As I study all of the Scriptures more in-depth, and consider the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) from an angle I have never considered, three things jump out at me. I will get to that part in a minute. First of all, what is the angle I am talking about here? That the Law hasn’t become obsolete. Let me make very clear that I am not talking about the Levitical law – the sacrifices and priesthood. Jesus Christ has perfectly and eternally fulfilled God’s just demand for sacrifice and reconciliation, so thankfully, that aspect of the Law is perpetually and permanently met. Not only was He the perfect Lamb, but He also acted as the high priest (after the order of Melchizedek, who predated the order of Levi), offering himself for the the ransom of many (Psalm 110:4, Genesis, 14:18, Hebrews 7, Mark 10:45). We are redeemed. It is finished.
Some verses that support the eternal existence of the Law. (For a better understanding, pull out your Bibles and read the whole chapter or even the whole book wherein the verses are found.)
I John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (Proof that the Law still points to sin in our lives.)
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Proof that we should not disobey the Law, even under the New Testament covenant.)
Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 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.
19 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. (Proof that the Law will stand as long as the earth stands, and that folks will be in trouble for teaching that the Law is no longer valid. Also proof that breaking the Law does not negate one’s salvation.)
Something worth noting – “jot” and “tittle” refer to the smallest markings of the Hebrew language (equivalent to crossing a “t” or dotting an “i”). Considering this and the fact that the New Testament had not been written yet, we can be assured that Jesus was referring to the Old Testament Law.
If you will read all of Romans chapter 4, you will see that adherence to the Law never justified anyone, not even those living under it. No one in the history of mankind has ever been able to obey the whole law, with the exception of Jesus Christ our Savior. No one in history has ever earned his way into the presence of the Holy Father. Salvation has always come through faith to those who believe. So the question remains: If God gave the Law, that never saved anybody, what purpose did it serve then, and what purpose does it serve now? I believe the purpose has remained the same throughout time, before the incarnate Christ, and even now, in the era of our Lord.
The Three-fold Purpose of the Law
These are the three main purposes that I can see. I am sure there are many more, but these definitely deserve some attention.
- To reveal sin in our lives, thereby proving our need for a Savior.
- To act as an indisputable sign, pointing perfectly and completely at Jesus Christ as Messiah.
- To show us how to live an abundant life during our sojourn here on earth.
To reveal sin: this is a pretty much undisputed purpose of the Law, at least among Christians. However, since my husband and I have been observing the Law in our lives (food laws, Sabbath Day, etc), a few people have wondered if we are sinning by trying to keep the Law. Let me show you Paul’s answer to that question:
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 – but the whole chapter is eye-opening.
When the Law was given, we were suddenly capable of sinning against it. If your child picks his nose, he is only doing something natural. Until you tell him not to, and then if he continues, he is disobeying. Suddenly, it becomes sin. That does not mean that you shouldn’t instruct your children in cleanliness for their own good (more about that later). That does not make the instruction bad. And just because you will love your child forever and still be his parent if he does pick his nose, does not mean that he has license to disobey as much as he chooses. And if he chooses to obey, that does not mean that he is afraid you will disown him or stop loving him if he doesn’t. This is how some people react when I tell them we are keeping the Law.
Just because our family chooses to obey God’s Law, does not suddenly mean that we think we are earning our salvation. The idea is ludicrous to me, even though it is probably the number one argument against obedience. One sin. One. That’s all it takes, and a person is no longer capable of earning salvation. That’s all of us, folks. We are not trying to earn salvation or love or acceptance or anything else. We are merely trying to obey the Rule-Maker because we love Him, because He makes the rules, and because He has only ever asked us to do what was best for us. Speaking of that, I am going to skip over point two for now (because I fear it will be lengthy), and jump right over to point three.
An abundant life: The word Torah (translated law) also means instruction. We often joke that this life didn’t come with a handbook, but it did! Not only for how to behave, how to treat others, and hope for the future. It tells us everything we need to know to live a happy, healthy, prosperous life. Do take some time and read Psalm 119. The Law is not a bad thing! God tells us what to eat and what not to eat, how to be clean, how to be financially prosperous. The Jews were blamed for the outbreak of the Black Death because they weren’t getting sick at the rate of non-Jews. Why weren’t they getting sick? Probably because they washed using running water. Leviticus 15:13
My husband and I chose to have our son circumcised on the eighth day of life. For no other reason than that we believe that God always instructs us in our favor. We discovered years later that blood clotting is best on the eighth day of life.
Deuteronomy 5:33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Deuteronomy 6:24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Jesus is the Word by which the universe was created. He is the Word made flesh. The Law is part of his Word, part of who He is.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Malachi 3:6a For I am the LORD, I change not;
Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Does it seem that some verses say that the Law has been abolished?
I believe everything the Bible says about everything. I’m not trying to pick and choose verses, glossing over the ones I think are contrary to what I have come to believe. I want to examine everything. If the Bible is 100% accurate (and it is), then it does not contradict itself. If parts of it contradict itself, how would we determine what parts to believe? Creation, the virgin birth, salvation, the resurrection, eternal life? It is either all true, or it is the greatest conspiracy of all time. (However, when I get into my second point – in another post – you will see that it is too complex to be conspiracy. It is all true!)
If some verses seem to say one thing, and others seem to say something opposite, then there must be something we are misunderstanding. Why are we misunderstanding? Christians have had their eyes blinded for centuries. We can’t understand what the Bible is trying to say because we have been approaching everything with the misconception that the law is not longer valid. What have we misunderstood concerning the Law? Why does the Bible seem to say that the Law has passed away while also making very clear that it has not? I think some of the confusion lies in the fact that because the Levitical part of the Law has been fulfilled, folks get the idea from reading the Scriptures that the Law doesn’t apply to us at all anymore. Apparently, there were some folks during Jesus’ ministry who also thought this way, or perhaps He was speaking to modern-day Christians in advance (referring to His words previously quoted above from Matthew 5).
Also, Paul speaks out against the ordinances and says that they are nailed to the cross. My research online shows that many folks believe that he is speaking about the Law here. However, if you read the entire chapter of Colossians 2, you will see that he is plainly talking about the ordinances of men and traditions of the world. You see, there’s this whole other addition to the Law that the Jews were observing (and many still do), and that is the Talmud – man’s interpretations and expansion of God’s Law. Also, if you read Psalm 119, you will discover that the Law of the Lord is perfect.
Another verse commonly quoted is I Corinthians 7:19: Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Galatians 6:11-15 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
The Jewish people were trying to make circumcision a salvation issue for the new Gentile converts. Even though, because of their own unrighteousness, the Jews could not wholly keep the Law themselves, but they were still demanding that the Gentiles be circumcised if they wanted to accept Christ. Why did they think they got to choose the one way to salvation? Circumcision? Hardly!
God makes it very plain, over and over, that salvation is by grace alone. I think folks who speak out against Torah keepers believe that we are making the Law a salvation issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Law is what it always was – never saved anybody, never will. Always pointed to Christ, always will. Was given for the good of mankind then and mankind today.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.