Law vs. law

By Dave Henning / November 25, 2012

Tullian Tchividjian makes an important distinction between Law (capital L) and law (lower-case l) in Chapter 2 of Glorious Ruin.  “Law” comes from God and is found in the 10 Commandments as well as Jesus’ certification of the law expert’s response in Luke 10:27.  But “law” also plays out in many ways in our daily lives, as author Paul Zahl (Who Will Deliver Us?) summarizes:

“Law with a small ‘l’ refers to an interior principle of demand or ought that seems universal in human nature.  In this sense, law is any voice that makes us feel we must do something or be something to merit the approval of another. . . . In the Bible, the Law comes from God.  In daily living, law is an internalized principle of self-accusation. . . . In practice, the requirement of perfect submission to the commandments of God is exactly the same as the requirement of perfect submission to the innumerable drives for perfection that drive everyday people’s crippled and crippling lives.”

That concept is quite similar to John Ortberg’s phrase “approval addiction”.  Is our identity or self-concept, for example, directly  connected to being called to a new ministry position comparable to the one we lost?  Do we feel that we “ought” not have lost our ministry position or feel incomplete unless justice is served?

The good news of the Gospel is that God’s grace frees us from living under those burdens, enabling us to heal and move forward into new avenues of ministry.


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Dave Henning

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