Barney Fife

July 20, 2015

John-Wayne-p15

A great cause of confusion today concerns the place of the Mosaic law in the New Testament believer’s life. While this short study cannot begin to cover all the issues involved, it is my hope that it will shed some light and remove some of the confusion.

 

One of the profound emphases of the New Testament, especially the epistles of Paul, is that Christians are no longer under the rule of the Mosaic law. This truth is stated in no uncertain terms and in various ways (see Rom. 6:14; 7:1-14; Gal. 3:10-13, 24-25; 4:21; 5:1, 13; 2 Cor. 3:7-18), but in spite of this, there have always been those who insist that the Mosaic Law, at least the Ten Commandments, are still in force for the Christian. In regard to the relation of Christian ethics to the Mosaic Law, Luck writes:

 

There are Christian teachers of repute who consider the Mosaic law to be the present-day rule of life for the Christian. A view not infrequently found among earnest, orthodox believers is that although we are not saved by the law, once we have been justified by faith, then the Mosaic law becomes our rule of life. Those holding such a view generally make a sharp division of the Mosaic law into two parts, which they distinguish as the moral and the ceremonial. The ceremonial portion they consider as having found its fulfillment in Christ at His first advent, and thus as having now passed away. But the moral portion of the Mosaic law, say they, is still in force as the believer’s rule of life. The treatment given to Christian ethics by some highly respected authors is indeed but little more than an exposition of the Decalogue.

 

It seems exceedingly strange that Bible-believing Christians should advocate such a view, when the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that the believer in Christ is not any longer under the Mosaic law in its entirety… Indeed after having been delivered from the law, to deliberately place ourselves once again under its [control] is said to be “falling from grace.”

 

But let it be immediately understood that this does not mean to say that we should necessarily behave in a manner just opposite to what the Mosaic law commands—that we should kill, steal, bear false witness, etc. Long before the law was given through Moses, it was utterly wrong to do such evil things. . .

 

By contrast, the age in which we live, the church age, has often and rightly been called the age of grace. This is not because God’s grace has not been manifested in other ages, but because in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ we have the ultimate manifestation of God’s grace.

 

Titus 2:11-12. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

 

Grace becomes an absolutely inseparable part of the believer’s life in Christ. In the coming of Christ and His death on the cross, the Mosaic Law as a rule of life was terminated. The believer is now to live in the liberty and power of God’s grace by the Spirit, not the rule of law. This new liberty must never be used as an occasion to indulge the flesh or sinful appetites (Gal. 5:13) nor does it mean the Christian has no moral law or imperatives on his life, but simply that he or she is to live righteously by a new source of life as asserted in Romans 8.

 

Romans 8:2-4. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

But a great deal of confusion exists over the issues of law and grace and the place of the Mosaic law in the New Testament believer’s life. However, the basic principle is that the “fusion” of law and grace brings a “confusion” which results in sterile legalism. Because of man’s natural bent toward either legalism or license, the place and function of the Law has been an issue in the Christian community since the very early days of the church. There have always been those who have sought to put the Christian back under the Law or make the Law necessary for both salvation and sanctification. As a result large sections of the New Testament are written directly to this issue (see Acts 15 and the council at Jerusalem; Romans 5:10; 6:14; 7:1f; 2 Cor. 3:6-18; and the entire book of Galatians). These passages were written against a legalistic use of the Law, one which promotes works to gain points with either God or people; works of self-effort rather than a life lived by the power and personal leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

Of course, other parts of the New Testament are written against license and the misuse of liberty (Gal. 5:13ff. Rom. 6:1ff; 8:4ff; Tit. 2:11-14). But the answer is never to put the Christian back under the Law, but rather a proper understanding and appreciation of God’s grace to us in Christ. Christian liberty is not the right to do as one pleases, but the power, desire, and will to do as one ought in and by the power of God and a regenerated life.

 

This is ultimately the focus of Titus 2:11-14. The glorious manifestation of God’s grace in Christ instructs and trains believers in how to live. This grace provides the incentive, the motive, and the means. Regarding Titus 2:11-14 Ryrie writes:

 

The verb teaching encompasses the whole concept of growth—discipline, maturing, obedience, progress, and the like. This involves denial of improper things and direction into proper channels. These five terms—godliness, worldly lusts, soberly, righteously, godly—do not describe the content of grace teaching so much as they indicate the object and purposeful goal of that teaching. And this intent is, according to this passage, the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation of Christ. He came to display the grace of God in the changed lives of his people. The final cause of the revelation of the grace of God in Christ is not creed but character.

 

In Romans 6:14, Paul gives us a fundamental principle as it relates to the Christian’s understanding and the place of the Law in a believer’s life. “For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.” (emphasis mine). Romans 6 deals with the believer’s walk or sanctification. In this regard, under grace is never to be taken as an excuse to sin as one pleases since he is under grace (6:1-2) and it is placed in strong contrast5 with under law. Two things are prominent here: (1) these two (law and grace) are set forth as complete opposites, and (2) the text also makes it clear that the only way the believer is going to experience true sanctification (victory over sin plus the production of positive righteousness) is by grace (the work of God in Christ) and never by law. The reasons, which will be set forth below, are bound up in two issues, the weakness of man’s flesh and the nature of the Law and its inability because of man’s weakness to produce a truly holy life. This is not to say that the Mosaic Law is not good and holy and does not have a function, but this too will be set forth below.

 

So just what is the meaning, nature, and place or function of the law in the New Testament?

 

THE MEANING OF THE TERM “LAW”

 

In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used to translated the Hebrew word torah, “instruction.” The Hebrew word for “law” probably comes from the causative form of the verb yarah, “to throw,” “to shoot (arrows).” In the hiphil stem, the verb horah means “to point, guide, instruct, teach.” Hence, the law is that which provides authoritative guidance. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for law is nomos. Nomos means “that which is assigned,” hence, “usage, custom,” and then “law,” or “a rule governing one’s actions.”

 

Thus God’s law is His system of rules by which He shows and instructs in His will and administers the affairs of the world. Obviously the definition allows for and even implies that there might be differing systems of rules at various times, depending on what particular aspects or how much of His will God wishes to show at a given time.…A system of rules may be tailored for different times, peoples, or purposes. . .

 

As a result, in the progress of God’s revelation to man, we can see a number of different systems of law in the Scripture. These are:

 

THE LAW OF NATURE (NATURAL OR INHERENT)

 

This is the law Paul mentions in Romans 2:14, “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.” The law of nature is one which contains natural revelation of God’s eternal power and divine nature (Rom. 1:20) and is sufficient to condemn those who reject this revelation, but not sufficient to save. Those who do not receive this natural revelation through nature demonstrate they are unable to receive the additional light (special revelation of Scripture) needed for salvation. “If a man rejects the revelation of God in the law of nature, he fails to qualify for the further revelation which will lead him to Christ.” This natural law perhaps also falls under the category of the eternal law of God for the moral principles of the Mosaic Law (the Ten Commandments) did not begin with Sinai, but are as eternal and immutable as the very holy character of God Himself (see 1 Pet. 1:16).

 

THE LAW OF EDEN

 

While the term “law” is never specifically used of Adam and Eve’s relationship with God in the Garden, by the definition of “law,” a system of principles or rules that instructs man as to God’s will and direction, there was a law given to Adam. He was instructed to “dress and keep” the garden, and to eat freely of all the trees except the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

 

THE LAW OF THE PATRIARCHS

 

Again, because there was very specific revelation and instruction given to the patriarchs, there was a law given to these Old Testament believers. Though very little detail of this is given, God’s instructions to them still represent His law, the system of principles and rules designed to direct their lives. This is illustrated in Genesis 26:5 which says, “Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”

 

THE LAW OF MOSES GIVEN TO ISRAEL

 

The Mosaic Law is what we are most concerned about in relation to the New Testament believer. This consisted of 365 negative commands and 248 positive for a total of 613 commands. These may also be divided into three parts or sections (see below)—the moral, the social, and the ceremonial. As such, it covered every possible area of the life of Israel. It should be stressed that the moral principles embodied in the Mosaic Law given at Sinai were merely the codified expression of the eternal moral law of God as it was given to Israel to govern her life as a nation in order to experience God’s blessing under the Abrahamic covenant. For more on this aspect, see below.

 

HUMAN LAW AS PRESCRIBED BY MAN

 

There are obviously various forms of human laws, those prescribed by man through human government or custom (see Luke 20:22; Acts 19:38). While human government is an institution ordained by God’s will or law, some of the laws of man are direct expressions of the will of God, but still constitute laws by which men are often bound by the governmental system in which they live. Of course, where such laws conflict with God’s laws, then we are obligated to obey God instead (Acts 4:19-20).

 

THE LAW OF CHRIST, THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE

 

The fact that the Mosaic law has been terminated does not mean that there is no law in this age of grace even though the nature of this law is quite different from the standpoint of incentive, motivation, and means. In fact, the epistles speak of “the perfect law of liberty (Jam. 1:25), “the royal law” (Jam. 2:8), the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2). This consists of the many imperatives found throughout the epistles which comprise this law. These too cover all areas of the believer’s life to direct him in the will of God in today’s world.

 

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6–8).

 

THE LAW OF THE KINGDOM

 

The New Testament clearly speaks of and anticipates the reign of Christ on earth when He will rule in perfect righteousness and justice (Isa. 11:4-5). This will naturally mean many laws that will govern the life of citizens of the Kingdom. One only needs to consider Isaiah 2:3 which reads,

 

2:3 many peoples will come and say, “Come, let’s go up to the LORD’s mountain, to the temple of the God of Jacob, so he can teach us his requirements, and we can follow his standards.” For Zion will be the center for moral instruction, the LORD will issue edicts from Jerusalem. (NET Bible)

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE VARIOUS LAWS

 

We can see from this that God is the administrator of the world. In the progress of His revelation and the development of His plan, there have been various economies (dispensations) administered by God with different regulations or laws giving precise instruction for each administration. The way God has run each economy or dispensation has varied, however, in each case, different people were addressed with the commands differing in quantity and character, but always with specific instruction.

I hope you caught that, 613 laws, thank God, literally, we have been delivered from the bondage of the law.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Please continue to pray for Olivia

Pray for Susan H.

Continue to pray for Heather

Continue to pray for Kim and her battle with cancer

Arthur’s prayer request, “a more fervent life”

Connor, who accepted the Lord this morning.

Jacob and his battle with depression

Brian Twofeathers and his ministry on the Indian Reservations of New York. (more than you think)

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