“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry...” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Apparently, the Law doesn't apply anymore. At least that's what it seems Perry Noble would have you think:
"GREENVILLE, S.C. (RNS) A Baptist minister is in hot water after preaching a sermon that called the Ten Commandments sayings or promises rather than mandates. In his Christmas Eve message, Senior Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, which regularly has more than 32,000 worshippers at 11 campuses across South Carolina, told congregants that no word for “commandment” exists in Hebrew, the Old Testament’s original language. 'Instead of Ten Commandments that you have to keep if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus, they’re actually 10 promises that you can receive when you say yes to Jesus,' Noble said."
This is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) run amok; and not just because I say so. Let's examine Perry's claims in the light of Scripture.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19) "But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'" (Matthew 22:34-40)
In other words, what he (Noble) has done is deny the very Master and Savior that he claims to serve. He has, instead, served cyanide to the flock. By substituting the Law of God for "promises" that he pulled out of the 1st Book of Nowhere, he would have his congregants believe that God acts as a cosmic bellhop on our behalf (all the while, ignoring the consequences of disregarding or changing the Law). Secondly, and most tragically, he has forgotten the entire function and purpose of the Law:
"Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:23-27)
Apart from Christ, the Law is oppressive to our nature (1 Cor. 2:14). It points out our flaws and restrains our transgressions. But since Christ has come and fulfilled the Law's commands at every point, we now can put our trust and faith in Him as our redeemer, since he has also paid the penalty (death) for us not living up to the standard that the Law requires (Isaiah 53:5).
So we are "freed from the Law" in the sense that we are no longer under the penalty due to us IF we have our hope in Christ. But to not articulate a sound fundamental understanding of the whole counsel of God on the matters of Law and Grace is reckless dereliction of duty for a pastor - any pastor (Galatians 2:11). As the Apostle Paul states:
"What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:15-18)
We are not freed to leave the Law behind; we are free to now follow out of a new heart and love for the Lawgiver (cf. Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:15-17, 23-24; 1 John 5:1-3).
Up and against much of the spurious and aberrant teaching of his day, Paul makes a clear distinction from the outset of what the "Gospel of God" truly is...
Romans 1:14 - The Intended Audience.
Paul is making it clear, (as he states in Rom. 1:8) that the Gospel is UNIVERSAL. It is meant to be proclaimed and heard among everyone, everywhere. Complete and total "everyday apocalypse" -- regardless of status, education, race, finances, etc.
Romans 1:16, 17 - A Declaration of Boldness.
Paul's affirmation and unwavering confidence in the Gospel is the hinge point of this chapter. Everyone is familiar with what the message entails. And in such a culture as Rome, it would most likely be deemed as foolish by the majority. This could be his way of encouraging others to follow his example of bold proclamation even under the threat of ridicule or even death. Also to be noted is that he lets the reader and listeners know that this gospel is only wrought by faith and faith alone from beginning to end -- from dust to glory.
Romans 1:18-32 - The Current State of Affairs (or Why It's Necessary)
Paul's weightiness of his unashamed proclamation (Rom. 1:16) is emphasized here by an awareness of the wrath of God that looms over the creation due to man's hardened and ungrateful heart, and willingness to believe lies instead of the truth. The long list of sinful behaviors starts off with sexual sin (including homosexuality), but he is not trying to put emphasis on this as more of a sin than others. What Paul is trying to show here could be seen as a two-fold consequence:
1. As a result of man not acknowledging God, he now acts like the things he worships -- an unreasoning beast, driven by base and lustful desires.
2. Being driven by said desires, he often engages in acts (both sexual and non-sexual) that have natural consequences that lead to ultimate demise (inability to reproduce or replicate themselves, and/or leading into war, murder, strife, etc.). Therefore, not only unable to have communion with the Creator, but with each other as well; this will sever any chance of truly being fruitful and multiplying. Sin causes the image of man to be seriously broken on all levels; thus the need for a bold, unashamed proclamation of the Gospel in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Soli Deo Gloria, Shon