For the Law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 — NLT ~
In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1, we came to the conclusion that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and not by our obedience to the Law. Otherwise, all would be condemned to eternal damnation, because no one aside from Jesus has ever been 100% faithful in obeying the Law, and the penalty for sin is death.
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one.” ~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
Yet, because of God’s great love for us, despite our sinful nature, Jesus, who was completely faithful in obedience to God’s Law, paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, in order to redeem us from the Law of sin and death.
But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NKJV ~
In this, the second installment of Live By the Law/Die By the Law, I want to further study the Law and its purpose. Let’s begin by defining the Law. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, you will see references to the Law of Moses. This refers to the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the stone tablets, while he was on Mt. Sinai.
These commandments were given to the children of Israel, (Israelites or Jews) and they were to live by these laws. Now, over time, the Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law took the Ten Commandments given to them by God, and created 613 laws, known as the Tradition of the Elders, which were supposed to help the people obey God’s Ten Commandments. In theory, if the people kept these rules, they would be obeying the Law.
Isn’t it just like mankind to take something holy and pollute it with our own wisdom? Perhaps their intentions were good in developing these additional laws for men to follow, in order to protect the Law of God, given to them by Moses, but the outcome was not good. You see, the Pharisees who created these additional laws were very strict about following them, down to the smallest detail. In fact, they were so careful to follow all of the rules, that they lost sight of the Law of God, which dealt with the hearts of mankind…
37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “You have insulted us, too, in what You just said.”
46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” ~ Luke 11:37-52 — NLT ~
Sadly, all of those religious laws created by the Pharisees only served to alienate the people from God. Instead of making it easier for the people to obey God’s original Ten Commandments, it only served to make obedience to God’s commands more difficult. The Law of Moses was complicated by the Pharisees’ additional six hundred thirteen laws.
When Jesus came along, He angered the Pharisees by speaking out against some of their foolish laws. Then, He took the Law of God, and simplified that which had been complicated by the Pharisees, dividing the Law into two parts. He revealed that the Law of God is summarized and divided into two parts. The first four commandments concern our relationship with God, while the second half of the commandments concern our relationship with mankind. The scriptures below show us how Jesus summed up the Law of Moses.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 — NKJV ~
You see, beloved reader, God’s Law was never about following ten rules or six hundred thirteen rules. God’s Law concerned the hearts of all mankind, and by obeying the first half of the Commandments, man could demonstrate his love for God. Furthermore, by obeying the second half of the Law, man would demonstrate his love for humanity, but sadly, because of our sinful nature, we are unable to follow the Law in its entirety, which is why Christ came to live, die and arise from the grave. He was and is our only hope for salvation and deliverance from the sin that binds each one of us.
For the Law was not given to the Jews to save them, for Christ is the One who saves. So, beloved reader, if the Law was not given to save mankind, why was it given?
Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~
We know now that the Law was given to show people their sins. In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3, we’ll examine the Ten Commandments and see exactly how the Law still serves to show people their sins.
I pray that as we continue in this study, we’ll learn what it means to live in the love and liberty our Savior calls us to. May the Lord bless each of you, beloved readers, as you continue to grow in His grace.
Cheryl A. Showers