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The Killing Continues

With the recent decision of a B.C. Supreme Court judge, the province inches closer to creating a macabre open season on human beings. In a strange twist of logic, Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith ruled that the provisions of the Charter of Rights unjustifiably infringe on a disabled person’s life, liberty, and security.[1] If this logic were applied to liberty and security, the Justice would authorize freemen plunging themselves into slavery and secure men placing themselves in harm’s way. Why bother with a Charter of Rights at all?

This recent decision should come as no surprise: in light of legalized abortion (a feature of Canadian society since 1969), it was only a matter of time until other human beings were the lawful subjects of murder, whether self-inflicted or “physician” assisted. A society that justifies murdering the most helpless members of that society is certainly proclaiming its moral bankruptcy. It is an unfortunate and grim reality: “beautiful B.C.” is a place where those deserving increased protection are marginalized and disposable.

This disregard for human life is a further indication of how far society has devolved from an objective moral standard, namely, the revealed truth of God. I suspect some will question the validity of such a position, but follow along for a moment. The Bible reveals that God made man in His own image and wrote His law upon man’s heart. Man defected from God shortly after his entrance into the world, but he can never fully shake the law of God. He is conscious of certain truths, even though he tries very hard to suppress those truths when they conflict with his wishes. One of those truths is the commandment, “You shall not murder.” If a society excludes this particular commandment, there will be inevitable consequences: physician assisted suicide, abortion on demand, and any number of horrific crimes may potentially become accepted realities. The society in question is left without an objective defense against the encroaching tyranny of lawless men. After all, why shouldn’t the government declare open season on any or all groups within that society? Why shouldn’t the government commit any number of atrocities if there is no absolute standard of right and wrong? A society that authorizes the murder of the preborn and the disabled is a society that has created a culture of death; death becomes the solution for any who do not meet the societal standard of being wanted or having a certain agreed upon quality of life.

The law of God is the standard of right and wrong that will protect man from the always arbitrary and oftentimes murderous tendencies of governments.  Science effectively tells man what is, but science can never tell a man what ought to be.  Francis Schaeffer wrote,

In the flood of the loss of humanness in our age – including the flow from abortion-on-demand to infanticide and on to euthanasia – the only thing that can stem this tide is the certainty of the absolute uniqueness and value of people.  And the only thing which gives us that is the knowledge that people are made in the image of God.  We have no other final protection.  And the only way we know that people are made in the image of God is through the Bible and in the incarnation of Christ, which we know from the Bible.[2]

The Bible reveals that man is created in the image of God, and therefore to murder man is to assault the divine majesty.[3]  The fact that man is created in the image of God is not true only of healthy adults, but it is true of man in every phase of his life. Man is the image of God before the fall into sin (Gen 1:26-28), after the fall into sin (Jas 3:9), in the womb (Ex 21:21-25), as a child (Lev 18:21; Eph 6:4), as one physically handicapped (Lev 19:14; Mk 10:46-52), as an elderly person (Lev 19:32; Prov 16:31; 1 Tim 5:1), and as having dominion over the animals (Gen 1:28; Ps 8:6-8).

Instead of authorizing murder for the vulnerable ones in society, the Supreme Court ought to uphold the Charter of Rights for every person, for a failure to uphold the Charter is wrong in at least two ways. In the first place, it is wrong to permit the unlawful killing of another human being.  It is unfortunate that reasons have to be added to this most fundamental principle, but such is the hardness of man’s heart. And secondly, if the rights of one group are violated, it will not be long until the rights of all groups are violated. That potential open season on human beings may be extended in the next Supreme Court ruling and another group’s right to life, liberty, and security may be at risk.



[2] John Piper, A Hunger for God (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1997), 158.

[3] Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology:  Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans Publishing, re. 1991), 54.

The Lawful Uses of God’s Law

In 1 Tim. 1, Paul urges Timothy to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (v.3). He then indicates the nature of their error in v.7, “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”  The heretics desired to be “teachers of the law” but distorted the truth.  In v.8, Paul makes a statement for our consideration:  “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully.”  The Reformed confessions of faith summarize the biblical teaching concerning the use of God’s law which is a helpful corrective to the antinomian and legalistic tendencies in the church today, two tendencies which have the same enemy:  the law of God.

The first is the civil use.  Richard A. Muller defines it as “the political or civil use, according to which the law serves the commonwealth, or body politic, as a force for the restraint of sin.”[1]  The LBCF of 1689 teaches that the law written in the heart of man at creation was “delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments” (19:2) and then states that this “moral law doth for ever bind all, as we justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.”  The law is used by God for the restraint of His creatures.

The second is the pedagogical use.  Muller defines it as “the elenctical or pedagogical use; i.e., the use of the law for the confrontation and refutation of sin and for the purpose of pointing the way to Christ.”[2]  This function of the law demonstrates man’s sinfulness and shows his need for Christ.  Paul indicates this in Rom 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” WLC #96 says, “What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?  The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come, and to drive them to Christ; or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable, and under the curse thereof.”

The third is the normative use.  Muller defines it as the use that “pertains to believers in Christ who have been saved through faith apart from works.  In the regenerate life, the law no longer functions to condemn, since it no longer stands elenctically over against man as the unreachable basis for salvation, but acts as a norm of conduct, freely accepted by those in whom the grace of God works the good.”[3]  The LBCF of 1689 amplifies this use in 19:6 and indicates that while the law is no longer binding as a covenant of works, it “is of great use to them [believers] as well as to others” in that it functions as a “rule of life.”  John Murray observed concerning this use, “It is symptomatic of a pattern of thought current in many evangelical circles that the idea of keeping the commandments of God is not consonant with the liberty and spontaneity of the Christian man, that keeping the law has its affinities with legalism and with the principle of works rather than with the principle of grace.  It is strange indeed that this kind of antipathy to the notion of keeping commandments should be entertained by any believer who is a serious student of the New Testament.  Did not our Lord say, ‘If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments’ (John 14:15).”[4]

Problems regarding the law are manifold in the church today.  A return to the Reformed confessions and an emphasis on covenant theology should prove a helpful corrective in this area of study.  J. Gresham Machen said, “A new and more powerful proclamation of that law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of law…So it always is:  a low view of the law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.  Pray God that the high view may again prevail.”[5]



[1] Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms.  (Grand Rapids:  Baker Books, 1985), 320.

[2] Ibid, 320.

[3] Ibid, 321.

[4] John Murray, Principles of Conduct.  (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., [1957] 1984), 182.

[5] J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith?  (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., [1925] 1974), 141-142.