Good point. I was researching the subject (it being a favorite of mine) and I wrote this:
Reformed and Lutheran Theologies (I can’t speak for others) have traditionally held to what is called ‘the three uses of the law’; and have rejected as blasphemy a fourth use. Yet a fifth use has to some extent passed away. Theonomy, as I believe and teach it, is a study of those first three uses, and their distinction from the fourth and fifth use. I will here present the condensed version of what I believe and teach on each use of The Law.
The First use of The Law
The first use of the law is, as Scripture says, to lead us to Christ. By showing us our sin, our utter depravity in His sight, it points us to our need of a savior. Other laws have historically pointed to that savior Himself.
1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1Jn 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
Heb 10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Jas 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. Jas 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Jas 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. Jas 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. Rom 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; Rom 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Rom 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; Eph 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Gal 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Gal 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Gal 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Gal 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Gal 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. Gal 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Gal 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. Gal 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Second use of The Law
The second use of the law is for the ‘lawless’, or the world. It provides a moral code and appropriate responses to all kinds of civil evil.
1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Rom 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The Third use of The Law
The third use of the law is to guide the Christian in righteousness. It reveals Gods will, and in love we follow His commands.
Gal 5:12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you. Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Heb 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Jas 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. Jas 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Co 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Rom 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Rom 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Rom 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Fourth, blasphemous, use of the Law
The fourth use of the law is to attempt to win Gods approval unto Salvation.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Gal 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Rom 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
Rom 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Rom 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; Rom 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
The fifth use of the Law: partially discontinued
The fifth use of the law is that of specific application to Israel as far as making of them a unique nation. This is not a very controversial use of the law, although where its edges are is the subject of some debate.
Lev 20:24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.