Humans most certainly do still live under ‘The Law’! Many people completely misunderstand Apostle Paul’s letters stating that ‘The Law’ brings death and that only through Christ’s grace can we be saved. They believe that this means that the entire Old Testament is no longer ‘valid’. Nothing could be more false! Although the Law of Moses condemns us, it doesn’t mean the Law is wrong or that it is now invalid. The law simply points out the blaring fact that we are utter failures- fully sinful failures! We, through all our efforts can never meet the requirements of the law. That is the lesson it teaches us! But God’s law still stands- convicting every person to this day. That is why we are so joyful to have Jesus’ great gift of salvation!
Now that I have your attention, let me say this: the phrase, “The Law is Dead” is yet another paraphrase I hate and want to throw in the garbage can. Like ‘sin is sin’, ‘turn the cheek’, ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’, ‘don’t judge’ & ‘love your neighbor’, the phrase, ‘The Law is Dead” has become so abused, over used and misapplied that people will use it to justify any and all sin described in the Old Testament. The attempt to justify homosexuality is the number one way this phrase is being bandied about today in American culture. Without a proper understanding of Paul’s letters (from which this paraphrase is gleaned), a modern Christian will have no idea how to respond to or witness effectively to a liberal progressive who says, “The law is dead. So, homosexuality is no longer an abomination to God. Jesus said that we are now to just love one another and not judge one another. Jesus never said homosexuality was wrong! Therefore, since The Law is Dead, you have no biblical basis to tell me it’s wrong. It just makes you a judgmental hater. Which is what Jesus hated.” Friends, the vast majority of you will not be able to answer that false statement because you do not understand what Paul was talking about. Therefore, I have written this article for you. So that you may witness effectively when called on to do so. Enjoy.
Let’s be very precise here, shall we? Jesus made it extremely clear that he did not come to negate the law but to fulfill it. And he said that not one pen stroke will be lost until the end of time. He further warns that anyone trying to negate one pen stroke will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. He said in Matt 5:
“17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “
So, how do we, as Christians believe these words by our King and the words of Paul in Galatians 3:23-25 when he says,
“23 Before the coming of this faith,we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian [some versions say Teacher] until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [Teacher].”?
Does this mean that the Law, (and for some mistaken people, the entire Old Testament) is now a mere suggestion? A ‘teaching’ point? Somewhat irrelevant? And if so, how does that square with what Christ said? The bible does not contradict itself. Jesus is not contradicting Paul. We need to understand the total meaning- and we don’t get to remove their words to do it! If it doesn’t jibe, it’s a failure in our own understanding. We need to read the entire Bible sometimes and we need to seek the big picture and we need to pray for wisdom before we can answer this question.
When you read Paul’s letters you will see that he specifically addressed the Jewish laws concerning sacrifices & rituals (and the priesthood which administered them) which they used to do in order to atone for their sins and to purify themselves of their sins before God. They were circumcised, they only ate certain foods, they had a million laws about the Sabbath, they had a million laws about cleanliness/ uncleanliness – all related to being made righteous and blameless before God- to eliminate the stain of sin which separates them from the purity of God. There is something about our sinful nature that prohibits us from residing in the presence of God. We need to be made ‘right’ somehow, someway if we want to be near God in heaven.
Paul specifically said that those rites, rituals, blood sacrifices & cleanliness rules (and thus, the priesthood) were no longer needed because Christ’s body & blood are so much more worthy than any bird, cow, grain, etc could ever be. In fact, his loving sacrifice of himself, in obedience to God, is so very worthy, that God chose to honor him above all others. He gave Jesus the full authority to simply proclaim us as clean and righteous before God- regardless of our good works- or our bad works.So, Paul didn’t state that ALL of the law is gone- he simply said that it never could save us and that it never will save us. And that Jesus had come to give us another way– a better way, a possible way. Thus, Jesus’ gift negated the need to do all those old rituals anymore.
But you will never here Paul say that the moral commands of God are wrong or gone in any way! The Old Testament still stands. And the Law (think 10 commandments) still stands. If it were not so, then why do we need Christ? Indeed, we are still not to commit adultery, not to kill, not to bear false witness, etc. The only change is that when we fail, it does not bear on our salvation! How wonderful for us! We can now fail and still be saved! This is Jesus’ gift to us- which he earned through his obedience at the cross.
Our salvation, thank God Almighty, no longer depends on our ability to be perfect! Our salvation is a gift with much more do-able requirements- a simple faith in Christ. Also, to go out and lay down our lives so that others can also receive this incredible gift.
But because God’s morality most certainly still stands, we don’t get to just sin and sin and sin and think Christ’s blood will make it all better! Do that, and you begin to mess with the graciousness of Christ. That is why Christ said,
” 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10
All the commandments of God are still the commandments of God- or Jesus wouldn’t have said that he ‘keeps’ them. Jesus also confirmed the viability of God law by stating which laws were the greatest. If no law is in effect, why did he teach us about the two most important ones?
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”- Matt 22:36-40
Within the Old Testament, we learn how God views sexual immorality, pride, arrogance, evil, greed, etc. ALL stands today!
Paul wrote that the Law was not given to save, but to condemn. I take that literally. God gave us the law so that we will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are hopeless sinners. He knew we could never do what he required to obtain perfection in his sight. God never expected us to be saved through the law. That was his purpose for giving the law in the first place! God had always intended to give us Christ for our salvation! Why? Because he so loved us from the very beginning!
God prepared the world for over 1,500 of years before Christ came. God made sure, through over a millennium, though generations and generations of men, that mankind ‘got it’ that we are hopeless by giving us the law and then letting us utterly fail. God intended it to be a heavy, impossible burden that would become ingrained in the cultural consciousness of his People. Yes, God let mankind dwell in the misery and frustration of failure so that we could receive Christ with joy! Our God is mighty!
Then, when it became culturally ingrained in man that we were hopeless sinners, Paul writes about the time being ripe to send our salvation:
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.- Gal 4:4-7
God timed Jesus’ birth perfectly. When mankind was ready through their futile battle with the law, he sent redemption in the form of a gracious, merciful GIFT . If we were not completely convinced of our sinfulness and our deep, irreparable separation from God because of it, we could not have understood this gift for what it was: an incredible act of love from God.
He sent his son to provide an easier path to God. Not the torture of the law anymore. God, through Christ, gave us a way to come to him, to be permanently washed clean so that we can reside with him. God said that our sins will be forgotten as if they never were. And why? Because when we die, we cease to be tempted by Satan. Once Jesus gives us a pass into heaven, we are remade- we become permanently righteous and clean before God and will remain so forever. We cannot fall out of grace again! That is the ‘second death’ we will avoid on Judgement Day! To that end, God gave Jesus, not himself, the full power and authority to remake us in this way- according to Jesus’ will. Not God’s will. For by God’s estimation, we are sinful. His law proves that. But because Jesus so pleased his Father through his obedience on the cross, God gave this authority to him. To simply pronounce us righteous, even though we are not.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. [He became the Son of Man when he was born as fully human as well as fully divine. His obedience to come and be killed is why he has been given authority.]
ONLY because the law convicts us to death does Jesus’ gift make sense. Thus, the law that convicts us still stands. Those who idiotically refuse the gift of Christ will not have him there in front of God while Satan is standing there, day in and day out condemning us for what we really did do! They will be found wanting because the Law is still standing! But they won’t have Christ there to testify for them! Thus, they will most certainly and righteously be damned by God’s righteous law. This is what Jesus meant when he said, I will testify for you before my father! He literally will testify for each of us.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.“- Matt 10:32-33
10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser [Satan] of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11They [us!] triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony; [obedience to Christ’s Great Commission]
they did not love their lives so much [lay down your lives for your friends]
as to shrink from death. -Rev. 12: 10-11
If we meet his condition of believing in him and giving up our lives for each other, (much easier than God’s conditions as written in The Law), he will say, “Not so, Father. This is Susan. She is my servant. I am well pleased with her. I claim the authority you gave me to raise her up and to allow her entry into your kingdom. Because she believed in me and served me as I commanded, she is righteous. Because that is the deal we have made. My obedience to you provided me with this authority. You are the God of promise and you will honor me by taking my testimony over Satan’s about Susan.” And God, because he is so very well pleased with Jesus, will indeed honor his Son’s testimony and authority in the matter. And I will receive my new life and my new body and I can then reside near and with God forever more. How. Marvelous. Is THAT???
All of this information is throughout the Bible. From many books. From many verses. From both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Holy Spirit has revealed this to me in the form of sudden enlightenment when I was reading Paul’s letters. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It answers the question of why Jesus died for us and how that provides salvation for us. It makes the puzzle pieces come together perfectly. This truly excites me. I just wanted to share it with you!