Are we still under the Law of Moses and the 10 Commandments which were originally laid out in the Old Testament OR are we under the Law of Faith laid out by Jesus in the New Testament?
Some atheists would say – It’s irrelevant, because “There is no God – atheistrepublic.com” (The title of the article, “Why there is no God”)
Seventh Day Adventist tell you – “do no work [on the Sabbath] – Ex 20 – adventistreview.org” (Title of the article, “Keeping the Sabbath”)
Jehovah’s Witnesses would say – “Faith without works is dead – James 2” (Their reading of this implies that works are needed, which are people trying to keep the law)
Latter Day Saints (Mormons) say – “for we know that is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do – 2 Nephi 25” (“After all we can do – we are saved” Again – works based)
Then you have your every day Christian. Some say, we are no longer under the law, but then there are others that insist, something like the Sabbath is a requirement even today. The Bible is clear on this – Christians need to be OK with someone either celebrating one day as the Sabbath or all days as the Sabbath. – Colossians 2 But I would ask what is their heart motive. Are they are taking the Sabbath because they want to live by the letter of the law of the 4th commandment – similar to the SDA church or are they doing it for the glory of God?
From here, I will go through a fair amount of scripture and give commentary along the way. Open to critique and if there is something more that I need to address or if you believe this is faulty reading of the scripture, I am open to fair and rational discussion on the matter. Here we go…
-Man and woman are recorded as having been created on the 6th day. – Genesis 1:26-27 This is also the time when the first commands were given to Man and Woman – Genesis 1:28 – Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Romans 3:19-20 – Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.
The law is designed to show people that they are guilty before God – by showing them the sin. However, those who simply work by the law will not be justified (continue*1).
Romans 3:21-26 – But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
There is righteousness apart from the law – which is also mentioned in the OT – which is the righteousness attained by faith in Jesus.
No question – we have all sinned – but the law was written so that man would know they are sinners. (continue*1) The law was not written so that people could work themselves into salvation, because man can never achieve the perfection of the law. We are not justified by our works in the law. We are only justified by His grace through the redemption of Jesus.
Romans:27-31 – Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
We can’t boast because we follow the checklist of the 10 commandments. We can’t boast because of the works that we do. The law of faith and the law of Moses are two different things. The law of faith is what we are justified in – through the sacrifice of Christ and our faith in Him – apart from the deeds of the law. It was the law that brought us to the knowledge that we are sinners and needed a savior. Once we accept that savior, the law is no longer what we are judged under. We begin to be judged by our continued faith in Jesus Christ. Remember – “we are appointed to die once, and then the judgement” (Heb 9:27). This simply means, in a physical sense – if someone has not taken Jesus as their Lord and Savior before they die physically, then that will count as their one death (when they take their last breath) and they will be judged according to the law of Moses – the 10 commands. Obviously that person will fall short and will be apart from God for eternity. HOWEVER, and this is the good news we always talk about, IF someone during their life, bows that knee to Jesus and accepts Him as their Lord and Savior, the writing of the law will be stamped as fulfilled and that person dies on that day, to their flesh. That person will no longer be under the law that Christ fulfilled. Christ didn’t abolish the law (Matt 5:17-20) – because if He abolished the law, that would mean that there was no use for it in the first place. Jesus fulfilled the law and through His sacrifice and through our acknowledgment that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, that we serve Him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength, that we Love Jesus and worship Him – We also died to flesh and Jesus judged us as saved and washed away our sin. Once and for all!!! We have already been judged and Jesus stamped out the need for the law of Moses in our life. We now have the law of faith. (continue *2)
Romans 4:1-4 – What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
It wasn’t because Abraham did works that he was accounted righteousness. It was because he believed God.
Romans 4:5-8 – But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. God imputes (attributes) righteousness apart from works. Any work that we do that is good and holy, it was God that did it through us. Our best that we have to offer, the most righteousness that we can muster – is “filthy rags” compared to what God can do. (Isaiah 64:6) If we start attempting to do works again, if we try to live our lives by the law of Moses, we will be judged by the law of Moses. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10) If we focus on the law, we are focused on the checklist. If we focus on the law, we are not looking at Christ and trusting the Spirit to guide us. (continue *2) This doesn’t mean that the law doesn’t have a purpose. It just doesn’t hold a purpose for those under the new covenant – who are now to follow the commands of Jesus. “Love God. Love your neighbor.” These are the commands. There are also many other things he said that show our acts of obedience. Baptism, preaching the gospel, making disciples, etc etc.
Romans 4:9-12 – Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.
This is a fascinating scripture. When did Abraham have righteousness accounted to him, for the faith that he had in God??? It wasn’t after he had himself circumcised. The circumcision was an outward sign and a shadow of the circumcision of the heart.
Romans 4:13-15 – For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
Abraham wasn’t told that he would be a father of nations and heir of the world because of his obedience to the law, “but through the righteousness of faith.” “For if those who are of the law are heirs” faith is not what you have… You have law or faith. Not both… and if you have law – the promise (the covenant) will break. Meaning, if we follow the law – then we aren’t living by faith, we are living by the law. And if we live by the law – even today – then the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross and the offer He gives to us for eternal salvation and cleansing of our sin and forgiveness are “MADE OF NO EFFECT”. I want that effect. I want that promise. I desire to have faith and trust in Jesus and “try” to steer clear of the law and that reminder of sin. Gal 3:19-24 (quotes are scripture) “19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of the transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… This is referring to Gen 3:15 (the protoevangelium – first gospel – first hope – the first prophesy of Jesus to come – the Seed here is Jesus) Now this is the part that trips a LOT of people up and did to me for a long time… “21 – Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.” Is the law against the promises??? You’re probably thinking, But Charles, you just said that if you live by the law the promise will be made of no effect. I said it, but that’s what scripture says. Here in Galatians, we are being told that the law is not designed to work against the promises of God. In other words, the law has a purpose. What is that purpose? “22 – But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.” The Scripture, the law, the prophets, etc – were designed to point us to the sin that is within us. It is there so that we recognize that we don’t have it all together and that we will never meet the mark of perfection in and of ourselves. Keeping the law?? Impossible. But we were given a promise. And that promise is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Before faith, we were kept under guard by the law, until such time that “faith” is revealed to us. We can look at that two ways. There were some before the time of Jesus that had faith in God. For them, I believe they understood, that it wasn’t about the law, it was about faith in God. But most didn’t get that. But when Jesus came, as a physical being – he fulfilled the prophesy of Gen 3:15 and crushed the serpents head. So much more happened, but I don’t want to derail this. “24 – Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” What happens when we are done being tutored??? What happens when we are justified by faith??? “25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Romans 4:16-24 – Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
The reference here “so that the promise might be sure to all the seen, not only to those who are of the law” – is making a distinction to the Jews. After all, they are God’s chosen people and God was known to impute to some of them righteousness based on their faith. At the end it shows how Abraham’s faith in God’s promise and shows how that faith that we have today relates to our justification. Abraham’s faith was a shadow of things to come for us.
Romans 5:12-14 – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Romans 15-21 – 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is a lot here, but I pretty much take it as is, but will give one thought. Verse 20 says “Law entered that the offense might abound.” That sounds like it should be profound, but what does it really mean. The law was established – so that man could see what he was doing wrong. So man could see his sin. That the offense – the sin – would be obvious.
-For the first time in Genesis, rest is discussed in which God rested from His works. Genesis 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
-We know that God didn’t start work again on the 8th day. Some people take this Genesis statement and tell us that “God stopped work”. Is that all that it says??? Sounds to me like people lose sight of Genesis 2:1, where God simply says, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.” The work God rested from was His works of what was created and made. He not only rested, but he was finished. All things were created and there was nothing left for him to create. But make no mistake, God has never stopped working in your life or mine.
Hebrews 4 – Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
Moses had a special relationship with God. Even talks about how he was in the presence of God. The rest of the Jews however, didn’t want that relationship, in fact, they didn’t even want to hear directly from God. “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die”. (Deut 18:16) They didn’t want relationship, they wanted rules and laws and things to do – to show God love. God said O.K. But, there were MANY more rules to come out of this desire. The Jews later asked for a king to rule over them, instead of God being directly over them. And so God said, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you (Samuel), but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (I Samuel 8:7 – Acts 13:21) Setting the scene for this next part.
Just as God did his works, we do our works. When he was finished on the 7th day, he simply rested. The Jews worked. And worked. And worked. And worked. God desires relationship with his Children, but the Jews, for the most part wanted rules and laws and ceremony and all that other stuff. God told the Jews – Ok – you’re working so hard, but on this day – the Sabbath – I want you to rest and keep it holy. The typical Jew did not have the helper that Jesus sent, did they? They also didn’t have the presence of Jesus living inside of them. The Jew, by in large rejected God and instead wanted to have rules and kings and whatnot. So, God gave them what they desired. But here is the problem.
I Kings 12:4, 13-16 – Worth the read, but I’m only going to paraphrase. The Jews wanted to have a lighter yoke from the new king, because the old king was a tyrant. The new king denied their request and made the yoke even harder. The Jews ultimate said “What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.” All of this happened, because the Lord willed it. (vs. 15 – for the turn of events was from the Lord). This yoke that was on the Jews back was there, ultimately, because the Jews asked God to have kings rule over them. It didn’t pan out the way that they had hoped. Another yoke is discussed in Acts. “Acts 15:10 – Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” The previous verses say (8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hears by faith.” There’s that faith word again. If one is purified by faith, that means that sin has been wiped clean. Even though the new Christians and apostles were free of the yoke of the law – there were some Pharisees that got into the mix saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” That yoke (the law of Moses) was more than their fathers could bear and that they could bear. Jesus’ sacrifice freed us from the law, but the Pharisees were saying – NOPE, you still need to keep the law of Moses. The apostles and elders cleared up the matter in verses 24-29. Summed up with verse “24 – since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “you must be circumcised and keep the law” – to whom we gave no such commandment” Some people were trying to add to the word of God, by reverting to the works based ideology of the Jews.
Ultimately, because of the Jews disobedience and unwillingness to be in relationship directly with God – God would not allow the Jews to enter His rest” (referenced before in Hebrews 4:3-5)
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Here is another fun part. “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts…..There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from the works as God did from His” God said there is a rest for us, if we hear His voice and don’t harden our hearts as the Jews did. If we enter God’s rest, we then are to cease from our works (law, prophets, ceremony, etc) just as God ceased His works. This isn’t a once a week rest. This is – FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY rest.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So, we are being told to be diligent to enter that rest. Don’t follow the Jews example of disobedience. Don’t harden our hearts or go back to the law, etc. Jesus is our great High Priest, who can relate to us. Seek him first.
Matthew 12:3-8 – But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Remember, the Jews wanted laws and rules and ceremony and so on. Why then did God allow David to break the law and eat the showbread? Why also did God not punish the priests that profaned the Sabbath by working??? Priests worked on the Sabbath. Jesus is greater than the law of man and laws imposed over man, because of their own desires. But regardless, Jesus followed all of the law and at the very end – fulfilled the law. Jesus defended to the Pharisees (the informal judges of the law) that his disciples were justified in doing work (collecting food) on the Sabbath. But didn’t God tell the Jews not to collect food, except on the Sabbath preparation day only?? There was a reason why that was relevant for the Jews.. Again, that would derail this train. Point here – is that Jesus was the fulfiller of the law. Jesus died to restore relationship between God and man. Jesus died, so that we could rest in him. Jesus died so that we could finally have rest and relationship and salvation and grace and mercy.
Hebrews 7:14-22 – For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
20 And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath 21 (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:
“The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’”),
22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
Jesus is the High Priest “who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment.” Jesus annulled the former commandment because it was not profitable and didn’t perfect people. Jesus is the better hope through whom we draw near to God.
1 Peter 2:5-9 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
We too are priests. We are the elect, the chosen, the ones who are called to lead our households as the priest over our house. We are to proclaim the gospel truth to everyone and we are to live by faith that Jesus’ sacrifice was complete. The law will by no means fade away – is not a charge to you and me. It is merely a statement that the law will continue to exist for those who have not yet established a relationship with Jesus and through him, restoring the spiritual relationship that we once had with God in the time of Adam. We die once and are judged – for eternity. When we are judged, there is no longer a need for the tutor which is the law. We are freed from the yoke that our predecessors (the Jews) carried. We take on the yoke of Jesus Christ, who gives us rest from carrying the shame, the regrets, the fears and the sin that we have all taken part in as He becomes the Lord over our lives for eternity. As we do with so many things in our lives, we want to pick up things (burdens) that we would rather have Jesus carry for us. Finances.. Relationships.. Work.. ETC. When you think you can do it without God’s help, you are taking that yoke back. When you pick up a law, thinking that will be pleasing to God, you are taking the yoke back. He wants us to focus on HIM… Not the law. He wants us to trust in HIM. Not the law. He wants us to live for HIM. Not the law. God already had that in the Jews. Let’s not make the same mistake that the Jews did. Trust in Jesus alone. Have faith in Jesus. Jesus will give you rest – because he is the Lord of the Sabbath. – Matthew 12:8 He will set you free………