The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ
THE PURPOSE OF THE MOSAIC LAW
*A lot of confusion revolves around the Law of Moses. This is true for unsaved Jewish people, unsaved Gentiles, Jewish believers and Gentile believers.
Most unsaved Jewish people believe that they must try to keep the Law in order to get right with God. Many Gentile believers want to express their faith in Jesus with an over emphasis upon Jewish customs and beliefs. Many Jewish believers over emphasize the role and place of their Jewish background to the point of de-emphasizing the need of getting to know Jesus the Messiah. Paul addressed this issue in Phil. 3:4-10.
Phil. 3:4-10 – although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Paul’s desire was to advance in his knowledge of Jesus his Savior, not gain a better understanding of his Jewish heritage.
*There is confusion about the Law for unbelievers and certain denominations. In many cases whole denominations put themselves under the Law of Moses. They have their church meetings on Saturday, they try to keep the dietary laws without realizing that none of these Laws were ever given to them.
Here’s what we will be studying:
*What is the Law of Moses? Of what does it consist?
*What is the purpose of the Law of Moses? Why was it given?
*What is the character of the Law of Moses? Are there different parts to it, or is it one unified Law?
*Is the Mosaic Law operative in our present day? If so, how much of it is, if not, does that mean we are without any Law?
*Does the New Testament speak of a new Law that the believer is under as opposed to the Law of Moses?
1. The Law of Moses was never given so people could try to keep it in order to be saved.
Hypothetically, the Law could give life if it was kept perfectly, but no one could keep it, except Jesus. The Law simply doesn’t have the ability to save anybody.
Gal. 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal. 2:21 – I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
Gal. 3:10-11 – For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them. Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, The righteous man shall live by faith.
James 2:10 – For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
2. The Law of Moses was given to the people of Israel. It was not given to the Church, nor to other Gentile nations.
Rom. 9:3-4 – For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,
Deut. 4:7-8 – For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
Ps. 147:19-20 – He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!
It is important to remember this: binding the Mosaic Law upon the Church has caused a multitude of confusion and false teaching within the Body of the Messiah.
3. What is the nature of the Law of Moses?
Biblically speaking, the Law was one of the Covenants that God entered into with the people of Israel.
Ex. 34:27-28 – Then the Lord said to Moses, Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
The Bible teaches that the Law was one of the Covenants that God entered into with the people of Israel. Some covenants are unconditional, some are conditional. The Mosaic Covenant is conditional. It is also the only covenant that is not called eternal; it was to continue only until the coming of the seed, (Gal. 3:19,16). There is a very close relationship between the Abrahamic and the Mosaic Covenants. the Mosaic Covenant was added alongside the Abrahamic Covenant in order to define the obedience that was required in order to obtain the blessings promised by the Abrahamic Covenant.
I. What is the Law of Moses? Of what does it consist?
The Mosaic Law is more than the 10 commandments. It contains 613 commandments.
II. What is the purpose of the Law of Moses? Why was it given?
The Mosaic Law was given for several reasons. It has many good and valid purposes.
PURPOSES OF THE LAW OF MOSES:
1. To reveal the holiness of God
In the Law of Moses we see what God accepts and doesn’t accept as far as behavior is concerned. When one reads the Law, they discover that God is a very Holy God. God desires that all people know that He is holy and opposed to all sin and evil. The Law clearly sets forth His standards of right and wrong. It doesn’t matter if people have a different opinion as to what is right or wrong. If God has spoken on a certain subject and reveals His feelings about it, that’s what’s important. We are obligated to conform our behavior to His standards. It’s not the other way around.
Lev. 19:1-2 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
1 Pet. 1:15-16 – but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.
2. To reveal and expose the sinfulness of man and sin
The Law is like a mirror. It will reveal dirt on someone’s face when they look into it, but it doesn’t have the ability to cleanse it. As we read the Law, we see our sin and how dreadful it is in the sight of God. But, we are left without a means of cleansing except for the fact of what God did through His Son the Messiah.
Rom. 3:19-20 – Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom. 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
3. To reveal the standards of holiness required of those who desire fellowship with God
The Law sets down the standards and principles for those who desire to walk in fellowship with God. Israel was a nation uniquely called by God. In order for them to walk in fellowship with God they needed to walk in a way that was pleasing to Him. The Law lays down many of the standards that would aid them in this.
Ps. 24:3-4 – Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully.
4. To make provision for the covering of sin and to make possible restoration back to fellowship
In Leviticus chapters 1-7 there are five offerings described. One of the things the Law did was to prove to Israel that they sinned and fell short of God’s standards. But, God provided a way for their sins to be covered.
The offerings did not take away sin, but they manifested that the person offering them looked forward by faith to a time when one would come and take away their sin. In the meantime the offerings helped them keep sin in check.
5. To make a distinction between Israel and all other nations
Haman was exactly right in his conclusions about Israel’s laws. They were different. This was really one of the specific reasons for many of their commandments. Their dietary laws, their clothing laws, their laws about worship, just to name a few, were given to keep them distinct and separate from the other nations.
This was God’s desire for Israel. One of the places that Israel ran into trouble was when they became relaxed in this and they became like the other nations that were around them.
Esth. 3:8 – Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.
6. To help a person understand they need to be saved
It was through Saul’s reading of the Law that he discovered his problem with coveting. Before this information, Saul of Tarsus didn’t see this major flaw in himself. God can still use His Law in this way. When unsaved people read the Word of God, they will come across verses that will manifest their sinfulness.
Rom. 7:7-9 – What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ” You shall not covet. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died.
7. The Law was to be a unifying principle for the nation of Israel
The Law was designed to bring the people of Israel together under the same umbrella of standards, rules and regulations. When Israel was presented with this, they agreed to do them. This is not unlike what the Word of God should be for the believer. That which is in the Bible is our standard for belief and behavior. It separates us from the world, but, unites us with all other true believers.
Ex. 19:7-8 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do! And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.
8. The Law was given to make provision and give direction for Israel to worship God
In the Law we find all that Israel needed to know to worship God. The Holy Feast Days were laid out for them in Leviticus 23. Directions for the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the sacrifices were clearly given. Israel was not allowed to worship God as they thought best. It was made known to them by God as to how they were to worship Him and much of that information is contained in the Law.
9. The Law was designed to lead one to Jesus as Messiah
Paul explains that the Law was a “tutor.” In ancient cultures a tutor was usually a slave who was responsible for watching over a child. He would take them to and from school and check their behavior. They would seek to teach the child right from wrong. In Paul’s analogy, the Law did that. It taught the Jewish people about themselves. When the Law is properly used, it will lead a person to the Messiah Jesus.
Gal. 3:24-25 – Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Messiah, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.