through every fiber, trembles at its consequences: not only policy, but law; not only law, but nature; not only nature, but religion, deprecate and denounce it: parents and offspring - youth and age - the dead from the tombs - the child from its cradle - creatures scarce alive, and creatures still unborn - the grandsire shivering on the verge of death - the infant quickening in the mother's womb - all, with one assent, re-echo God, and execrate adultery!Download the PDF Back to the archives...
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