Believers should not only obey but also delight in God’s law (Pss. 1:2; 40:8; 119:16; Rom. 7:22). But what is delightful about the law? One might wrongly think that our delight should not be in the law but in Christ because He saved us from what the law could not. Placing the law in the larger redemptive context shows otherwise.
Man was made to depend on revelation to know how to relate with his Maker. When Adam rejected revelation and made himself the arbiter of truth, sin entered and darkened human understanding. To correct this, God spoke again, revealing Himself in many ways before climactically speaking through Christ (Heb. 1:1–2). God spoke through the law to show sin-darkened man how to live as a creature made in God’s image (Ps. 119:130).
Fallen man’s inability to meet God’s only acceptable standard is not the standard’s fault. That sin brings death via the breaking of the law is also not the law’s fault (Rom. 7:7–13). The law should not be viewed like some cancer medicine that produces terrible side effects as it heals. The law, in and of itself, has no terrible side effects (v. 12), nor is it an inconvenience necessitated by the fall.
The most powerful argument for the law’s goodness is Christ Himself, the giver and revealer of the law’s full meaning (Matt. 5:17–18). Christ, by fulfilling all the law’s righteous demands, obtains glory for Himself and for those He represents as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:47–49; Heb. 5:8–9).
Thus, the law, understood in its fullest meaning and purpose, serves the gospel. The gospel presupposes our failure and inability to live according to God’s law. Additionally, Christ’s death as a punishment for our sins demonstrates God’s just and glorious demand for punishment for failure to adhere to the law’s standard (Rev. 16:1–7; see also Ex. 33:18–19; 34:6–7). Furthermore, the gospel’s call to love God and neighbor summarizes the law (Rom. 13:8–10). Hence, the law is revealed in Christ’s teachings, life, and death (3:31). Delighting in the law is delighting in the will of God as revealed in Christ.
Therefore, although the law was given post-fall, its essence precedes the fall and continues into eternity as the standard to which man is to conform. Once perfected, we will perfectly live by and delight in the law. Although we are currently unable to live according to its standard perfectly, we are still called to delight in the law.
Only he who is hostile to God finds no reason to delight in the law (Rom. 8:7–8). For him, the law forbids what he delights in and condemns him. Yet for us who are in Christ, the law is a blessing: it reminds us of our high calling as God’s people, humbles us to depend on God, makes us grateful for God’s mercy, shows how image bearers should live, and ultimately reveals the glory of Christ and of God.