Released from the Binding Law of God

There is a misunderstanding about the proper use of the Law of God. The Law of God is a gift from God to all humanity. It teaches all people how to love God and love one another. It serves as a tutor for our learning how to live (Gal 3:24–25), leading us to Christ, our God and Savior (2 Tit 2:13). It shows us God’s holiness and the fact that He expects us to be holy (1 Pet 1:16).

The Law is binding on us all. Failure to keep the Law, to which we are bound, results in the judgment of God, who is just. Failing at even one point of the Law means we are guilty of the whole Law (Jas 2:10). All have sinned and failed to keep the Law, resulting in death (Rom 3:23; 6:23). Our simple proposition is that in Christ, we have been released from the binding Law of God (Rom 7:6), having died with Christ (Rom 6:8).

The Law of God is sometimes called, “the moral law.” The Law is holy (Rom 7:12). The Law is spiritual (Rom 7:14). The Law is just (Hab 1:4). The Law is good (Rom 7:12, 16; 1 Tim 1:8). The Law is righteous. The Law is great and glorious (Is 42:21). The Law is truth (119:142). It belongs in our hearts (Is 51:7; Rom 2:15). We will all be judged according to this Law, and the Lord Jesus Christ is judge of all (2 Cor 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5; Rev 19:11–21; 20:11).

The Bible informs us that the Law of God was written with the finger of God on two stone tablets and issued to the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 31:18; Dt 9:10; Jn 1:17). At the same time, the Bible is clear that the Law resides in the conscience of Gentiles. In other words, our Creator has equipped all of us with a legal conscience, knowing right from wrong. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans and explained the sinful plight of man (Rom 1:18–32). Man knows God, but man also suppresses the truth about Him. Man does not wish to honor God, and obviously man lacks gratitude toward God. This is why men do evil and call it right.

The Law of God must be distinguished from the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was given to ethnic Israel through Moses, and the Law of God was incorporated into this gift to the Israelites. Whereas the Law of God is for all of humanity, the Law of Moses was binding only on the Jewish people. There were an estimated 613 precepts given to them for life in the wilderness and later for life in the Promised Land of Canaan. These included both judicial and ceremonial laws. God’s purpose was to set Israel apart from other nations. This would not only distinguish the Jews as a people, but it would distinguish Yahweh, the God of the Jews. The world would know God had covenanted with Israel for His own purposes.

God promised to bless Israel for obedience to the Law of Moses, which is found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. The Law of God is also there in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 (Ten Commandments). The Law of Moses warned Israel of curses for not obeying God’s commandments (Deut 27–28).

Throughout the history of Israel, the struggle to keep the Law of Moses and the Law of God was apparent. The book of Judges reveals a propensity for Israel to backslide into apostasy. Even with a human king, Israel proved stubborn and disobedient. When God sent prophets to warn Israel that they were experiencing God’s displeasure for disobedience to these laws, they refused to repent to Yahweh.

Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4), and because all sinned (Rom 3:23; 5:12), both Jew and Gentile (Rom 1–2), the wrath of God is revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteous men (Rom 1:18), who are already condemned (Jn 3:18). Without a Savior, the Law recommends eternal punishment (Mt 25:46; Jude 7).

The error of Israel is noted by the apostle Paul in Romans 2. Despite their disobedience to the laws God gave them, Israel perceived they were in God’s favor because He had issued His laws to them and not the Gentiles. When Jesus appeared at the fullness of times, under the Law (Gal 4:4), He warned the people that Moses and the prophets would be their prosecutors on the Day of Judgment (Jn 5:45). The point is that Israel failed to keep the Law of Moses and the Law of God (Rom 9:31). They had broken the covenant with God.

When the Son of God took on flesh and dwelt in the midst of Israel as their Messiah (Jn 1:14), He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin girl, Mary (Is 7:14; Mt 1:20). This was God’s design for Jesus to avoid the inherited sin of Adam (Rom 5:12–21). For the Messiah to be the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29), He must be without the blemish of sin (Heb 4:15). Jesus Christ, the true Israel (Is 49:3), kept the Law of Moses and the Law of God, perfectly. He assured the people of Israel that He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Mt 5:17; Lk 24:44).

By living a perfect sinless life in obedience to the Law (Heb 7:26), Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all that the Law promised. In Him, all of the spiritual blessings reside (Eph 1:3). At His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice from heaven declared, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Mt 3:17; 17:15; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22; 2 Pet 1:17).” These are words never uttered toward the Jews nor the Gentiles.

Sinful separation from God was remedied through the ceremonial law of sacrifices (Ex 30:10). The tabernacle in the wilderness and temple in Jerusalem made provision for various kinds of sacrifices, including blood sacrifice for atonement with Yahweh (Lev 16). The temple sacrificial system was temporary because it never fully dealt with sin (2 Cor 4:18). The Law of the Temple was merely a type, a shadow (Heb 8:5; 10:1) of the fulfillment that Jesus Christ, the Lamb, would provide (Jn 1:29). He Himself was the temple of God (Jn 2:21). He is our great High Priest (Heb 4:14) and our one and only sacrifice, acceptable to God (Heb 10:12).

Jesus Himself is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (Rev 5:6, 12). His sacrifice of Himself was a once-for-all-His-people offering (Heb 10:10), which put an end to the sacrifices and the Law of Moses (Heb 10:8). This Law was made obsolete (Heb 8:13), abolished in Him (Eph 2:15).

The book of Hebrews gloriously details how Christ is superior to the old system in every way. Christ fulfilled it all. He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness (Heb 1:9). Jesus has become to us, our righteousness (Jer 23:6; 33:16; 2 Pet 1:1). The Law is righteous, but it had no power to make sinners righteous because of inherited sin, sin nature, and the practice of sin. Jesus righteousness was imputed to His elect, redeemed, regenerated people.

The Law of Christ is the rule of life for New Testament believers (Rom 13:10). The Law of Christ is the law of love (Gal 5:14). The difference between the Law of God and the Law of Christ is that the latter is simply the Law of God with a permanent, faithful Mediator. Jesus Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). For a sinful, lawbreaker to approach God, he must come through Jesus Christ, who is the only way to God the Father (Jn 14:6).

God made a covenant with Israel, but Israel failed to keep the covenant. They were disobedient to the terms of the covenant, despite earnest intentions to obey all that Yahweh had commanded (Jos 1:17; 24:24). Jesus Christ is the faithful covenant partner with God. Being Himself the God-man, He is the faithful representative of humanity, as the Second Adam (Rom 5:12–21). He kept the Law. He offered the acceptable sacrifice, and God highly exalted Him in heaven (Phil 2:9; Heb 7:26). He has given His throne and the right to rule and judge to Jesus Christ our Lord (Mt 28:18; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). Every knee must bow to Him because He accomplished everything we could not (Is 45:23; Rom 14:11). He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36).

As our Mediator, elect believers come to Jesus for everything. Sinful man continues to avoid God, by avoiding Jesus Christ, who was appointed heir of all things (Heb 1:2). It is the Son of God who sets His captive people free (Jn 8:36), but men are unwilling and unable to come to Him for salvation (Mt 23:37; Jn 1:12–13; Rom 8:7; 9:15–16). They insist on attempts to keep the Law to merit favor with God. God has only accepted Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is imperative to go to Him, in order to gain access to God. God graciously sent a Helper (Jn 14:26; 15:26), the Holy Spirit to aid our approach, as we are drawn by the Father to the Son (Jn 6:44, 65).

The promise of the New Covenant was that God would give man His Spirit, and He would write the Law upon a man’s heart (Jer 31:33). The blood that was shed to cut the New Covenant belongs to Jesus Christ (Mt 26:28; 1 Pet 1:19). Clearly, the Law of God and the New Covenant go together.

There are three views held by people regarding the Law in the New Testament era. First, there are those who believe the Law of God has no use, having been fulfilled by Christ. This is an error. Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses and the Law of God. He has rendered the Law of Moses obsolete, but the Law of God remains binding upon all men because it is the moral law revealing an unchanging Holy God.

Second, there are those who believe the Law of Moses should be the Law of every nation. These people are called, “Theonomists.” This view is an error because Christ, in forming the new and holy nation of the church (1 Pet 2:9), calls the nations to come to Him (Mt 11:28; Rev 5:9). This means He is calling in His elect people from every nation to enter His holy nation, the church, the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). This true and spiritual Israel is made up of a remnant of Jews and Gentiles (Rom 9:6; 11:5; Gal 3:28), who have been quickened together by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13).

Third, the Law of Christ, which is the Law of God, with Christ as our Mediator, serves as a rule of life for those who serve the Law of God (Rom 7:25). This is never an attempt to put people back under the Law for justification (see Galatians).

Two terms have served as boundaries for us to beware. We must be warned against “legalism,” the imposing of the Law of Moses on men, as a means toward their justification. In other words, a legalist promotes a salvation that comes through obedience to the Law (Galatians). No man is justified by Law because no man can keep the Law. He must come to Christ for redemption and forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7).

The second warning is issued for those who dispose of the Law of God, as having no use in the New Testament era. Antinomians (“without the Law”) promote a cheap grace that opens the door to licentiousness. Lawless living is not what God ever intended. Bible passages used to support either of these errors cannot stand the scrutiny of proper hermeneutics, which begins with considering a verse in its context.

The Law of God is a delight to those who love God. It becomes his meditation all day (Ps 119:97). It is not a burden for God’s people (Mt 11:30). The Holy Spirit is our guide on the path of righteousness (Jn 16:13). He is our Teacher (Jn 14:26), and His subject is the Law of God, the whole counsel of the Holy Scriptures. The whole Law is captured in loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mt 22:40; Gal 5:14). The Law of God is truly a law of love. Unfortunately, it is rarely presented in such a glorious light. The Law loves us, even while it condemns us, because it points us to our need for Christ, as Savior, because of sin.

Because men hate God and hate His Law, they discard the Ten Commandments monuments and hinder the preaching of God’s Word, causing their neighbors to become twice the children of hell (Mt 23:15). Blinded by Satan (2 Cor 4:4), man has no concept of what is good for him. He operates in the futility of his mind (Eph 4:17), which is set upon the philosophies of men and wisdom of the world (Col 2:8). These will never allow Him to approach God. Instead, they lead men to make idols and worship demons (Rev 9:20).

What is needed in this age and every age is the Law of God. It serves as a moral guide, and it warns of God’s judgment, for disobedience by sinners (Rom 3:19). It serves the church as a rule of life and should be memorized by children at an early age. Employed by the Holy Spirit, the Law of God reveals the holiness of God and convicts the world of sin (Jn 16:8). In this way, it prepares the broken heart of sinners for the salvation present in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

In summary, we have seen contemporary examples of men suppressing the truth of God’s Law. We have considered the origin of the Law of God and the Law of Moses. We recalled the failure of ethnic Israel to keep the laws God gave them. We contemplated the perfect obedience of Christ in keeping these laws. We observed how the Law of God pertains to our lives, in the era following the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Christ.

In conclusion, let us heed the words of Solomon, “Fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl 12:13),” and the words of Jesus, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (Jn 13:34).” By this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will serve the Law of Christ, the law of love. Perfect love casts out fear of punishment (1 Jn 4:18), as there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). Grace has prevailed upon us so that we might walk as He walked (1 Jn 2:6)…in obedience to the Law, by the Spirit who causes us to do so (Ezek 36:26–27). Having been released from the binding Law of God, by Christ, we who are now in Christ, preach Christ and Him crucified, who has released from all our sins (Rev 1:5).

David E. Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

January 21, 2021

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher