The Law And The Believer
A brief look at the relationship between the Holy Ten Commandment Law of God, and the Believer according to Elder Laestadius and Martin Luther.
We find in the New Postilla, Sermon No. 5, where Laestadius specifically addresses this issue. He writes, “We hear from the testimonies of Stephen and Christ Himself that the Christians have honored John as a confessor of the truth and a spiritual teacher who has truthfully taught the way of God. They are not offended with John’s preaching of the law for they feel the word of the law is necessary, not only to the sorrowless, but also to the Christians for the awakening of the conscience and for consciousness of sin, as well as a plumb line for daily living. Therefore Stephen took John as a witness of what he had spoken, but even then the world would not believe that John was a spiritual teacher since they said he had a devil.”
We are not left with only one place where Laestadius addresses this matter, but he does so also in the Voice Of One Crying In The Wilderness when speaking of how J. Raattamaa teaches the confirmation children. “And here Raattamaa is a master, in that he first stirs up feelings, even if these feelings which begin to stir are, at the start, evil feelings, or passions, or devils. But it is just in this way that one becomes truly conscious of sin, that is, through the law, which incites all manner of lust. How else could the desire for grace and reconciliation awaken if the law, which is a schoolmaster unto Christ, were not first preached for awakening, and then to the graced ones for sanctification.” Page 32.
Again, when Laestadius suggests changes in the new books being used to teach children in the State Lutheran Church he writes, “If the pastor, instead of cleansing the outside of the drinking glass with the doctrine of virtue and sanctifying it with the preaching of the law- whereby only self-righteousness is raised up to be the foundation of salvation - if he would cleanse the drinking glass on the inside by preaching the law for awakening and the gospel for reconciliation with God (justification), he could then finally preach the law for sanctification to graced souls. Then it would happen according to the Savior’s words, ‘…cleanse first that which is within the cup…’ “ Page 137.
Luther writes thusly when referring to daily repentance, “And that we can do, he says, because we are in grace and not in the law. He himself explains that to mean that to be without the law is not the same thing as to have no laws and be able to do what one pleases; but we are under the law when, without grace, we occupy ourselves in the work of the law. Then sin assuredly rules by the law, for no one loves the law by nature; and that is great sin. Grace, however, makes the law dear to us, and then sin is no more there, and the law is no longer against us, but with us.” Luther’s works, Philadelphia Ed., Vol. 6, pg. 457. This is echoed in our doctrine as recorded in the Book of Concord concerning the third use of the law, where it tells us that to the Believer the Law is not coercive.
The Law of God is an expression of His holy and righteous nature. God never changes, therefore His nature never changes, and therefore this expression of His holiness is eternal. Should we foolishly deny either God’s love or His righteousness, both will yet stand true eternally.
I fear that many have sought to silence the Law because they are not yet awakened and converted. We must let each word of God, both Law and Gospel, stand forever. God’s word can never change. Instead, we must change. We must not seek to escape the condemnation of the Law by rejecting the Law, but rather by believing the Gospel!
Satan has been quite clever in working among us to again murder John Baptist, and he certainly has incited a great number of church-goers, in both Europe and America, to so do. Perhaps if some of years past who sought to reject the Law for the believer had seen the result today, they would have reconsidered their position. This horrible error has grown like a cancer among us to where it is now said that not only does the Law not pertain to the Christian, but neither does it pertain to the unbeliever for awakening. Luther, in the book Only The Decalogue Is Eternal, said men who hold such a doctrine are insane.
Steven E. Anderson 12/06/2010