The Third and Principal Use of the Law

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Kevin DeYoung:

It’s worth noting, as many have, that the Heidelberg Catechism included its exposition of the Law in the gratitude section and not in the guilt section.  This choice reflects the widespread Reformation belief in the so-called third use of the law.  The law is given (1) to restrain wickedness and (2) to show us our guilt and lead us to Christ.  But, according to Calvin, the “third and principal use” of the law is as an instrument to learn God’s will.  The law doesn’t just show us our sin so we might be drawn to Christ; it shows us how to live as those who belong to Christ.

In one sense Christians are no longer under the law.  We are under grace (Rom. 6:14).  We have been released from the law (Rom. 7:6) and its tutelage (Gal. 3).  On the other hand, having…

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