On children’s delight in rules

16 Apr

NOTE: This post was slightly updated to provide for clarification.

Do children delight in rules – or relationships?  Obviously, the question is silly.  For kids, it can’t be an either/or.  They know that rules serve relationships and not vice-versa.

Rules are good.  Rules show that people care about you.  It has always been this way.  In the Old Testament, we can see that God argues that because of His love for His people, He gave them His Law.  The gods of the pagan nations did not do that – they did not care about people like Yahweh did.

Kids love rules.  They are a blessed consistency their parents provide: this order is born of love, not from a love of order!  They might not like it when a rule does not permit them to do something they like – or when they are being accused by rules (“Don’t tell me that!”) – but this does not detract from the, well, general rule of which we are speaking.

In Romans 7:25, Paul sums up what he has been arguing in that section of the book: “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin”.  Is Paul putting himself “under the law” again, contrary to what he had just written a chapter earlier?: “…you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14).

Not at all.  Here (in Rom. 6:14) Paul is really talking about being under the law in such a way that sin became His master – apart from Christ, baptism, faith.  Paul goes on to explain that when “we were in the realm of the flesh”, sin “sprang to life” when “the commandment came”, killing him – i.e. the law actually exacerbated the sin that was within him (Rom 7:4-13)  This bondage he speaks of goes hand in hand with the attempt to justify one’s self that Paul speaks of in Galatians 3: “all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse”, for the one who is troubled by sin will try to compensate for it by doing good…

But this is a view of life apart from the Advocate spoken of in I John 2:1: “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.  This Advocate is the One who silences the Accuser, and cancels the “record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands”, nailing it to the cross (Col. 2).  He is the One who redeems us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’” (Gal. 3)

And this Advocate is for all – for you.

Therefore, as new people, we delight in being under the law – i.e. being a slave to it.  We know it is good even though we are not.  Though we still struggle with it because of our sinful nature (Rom. 7:14-25), we also delight in correction.  We delight in all His words, for we live by every word that comes from His mouth.  This side of heaven, we know that we never stop needing His Law and Gospel – for our own sakes, as well as for our neighbors. 

And when we fail to know Christ in this way, there is forgiveness for this as well!

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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