Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Law Of God

It is commonly believed by many Christians today that God’s commandments were meant for those who lived in Old Testament times, and do not apply to Christians who are under grace in the New Testament. The Bible has much to say on the subject of law and grace, but even though it is true that Christians are saved by faith in Christ, nowhere does it say God’s laws are not binding upon man. Keeping the commandments is not the method of salvation, but the fruit of it. Obedience to God is the test of the genuine Christian.

Romans 3:20 Therefore BY THE DEEDS OF THE LAW NO FLESH WILL BE JUSTIFIED in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

We are saved because of our faith in Jesus Christ, and not because we keep God’s law. This text does not say it is unnecessary to keep the law, but it says we are not justified by keeping it. We are justified by the blood of Jesus. This text in no way says it is unnecessary to obey God’s requirements.

Romans 6:14,15 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW BUT UNDER GRACE. What then? SHALL WE SIN BECAUSE WE ARE NOT UNDER LAW but under grace? CERTAINLY NOT!

We are not under the condemnation of the law because of the grace (unmerited favour) of Christ. His blood covers our sins so that the law cannot condemn us. The question is asked by Paul; “Shall we sin (or break the law) because we are not under the law but under grace?” and the reply is most definite – “God forbid”. God’s forgiveness to us does not give license to sin.

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, WE ESTABLISH THE LAW.

Genuine Christians will not seek to break God’s law, instead they establish it; uphold it and keep it. It is only as one breaks the law that he comes under the condemnation of it. For example, one is not affected by the speed limit law while driving, until he exceeds it – then he is condemned by it. Simply because we are under grace, does not give us free rein to break the law rather we are under greater obligation to keep it. We are only under grace so long as we keep the law. 

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? IS THE LAW SIN? CERTAINLY NOT! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

Paul is emphatic. There is nothing wrong with the law. In fact he says that he would not be conscious of sin without the law to show him his errors. Here he quotes from the 10th commandment. The commandments can be likened to a mirror. If a boy with a dirty face looks in the mirror, then the mirror tells him his face is dirty – but it won’t clean it for him, he needs soap and water. As we look at the commandments they show us our sins, but they do not cleanse us. We need the blood of Christ to make us clean. When we are cleansed and look into the commandments, they no longer condemn us.

Romans 7:12 Therefore THE LAW IS HOLY, and THE COMMANDMENT HOLY and just and good.

God’s law is perfect – it cannot be faulted.

What change did take place at the cross concerning the law?

Colossians 2:14-17 HAVING WIPED OUT THE HANDWRITING OF REQUIREMENTS that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, HAVING NAILED IT TO THE CROSS. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in FOOD or in DRINK, or regarding a FESTIVAL or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

An ordinance is a rite or a ceremony. In Old Testament times animal sacrifices were made, symbolising the supreme sacrifice Christ or the Messiah would make one day. There were many ceremonies that revolved around these sacrifices, such as partaking of certain foods and drinks. Why do we not offer animal sacrifices today? Because this would show we have no faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Just as it is no longer necessary to shed, the blood of animals, so it is unnecessary to partake in the ceremonial system associated with the killing of animals. Christ fulfilled the law of ceremonies. When He died, the temple veil tore in two as an indication that the temple services had come to an end. Generally speaking, the Bible does not try to differentiate between the 10 commandments and the law of Moses. To the Jew there was one law of God, and all details of the law were important, whether ceremonial or moral. However, the New Testament in many instances mentions specific parts of the law. This text mentions the ceremonial system, and not the moral law. Even the sabbaths mentioned were not necessarily the 7th day Sabbath of the 4th commandment. The Jews had several ceremonial sabbaths which fell on certain dates of the year, each one occurring once a year.


When God led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, He delivered to them in fiery majesty the Ten Commandments. This holy law was spoken by God, written by God, recorded on tables of stone, and is of eternal duration. At the same time another law, of temporary usage, was also delivered to the children of Israel. This law dealt with the ceremonial rites of the Jewish sanctuary service, and concerned itself with a system of religion that passed away at the cross. Large sections of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy describe in detail this temporary ceremonial code. This Law can easily be identified in the Scriptures. It talks about circumcision (a religious Jewish rite), sacrifices, offerings, purifications, ceremonial holy days, and other rites associated with the Hebrew sanctuary service.

Let the Bible itself explain and clarify the differences between these two laws. Please notice each text carefully:

THE MORAL LAW (The Ten Commandments)

1. Spoken by God Himself. Exodus 20:1,22.
2. Was written by God. Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:16.
3. On stones. Exodus 31:18.
4. Handed by God its writer, to Moses. Exodus 31:18.
5. Deposited by Moses “in the ark”. Deuteronomy 10:5.
6. Deals with moral precepts. Exodus 20:3 – 17. 6
7. Reveals sin. Romans 7:7.
8. Breaking of “the law” is “sin”. 1 John 3:4.
9. Should “keep the whole law”. James 2:10.
10. Because we “shall be judged” by this law. James 2:12
11. The Christian who keeps this law is “blessed in his deed”. James 1:25.
12. “The perfect law of liberty”. James 1:25 (Cf. James 2:12).
13. Paul said, “I delight in the law of God”. Romans 7:22 (Cf. verse 7).
14. Established by faith in Christ. Romans 3:31. 14. Abolished by Christ. Ephesians 2:15.
15. Christ was to “magnify the law and make it honorable”. Isaiah 42:21.

THE CEREMONIAL LAW (A temporary Jewish law)

1. Spoken by Moses. Exodus 24:3.
2. Written by Moses. Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:9.
3. In a book. Exodus 24:3,7; Deuteronomy 31:24.
4. Handed by Moses, its writer to Levites. Deuteronomy 31:25,26.
5. Deposited by the Levites “by the side of the ark”. Deuteronomy 31:26, ARV.
6. Deals with ceremonial, ritual matters. (See parts of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
7. Prescribes offerings for sins. (See book of Leviticus).
8. No sin in breaking, for now “abolished”. Ephesians 2:15. (Where no law is, there is no transgression. Romans 4:15.)
9. Apostles gave “no such commandment” to “keep the law”. Acts 15:24.
10. Not to be judged by it. Colossians 2:16.
11. The Christian who keeps this law is not blessed. (See for example, Galatians 5:1-6).
12. The Christian who keeps this law loses his liberty. Galatians 5:1,3.
13. Paul called this law a “yoke of bondage”. Galatians 5:1. (See Acts 15:10).
14. Abolished by Christ. Ephesians 2:15.
15. Blotted “out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us”. Colossians 2:14.

To the unbiased reader of God’s Word, it becomes more than clear that the Ten Commandments are binding upon all men for all time in every place, whereas no man is bound to keep the Ceremonial Law that was fulfilled in Christ. The Ceremonial Law with its sacrificial system pointed the people to the coming of Christ. Every time the blood of a beast was shed in the old Jewish temple, it was a dramatic reminder to the onlooker that One would come and die for his sin. Hence, John the Baptist pointed to our Lord and declared the significant words, “Behold the Lamb of God”. When He died on Calvary’s cross, the veil of the great temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, to signify that the entire ceremonial system was forever finished. (See Matthew 27:50,51). No longer need the priests offer up sacrifices. The One great and perfect Sacrifice was offered that Friday afternoon, when the true Passover Lamb bowed His head and died. When He cried out, “It is finished”, the old Ceremonial Law that pointed the people to His sacrificial death was nailed to the cross. But NOT SO WITH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. There was nothing temporary about them. They are to last as long as heaven and earth.

Matthew 5:17-19 DO NOT THINK THAT I CAME TO DESTROY THE LAW or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore BREAKS ONE OF the least of THESE commandments, and teaches men so, shall be CALLED LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus certainly did not have any intentions of making any change, in fact, He condemned men who taught that it was in order to break God’s law, and commended those who taught the necessity of keeping it.

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