And Then Comes The Law (1)

  • Many new believers are overwhelmed by scripture when they first start reading the bible. Especially when they read from the beginning. Much of their confusion, frustration, and despair can be blamed on the lack of guidance and mentoring they receive.

    It appears we are over zealous when it comes to salvation of a lost soul. Then once we bring someone to Christ, “get them saved”, we put another notch in our salvation ledger and leave them to fend for themselves. Worse than that is if they get into a “so-called” bible believing church that preaches and teaches from a religious/legalistic perspective.

    “Now that you’re saved, you ‘have to’…”. I’ll let you fill in the blank. The new convert tries on their own to “read” the bible, when what ought to happen is that someone should come along side of them and mentor them.

    The first thing I heard after being saved was that I “should” now begin reading the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. First of all, I’ve since learned not to let people “should on me”. I’ve heard this advice given numerous times over the years to others. However, I take a different approach. As powerful and wonderful as the gospel books are, they can be confusing and without revelation to new believers.

    My immediate recommendation to a new believer is to “study” not just “read” scripture. That’s first. Then I direct them to the book of Romans, because it’s there where Paul reduces to writing, that which the Holy Spirit reveals to him about the great grace of God. It is written to the Gentiles, and also those Jews who believe.

    The gospels are about Jesus speaking with the Jews. I’m not saying there is no benefit to “studying” the gospels. These books were certainly written for us, but not everything in them is written to us. For that matter, all of scripture is written for us but it was not all written to us. Case in point, the law.

    The new believer begins to read the bible. The book of Genesis is a wonder with it’s many stories. It discusses creation, the garden, the flood, burning bushes, and stories of our father Abraham and his path to righteousness. But then, along comes Mount Sinai and the Ten Commandments.

    Many people today believe the only way to be a good, moral, upright citizen is to keep “the law”, the ten commandments. I like to call them the “Big 10” just to stir up the religious crowd. However, these same people fail to realize that there were more than 600 regulations given to the people of that time. Many of these regulations are far removed from our culture and hard to understand. They cause the Bible reader to get bogged down.

    So the question is what is “the law”? What is the purpose of the more than 600 regulations? And, very importantly, how much of this applies to our lives?

    Why do we believe that “You shall not commit adultery” in the Ten Commandments applies to us but “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” does not? Or, “You shall not murder” applies, but “You must not even light a fire in any of your homes on the Sabbath” does not? Wouldn’t that be inconvenient? Many people would be real upset if they couldn’t fire up the old fireplace on Sunday while they are watching football. Never mind drink a beer or glass of wine while watching. Or have a pizza that includes a dairy product and meat together. Oh Oh! You see how the law piles on?

    There’s a couple things wrong there. First of all, who says the Sabbath is Sunday and who has the right to declare a Sabbath day? Paul clarifies this in Ephesians 2:15-17.

    15 He defeated the rulers and powers of the spiritual world. With the cross he won the victory over them and led them away, as defeated and powerless prisoners for the whole world to see.

    Paul is declaring the finished work of Jesus at the cross. Then Paul goes on to basically say “don’t follow rules that people make”. Now there’s some real sound advice, because religious people will keep you hopping trying to perform works or achieve for God. He never asked or demanded that you do. Besides, you can’t perform or achieve enough for God to love you. He already does love you and it’s His grace that keeps you.

    16 So don’t let anyone make rules for you about eating and drinking or about Jewish customs (festivals, New Moon celebrations, or Sabbath days).

    Whew! I’m glad this truth is in the bible, because I was about to fill in the fireplace with concrete. Little sarcasm there. I think you get the idea.

    17 In the past these things were like a shadow that showed what was coming. But the new things that were coming are found in Christ.

    Why would you chase a shadow when the “new things that WERE coming ARE. Are what? Are found in Christ. The real truth is right in our midst.

    Jesus did not adhere to the Sabbath. He performed most of His healing on the Sabbath. It was Jesus that said “The Sabbath day was made to help people. People were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). He also said “The Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 12:8) You see Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, but He doesn’t “Lord” it over us.

    In Scripture “the law” may refer to the more than 600 regulations Moses passed on to the people in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, or it may refer to the first five books of the Bible, or as shorthand for the entire pattern of religious life and rituals in the Old Testament. Oh, by the way, did you notice who the first person was who broke all of the Big 10 at once? Yup. That's right. It was Moses.

    We have laws today that govern our society. They help define the proper bounds of behavior for protection and for living. These include civil laws and moral laws. But the law of the Old Testament is unique in that it was God’s way of shaping his relationship with a covenant people. If you keep this in mind when you study the various laws, it will help you understand the laws which seem strange to you.

    The Hebrews were chosen to live in a distinctive way by how they dressed, what they ate, and how they worshipped. Most of these laws do not carry over after the coming of Christ. The old covenant gave way to the new covenant, and the new covenant way of living in obedience to God comes from a higher kind of law.

    Hebrews 8:7,8.

    If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.

    IF” the first covenant, the law, the old testament law, HAD BEEN faultless. But it wasn’t faultless. God was not worried. He didn’t freak out in heaven and say “Oh no! Now what?” Look at verse 8.

    But when God found fault with the people, he said: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah”.

    Then in verses 9-12 He discusses this new covenant. Now we get to verse 13.

    13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.

    It’s no longer effective. It’s gone. It’s not available for use yet there are those of the religious persuasion who would try and keep you in bondage to the law. Just remember that if you break any one law, you’ve broke them all. So, if you live under that bondage I guess you better go get some lambs without spot or wrinkle and find a priest to offer them up each year. Also, every 50th year, you cannot plant any crops and cannot harvest anything that might grow on it’s own. Come on.

    Hebrews 8:6 says “But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises”. So, this verse declares that Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood.

    Hebrews 7:12 reads in the NLT “And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it”. Here it is again in the Voice version. “because when there is a change in the priesthood there must be a corresponding change in the law as well.”

    Jesus is now our High Priest of a better covenant. Truth. So in this truth, if there is a change of a priesthood (and there was) there has to be a change of law to permit it. You cannot have Jesus functioning as a high priest over the law of Moses. None of the law of Moses works today.

    So if you’re trying to live in obedience to the law. Trying to do works to please God. You do not have a functioning high priest, unless you have animal sacrifices. Jesus’ sacrifice was under a different priestly order. Whenever you start to operate under the law you’ve got the wrong priesthood in operation. You need to go find yourself some animal sacrifices, because Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect and complete. Once for all time.

    You see? It’s a far better covenant we now have and it’s based on better promises. You want to know what the covenant life is like after the finished work of the cross and the release of the ridiculous, radical, inexhaustible grace of God? Just search out all the promises in the Pauline Epistles (Romans through Philemon). Don’t stop there but continue on through Hebrews, the books of Peter and John, Jude and even Revelation. That’s the better covenant, and this is a good place to stop for now. There's more and we will pick right back up with these truths in part 2. Grace and Peace.