And Then Comes The Law (2)

  • Hebrews 10:8-10 continues on with what was discussed in part 1 of this teaching. That being to declare the truth of the better covenant and destroy the untruths surrounding legalism and religion associated with the law. 

    8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).

    Are you getting this? Is it clear that the law of Moses, the law of the old covenant just wasn’t cutting it and that God never intended for it to be the guiding principles for us today? If you’re not, then you have received a lot of false teaching and have allowed religion to keep you in bondage to the rules, be they biblical or man-made.

    Just look! It says FIRST Christ said. The first thing Christ said was that God DID NOT want and WAS NOT pleased with the sacrifices for sin. So what did God do based on Jesus’ obedience unto death. Continue studying.

    Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.

    God cancelled the first covenant to put the second in effect. God always gives us what’s better. There’s the old testament of law, but the second is better and it’s the new testament of grace. At the wedding in Cana, Jesus turned water into wine and the master of the house said “you have saved the best for last”. The first wine was okay, but the second wine was so much better. “And the evening and the morning were the first day”. Have you ever heard those words. They’re in Genesis. Why didn’t God say the morning and the evening were the first day. I believe it’s because evening is dark, but morning is light.

    Psalm 30:5 says “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”. He takes away the first to establish the second.

    10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

    It didn’t say work to be holy, strive to be holy, perform to be holy, or follow the rules to be holy. It said God’s WILL was for us to BE MADE HOLY. So again I say God’s perfect will is almost never done, but God’s perfect plan is always done. If it’s God’s will for us to be made holy, then why are so many Christians disobeying God’s will by trying to perform and work for their holiness? Why are they not being obedient and simply receiving it?

    As long as people believe that obedience to the law is the method for winning acceptance from God, they will continue to have a problem with sin.

    In Exodus through Deuteronomy there are three kinds of laws. First, there are civil regulations. Things like property rights; marriage and divorce standards; laws sanctioning theft, murder, and other crimes; health regulations; etc.

    Then there are ritual instructions that define the sacrificial system, the festivals, the role of the Levites, and the specific physical features of the tabernacle.

    Finally, there are moral principles, which include sexual ethics, the major themes of the Ten Commandments, and more.

    So how do we know which of the 600 laws in the Old Testament apply to Christians today? Should we avoid eating shellfish? Should we observe Passover in it’s strictest sense? I know we recognize when Passover is, but do we “have to” perform all the ceremonies surrounding it as in the old covenant days? 

    Is it wrong to steal? Do we have to observe the Sabbath (i.e., rest on the seventh day of the week, Saturday)? See right there we get into disagreement. I pretty well stifled this argument earlier in this teaching in part 1 when Paul warned us in Ephesians not to be governed by others and their set of rules.

    Are sexual relations between blood relatives wrong? Is tithing (i.e., giving 10 percent of your income) an eternal commandment? OH OH. There’s one that gets religious people fired up. Just tell them you don’t agree with the “have to” surrounding tithing and that you don’t agree the storehouse is the Church building. See my teaching “What About Tithing” for more on this subject.

    So, again how do we know which laws apply to us? Which laws were written to us? We have to view them based on the truths of the new covenant. Said Bill Johnson’s way “we must view the law through the eyes of grace, not grace through the eyes of the law”.

    What we discover in the New Testament is that the civil law was God’s way of shaping Hebrew society; it’s not binding today. The ritual law used sacrifice and festivals and the tabernacle to teach lessons about sin and atonement, but it has now been superseded by the work of Christ. Moral laws have ongoing validity, but mostly because they are repeated in one form or another in the New Testament.

    It’s important not to get caught up in the trap of repeating the legalism and self-righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law of Jesus’ day. This happens when we can fulfill a set of rules that have been dictated to us and then we judge others based on their ability to keep those same rules. If they fail, then they just aren’t very good Christians.

    How do we avoid that? By being guided by the new covenant principle of the law of love or “the law of Christ” found in Gal. 6:2. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” When someone is struggling, don’t say to them “you have to”….Simply comfort them and share in their burden.

    Jesus said the whole old covenant law can be summed up by love. Paul put it this way: “the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14), and “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10).

    I can already hear the “ya but” chorus. “So if most of the Law in the first five books of the Bible does not apply to us today, in what sense is it part of the word of God for us?”

    The entirety of scripture is the story of God moving among and within people in order to bring salvation to humanity, but that doesn’t mean every verse is about us. The law of the Old Testament is the word of God for all people for all time, but given to specific people groups in the context of God’s dynamic, upward development of a covenant relationship with human beings. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “The law was our guardian [custodian, tutor] until Christ came that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).

    So the law stands as a true expression of the will and the ways of God, expressed in a particular era, providing the basis for ever higher revelations of what it means to be the covenant people of God. Jesus summed it up when he said: “I have not come to abolish [the Law or the Prophets] but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17).

    The law reflects the parameters of God’s desires, but it does not reflect the parameters or boundaries of God’s love.

    This gets back to what I said earlier in this teaching. Don’t send a new Christian to the gospels, send them to Romans and the other books written from the “back side of Calvary” perspective. The books describing the new better covenant as a result of the finished work of Christ at the cross. Remember, we proceed to the cross for victory, but we proceed from the cross in victory.

    Once they get a revelation of who they are in Christ and who He is in them, they will be able to view the gospel teachings through the eyes of grace. They will see that Jesus spoke to the Jews from the perspective of the law, but then told them to repent from that old legalistic performance oriented lifestyle and see beyond the limitation set therein. He even showed them by what He did while on the earth. Violating the Sabbath. His disciples not fasting. Sitting amongst sinners. Touching lepers. Assisting prostitutes and a woman caught in the very act of adultery.

    What did He do? Exactly what He said. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40). And “I have not come to abolish [the Law or the Prophets] but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). And “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

    So finally, why did Jesus really come to earth and what was His purpose. He came to seek and to save those who were lost. To live amongst us, die on a cross for our justification, be buried, raise from the dead, and now live for us, in us and by us. Finally Galatians 5:1, a portion of which is displayed on the home page of the website “The Grace Report”. It says underneath that title “It is for freedom….”. Here’s the actual scripture in the NAS version. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

    Why did He come and set us free. FOR FREEDOM, not bondage to religion, the law or legalism. Then He gives us a warning. DO NOT BE SUBJECT AGAIN TO A YOKE OF SLAVERY. He says “again”. That indicates that we once were subject to the bondage of the yoke of slavery. That’s the “old”. He has come and established the “new and better covenant”. Join in on His victory and enjoy the newness of life. Grace and Peace.