Last updated 26th of May, 2008
What does the bible mean when it talks about the ‘law’?
The word ‘Law/law’ can mean 3 different things in terms of the Old Covenant depending on the context it was used in.
1) It can mean the first 5 books of the bible, known by Jews as the Torah.
2) It can mean the entire set of 613 commandments given by God through angels to Moses to the people of Israel at one time in history.
3) It can mean the 10 commandments given by God to Moses. The ten commandments is basically the summary of the 613 commandments.
Here’s an example of the law meaning 2 different things in 1 Scripture:
Romans 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The first time the ‘law’ is mentioned in this Scripture, it’s talking about the commandments of God under the Old Covenant. The second time the ‘law’ is mentioned, it’s talking about the Torah, the first 5 books of the bible written by Moses in the Old Testament. The phrase, ‘the law and the prophets’ or ‘the law, prophets and psalms’, when used, refers to all the books of the Old testament. Here it’s talking about the prophecies mentioned in the Old Testament that testifies that Christ, the Messiah is our Righteousness.
The law given through Moses is the 10 commandments, or a single complete/composite system consisting of 613 commandments, set of rules, laws regulations given to the Jewish people at ONE time in history, through ONE man Moses, and was never changed again in history- the Old Covenant.
It was only given to the Jewish people, never the Gentiles:
He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD.
However, the requirements of the law such the moral aspects of doing good and loving people are written on the hearts of every human being on this planet (Romans 2:12-16). Even though the Gentiles never had the law, but in their hearts they lived under the law. The 613 commandments in given through Moses was never given to you and I Gentiles, so why become so obsessed by it? Just be FREE, LIVE FREE! we gentile believers are priviliege to be able to live in the New Covenant without NEVER ever having to UNDO the legalism under the Old Covenant; we Gentile believers are PRIVILEGED! when we believe in Jesus, we go straight into the New Covenant. Whenever someone tries to put you under the Old Covenant again to obey the 613 commandments, just tell them “I’m a kiwi, or I’m Chinese, or I’m australian… the law was never given to my ancestors! so back off!!!”
Gentile believers are not only SET FREE FROM THE LAW but THEY WERE NEVER UNDER THE LAW given through MOSES! but their own laws they created for themselves through their own cultures, belief systems and religious traditions and superstitions.
The law demands perfect obedience if you want to live in the blessings, otherwise you will be cursed. Please read Deut 28 the whole chapter. The law is one composite set, you either obey ALL, or NONE.
When we talking about ‘living under the law’, what we mean is ‘the legalistic observance of the commandments of the Old Covenant, or any part of the Bible (GOd’s Word) to earn the His blessings and even eternal life.
Under the Old Covenant, namely ‘living under the law’, a man’s righteousness- right standing with God, is attained through keeping the law perfectly.
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
But we are ‘living under Grace’, what we mean is that Jesus kept God’s Word perfectly and earned the Blessings and everlasting life us and all we have to do is to receive it by believing in Jesus. Now that you have received by becoming born-again, what we need to do now is not to ask ‘for more blessings’, but for God to give us the revelations of the blessings we already have, so we can live in it more. It’s about getting MORE Revelation by the Spirit and the Word, not about getting MORE BLESSINGS. Please read Ephesians 1.
1 Timothy 1:8
But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 realizing that law 11 is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, 12 kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching. 1:11 This 13 accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God 14that was entrusted to me
In the “church age”, what else can the ‘law’ refer to?
The ‘law’ not only stands for the Mosaic law, but it can also stand for church laws/traditions, denominations laws, or any requirements you put on yourself in order to obtain righteousness before God, right standing before God.
Here the notes are taken from Derek Prince’s book, “The Spirit filled believer’s handbook.” and teaching from Rob’s LA preach last year.
The purposes of the law are:
1)To Reveal Sin. (Romans 3:19-20)
2)To Stir up sin, to make people sin even more (Romans 7:8-13).
The law doesn’t make you holy, it actually makes you want to sin more. Paul said of himself before he was saved, “by legalistic righteousness, faultless”. On the outside, Paul seemed to be a very ‘HOLY MAN’. But he explained how he struggled with sin so much in his inner self in Romans 7. The law is only externally concerned. The fact that Paul knew by the law that he couldn’t go out there and commit adultery, this truth actually made him commit adultery even more by commiting adultery more in his heart. You may not have committed adultery, but if you lust in your heart you have already committed adultery in your heart.
But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead. 7:9 And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive 7:10 and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!7:11 For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.7:12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. 7:13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful
3) To make NOTHING Perfect because the commandment is Weak and Useless.
On the one hand a former command is set aside because it is weak and useless,7:19 for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
Christians are not under the law, but we live under grace.
Romans 6:14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Grace gurantees that the sin will not have mastery over us! it gives us victory over sin which the law cannot do- a weak and useless covenant (Heb 7:18-19)
Christ cancelled the law at the Cross (Col 2:13-15) so that we are no longer governed by an external set of rules and regultations to earn God’s blessings or eternal life, and now we live in the new way of the Spirit NOT to earn the blessings or eternal, but to know HIm and His Will for our lives, governed by the Spirit Who lives within us- for he has written His law ‘on our HEARTS’ not on tablets of stone. He lives inside of us so we are governed from within and we instinctively know what to do. (Heb 10:15-18; Jer 21:33-34)
What is legalism? or does it mean to be ‘living under the law’?
i.e. if you don’t do this or don’t do that, then God won’t love you anymore and He will be angry with you. God will only love you if you do this and that- conditional love.
Titus 2:11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 162:12 It trains us 17 to reject godless ways 18 and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 2:13 as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing 19 of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.