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Law and Responsibility

Law comes to man and says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27). It says, Do this and live, but if you fail in any measure, your doom is sure.

Responsibility is what comes with the receiving of gifts from God. Christians are not under law, but they do have wondrous blessing, grace, privileges, and promises which bring corresponding responsibilities. The more we, as children of God, realize our weakness and absolute dependence upon God, the more we will be cast upon Him for grace to meet those responsibilities. It will make us a prayerful people.

But the law sets men to trying in their own strength to do what is right, to keep the commandments. Under law a soul is in bondage, trying to do what his fallen nature makes impossible. He is never at rest, always coming short. One’s own doings are ever before the mind of the earnest legalist, and such a mind is never at peace.

What brings peace is the knowledge of the grace of God through the work of Christ on the cross, thus keeping Him ever before us as the Friend who loves us better than anyone else, and is never weary of us. Under grace a believer walks in newness of life, walks after the Spirit, in love, and thus in him the righteousness of the law is fulfilled. 

As the sense of our responsibility presses upon us, we find all we need in Him. It is not trying and fearing and hoping under law, but turning away from all else to Christ, finding in Him strength and wisdom and every need fully met.

—From Help and Food, 1913, by J.W. Newton