So in one sense, the law functions like a window opening up the truth of God’s will for us, but, it also works like a mirror reflecting our own failure and corruption back to us. The plain truth is, we do not, and cannot, keep God’s law [here the author quotes Romans 7:7].
The law, in showing us what is right, immediately shows us what is wrong – we are lawbreakers. This is it second purpose, to expose our sin and unbelief and make known our condemnation. But the law’s work is not done in showing us our own failure. By showing us what’s wrong, it also shows us what’s desperately needed.
In this next section, then, Thorn connects the law with the gospel:
In exposing our own corruption, the law of God leaves us guilty and points us to our need for redemption. We are lawbreakers and need forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. In this sense the law serves as a guide in leading us to the gospel. It fits us for it, prepares us for it. The law, while being ‘holy and righteous and good,’ is itself not good news. It is the bad news that makes the good news of the gospel so relevant. In this way, the law prepares us for the gospel by showing us our need of it.
And so he concludes with these words:
In preaching the law to ourselves we see and admire God’s will and way, while exposing and confessing our sinfulness. This leads us toward the gospel where we find our only hope of redemption and restoration. Preaching the law to ourselves breaks our pride, leads to humility, and calls us to cry out to God and depend on his mercy (pp.26-27).
I would only add that the law does not by any power in itself, nor by any ability in ourselves, but by the GRACE of God alone!
Taken from Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011). For the previous post, visit this page.