The Law of God. What is it? Is for the Christian? Are we still bound by it? Should we still use it? What’s it for anyways? Let’s break down some things from a Biblical perspective and let the Bible show us the truth in this matter, to give us a better understanding of what it is, what it isn’t, and where we stand today as Christians.
What was the purpose of the Law when God gave it to Moses and the Israelites on Mount Sinai? Was it a set of rules on how to win the prize? How to get to Heaven? Well kind of but not necessarily. The Law was given three-fold.
First, it was given as a temporary way to approach God. Man was separated from God eternally because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. The Law put into place, systems and rules for man to abide by to provide a way for God’s wrath not to rest upon men but allow them to receive grace and mercy from Him albeit imperfect because humanity is inherently sinful and unable to keep the law perfectly.
“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my current state (sinful nature). For I have the desire to do good but cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:18
Second, and really more importantly, the law was given to show humanity our sinfulness. It’s like a mirror showing us where we are dirty. Better yet, it’s like a flashlight pointing to our dark corners revealing how dirty we really are when on the surface we it’s may appear clean and a good person.
“The Law was added so that sin might increase.” Romans 5:20
“I would have not known what sin was except through the Law.” Romans 7:7
“What then was the purpose of the Law? It was added because of transgressions until the seed to whom the promise referred (Jesus) had come.” Galatians 3:19
Third, because it showed us our sinfulness and because we had to continually strive to keep this law which we were unable to do, it ultimately leads us to Christ. You could say the Law wears us out to a point where we give up all self-righteousness, falling to our knees crying out for one to save us from our sin and the weight of this law we just can’t bear any longer.
“The Law was put into effect (to be in charge of us) in order to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened down (from trying to be righteous in your own ability) and I will give you rest. Take my burden upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in spirit and in Me (only) will you find rest for your souls. For my burden is easy and the yoke I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Now that we have laid out the groundwork for what the Law is, do we still need to abide by it as Christians. This is the money question. The one for all the marbles.
No we don’t. But…let me explain before you go out leaping as a calf from a stall exclaiming “I can do whatever I want! I can do whatever I want!” In order to expound, let’s look at the first part of Romans 7, to break down an analogy almost no preacher ever preaches or teaches from, but the Apostle did and did for a good reason!
“Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is RELEASED from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been RELEASED from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:1-6
This is an amazing passage of scripture. Paul is using the marriage analogy to explains people under the law and how that has changed. He relates those under the law (before a Christian) to a woman married to her husband. If she was to go off and be with another man she would of course be in adultery and in sin. We can all agree on this. If her husband dies, then she is free to marry another man and would not be deemed an adulteress. This also is understood. Now, he compares her first husband to us being under the law. If while under the law we tried to institute some other form of worship or outside set of rules, we would be against God in doing so. But…when God sent His Son to die on the cross as a man, all that changed. The Bible says ‘when Christ died, we too died.’ When we died, it was equivalent to the lady’s husband dying. She was free from her commitment to her previous husband because he was dead. She was not FREE to marry another with legal penalty. Because we too have ‘died with Christ’, we are free to marry another as well. We have been LEGALLY set free from the obligation to the Law and are free to serve in the new way of the Spirit. The Bible tells us the Law has now been written on our hearts and it also says just because we have been freed it doesn’t give a license to sin.
“I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.” Hebrews 8:10
“Do you not use your newfound freedom from the law, to indulge the sinful nature.” Galatians 5:13
“Christ is the END of the Law that there might be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4
So we see that we are no longer bound to keeping the Law and as we are born again, we follow the new way of the Spirit (Gal 5:16). But should we still look to the Law? Should we still try to keep it? This is the question that always gets tossed around and fought over. We are now under a new covenant, in Christ. The New Covenant supersedes the Old Covenant:
“The former regulation was set aside because it was weak and useless.. (for the law made nothing perfect and a better hope is introduced by which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18-19
If the new supersedes the old and we are in a new relationship with God through Christ, why and how would we still entertain the old relationship. Think of it this way: If you were married and your spouse passed and you remarried. And if you tried to, you would probably lose you new spouse because that would drive them away. You can’t have both at the same time yet, this is the very same thing many well-meaning Christians try to do today by keeping the Law in place and wanting to promote it amidst our newfound faith in Christ!! This can’t happen because it will ruin both the old and the new! Jesus addressed this very thing in his teachings. Let’s take a look and wrap this up:
“No one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment for the patch will pull away from the garment making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst and the wind will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17
Did you see that?! The new patch and new wine represent our new relationship with God through Christ as a born-again believer. The old cloth and old wineskins represent our old life under the law which brought wrath and the constant awareness of our sinfulness. What happens when the new is poured into the old – basically when the two are mixed? Both are ruined! No as new creations in Christ, we respect the old but go forward in our new relationship in Christ! This is where our freedom lies (Gal 5:1). Knowledge of the Law and it’s constant appropriation only brings condemnation (2 Cor 3:6-7). The Law is for the lost, not for the born again believer!
“We know the Law is good if one uses it properly. We also know the Law is not made for the righteous but for the Law-breaker and the rebel, for the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and the irreligious..” 1 Timothy 1:8-9
So, to wrap up: We respect the Law and understand where it’s brought us; it’s usefulness and purpose but, if we have been born again, we are a new creature and those things that were from before, they have passed. We serve God in the new way of the Spirit, in true life, because the law only brought wrath (Rom 4:15). The Law still has purpose though…let’s use the Law to preach conviction to the lost and the standard by which no man can ever reach. It’s in this hope, that we have been given Jesus Christ: our hope and salvation from all we could never do, unto the life in God for all we can now do through Him who gives us the strength and freedom that is truly life.
“If any person be in Christ, they are a new creation. All former things have passed away and behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17