The Law and the Gospel

A few weeks ago, there was placed in my hands a Bible study which presented the following assumption: "The Old Testament was God's law to the Jew. You were never under it. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jew only -- -- never to the Gentile. You cannot break the Commandments anymore than you can break the law of China. You are not and never were under are not under the Old Testament because Jesus took the law of Moses out of the way at his death. 'He taketh away the old (covenant) that He might establish the new (covenant) by the which will we are sanctified.' (Hebrews 10: 9,10)."

Truly "It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law." Psalms 119: 126. Not only have they made void God's holy law, the Ten Commandments, but the writer of the above mentioned study has made void the first 39 books of the Bible; the very books Jesus said testified of Him and made Timothy wise unto salvation. (John 5:39; 2 Timothy 3:15). Is there any question why there is so much disregard for absolute truth? Is there any wonder why the prisons are packed and new and bigger ones are being constructed? How displeased God must be when men and women make the truth into a lie. Christ's words are very applicable to those who do this. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." Matthew 23:15.

Let us briefly look at this idea that we are not under the law but under grace. The Jews had many feast days and Sabbaths which Christians are not to observe. Seven of these feasts are mentioned in Leviticus 23. These feasts were holy days for the Jews and were called 'sabbaths', but they are definitely distinguished from the fourth commandment, the seventh-day Sabbath of the Lord, which is not in anyway connected with the ceremonial observances. See chart for contrast between the Two Laws.

Let us look at one of these Jewish holy days or Sabbaths. "In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, and holy convocation." Leviticus 23:24. The first day of the month might come on any day of the week, the same as the first day of any month does now. Yet, it was to be a sabbath. Throughout the Jewish year, there were seven sabbaths coming on different days of the week and in different months. But it is distinctly noted, however, that "these are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, everything upon his day: Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord." Leviticus 23: 37-38. A very clear distinction is here made between the seven yearly feasts called sabbaths and "the Sabbath of the Lord." God does not confuse them.

It is to these yearly sabbaths that Paul had reference when he said that they are not to be observed any more. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Colossians 2: 16, 17. Compare this text with the one quoted from Leviticus, and it will be seen that they speak of the same things, of meats and drinks, and feast days. Paul never advised to not keep God's Ten Commandments, or to disregard the seventh-day Sabbath. Do not confuse God's Sabbath with the yearly sabbaths of the Jews. The seventh day Sabbath was included in the Ten Commandments, written by God's finger upon stone. The feast days are a part of the ceremonial law abolished by Christ.

Now Paul does say that Christ blotted out "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." Colossians 2: 14. From this text, many draw the conclusion that Christ, by His death on the cross, satisfied the law of God that that law is gone for us forever. But suffering the penalty of a law does not abolished that law, nor does perfect obedience to the law abrogate it.

If I were to steal and get caught, and be sentenced to five years in prison, would that abolish the law that put me behind bars? Or if I never exceed the speed limit, does that mean that a speed limit does not exist?

Christ rendered a perfect obedience to the law and he bore for us the utmost penalty. Neither of these two works of His, nor both of them together amount to anything like the doing away with the law. If I were to suffer the penalty of a law, it would not make void that law, but represents the exact opposite: it manifests the strength of that law. Christ's death magnifies the law.

Christ blotted out, or did away with, the feasts and sacrifices that had reference to and pointed forward to Christ's ultimate sacrifice. The ransom, or penalty, Christ paid for us only helped "magnified the law, and make it honorable." Isaiah 42: 21. Just in proportion as we appreciate the greatness of the Redeemer's work and enter into its spirit will we continually honor the law of God in our hearts and lives. We will not say we will have nothing to do with the law, but following in Christ's footsteps in this and in all things, we will strive to uphold God's law to the best of our ability.

"The gospel of Christ is truly believed only when it is practiced. Faith is justified by works. Self must be hidden; Christ must appear as the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely. When an unreserved surrender of the powers of the whole being is made to the Saviour, self no longer strives for the mastery. What man needs today is the crucifixion of self and the revelation in his life of Christ, the hope of glory." Sign of the Times, 7/26/1905

Self must die. Those who proport ideas and theories that the law of God has been abolished have not died to self, that Christ may live in them.

Christ has died for us. He is the Lamb of God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1: 9. He is the reality of what all the sacrifices and feast days were a type or figure.

But there is much more involved than confessing sin and accepting the death of Christ on the cross. There is the ministration of the Spirit. This function is to prevent sin. It is glorious to be forgiven of sin, but still more glorious to be kept from sinning. This is exactly what Paul presents. "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5: 16. This promise is as definite as another statement of Paul's. "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Romans 6:14. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8: 4.

We have contrasted two ministrations: one of death -- occasioned by the breaking of the law, and one of the Spirit -- because of the keeping of the law. The one is a ministry of forgiveness, glorious in itself, but not to be compared to the ministration of the Spirit, which is life because of righteousness -- RIGHT DOING.

Because most want to continue to live for self, the two ministrations which Paul contrasts are not understood. It is not the law of God but the ministrations of the law that are the subject. One was of death because of its transgression; the other was of live because through the Spirit, the righteousness of the law was fulfilled. Paul never has anything to say about abolishing the law of God, or even its change. He discusses only the ministration of the law.

Paul says "for sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6: 14. These are probably the most misunderstood words in the Bible. To get the full impact of what Paul is presenting, let us consider the context. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourself servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin on to death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:6,7,12, 13, 15, 16, 18.

"Sin shall not have dominion over you." Blessed promise! Every Christian should thank God for these words. But sadly, most do not comprehend what Paul has presented! He is not destroying the law of God that grace may abound, but saying, 'live by the law that you may have the grace of Christ'.

One of the strange effects of sin is that the innocent suffer with the guilty. How many mothers have suffered because of their wayward sons? How many wives and children have suffered because of the dereliction of the husband and father? Only eternity will reveal the havoc sin has wrought, and the injustice it has caused!

"In that day (judgment) the law of God is to be revealed in its majesty, and men who have broken that law, and stood in defiant rebellion against its holy precepts, will understand that law which they have despised, discarded, and trampled under foot is God's standard of character. Every commandment-keeping soul, every transgressor, will have placed before him the scene when the Sabbath was first given to man in Eden, when the foundations of the earth were laid, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Then it was that the Sabbath was instituted. This scene will be vividly brought before every mind.

"Those who have administered in word and doctrine, who, by smooth words and fair speeches have taught that the law of God is no longer binding, that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was only given for the Jews - those who have educated their hearers to show contempt for the warnings sent by the Lord's prophets and apostles and delegated servants, will have brought to their mind scenes of Sinai with all their granduer." Manuscript 39, 3/11/1898.

But oh, dear reader, not only do others suffer when we disregard God's holy law, but no one suffers more than God. Because of sin, no one has paid a greater price because of it. A look at Calvary should convince anyone that the innocent suffer with the guilty, and that none has suffered more than God Himself. Such is the nature of sin - the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4.

What can we do about sin in causing suffering to the innocent? Must sin go on? Are we hopelessly doomed? No! Thank the Lord. Sin is no longer to have dominion over us, for we are not under the law, but under grace. Apart from Christ there is no hope for you and I. There is no help for the sin problem from any human source. There is only help and victory over sin through God.

By some strange working of the mind, many have misapplied Paul's statement "ye are not under the law, but under grace" and feel they are released from fulfilling the moral duties which God's law imposes. They believe that this text permits them to observe the part of the law which they approve, and to disregard the part that they do not approve of.

The misunderstanding, perhaps, if not willful rebellion, concerns the part about being "under the law": if you break a law of the land, you will be brought into custody, being "under the jurisdiction and punishment of the law", and you will be deprived of your freedom. Such an experience emphasizes the point that if you want freedom, then obey the law. In fact, that very inscription is seen on many courthouses. "Obedience to the law is liberty", and this is a most solemn and important truth. James in his epistle refers to the law of God in the same manner: "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:12.

A man who is thus "under the law" can be legally freed in one of two ways: he can serve his sentence, or he can receive an official or executive pardon. To be freed on bail, or to be paroled is only a temporary and conditional freedom, and does not figure into our present topic. If we apply these two ways of gaining freedom to a sinner before God who has broken His holy law, we immediately recognize that there is no way you or I could serve a sentence and survive, for "the wages of sin is death." The only way for us to be free is to be pardoned. This pardon is free to those who ask God in faith, and is granted upon certain conditions. These conditions, briefly summarized, are: 1) Sorrow for sin. 2) Confession. 3) Sincere repentance -- determination to "go and sin no more." & 4) Public acknowledgment of Christ. By fulfilling these conditions, we have not "earned" a pardon. This only makes it possible for God to extend His mercy to us. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. This text records God's promise of forgiveness and cleansing, and also announces the condition upon which it is done.

And so with these conditions in mind, this brings us to the conclusion that being "under the law" means to be under its condemnation and in its custody, that this condition is brought about by transgression of God's holy law - all ten precepts, including the fourth commandment to remember the Sabbath day, the seventh day, and that the only way in which a sinner can be freed from the penalty of breaking the law is by the grace of God. This grace is bestowed freely upon all who would conform to the conditions laid down for full and free pardon.

A Christian is a pardoned sinner. It is the height of ingratitude for one who professes to be a Christian to speak "evil of the law" (James 4:11), or hold it in contempt. Such conduct reacts on the Christian - if we dare even call such a person a Christian - and raises a doubt in regard to his eligibility to be pardoned.

Dear reader, remember, a pardoned criminal is under double obligation to keep God's law. First, the ordinary obligation of any citizen to place his influence on the side of law and order. Second, the added obligation because of the great mercy granted to him through his pardon. Out of gratitude, one should lovingly keep God's law and "go, sin no more."

The true Christian is not under the condemnation of the law, though he is under its jurisdiction. His transgression being pardoned through the abundant g race of God, he does not go about belittling the law and telling others they do not need to keep it, calling it a yoke of bondage. No! He loves God's law. To him it is holy, just and good. Romans 7:12. A true Christian takes the same position Christ, our Great Example, took towards the law. He does not seek to destroy or break it (Matthew 5:17), he keeps it. "I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love." John 15:10.

God's Eternal Law

God Is God's Law Is
a. Holy. Leviticus 11:44. a. Holy. Romans 7:12.
b. Truth. Psalm 31:5. b. Truth. Malachi 2:6.
c. Righteous. Psalm 145:17. c. Righteous. Psalm 119:172.
d. Perfect. Matthew 5:48. d. Perfect. Psalm 19:7.
e. A spirit. John 4:24. e. Spiritual. Romans 7:14.
f. Eternal. 1 Timothy 1:17. f. Eternal. Psalm 111:7-8.
g. Unchangeable. James 1:17. g. Unalterable. Psalm 89:34.
h. Love. 1 John 4:8. h. Based on love. Matt. 22:36-40 &
Romans 13:8-10.

The Bible Makes Clear
Distinctions Between
the Two Laws

(Ten Commandments)

(Law of Ordinances)
1. Spoken by God.
* Deuteronomy 4:12. *
1. Spoken by Moses.
* Leviticus 1:1-3. *
2. Written by God.
* Exodus 31:18. *
* Deuteronomy 10:3-4. *
2. Written by Moses.
* Deuteronomy 31:24. *
3. Written on stone.
* Exodus 31:18. *
* Deuteronomy 10:3-4. *
3. Written in a book.
* Deuteronomy 31:24. *
4. Kept inside the Ark.
* Deuteronomy 10:1-5. *
4. Kept in a pocket outside the Ark.
* Deuteronomy 31:26. *
5. Complete in itself.
* Deuteronomy 5:22. *
5. Added to and built up.
* Leviticus 1:1-3; 4:1-3. *
6. Eternal.
* Psalm 111:7-8. *
6. Temporary.
* Hebrews 7:12. *
7. Holy, Just, and Good.
* Romans 7:12. *
7. Contrary and against us.
* Colossians 2:14. *
8. Was to be written in the heart.
* Jeremiah 31:34. *
8. Was imposed upon the people
because of transgression.
* Hebrews 9:9-10. *
9. Points out sin.
* 1 John 3:4. *
* Romans 7:7. *
9. Points to the Remedy for sin -
our Saviour.
* Leviticus 4:27-31. *
* John 1:29. *
10. Must not be broken.
* Matthew 5:19. *
10. Is no longer to be kept.
* Acts 15:24. *
11. Spiritual.
* Romans 7:14. *
11. Carnal.
* Hebrews 7:16. *
12. Law of Liberty.
* James 1:25; 2:11-12. *
12. Yoke of bondage.
* Galatians 5:1. *
13. A delight.
* Psalm 119:77; 40:8. *
13. A burden.
* Acts 15:10. *
14. Magnified by Christ.
* Isaiah 42:21. *
* Matthew 5:17. *
14. Abolished by Christ.
* Ephesians 2:15. *
15. Will last till heaven and earth
pass away.
* Matthew 5:18. *
* Luke 16:17. *
15. Lasted only till the Seed (Christ)
should come.
* Galatians 3:19. *
16. Standard of judgment.
* James 2:12 *
* Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. *
16. Not used for judgment.
* Colossians 2:16-17. *

Written by Pastor David J. Berwick of HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT MINISTRIES

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