Saturday, November 24, 2018

External and Internal Laws

In learning about the trouble of indwelling sin in believers from John Owen, one aspect he shared really resonated with me: the concept that indwelling sin acts as law in our hearts and has more power because it is internal rather than external.  The law of God is external and is therefore easily broken until God himself writes his law on our hearts again through Christ.

1. The law of God was internal with Adam and Eve.
2. Adam and Eve were created in the likeness of God (Genesis 5:1).
3. This likeness includes God's law being internal. (Remember God IS the law).
4. In disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit, Adam cast out God's law and acquired the law of sin in its place.
5. All progeny from Adam have this law of sin internalized (Genesis 5:3).
6. This law of sin causes the intent of man's heart to be evil from its youth (Genesis 8:21).
7. God provides his law externally to us through Moses.
8. The external law of God is easily broken and actually stirs up the internal law of sin.

However, Jeremiah 31 tells us that God has made a new covenant with Israel (the church), in which the external law of God will be made internal, written on the heart. Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. As believers, we now have two laws in our heart, at war, but this is preferable to the law of sin being alone in our hearts to drive us to destruction.  How is this internal law of God restored? By faith in Christ.  See Hebrews 11:

1. By faith Moses rejected the pleasures of sin found in Pharaoh's household.
2. Notice that what Moses rejected were pleasures, which carnal man ever seeks.
3. By faith Moses endured hardship with his people.
4. Notice that only with an internal law of God in his heart, Moses is able to choose hardship, which carnal man ever rejects.
5. Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
6. The internal law of God not only has power against the law of sin, it sets the Christian apart from the carnal world.
7. As revealed by Christ himself in Luke 14:25-35, sin is hated, and the carnal world is hated, so that even once beloved family members who are carnal are fought against in favor of Christ.

Now, we turn to the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). See how the internal and external laws work:

1. The younger son has the law of sin in his heart, and the grace of God is nowhere to be seen.
2. God (the father) releases us to follow our sinful hearts to their end.
3. Following the law of sin brings one to rock bottom.
4. When the son comes to his senses, this is the moment when God puts his law into the heart of the sinner.
5. The first reaction of this newfound faith is to repent.
6. The father forgives the penitent sinner.
7. The older son has not followed his sin to rock bottom.
8. However, he has not the law of grace in his heart. He is attempting to follow God's external law.
9. His unforgiving spirit reveals that he, too, follows the law of sin in his heart. He has failed to follow God's law, even though it may seem that he's following it on the surface.
10. The younger son has been brought to life, yet the older son still lies dead in his heart.

Which son are you? Faith and repentance in Christ brings the law of God into your heart, and the war between the two laws can commence. The law of sin looks appealing, because it gives us pleasure, and the law of God looks like it will give us only pain and suffering, but Moses chose the narrow path, because his faith in Christ compelled him there. Which law is ruling your heart? We can't eradicate the law of sin completely from our hearts, but with the aid of the law of God's grace, we can wage war against the evil within us. This is only possible with the law of God being internal and not external.  The law of God becomes internal when we have faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, our salvation.