In the first part, we covered that “sin is the transgression of the law.” If we are to go deeper, we must answer “what is the law?” This is where many break off into two camps and our trains of thought diverge. Why? Because their are two sets of law in scripture!
The Old Testament Law and the New Testament Law.
The Old Testament, or Old “Covenant” was an agreement between a holy, righteous, spiritual God, and a carnal, physical nation of people. God, throughout the Biblical narrative, reveals Himself on progressive levels. The Old Covenant, was the foundation for relationship between God and man, working with a nation of physical people amidst a world without God. The nation of Israel was chosen to demonstrate among the nations that God blesses those who obey and honor Him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
Toward that end, the nation needed laws, so as to have a common discipline and unity of expectations of conduct, reward, and punishment. The Ten Commandments were the core statement issued by God for the foundation of that physical nation. They were a physical representation of the spiritual moral law upon which all the law and prophets were founded. NOTE: They were a PHYSICAL representation of a greater SPIRITUAL law. Why did God have to distill His great spiritual law into an inferior physical representation? Because the people were physical. They were not capable of keeping the greater spiritual laws that demanded an internal governance they did not possess as a people – namely, the Holy Spirit.
In the physical representation, we see a quantitative, tangible set of commands, that were, like the tabernacle, a shadow of a greater reality that Jesus Christ (the same ONE of the Godhead who gave the commandments to Moses on Sinai – see I Cor 10:4) came to reveal to the New Covenant Church.
Did you know the nation of Israel was a church? All the word “church” means is a gathering of people. Israel is referred to in the Bible as “the church in the wilderness” in Acts 7:38. It is the law of that church that is done away. What was not done away was the great Moral Law, of which the 10 Commandments were a mere representation.
In the New Testament, when the law is done away, it is talking of the inferior representation, NOT the great spiritual moral law which it represented! So, when we read, “you are no longer under the law,” we are no longer not under the legalistic 10 Commandments as applied through the judgments and civic administration of justice that necessarily accompanied it – for it was given to rule a nation in day-to-day civil conduct.
Jesus did away with the old ‘code of conduct’ and gave a GREATER and MORE EXPANSIVE law… He gave us the Moral Law to fulfill. What is more, is that Jesus Christ, now building a spiritual nation from the “inside out,” represented to us the Father and told us the God we are called to worship is spirit and desires us to worship (surrender to) Him in spirit and in truth. This God looks at the heart, and now demands a cleansing of it when He declares, “circumcise your hearts and not your flesh.”
Circumcision was the marker of a physical Israelite. It was the proving point of one’s Jewishness in Jesus’ day. It made one ‘holy’. That was no longer to be good enough. The physical requirement of it was no longer to be bound upon the Church, because it was only an inferior representation to basically babysit the nation in nursery school and occupy them until the reality of circumcision came. Through Jesus Christ’s death and ascension, the giving of the Holy Spirit now made the True Circumcision possible:
Acts 15:5-9 “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, PURIFYING THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH.”
There is a law in force for Christians today, or else Jesus was deluded, for He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we do not walk in a love relationship with Jesus, we are in danger, and may I say certainty, of hearing Him say to us, “depart from me, I NEVER KNEW YOU.”
Matthew 7:21-24 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness). Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:”
What were His sayings? “whosoever looks upon a person to lust after them has already committed adultery…” We can chalk it up to being a ‘red-blooded’ human being, but we are called to walk not after our ‘red blood’, but after the spirit. We are told, “whoever hates his brother in his heart, has committed murder already.”
This was not a ‘dumbing down’ of the commandments, but a ramping up of the expectation on the Church! Why? Because “to whom much is given, much IS required,” Luke 12:48.
What were we given? We were given:
1 – The Holy Spirit, which alone, dwelling in our hearts, enables us to be purified in our hearts to the overcoming of the sins of the heart. If they are overcome on this level, there will be no murder, nor acts of adultery, nor theft, etc.
2 – A superior code of conduct. “Moses said…., but I say unto you….”
3 – A superior REWARD. Israel was granted national supremacy when they complied, we are granted eternal life in victory, IF we hearken diligently.
What is the great Moral Law?
Mat 22:36-40, A man came to Jesus asking, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Christians are to be walking in the spirit, obeying these commandments of the heart. When we falter in our thoughts, words, deeds, we are to confess them as sins, because they violate the spiritual law to which we are now agreeing to walk by. Covenant means agreement. The agreement is between God and man today, as it was then. The terms were changed because the conditions were changed. God’s law (the Moral Law upon which all the law and the prophets were modeled) has never changed, nor will it.
God’s expectation that the conduct of His saints reflect a true heart’s desire to comply with that law, has not changed. God desires to establish a Kingdom wherein righteousness dwells. If we ignore the law that defines that righteousness, there is no place in Heaven for us. Period. Take that up with the Lord (what is a Lord without Lordship and the right to demand obedience?)