Christians know that law can not create virtue and that law keeping can not lead to righteousness.

Nevertheless, in practice, so many of us are legalists.

We are legalists in our thinking about society. We hear of some abuse and immediately say, “There should be a law against it”. We consider abortion wrong so we want it banned on pain of punishment. We want to see the law tightened up and strictly applied in all sorts of ways.

But the best set of laws ever given – the law of Moses – was a complete failure. It did not create in Israel a standard of communal life or personal goodness which was praiseworthy or sustainable.

So many of us love Authoritarianism. The bullying Blair was backed by so many Christian believers in the poll booth and in public. We are like the Israelites with their rebellious lust for a strong king.

But God prefered the age of the judges to the age of kings. Indeed the main lesson of the Davidic dynasty is that even the best of men is not fit to be a monarch. And one of the lessons of the Old Testament is that something better than a good set of laws is needed to create a just society.

The law of the Spirit written on the heart is the only law worth anything and the monarchy of Jesus is the only authority we can trust.

In the meantime, let every man do what is right in his own eyes.