What is the believer’s rule of life? By what rule should I live? How is the Christian life to be lived? What rule should I follow and what should be my focus? How should I walk as a believer? What is the key to living the Christian life? What must I do to live a life that is pleasing to God? How can I live a holy life? How can I walk down God’s chosen path for me, the path of holiness and sanctification? "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3).
These are important questions and they have been answered in at least two different ways. Some insist that the believer’s rule of life is the LAW. When they say "LAW" they are thinking especially of God’s moral law as set forth in the Ten Commandments. How am I to live? Their answer would be this: "I am to live by God’s law. I am to live by the Ten Commandments. This is my rule of life. The key to living the Christian life and the key to walking in holiness is to strive to obey God’s holy law, especially the Ten Commandments, which the Lord Jesus summed up in two great commandments: to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself." Compare Matthew 22:36-40.
This all sounds good, but the problem is simply this: The more we try to keep God’s holy law, the more we fail. Even as regenerate believers we cannot, of ourselves, measure up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness. The problem is not with the law because "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12). The problem is with the believer: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Romans 7:18).
This is similar to the problem the Israelites had when they first were given God’s holy law. Their response to the commandments was as follows: "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do." They were sincere in their desire to obey but as we know they failed miserably to keep God’s commandments. They did not understand their own weakness:
This oral response of the people is commended by the LORD in Deut. 5:27-28: "They have well said all that they have spoken." Their subsequent history, however, shows that they had failed to realize their own spiritual and moral weakness and the infinite perfection of the divine law which they so easily were engaging themselves to obey. See God’s lament in Deut. 5:29: "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always."
Where does a person need to go to find God’s rule for living the Christian life? Those of a legal persuasion would point the person to Mount Sinai, the place where Moses received the law from God. They would say, "Mount Sinai is where you need to go. Mount Sinai is where you will find the key to living the Christian life."
Consider the following quotations given by pioneer dispensationalists:
I learn in the law that God abhorred stealing, but it is not because I am under the law that I do not steal. All the Word of God is mine, and written for my instruction; yet for all that I am not under law, but a Christian who has died with Christ on the Cross, and am not in the flesh, to which the law applied. I have died to the law by the body of Christ (Romans 7:4). – JOHN DARBY
Some good men who in grievous error would impose the law as a rule of life for the Christian mean very well by it but the whole principle is false because the law, instead of being a rule of life, is necessarily a rule of death to one who has sin in his nature. Far from a delivering power, it can only condemn such; far from being a means of holiness, it is, in fact, the strength of sin (1 Cor. 15:56). – WILLIAM KELLY
Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. Protestant theology is for the most part thoroughly Galatianized, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, but they are mingled together in one incoherent system. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14. – C.I. SCOFIELD
When the sinner is justified by faith, does he need the law to please God? Can obedience to the law produce in him the fruit of holiness unto God? What is the relation of the justified believer to the law? Is he still under the dominion of the law or is he also delivered from the law and its bondage? These questions are answered in this chapter [Romans 7]. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:4,6). – ARNO C. GAEBELEIN
Believers today are not under law, either as a means of justification or as a rule of law, but are justified by grace and are called upon to walk in grace. Primarily here [in Romans 7:14-25] we have a believing Jew struggling to obtain holiness by using the law as a rule of life and resolutely attempting to compel his old nature to be subject to it. In Christendom now the average Gentile believer goes through the same experience; for legality is commonly taught almost everywhere. Therefore when one is converted it is but natural to reason that now [that] one has been born of God it is only a matter of determination and persistent endeavor to subject oneself to the law, and one will achieve a life of holiness. And God Himself permits the test to be made in order that His people may learn experimentally that the flesh in the believer is no better than the flesh in an unbeliever. When he ceases from self-effort he finds deliverance through the Spirit by occupation with the risen Christ. – H.A. IRONSIDE
The Word of God condemns unsparingly all attempts to put the Christian believer ‘under the law.’ The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul gave to the church the book of Galatians for the very purpose of dealing with this heresy. Read this Epistle over and over, noting carefully the precise error with which the writer deals. It is not a total rejection of the gospel of God’s grace and a turning back to total legalism. It is rather the error of saying that the Christian life, having begun by simple faith in Christ, must thereafter continue under the law or some part of it (Gal. 3:2-3). – ALVA McCLAIN