No Law—No Transgression

Cleon Lyles

Paul said, “Where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). Of course we realize, when reading this fourth chapter of Romans, that Paul is saying that the Gentiles could not have transgressed, regarding the law of Moses, when the law of Moses did apply to them. He is not saying that the Gentiles had no law, and therefore were guiltless, but rather that they were not held responsible for what was demanded in the law of Moses that did not apply to them. This verse, however, has been used by some to prove that it is alright to add mechanical instruments to the worship of God, since no law was given concerning them. It might be well that we see if this is a true application of this statement.

This argument was made by a member of the Christian Church. In the first place I am prone to agree that their use of the instrument is not a transgression, since God wrote no law to govern the Christian Church. God said nothing about this church. He did not plan its existence, its laws, or its worship. Any institution which the Lord has not built stands outside his laws and the benefits thereof. Whether the Christian Church does, or does not, use the instrument cuts no ice with God. They might take the instrument out of their worship and they will still be wrong, because the mechanical instrument is not all that is wrong with this man made body. I am not interested in the Christian Church giving up the instrument, until they are willing to give up everything else that is wrong. They have as much to give up as any other denominational body. They are wrong in name and practice. The use of the instrument is only one thing that is wrong. If they were right in everything but this one, then we might well advise them to give it up, but giving up one wrong and holding on to many others is going to do little, or no good.

In the second place, this argument states a falsehood. The Lord does have a law concerning music. Paul said, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). This is only one of several such statements given by the Lord and the apostles, but it expresses what the others say. God’s law for praise is singing. He named the kind of praise, and the kind of instrument to use. Who in his right mind, then, could say that there is no law concerning it? If Jesus had not commanded any kind of praise, but just said praise God and left us to select our own way, we might have a choice in the matter. But he did not do this. He said sing and make melody in the heart. So the argument is of no value. In fact it is no argument at all. For Christ does have a law concerning music and has stated it in no uncertain terms. Where there is law, there is transgression. So when God’s people add to his worship, by adding the mechanical instrument they transgress God’s law. Others need to become God’s children before they become transgressors.

If one is prone to reason that by remaining out of the family of God he never becomes guilty and, therefore, can be saved, a little thinking will reveal to them that he has never been granted any of the promises of God. Those on the outside have no promises. Therefore remaining a child of the devil in order to keep from being a transgressor, will keep one from receiving the promises of God, and will grant him only the offerings of the devil. It pays to obey God.

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Author: Editor

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