We have, therefore, to delve deeper to get this into right perspective. We have already said that law can be defined as the way things work, and they don’t work any other way. At the creation only one law was given to man (the way man works)—the law of receptivity—“eat”. But man obeyed that simplest of all laws in reverse, by eating of the tree of self-sufficiency.
Now the situation changed. Instead of eating of the right tree and receiving Him who is love and who would live the love-life through him (which is the fulfillment of all law), he had been taken captive by the huge delusion that he could manage his own life. So now the history of law in our fallen world begins. God in mercy and grace meets man on his new blinded level and says in effect, “You can live your own life? Very well, here is the law. Man is made to love God with all his heart, mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself. Obey it.”
In other words, God institutes an elementary and external form of law, suitable to man’s condition—the form of “do this and you will live”. Twice in the Scriptures it is called man’s elementary religion: “we, when we were children, were in bondage to the elements (rudiments) of the world…under the law”: and “wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (elements) of the world, why…are ye subject to ordinances, Touch not; taste not; handle not?”
Law, therefore, was the first form of God’s grace, because it imposed an impossibility on man—that the selfish one should be selfless—and gave him the chance of discovering his truly lost condition.
Man’s response to law has been twofold. The first response damns, the second opens the door to salvation. The first response is hypocrisy, the second honesty. Hypocrisy means pretending to be what we are not. All men, including ourselves, have done that. We have sought to build our own righteousness and maintain our own respectability by pretending we keep God’s law, by keeping a very little of it where convenient: a little religion, a little ethics, and so on. What we really do is to display the one or two commands we do keep, but carefully hide the dozens we break. We cling to an eleventh commandment—Thou shalt not be found out! This attitude finally damns us, because it is not ultimately sin that damns; God has provided for that; it is dishonesty, refusal to admit and confess sin. “This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light…and hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.”
Man’s other response to law is honesty. Recognition that we are all law-breakers. That is the one capacity we have—recognition and admission of fact. That is what Jesus meant in the parable of the Sower, when he said the good seed fell into an “honest and good heart”.
Taken from “God Unlimited” by Norman Grubb