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Written on our Hearts

The 3 uses of God's law in the life of the believer.
Speaker: Ray David Glenn | November 5, 2017 | Series: Grace Abounding

Watch as Ray David unpacks Romans 3:1-20 and shows us the abounding grace of the Gospel.

Bad News and Good News

The good news of the Gospel is only as good as the bad news was bad. The Gospel is good because of what it rescues us from. 

It is possible to be given the law, the oracles, and the promises of God and yet have an open grave for a throat and feet swift to shed blood. It is possible to be a religious person with God’s revelation neatly bound in a leather book, and still not get the Gospel. It is a great tragedy that many christians are known for being judgmental rather than gracious. Wouldn’t you think an entire belief system built on grace would make people more gracious?

Missing the Point

If you think that the Bible, God’s law and word revealed to you, is just instructions on how you can live a better life, than you’ve missed the point. If you go to the Bible just to find the moral, and ethical implications so that you can apply those things in a bristly, judgmental way, than you are not truly taking the Bible seriously. The implications of the Gospel are not the Gospel themselves. The Gospel has implications on how you live, but the primary thing we see in the Gospel is the nature and character of God. The Gospel is not instructions to a better life. Instead, in it we see a God who is gracious and merciful to sinners. If we take the law of God and the Bible seriously, we read it looking for the Gospel. We read it and see that we fall terribly short, but that there is always more grace in God than there is sin is us. 

How Do We Live?

No Christian person would say that we are justified by our works, but functionally how do we live? We are quick to point out when others fall short of God’s law, and we are often happy when they get what they deserve. In our own personal lives, we often jump back on the treadmill and keep trying to be justified by the works of the law. And that’s a game that we can’t win. 

The Nature of God

What is the role of the law in the life of the believer? The Protestant Reformers believed that there were 3 uses of the law for the believer. The first use is that is shows us the nature and character of God. He is a God who brings order. He cares about how we treat one other. He is a God who is jealous for our love. If we neglect this use, than our lives will be marked by chaos and godlessness. But if we treat this use as the only only function of the law, than our lives will be marked by pride and insecurity. 

The Nature of Man

The law functions not only to shows us what God is like – it also shows us what we are like. It shows us how we fall short. The problem of sin is that we twist and suppress the truth of God. But if we live as though this is the only use of the law than it will lead us to despair. But in Jesus, God looks at you as fully righteous and approved. You no longer need to put your faith in your ability to keep the law, but instead you can put your faith in the only one who has fulfilled the law.

A Guide

Something miraculous will happen when you become a Christian, the law of God will move from being something external, that’s written in a book, to something that’s internal – that God actually writes on your heart. God will give you new affections. The law is no longer something external to strive for, it is something internal that is lovely and beautiful. The things you hated, you now love. The things you loved, you now hate. This is a process, but it doesn’t happen by effort. It only works when you remember the Gospel and you stop trying to be justified by works of the law. Watch as the Gospel changes your life. It isn’t about you putting in the effort; it is about you as a Christian living out of the new reality of who you are in Christ. He has written His law on our hearts and when we trust in this fact, it redeems moments. Our only job is to take the risk of the Gospel. To live as though the third use of the law is actually true.


A Gospel changed life is not something we could ever do on our own. The Apostle Paul even goes on to say that there is no such thing as a seeker; only the sought. The story that enfolds in the scriptures is not the story of man pursuing God; it’s the story of God pursuing man. God pursues mankind and inserts Himself in human history in the person of Jesus. If you are seeking after God today, even in a small way, that is evidence that God and His grace is seeking after you. Your seeking of Him is just a response. He wants to give you a new heart, new affections so that you will delight in Him and watch the Gospel change your life.

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About the Author

Ray David Glenn
Ray David is the rector (Anglican talk for senior pastor) here at St. George's. He lives in Burlington with his wife Monica and kids.

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  • About the Author

    Ray David Glenn
    Ray David is the rector (Anglican talk for senior pastor) here at St. George's. He lives in Burlington with his wife Monica and kids.
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