Christians Need The Law Because Of The Old Adam

Excerpt from: 
Oswald Bayer,  Martin Luther's Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation, tr. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003), 293-294.

Luther always accented the fact that the law is not to be preached to Christians, insofar as they have been made righteous by the gospel; but it is to be preached to them insofar as they are sinners and thus belong to the old world. In the same way the Formula of Concord, article 6, vigorously seeks to articulate "what the gospel does, creates, and effects for the new obedience of the believer and what at this point, as regards the good works of the believers, the office of the law is," what the function and task of the law entail. In this way this Lutheran confession returns again and again to the old man, in order to emphasize the function of the law with reference to that nature. For "the old Adam hangs on," even now, to the Christian. The old Adam is "the obstinate donkey, fixing for a fight," against whom the new man wages "constant battle." The "Christian" and "true believer" is no different, insofar as he is old man, from the "unbeliever, non-Christian, and unrepentant person!" The same law applies to the "believer... no less than the godless."  

A particular pressing question comes up with respect to modern thinking that poses the problem about how, in the spontaneity of new obedience, sanctification can be kept from leading to enthusiasm; it is not enough to point to the enduring validity of the law for the old man. The gospel must be taken with the same seriousness, but given priority in regard to its content. For the new man to have a relationship with the old man, more than anything else he must stay alive. But for this he is constantly pointed to the promise of the gospel and the "alien" righteousness of Christ that is given him therein. This applies to him as that which has validity, is appropriate, and is distributed to him but never in the sense of what is his own, so that he can think of it as something that comes from within himself and that he can remember as his own. Such reliance on the self, even such reliance on the self that applies to the pious man, who wants to see his growth in faith and love, would stand in contradiction to the community into which the gospel takes its place.  

So that the person who is reborn and renewed does not turn back to himself and thus to a view of the self that either doubts or is arrogant, the law that punishes and kills such self-will is necessary, but the gospel is even more necessary, which does not let such thoughts come to him at all. The spontaneity of new obedience is protected from enthusiasm in that it is not appropriate to talk of it as something that the self possesses or that is egotistical about salvation as something that is my own, as is the case with the delusional "self-arrogance," it is to be apprehended as a present and gift of another, which empowers me to live life (Galatians 2:19-20). 

For a more thorough treatment of this subject refer to F. Pieper's segment on this subject by CLICKING HERE.

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