CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LAW
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN
2008 John H Mattox

    Our theory that John, the Baptist, was a type of the law is supported by the details of John's ministry, which graphically illustrate the characteristics of the law. Let us consider these details:

  1. John came proclaiming himself to be "a voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." One important purpose of the law was to establish straight or righteous ways for Jesus to walk in so that his righteousness might be beyond question.
  2. Those who came to John confessing their sins, he symbolically put to death in baptism. The law offers nothing but condemnation and death to the guilty sinner. See Matthew 3:5-6.
  3. To the Pharisees and Sadducees who wished to be baptized, John said in Matthew 3:8: "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance." Law demands fruits, but is powerless to produce them. That which the law demands is produced in the believer as the fruit of the Spirit.

Characteristics Of The Law (cont)
  1. To the same group, John said in vs 9: "Do not begin to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father." The law is not impressed by a sinner's genealogy.
  2. In Matt. 3:10-12, John speaks of coming judgment. Since men are sinners, the law's message to them is, of necessity, one of judgment.
  3. In Matt. 9:14, John's disciples were puzzled by the fact that the disciples of Jesus never fasted. The adherents of law can never understand the abandonment of ritualism, and ceremonialism, by the adherents of grace.
  4. In Matt. 11:2-11, Jesus spoke highly of John. Though grace does not work according to the pattern of law, yet it honors law and is never contemptuous of it.

Characteristics Of The Law (cont)
  1. Jesus denounced the Pharisees and others of that generation in these words in Matthew 11: 18-19:
     
    "John came neither eating nor drinking and ye say, He hath a devil: The Son of man came both eating and drinking, and ye say; Behold a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber!"
     
    Hypocrites are satisfied with neither law nor grace; for law is too austere and grace is too liberal. They refuse to conform to pure law, and grace is incomprehensible to them. Hence they seek a compromise or mixture of law and grace. In such a blend, as Scofield puts it: "Law is robbed of its terror, and grace of its liberty."
  2. When John saw Jesus approaching, he testified: "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." John l:29b. The noblest function law can perform is to point sinners to the Lamb of God.

John H Mattox

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