Audio: (4:08 min.)
We know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully. So clearly in Paul's mind, there's a lawful use of law, and an unlawful use of law. He says that his goal in his preaching is love, and he explains why certain people have failed to reach that goal because of the way they're using the law.
So you see what's at stake here? Love at Bethlehem Baptist Church is at stake. You can totally botch love if you make an unlawful use of law. Love comes not from list keeping or law keeping. Lists cannot turn unloving, selfish hearts into humble, child-like, God dependent, Christ exalting, loving hearts. It can't do it.
We come to Christ for this. You don't go to law for this. You go to Christ for this. And you cleave to Him like a desperate sinner, and hold onto Him as your only hope, and through that hope that flows into you... a cleansing of the heart ... the heart is cleansed by faith (Acts 15:9 says). And then the conscience is purified because Christ declares it pure.
There is a lawful use of the law, and there is an unlawful use of the law. There is a right way to move towards change in people's lives, and there's a devastating way to move towards change in peoples lives ... successful change. There is deadly success in getting people changed in the wrong way. And Christ gets no glory from it, and therefore is a failure, and is not a fulfillment of the law. Notice he does not say [that] the law was added because so many of you are righteous and longing to do good and I want to give you some helpful advice, and counsel and guidance. He does not say that.
So here's my question. What produces behavior that is not contrary to sound doctrine, but is in accord with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God? Answer: The gospel produces behavior that accords with the gospel. The law doesn't produce gospel behavior. The gospel produces gospel behavior. And the law can never to that. You stay dead to the law in that sense.
All you justified saints who have come to Jesus alone. And I pray that it's all of you. And if you haven't that you come right now... that you turn away from law keeping, and you draw near, in your hearts, right now, to Jesus Christ who alone can forgive all your sins and make you right before God. So [to] all of us who've done that ... What do we do with Exodus 20? I'll give you three answers. Number one: Read it, and meditate on it, as those who have died to it, as the ground of your justification, and the power for your sanctification. Second: Read it, and meditate on it, knowing Christ is my righteousness, Christ is my sanctification, Christ is my redemption, Christ is my wisdom. Third: Read it, and meditate on it, to know Christ better, and to treasure Him more.
-John Piper, sermon, "How to Use the law Lawfully to Bear Fruit for God"