We Christians like to think that the law is a guide for our own behavior but we’re quick to forget the other half of what the law says. We’ve been taught the Ten Commandments for years and would like very much to be able to say that we keep them –at least most of the time.
But the commandments are only the first half of the law; the punishment is the other half. And there is only one punishment for breaking any of them. The law demands that if a person ever breaks even one of these, he is to be taken to the city gates and stoned to death! The wages of sin is death. There is no second chance –no substitution with an animal sacrifice –no confessional prayer asking for forgiveness. His death is the only acceptable payment.
The question to ask yourself is: “Did Jesus pay for all of our sins or do we need to add to what He has done by His sacrifice?”
The purpose of the law was to lead us to Jesus for eternal life (salvation).
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. (Romans 3:19)
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
The law was only a shadow of what God wants us to live by; the reality is in Jesus.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming– not the realities themselves. (Hebrews 10:1a)
These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:17)
The law is weak because of sin.
But now that you know God –or rather are known by God– how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? (Galatians 4:9a)
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
The law is obsolete.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
The law can’t cleanse us or make us perfect.
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19)
For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (Hebrews 10:1a)
The law can’t make us righteous; it only shows our sinfulness.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20)
The law is not for the righteous (in Christ we are righteous)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers … (1 Timothy 1:9)
The law brings wrath (death) and those who are under the law are under a curse.
For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. (Romans 4:14)
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Galatians 3:10)
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant– not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? (2 Corinthians 3:6-8)
If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (2 Corinthians 3:9)
The law makes us prisoners and enslaves us.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. (Galatians 3:23)
But now that you know God –or rather are known by God– how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by [the law] all over again? (Galatians 4:9)
The law gives sin its power!
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. (Romans 7:5)
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (1 Corinthians 15:56)
Did you notice that last verse from 1 Corinthians 15:56? Where does the power of sin in our lives come from? The power of sin is the law! Our fallen human nature is in constant rebellion to anything we think we’re told to do or not to do (a law). Don’t touch the wet paint. Don’t watch that woman in the short skirt. Eat healthy foods, not sweets and especially not chocolate. That’s the law at work. And what is our response to those laws? –You know very well: That spiritual battle begins again!
Let’s pause here for a moment and reflect on one of Jesus’ most famous quotes.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
Certainly His words can’t be contrary with those “end of the law” and “the law has been abolished” Scriptures –so how can this be reconciled? Did you notice that He said that the law wouldn’t disappear “until everything is accomplished”? The solution to this dilemma is found by understanding what it was that Jesus came to accomplish.
Jesus was His Father’s first-hand witness as to the grand plan for mankind. A plan described in detail about His desire for each of us to live with Him forever. It’s accomplished through a two step process. First we have to recognize our condition –spiritually dead –separated from God. Second we need a new, resurrected life –we need to be born again.
The first step cannot be accomplished without some form of the law –whether it be found in the Ten Commandments or just a longing in our hearts. Either way, it’s a conviction by the law which Paul calls “the law of sin and death.” That law must not disappear until the last person is convicted and turns to Jesus for eternal life. But it only remains in effect for those who do not believe.