If one has the Holy Spirit, one will be led into the Truth. What is the Truth? Isn’t that the question that Pilate asked Christ? Yet, Jesus stated “Thy Word is Truth” when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane one chapter earlier. Thus, the Word of GOD can answer all of our questions listed above.
What does the Bible say? Romans says the Law is incapable of saving us and it is incapable of helping us obey GOD.
Then is the Law still relevant? Yes, because it is both a schoolteacher and it is a mirror.
The Word as a schoolteacher, as the Apostle Paul pointed out in Romans, schools us in right and wrong. It exposes the evil works of darkness and is a great tool in showing the lost that they need GOD. It also helps us understand the background of many of the New Testament concepts. Those who understand the Law are much better capable of understanding and teaching to others the words of Christ and the apostles, whether it be references of it that they quote in their Gospels and Letters or whether it be prophetic events, the New Testament Christian congregational model, or the concepts of faith and grace mentioned throughout many of the letters of Paul the Apostle.
The Word as a mirror, as Romans 3:20 points out, shows us what type of person we are (exceedingly sinful as the Apostle James also points out regarding GOD’s Word in his epistle).
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20
Can the Law still reveal to us how wrong we are and how much we need a Savior? Yes, it can as Ray Comfort points out in his famous message “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and in his soul-winning approach as he uses the Law to reveal to people how exceedingly sinful they are and how they need a Savior. The Apostle Paul clearly supports this use of the Law throughout his letter to the Romans. Without the Law, we would have not known our sin. Knowing our sin, we can now see our need for the Savior.
Can the Law offer us the power we need to obey the Law? No.
Can keeping the Law save us? No.
Romans 3 clearly shows that none of us have gone without sin, and James 2 clearly states that if we commit one sin, then we are guilty of all. Therefore, the Law condemns us instead of saving us. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a schoolteacher in showing us “true north” when it comes to right and wrong. Paul uses this exact picture in Romans of the schoolteacher. Therefore, while being schooled in the Law that GOD gave us allows us to know very general boundaries of right and wrong, just as our conscience that GOD gave us also allows us to see right and wrong, we cannot find the power we need to please GOD in sanctification and we cannot obey the Law perfectly to gain salvation.
The Law has value in helping us to know a general standard of right from wrong, but it can’t provide all the specifics of what is right and wrong or empower us to do right.
Only the Holy Spirit can help us know the detailed things that are right from wrong and only by walking in the Spirit can we avoid violating GOD’s commands or laws.
Are we expected to obey the Mosaic Law? Not for salvation, and like our conscience or the general revelation of GOD’s creation, it’s boundaries are too general for sanctification (although it does school us in the basic boundaries of right and wrong). It is not comprehensive enough. On the other hand, the Spirit is.
Also, parts of the Law were already fulfilled such as the sacrificial system since Jesus Christ is our sacrificial, vicarious Lamb. Why then did the early apostles and Jerusalem congregation rightly exhort the Gentile Christians to abstain from meat offered to idols, from things bloody, from things strangled, and from fornication? Because these dietary laws were still expected to be obeyed, as well as GOD’s moral law. Does this mean that GOD expects all of His dietary laws to be obeyed?
The vision of Peter of the unclean meat is an answer in part to that question in which Peter was commanded to eat unclean meat. Also, the other answer to that question is the fact that only three dietary laws were expected of the Gentiles (i.e. meat offered to idols, bloody meat, strangled meat).
Today, science has helped many to see why certain meat is actually less healthy than others. Whereas unclean meat may have been less nutritious than clean meat, meat that is bloody is deadly. Thus, we can see the reason that the Gentile believers were still told by the apostles not to eat bloody meat even during the first days of the early Christian period due to the life-threatening dangers associated with it.
When we see the wisdom of GOD’s laws regarding physical objects such as bloody meat as confirmed by scientific examinations today, it helps us understand that anything that GOD sets off-limits for us in the spiritual or physical realm are only for our good, and not to keep something valuable away from us as Satan would like for us to think. In other words, when we see the scientific dangers of bloody meat being eaten, we should realize that the dangers we cannot see in “meat offered to idols” and other spiritual matters are just as real.
Note that Paul’s discussion on meat offered to idols in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 has been twisted by most theologians today to mean that we can eat meat offered to idols (i.e. participate in things associated with paganism as long they are not inherently wrong). Paul did not say this.
If you search the internet for articles or photos on I Corinthians 8, you will find lots on the subject of legalism, but not much of anything on the subject of respecting another person’s conscience. It appears today’s believers totally missed Paul’s point in their haste to use liberty as license, white-wash themselves and condemn anyone trying to live holy. The strongest of brethren can barely survive the tongue-thrashing of the false brethren and false pastors in churches today, much less the weaker brethren or new converts.
They want their sin and anyone who speaks out is a legalist. This is the message they have extracted from Paul’s teachings in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 in error, and if a new convert or someone with a very sinful past is offended by some association of theirs, the false brethren, who are the majority today, will tell these brethren for whom Christ died to hit the road after they’ve given these brethren a good lashing of words (filled with false doctrine). In reality, a “legalist” is one who attempts to do good works for salvation, not sanctification. The false brethren say that anyone doing good works is a legalist. What did Jesus say?
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:16-20
Wow! When you read the above passage, Jesus doesn’t sound anything like most pastors and church-goers today. That’s because many of today’s pastors and church-goers are false, fakes, and frauds who follow tradition and carnal desire, not Scripture. They serve a false Christ crafted into the image of their own lusts.
The apostles and congregations at Jerusalem told the Gentile Christians that they were not to eat meat offered to idols which confirms that Paul was not saying this as seen in Acts 15 and Acts 21. What Paul said was that those who were stronger should not enjoy things which might cause another weaker brother to fall. For example, if bell-bottom pants or wire-rimmed glasses in the 70s were associated with the hippie movement and the Beatles, you were not to wear such things even if they weren’t inherently wrong. Why? Because someone who was weaker in the faith might be offended. This was all part of Christian love.
It was about the 70s time period, in fact, that many pastors twisted I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 to say that you can enjoy things associated with evil as long as you did it away from “weaker brothers”. Paul didn’t say this. Then, pastors swapped things associated with evil for things that were evil such as immodest dress and rock music (the music of enchanters and charmers that Scripture associates with witchcraft in Deuteronomy 18 and condemns to the same death as necromancers, witches, warlocks, fortune tellers, psychics, and such under the theocratic government in which GOD ruled Israel). Paul condemned such evil practices of accepting pagan assimilation and he condemned the practice of accepting even things associated with such paganism.
Then, pastors began to allow such things to be enjoyed publicly and encouraged the “weaker brothers” to allow their “stronger brothers” to have their “liberty” and to more or less “look away” in the name of “grace”. This was blatant disrespect for the brethren who were following Christ in holiness and this was utter disobedience of Paul’s words.
Furthermore, the forms of evil degenerated to levels as low as the acts of sodomy and the reading of books of witchcraft which became a new matter of “meat offered to idols”. Alas, the pastors then began to bring the evil of indecent covering of nakedness, transgender dress, and the music of the enchanters and charmers into the congregation and continued to do more and more evil in the name of GOD, including justifying many adulterers and adulteresses. This was utter sacrilege.
At the last, it was no longer strong brethren avoiding any association of evil in order to avoid any offense to a weaker brother’s conscience. Instead, it became evil, disobedient, heretical brethren committing the most lewd and vile abominations right in their congregational gatherings and these twisted, evil pastors who have taken over most pulpits in America began telling anyone with a conscience who objected to their wicked stance to “find another congregation” if they didn’t like their new levels of wickedness. This is obviously repugnant in the sight of GOD and a direct violation of all that Paul taught.
“That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” – Acts 15:29
“As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.” – Acts 21:25
Did GOD’s morals change after Christ’s redemptive work? Absolutely not! Or as Paul the apostle would say “GOD forbid” that we violate His laws which are His loving way of helping us have a more abundant life in Him.
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” – Romans 3:31
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? … What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” – Romans 6:1, 2, 15
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” – Romans 7:7
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.” – 1 Corinthians 6:15
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” – Galatians 2:17
In fact, the apostle Paul or other apostles reiterated in the New Testament much of the moral law that was found in the Old Testament and even some of the other parts of the Law such as the dietary ones mentioned above. Also, it appears that even some of the financial practices of the Old Testament were still in effect as we see the Apostle Paul exhorting people to give according to how GOD had prospered people and mentioned a storehouse in I Corinthians 16.
In actuality, this storehouse greatly resembled the economic system used by the Jewish nation when you see the early believers in Acts 5 and 6 selling their properties and creating this central bank as it were for the financial assistance of believers and the ministry of GOD (just as the Israeli temple had been used by GOD in the Old Testament for the same type of storehouse for the people in need and the care-taking of His work and those who performed His work). While the purpose of the ministry, which the money funded, may have slightly changed, since Christians are a royal priesthood of believers which the Levites symbolized, the purpose of the money for the financial care-taking of GOD’s people appeared to stay pretty much the same except deacons replaced the Levites in this financial ministry. Elders replaced the Levites in the spiritual side of ministry.
The first few verses of Romans 12 reiterated how pagan assimilation was just as evil as it had been in the Old Testament. Many other New Testament books reiterate the same as well as many of the commands that had been given regarding a plethora of other laws including the Sabbath weekly assembly as seen in Hebrews 10:25 and we see this example in the Book of Acts.
The Law cannot save, but those who are saved obey the Spirit and the Spirit will not lead anyone to disobey the moral laws of GOD. In fact, the Spirit will take us beyond just the general laws of GOD to a higher and better way of obeying even more specific details that only He can reveal regarding good and evil. GOD still forbids that pastors promote the gravest of abominations today in the name of grace while trampling GOD’s Law and His commandments. Those who know the Word and have the Spirit realize the portions of the Law that were abolished by Christ’s work on earth. They also understand that the Law and the Holy Spirit do not contradict each other regarding GOD’s character and expectations. Is this not what Jesus and Paul meant by stating that they were not out to destroy the Law? Yes, we are still to avoid fornication and other sins that the Law as a schoolmaster taught us were evil. GOD gives us grace to avoid fornication, not grace to enjoy fornication as so many seem to have misunderstood.
When Paul says we are not under the Law but under grace, he is definitely not giving a license to sin, but rather the opposite. He is taking the loophole away from men who would call themselves disciples but act like the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn’t violate the exact letters of the Mosaic Law, but they did sin against the spirit of the Law (and in a sense, they sinned against the Spirit of the Law). They wouldn’t commit adultery, but they would lust. In other words, they would not obey the Spirit of the Law, but only what was written down in the Law. In this way, Jesus sought to establish the Law in a much more perfect way. His Sacrifice was more supreme than the sacrificial systems. His law of love and golden rule were a fulfillment of the handful of rules found in the Law. His approach to the Law was indeed perfect and completely synchronized with the intent of the Law and not against the Law (as so many today are teaching). He paid for the penalties of our sin, not so we could accumulate masses of sins, but so we could have grace to obey GOD’s commands and not sin.
Paul was showing that by walking in the Spirit, we have a better Law dwelling within us Who can show us what is right and wrong in spirit, and not just in letter; in specific day-to-day events and decisions, not just in general boundaries.
Therefore, grace and liberty were never about freedom from the Law, but grace was given so we can more perfectly obey GOD’s moral law and the higher Spirit of the Law. Grace was about Jesus obeying the Law perfectly for us, because that was something impossible for us to do. Why? Jesus hated sin and could not have fellowship with us unless He did this.
Jesus wanted to set us free, because Sin made us the Law’s slave. Grace and liberty freed us from that slavery, so that we could truly obey the laws and commands of GOD.
In other words, if you signed a contract to pay back a million dollars under Old Testament law as a poor, struggling farmer but couldn’t keep your contract, then you would become a servant (i.e. slave) to that person for a period of time to pay back your debt (unlike the modern American system of debt that lets people defraud others through bankruptcy law).
Just as that physical scenario played out, if you as a spiritual creature decide to not accept Jesus’ payment for our sins, but instead attempt to pay GOD back by trying the impossible task of keeping the Law for salvation and failing, then you would be a slave of the Law and the penalty would be death. This word picture is clearly painted throughout the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul is saying that you no longer have to be a slave to the Law, because Christ has paid the debt of the Law. Instead, since Jesus paid our price of redemption, we are bond-slaves or servants of Jesus Christ, so that we can serve Him out of a heart of love and not begrudgingly. We are expected to obey the Spirit of the Law, knowing that we are His brothers, children of the Father, and will one day reign as Kings someday with Him.
In other words, by living as His slave for this life, He promises to make us Kings in the next life. That’s a great deal! I hope you see how even the laws of the Old Testament regarding debt and slavery are actually beautiful pictures of Jesus’ redemptive story through this article, as well as how blessed we are to be His slaves instead of slaves of the Law which would mean eternal death one day for us. I trust that you have a better understanding of the phrase “not under the Law”.
Multiple other illustrations could be used outside of the Israeli slavery system for debtors such as the stories of Egyptian slavery, of Ruth’s kinsman redeemer Boaz, or of Hagar and Sarah as the Apostle Paul used for illustration. The Old and New Testaments work beautifully together in physical and spiritual mirrors of exquisite Truth. Those who despise the Law or the Old Testament are foolish in their darkened minds.
Now we obey the Spirit of the Law and not just the letter of the Law by walking in the Spirit who gives us liberty and grace to obey GOD’s law. Liberty and grace have never been about giving us permission to sin. Instead, all of the Law and the Prophets and the Grace of GOD and the Liberty found in Jesus Christ are all pointing us to Christ who is our Master and Owner. We are expected to obey Him willingly by His Spirit’s power, Who is indeed our highest and best Law and Who will never contradict the spiritual and moral guidelines of His written Law.