IS IT LAW OR IS IT LIFE?
To pull the Mosaic Law from the cross and parading it around suggesting everyone should embrace it is like peddling the exact poison that killed us all.
Many centuries ago God gave a law to a man named Moses. We call that the Mosaic law. It served a multiple of purposes but in general there were three main purposes for that law. They were the knowledge of sin, the blood sacrifice for that sin, and the foreshadowing of the final and complete sacrifice for sin through the Lord Jesus. Metaphorically speaking Paul calls the Law a “schoolmaster” which brought us to Christ.
Now the Law was necessary as long as the final and complete sacrifice still had not come. But when Christ died and resurrected from the dead the price for sin had been paid for through His blood and there was no need for any animal sacrifice. And the knowledge of sin became one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit which is far greater and more powerful than the Law. And after Christ came the schoolmaster was no longer needed since it has brought us to the New Covenant found in Christ and in Christ alone.
But, sadly, many people still cling to the Law as if it is still needed today even in the face of ample Scriptural evidence that it has been done away with, and even the mixing of the Mosaic Law with the grace of God is spiritual poison. This misunderstanding about law and grace has led to all kinds of doctrinal mischief as well as an unfortunate energy given to spread Mosaic morality rather than the gospel of grace. And of course many who espouse bringing the Mosaic Law through the gates of the New Covenant suggest that those who do not are condoning sin and in effect creating some kind of anarchy. That is a self serving misnomer.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the New Testament Scriptures as well as the indwelling of God’s Spirit. So why would we need a very few truths outlined in the Mosaic Law? The answer is we do not and the entire Mosaic Law has been vanquished in the glorious light of the everlasting gospel and the miraculous inhabitation of God Himself in every born again believer. To the unbeliever sin kills. But to the believer sin requires correction from a loving Heavenly Father. That is made clear in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews. We are no longer under Law and death but we are now under love and life.
Rom.8: 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was not made a priest under Aaron as is laid out in the Law. In fact, the Spirit calls that law the “carnal commandment”. You see we have a spiritual law written upon our hearts that is greater than that written in stone. And when we wish to be in subjection to the Mosaic Law we diminish the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It seems like such a simple and obvious truth but in reality the Law has a strong attraction to the flesh. You see, obedience to the statute makes us feel self righteous while obedience to Christ humbles us. The Law kills but the Spirit brings life. We have life in Christ Jesus not because of our obedience but because of faith in Him alone. An earthly son has sonship not because of his obedience to his earthly father but because he was born into that family. His obedience to his father is because of love and respect and not because of any earthly statute.
The difference between the gospel of grace and the demands of the law is a colossal gulf. One can never be achieved while the other can be had simply and only by faith. And within that lies the eternal glory of God Himself! Christ is THE END of the law to all who believe. No one can keep the law, but we can obey our Father in an atmosphere of grace. The law demands perfection. He who breaks the law in one way breaks the entire law in all ways. But grace is founded completely upon the Perfect Son of God.
It is revealing of just how the flesh desires to have some way of measuring his spiritual success. So even though the letter kills, many still want to embrace that same letter. And that compromises the life in the Spirit. Even if you strongly reject the law in salvation, when you embrace it in sanctification you still are doing despite to grace. And the Scriptures paint it even more bleak and dangerous than that.
Gal.3: O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Can there be any clearer teaching? In fact Paul says that those that trust in the law for their sanctification are being deceived by a spirit of witchcraft. Pretty strong words. So what could be the reason that so many desire to have the law be their guide? Why do so many believers contend so strongly that believers are still under the law? Well the answer, of course, is always the religious flesh. And that religious flesh desires to achieve something tangible. The flesh wars against the Spirit. So worship must be orderly and with certain music. Doctrines must be systematic and organized. And there must be complete structure in everything with no room for any diversion from what is already planned.
And when that happens not only is the Spirit pushed away, but eventually you can get a self righteous spirit about your brand. And fortified by the abuses and misuses all around you, you run to the law. But in a larger and more grievous sense incorporating the law into the New Covenant does genuine harm to the ministry of the Spirit and even unintentionally diminishes the utter and complete fullness of Christ’s sacrifice. But it is God’s will to use both the New Testament Scriptures with the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower a true believer in the sanctification process. And in the end a true believer’s motivation will be his love for Christ and not an outward obedience to tablets of stone. In fact obedience now goes all the way to the thoughts and intents of the heart and it does not stop at just an outward and visible commission of a sin.
And therein lies another example of the supremacy of the law of the Spirit and the subordinate essence of the Mosaic Law. On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to indwell each and every true believer. That in and of itself is a monumental mystery. But He did not come just to provide a mental image of the Law of Moses. No, He came to do many things one of which is the conviction of sin. And when we read Hebrews chapter twelve we see that it is not only sin which should be avoided but weights as well. That means there are things that are not out and out sin that should be avoided by a follower of Jesus and the Holy Spirit guides us into that truth as well. Tablets of stone could never do that.
Oh the surpassing glory of the ministry of the Spirit! Oh the glory of this New Covenant which was ushered in by Christ our Lord and has made a living body of that same Christ and is empowered and illuminated and guided by the precious Holy Spirit!
II Cor.3: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
Allow your ears to hear and your hearts to embrace this glorious truth. We ourselves are now the “tablets of stone” read of all men. Our lives are earthen vessels which allow His glory to be seen by this darkened world. Look at verse seven and can you not see the words “which glory was to be done away”? There it is for all to see. There are two glories, one of the Old and one of the New Testament. In fact the glory of the Old Testament would eventually be seen in its death when the New Testament was ushered in. And we now are fleshy tables upon which the Word of God has been written in the sacred place of our hearts.
And that is why we must feed our hearts with God’s Word and through prayerful surrender we not only allow, but we beseech the precious Spirit to engrave that Word into our hearts and infuse its power through our entire being. Think about that glorious process and now tell me about the ordinances of “touch not” and “taste not” which Paul says are to no benefit of the spirit but they appeal to the flesh.
Gal.4: 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Look at what the Spirit calls the Mosaic Law. He says they are the “weak and beggarly elements” and they are “bondage”. And Paul asks why would you turn back to the bondage of the wilderness when you have been set free in the glorious liberty purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is not a license to sin…God forbid! This is a new creature created in His likeness and who is in a constant state of renewal and transformation which can only happen through the Spirit and can never be altered by the dictates of the Mosaic Law.
Oh I do not doubt the sincerity of most of the believers who I have met who strongly tout some of the Law of Moses as our template and standard, but our standard and template soars much higher than any tenants of the Mosaic Law. In fact reestablishing some moral parts of the Mosaic is the easy way out. You can feel good because you do not steal or commit adultery or lie. But in reality that is nothing more than a conscience salve which circumvents the Spirit and allows the flesh to embrace a much lesser standard. Our template is Christ Himself and the dictates of the Mosaic Law barely touch the hem of His glorious garment!
Gal.5: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
I appeal in love to all my brethren. Take some time to fast and pray without your peers reinforcing what just may be significantly unscriptural. Seek the Spirit’s guidance and allow your opinions to be sorely tested. Do not cling to the “license to sin” misnomer. It is absolutely wrong. But there is freedom in Christ which is unspeakable and full of glory. And once you have thrown off the body of death known as the Law of Moses you can immediately see that your life, and your dedication, and your discipleship is far greater than obeying a list. It now is such a great challenge that you can never attain it but you now have found the God given desire to pursue it with all your heart and soul.
It is very difficult to fully explain the workings of the Spirit. I mean how can I walk with consistent conviction about the thoughts and intents of my heart which are far below perfection every single day, and yet I can still experience a joy and a contentment and a divine energy to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". The answer is profound and glorious! It is because I now walk in the ministration of the Spirit and not the ministration of condemnation.
Rom.8: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Halleluiah! The Law brings condemnation but the Spirit brings the correction of a family member. There is an infinite difference between condemnation and correction. If I steal the neighbor’s bicycle my father makes me return it and corrects me sternly but my neighbor wants me arrested. The difference is I have a blood relationship with my father but my neighbor is to me a stranger. Can you not see this magnificent difference? A lost person steals and he is condemned but a child of God steals and he warrants stern correction from our Father.
And what indeed is the motive for that correction? The writer of Hebrews tells us it is love of God our Father the strongest force in the universe. A slave owner calls his slave in and informs him that he is giving him his freedom. And the master also tells him that he is adopting him and placing his name in the will. The slave is overwhelmed with gratitude. In fact, the slave now has a love for His master that he never had before. So now this slave is free but he instead chooses to serve His master without being just a piece of property. And he doesn’t just serve His master but now he loves him. And his service now is propelled by his love for his master, or now his father, and why would he want to go back to the days when he was just property? He is now a son and every day his heart goes deeper into understanding that and how it has transformed his way of life and thinking process.
And here we are now, the sons of the Living God and brothers with the Risen Christ. These words are not semantics. These are the words of life which reveal an eternal miracle performed by the grace of God and the Spirit of God on our behalf completely on the basis of faith. Do not go rummaging through the past to pull out that which had no life at all. Get hold of the glory of the New Covenant and walk in the power and presence of the Spirit and allow your life to shine with the incandescence of the Lamb of God. The world does not need law. They need life.