15 LIVING UNDER THE LAW (part 15)
LIVING UNDER THE LAW
Grace: The Truth that Transforms - Part 15 of 36
Romans 6:14 is one of the key verses on Christian living in the Bible. The believer who fully grasps the meaning of "you are not under the law, but under grace" will understand the secret of becoming all God intends for us to be. Tonight we'll look at a number of other passages that explain this important truth.
I. WHAT IS THE LAW?
II. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW?
Seven different pictures of the Law are given in the New Testament:
1. The Law is pictured as a _______________Galatians 6:1
2. The Law is pictured as a _______________Galatians 4:1-7
3. The Law is pictured as a _______________Galatians 4:21-31
4. The Law is pictured as a _______________Colossians 2:14-15
5. The Law is pictured as a _______________ Col. 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:1
6. The Law is pictured as a _______________James 1:22-25
7. The Law is pictured as a _______________Romans 7:1-4
III. HOW ARE WE "FREE" FROM THE LAW?
Romans 3:20, John 1:17, Romans 10:4
Galatians 3:13, Romans 8:1
IV. HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN RELATE TO THE LAW?
* The Ceremonial Law (Hebrews 8:13)
* The Civil Law (Ephesians 2:11-16)
* The Moral Law (Romans 6:15)
What Jesus said: Matt. 5:17-19
1 Timothy 1:8
How do you use the Law properly? Galatians 3:23‑ 24
LIVING UNDER THE LAW
Grace: The Truth that Transforms - Part 15 of 36
Romans 6:14. We're in this section on sanctification. We've been looking at positional truth -- truth that God says about us and how to live the Christian life. "For sin will not be your master because you are not under the Law but under grace." That's a very short verse but we could spend this session and probably next week on this verse. There is so much behind this concept. As a Christian you are not under the Law but you are under grace.
What does that mean? Last week we looked at the first part of chapter 6. We said that we were free from sin. The reason is because we are in Christ and Christ died on the cross and we died with Him. When He died to sin we died to sin with Him. This is a difficult concept and we'll keep coming back to it in the next few weeks.
Tonight I want us to look at another freedom -- not just freedom from sin. We said that freedom from sin means that after I become a Christian I don't have to sin any more. I don't have to automatically give in to it. That doesn't mean I'm going to be perfect but it means I now have a new power to stop those bad habits and those things in my life I didn't have control over before I became a believer.
I. WHAT IS THE LAW?
Tonight I want us to look at freedom from the Law. We are not under the Law but under grace. First, we need to start off by saying, "What is the Law?" The Old Testament describes three different types of Law:
1) Ceremonial Law -- sacrifices, rituals, offerings, food restrictions. All of those things in the Old Testament that you read and think, "What does that mean? Why did they do that?"
2) Civil Law -- the part that has to do with the nation of Israel itself, the rules of government, regulations for the nation, the way the country is to be operated, governmental Laws, judgements, judicial Laws.
3) Moral Law -- this is the part we're most familiar with. The Ten Commandments is the key example of moral Law. God has some ethical standards of behavior that He wants us to follow.
So when we talk about the Law in general we're actually talking about three different parts: moral Law, civil Law and ceremonial Law.
II. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW?
Why was the Law given? You can't just make a blanket statement. That's why we need to study it tonight. In the New Testament there are at least seven different descriptions of the Law. Seven analogies, seven illustrations that illustrate a different purpose of the Law. You need to understand the purposes of the Law so you'll realize that as a Christian you're not under the Law but under grace. If you understand this it's going to make a tremendous impact in your life.
We're going to look outside of Romans to explain what Romans 6:14 looks at. Fortunately we have a lot of material written about this very verse. Paul wrote an entire other book simply to explain this verse. That book is called Galatians. The book of Galatians basically explains Romans 6:14.
1. Galatians 5:1 is the very first description of the Law. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Underline "yoke of slavery". If you'd read the previous two chapters you'd find out that the yoke of slavery he's talking about is the Law.
The first picture that we have of the Law is that it is a yoke. A yoke is put on cattle. It's purpose is to control an animal. The purpose of the Law is to control us. Not to change us but to control us. The Law was given to control us. This is easy to understand. What if we had a world that didn't have any Laws in it. Would there be any control? No. If there wasn't a Law that said you have to drive on the right side of the freeway, would there be trouble? Most likely. What if there were no stop lights? Would there be trouble? Definitely. What if there was a Law that said you could drive any speed limit you want? Obviously you have to have Laws to bring order or some semblance of order or control to a situation.
The point I want to make is this: A yoke does not change a cow into a horse or into a chicken. It doesn't change a cow into anything else. It will always have the nature of a cow. Likewise the yoke of the Law does not change you in any sense at all. All it does is control you. Many people think if they just obey the Law they can change. No. The Law was never meant to make you a different person. The Law was simply to bring control. The fact is people do act like animals, don't they?
Paul says don't let yourselves be enslaved again, burdened down by a yoke of slavery -- talking about the Law. Compare that to what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29 "Come upon Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls and My yoke is easy and My burden is light." When you became a Christian, the Bible says you gave up one yoke and took on another. You gave up the yoke of the Law which is heavy, condemning, burdening, frustrating and took on the yoke of Jesus which is easy and light and gentle. When you became a Christian you simply exchanged yokes. You gave up an external yoke of legalism for an internal yoke of love in Christ. You're going to be a slave to something. Romans 6:16 "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey them as slaves you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you're slaves to sin which leads to death or to obedience which leads to righteousness?" You're going to be a slave to something. You can either be a slave to the Law or you can be a slave to Jesus. Jesus says My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
So the first purpose of the Law is to control us not to change us.
2. Galatians 4:1-7 "What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child he is no different from a slave although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father." Living Bible: "But remember this, if a father dies and leaves great wealth to a little son that child is not much better off than a slave until he grows up even though he actually owns everything his father had. He has to do what his guardian and managers tell him to do until he reaches whatever age his father set. And that is the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish Laws and rituals for we thought they could save us. But when the right time came, the time that God decided on, He sent His son, born of a woman, born as a Jew to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the land so that He could adopt us as His very own son and because we are His sons God has sent His spirit of His Son into our hearts so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father."
He's giving another illustration of what the Law is. He's saying that the Law is like a guardian. Rich people have governesses (like Mary Poppins), or governors or guardians. Paul says the Law is like a guardian for immature people. Israel was like an immature nation. For a long time the nation of Israel was like a nation of children. Immature. And God had promised them great things but they were too immature to handle it. He says just like a kid that's born into a wealthy home and eventually going to own the whole thing, he's treated almost like a slave at the start because he's not mature enough to handle all the wealth and responsibility and inheritance. Small children need lot of rules and regulations. The Law was the guardian for the nation of Israel while they were immature. It watched over them. Everything was kind of black and white: Do this -- Don't do that. The Law, while Israel was immature, was acting like a guardian and took care of them. In Greek and Roman culture they often had slaves to take care of their children. Parents did very little parenting. If you had any money at all you had slave which basically did the parenting.
Paul says when Israel matured God sent the Messiah and said, "Now I'm going to treat you like my own sons -- like you're part of the family." "When the time had come God sent His son born of a woman, born unto the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." The point is: The Law is for immature people. The greater the relationship you have with Christ, the less you're going to see the need for the Law. The more mature a relationship is, the less guidelines you need for it.
That's true in a marriage. When Kay and I first got married there were a number of things we had to compromise on: If you do this, I'll do that... There were some rules, guidelines, we did to keep peace in the family. But now that our relationship has matured, I can't think of any rule that we have that is a regulation as such. But it's a matter of acting maturely and lovingly toward each other in every situation.
You cannot mature spiritually if you live under the Law. You can't go back and keep all those Laws in the Old Testament and then God will like you. That's missing the whole point of the Law. God doesn't want slaves to serve Him out of fear. He wants children who love Him out of love and act to Him in a relationship. He says, "I didn't come to leave you in a regulation mode but I came to turn it into a relationship."
Galatians 4:21. Here we have the example of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah which we talked about back in Romans 4. Paul went to Galatia (over in the east Mediterranean area -- the Balkan area ‑- Turkey) and while he was there he started some churches in Galatian and later he wrote this letter to them. He had taught them they were to live under grace. "You guys are Gentiles and you don't have to become a Jew to become a Christian. You can directly become a Christian. You don't have to keep circumcision. You don't have to keep the Law, the Jewish ceremonies. Just believe!" After Paul left there were some people who came in called Judaizers. They said, "Yes, to be a Christian you must believe in Jesus, but you must also keep all the Jewish Laws." There are people today, Christians, who think you must keep all the Jewish Laws too -- Seventh Day Adventists are a good example. They worship on the Sabbath because it says Saturday in the Old Testament. They keep all the dietary Laws, a lot of the ceremonial Laws. They believe those are still valid. So Paul is writing this letter telling them that after he had left, these people came in and told them they had to add all of these things -- he says you're missing the point. Just believe!
"Tell me, you who want to be under the Law. Are you not aware of what the Law says? It is written that Abraham had two sons. One by the slave woman and one by the other free woman. One by Hagar, one by Sarah. The one by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way. The one of the free woman was born as a result of a promise."
Remember the story of Hagar. Abraham at 99 years of age still didn't have a kid so he went to Plan B. Sarah said, Take my handmaiden. And Abraham by the handmaiden of Sarah had a child. They named the son Ishmael who was the father of the Arab race. That wasn't God's plan. God's plan was that Sarah would miraculously have a baby and that baby was Isaac.
Paul says we can learn a lesson from that truth. "These things may be taken figuratively. For the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mt Sinai. [The Law -- the Ten commandments was given at Mt. Sinai] One woman represents the Law given at Mt. Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves. This is Hagar. [The Law always makes us enslaved] Hagar stands for Mt. Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city Jerusalem because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free and she is our mother." One woman represents the Law. Sarah represents grace. Did Sarah do anything to have that baby? No, it was a free gift. It was simply God's gift. v. 28 "Now you brothers are like Isaac, children of promise."
3. Here Paul is saying the Law is like a slave girl. Hagar was Sarah's slave girl. This story is illustrating the point that Hagar represents the Law and Sarah represents grace. The point he's making is that Abraham was never supposed to marry Hagar. He was never supposed to have a relationship with Hagar. Likewise you were never supposed to have a relationship to the Law. Abraham was supposed to have a relationship to Sarah which represents grace. God says I want you to have a relationship of grace. v. 30 "What does the Scripture say? Get rid of that slave woman and her son. The slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the freed woman's son. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman." We are to live by grace, not by Law. The point he's making is that only if we live by grace are we part of the legitimate family of God. He's comparing two families: one family lives by Law, one family lives by grace. He's saying, "You're not to live by the Law, but by grace. And that's the relationship I want you to have."
Colossians 2 gives us a fourth application. We've seen the Law as a guardian, as a yoke, as a slave girl.
4. Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your sins in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God mad you alive with Christ. He forgave all of our sins having canceled the written code with its regulations. [Jesus Christ canceled the written code with its regulations] ...that was against us and stood opposed to us. He took it away nailing it to the cross." We were in debt to the cross. We were literally bankrupt. Is there any way you can keep all the Laws of the Old Testament? No. We have broken so many Laws in our lifetime there is no way we could repay them all! But there was a person who paid it. Jesus Christ. Jesus paid all our debt and canceled all the written codes and regulations. All the ceremonies have been fulfilled. The moment Jesus died the veil in the Temple was split from the top to the bottom -- God split it from the top to the bottom. The veil represented the outer court and the inner court and the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies represented where God was and the outer court represented where man was and the veil represents a barrier between God and man. God is holy and man is sinful and never can the two come together. There is always a separation. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, God split the veil and that meant the separation has been removed. The barrier has been removed. There was only one person who could go behind that veil and only once a year. That was the High Priest. He could go behind the veil of the temple on the day of atonement and make sacrifice. Now he says there is no need for any priest any more. Everybody has free access to God. It used to be that the way you got to God was go through the priest. Now you don't need a priest. No Christian needs a priest. We have direct access to God. The veil has been split and you can talk to God anytime. You don't have to go through somebody else. You come in Jesus' name and have direct access to God.
God paid the debt. The lesson is that you are no longer in debt to the Law.
5. v. 16 "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to religious festival, a new moon celebration, or a Sabbath day [he's talking about all these old Hebrew religious festival days] These are a shadow [The Law is seen as a shadow] of the things that were to come. Reality however is found in Christ." The Law is not only a yoke, a guardian, a slave girl, a debt that has been paid but the Old Testament Laws were a shadow of everything that was really going to come to pass. The reality is Jesus Christ.
When you talk about a shadow, what causes a shadow? Light. Wherever there is a shadow you've got to have a light. He's saying that the shadow is just a temporary thing. What's really going to come is the Light. You're going to see and walk in the light. Who is the Light of the world? Jesus. Hebrews 10:1 "The Law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming, not the realities themselves. For it's this reason that it can never by the same sacrifice repeat endlessly year after year or make perfect those who draw near to worship." We don't need the sacrificial system any more. All of those requirements of the Old Testament about how they were to sacrifice -- that was just a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice who was coming to earth, Jesus. Once Jesus came and we saw the real sacrifice for sin, we don't need these other sacrifices any more. People talk about the Temple has to be rebuilt in Israel so that the sacrificial system can be
reinstated. Hebrews says it will never be reinstated. It doesn't need to be. It's worthless. It was just a shadow of what was to come. Reality was that Jesus Christ was the sacrifice.
The reality of the Christian life is found in a person -- Jesus. It's not found in rules, regulations, rituals. Jesus does not make you a Christian by your keeping rules and regulations and rituals. If you insist on living under the Law you're just going back to the shadow. You're not walking in the light. You're not living the way God wants you to.
6. The sixth illustration of the Law we see in the New Testament is in James 1. The Law is compared to being a mirror. v. 22 "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. [Don't just come and take notes. Put it into practice.] Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after looking at himself he goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect Law [The Law is perfect. That's why it's a standard. Perfect.] ... that gives freedom and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heard but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does."
The Law is simply a mirror. Remember when you were a kid playing in the mud and your mom said, "You ought to see yourself!" When you looked you suddenly saw how much mud you had all over your face. You were totally unaware of it until you looked in the mirror. James is saying the Law is simply a mirror. You don't look into the mirror to change yourself. You look into the mirror to see what you look like and then maybe you try to change yourself. But the mirror can't change you. All it does is show that you're dirty or that your hair's messed up. The mirror doesn't do you any good; it just shows you your condition. The Law can show you where you've blown it. That's the purpose of the Law. The Law shows us where we've made mistakes but the Law can't clean you up.
The lesson is that the Law reveals my condition but it doesn't cure it. All of those Old Testament laws don't help you obey them, they just tell you what to do. The Law simply makes you feel guilty. It brings guilt. The Law cannot change you. It shows you the disease you've got but it doesn't cure it. It doesn't deliver you. It's like a mirror.
What can change you? There is another mirror.
2 Cor. 3:18 is the answer to James 1:22-25. There's the mirror of the Law and then there's another mirror. This mirror, when you look at it, changes you. v. 18 "And we all with unveiled face all reflect the Lord's glory as being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." "We all with unveiled face" -- the verses prior to this give the illustration of Moses. Remember when Moses went up to get the Ten Commandments? He had spent so much time with God that his face shone. The people said they couldn't handle the brightness. He actually put a veil over his face -- like a bride. He wore a veil to hold back the glory that radiated from him because he had been so close to God. The interesting thing is that the Bible says after a while the glory faded but Moses kept wearing the veil because he didn't want people to know it had gone. Kind of like he had lost the power but he didn't want people to know about it.
Paul says we don't have a veil over our face. We can't pretend. We're all sinners and we're all on equal standing when it comes to making mistakes. I'm no better than you are, but God loves us all alike.
We look at the Lord. We all reflect. The New International says "reflect". King James says "we all behold him as in a glass." New American: "beholding as in a mirror". It's one word in the Greek. It's the only time this word is used in the entire Bible. What it means is to look into a mirror, gaze at it, think on it, look at your reflection to the point that you contemplate and meditate on it. As we look at the mirror of God we're changed to be like Him. "As we with unveiled faces reflect the Lord's glory we're being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory which comes from the Spirit of the Lord." As you look at the Law (as in James) all you see is where you've blown it. But as you look at Jesus you're changed to be like Him. When you focus on something you start changing into that likeness. Have you ever seen a couple who have been married so long they start picking up each other's habits and responding in the same way because they spend so much time together? As you spend time with the Lord -- looking at Him -- you're going to be changed from one degree of maturity to another -- little by little.
Can we see the Lord face to face now? But one day when he comes back we're going to see him face to face and we're going to be instantly changed like him. Right now we simply see His reflection. We see His reflection in His book. The Bible is His reflection, the mirror. As I read the Bible and as I read about Jesus it changes me a littler at a time to become more and more like Him. That's the purpose of Bible study. That's the purpose of memorizing, contemplating, meditating on the word of God. If I spend time with somebody I pick up their attributes. If I spend time reading the Bible, I pick up Christ's attributes. It's all depending upon what you look at. You can base your life on legalism and look at all the things you're doing or not doing and you'll just get discouraged. But if you keep your eyes focused on Jesus then you're going to be tuned into reality. The Christian life is not rules and regulations. The Christian life is a person. Jesus Christ. It's a relationship.
We saw the law as a yoke -- it's purpose is to control us.
We saw the law as a guardian -- it's purpose is to guide us while we're immature.
We saw the law as a slave-girl -- God said He never met for us to have a relationship with the law (the slave girl) but a relationship with grace.
We saw the law as a mirror.
7. Now we're going to see the Law as a husband. Romans 7 "Do you not know brothers, for I'm speaking to men who know the Law, that the Law has authority over a man only as long as He lives. For example, a married woman is bound by her husband as long as He is alive. But if her husband dies, she's released from the Law of marriage. So then if she marries another man while her husband is still alive she's called an adulteress. But if her husband dies she's released from the law and is not an adulteress even though she marries another man."
This is not an issue dealing with divorce. The point he's dealing with is that the Law is only good while you're alive. When it dies you're dead to it. As long as a woman is married to a man she's legally bound and obligated to that man. As long as a man's married to a woman he's legally bound and obligated to that woman. The point he's making is, Before Christ came the Jews were married to the Law. And the Law was a harsh domineering husband. You don't want to be married to the Law. This guy as a husband is bad news! He's the kind of guy who comes in and writes a list of do's and don't and tacks them on the refrigerator. Can you imagine a marriage where the husband comes in and says, "Here are your regulations for the day!" That's not too much of a relationship. But that's the kind of relationship the Jews had to the Law. But now we've been set free.
HOW ARE WE "FREE" FROM THE LAW?
v. 6 "But now, dying to what once bound us we have been released from the Law." Don't let anybody ever tell you you're not released, because you are! "... so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code." First we're married to the Law, now we're married to Christ. That's the relationship God wants. It's a loving relationship not a harsh domineering relationship. It's one of grace. He's saying we obey Christ not out of fear, but because He loves us and because we love Him, because He wants the best for us, and He sacrificed Himself for us. We are free to love God because we're free from the Law. I'd much rather live under the grace of God than under the Law of God. Aren't you glad you don't live in the Old Testament?
The lesson here is that we serve Christ out of love, not legalism. We serve Christ because He loves us and because we love Him.
The phrase "we have been released from the Law... we have been freed from the Law..." What does this mean? How are we free from the Law?
We are free from the Law in two respect. We're free from all the old religious laws in the Old Testament, we're free from them in two ways. This is what Paul is trying to teach when he says we're not under law but under grace. How are we free from the Law? Two ways:
a. We don't keep the Law in order to get to heaven. Keeping the Ten Commandments will not get anybody into heaven because nobody can keep them all. We've all stumbled and made mistakes. We don't get to heaven by keeping the Law.
Romans 3;20 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law. Rather through the Law we become conscious of sin." That's the mirror. Nobody is made righteous through the Law. The Jews were not saved by the Law. They never were. The Law was simply to point out where we blow it and the need for a Messiah. They were saved by looking forward in faith as now we look back in faith toward the Messiah. People say the Old Testament was Law and the New Testament was grace. No. There's grace all through both testaments. God has always saved people the same way. Law is simply to show us where we make mistakes but nobody is saved that way.
John 1:17 "For the Law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Moses gave the Law but Jesus brings grace and truth. Jesus, in John 8:32, said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Law puts you in bondage but truth sets you free. John 8:36 "If the Son therefore shall set you free you shall be free indeed." Freedom comes not by the Law but by Christ.
Romans 10:4 "Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." Righteousness comes through believing.
You need this background to understand the next chapter we're going to get into -- Romans 7 -- which talks about Why Can't I Do What I Want to Do, Why Can't I get enough power to do what I want to do?
b. We're free from the Law's punishment. Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law and became a curse for us for it is written `Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" The Bible says Jesus took a lot of the laws that we've broken, took them on Himself, and He took the penalty, He took the curse so you don't have the penalty. What does that mean to us? Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Christians will not go through the judgement. In the sense that we talk about non believers going through the judgements, Christians are not going to be judged. Christians will go through the rewards -- where God hands out the rewards, but Christians will not go through the same judgement that unbelievers are going to go through where God says, "Depart from Me ye who work iniquity." There is no condemnation, the judgement has already been taken, the payment has already been made.
HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN RELATE TO THE LAW?
If we are free from the Law -- it's taught all through the New Testament -- then do we just throw out the Old Testament? Why should we teach the Ten Commandments? How is a Christian to relate to the Law? Three ways:
1) The ceremonial Law. What does God say is our relationship to the Ceremonial Law? Hebrew 8:13 tells us what Christians are to do with all of the ceremonial laws. "By calling this covenant new, He has made the first one obsolete and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." You have no obligation at all to keep the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. That is the old covenant and we're in the new covenant now. Jesus said when He gave the Lord's supper "This is the New Covenant." The entire book of Hebrews teaches one basic truth: the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament are now unnecessary and abolished.
2) The civil Law -- the laws involving the nation of Israel. Ephesians 2:11-16. Part of this passage, Paul is going to point out that before Christ came there was a division in humanity -- Jews and Gentiles. He says God has not only broken down the wall between us and God but He's broken down the wall between Jew and Gentile. God sees us all as the same in His sight now. "Therefore remember that formally you who were Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision that done in the body by the hands of men, remember at the time you were separate from Christ excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of the promise without hope and without God in the world." Paul is talking to people in Ephesis, a city in Greece, whose people are all Gentiles. He's saying that before Christ came there wasn't a whole lot of hope for them because the Jews were supposed to be taking the message out and they hadn't been doing it. "But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the body of Christ for He Himself is our peace who has made the two one." The two different divisions -- Jews and Gentiles -- He put them all in one class. "... thus making peace and in this body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which He put to death their hostility."
God's plan for the world is one new race of Christians. No longer should there be Jew and no longer should there be Gentile. He has broken down the barrier even there and put them into one and saying "Let's just have Christians." This verse has a very dramatic impact on what you believe about Bible prophecy. Israel is not God's plan anymore; God's plan is now the church. He didn't create a whole separate body (the church) and also plan to keep on keeping the old covenant (the Jews). He's bringing them together. A Jew has no more special privilege than a Gentile today. What counts now is your relationship to Christ not the fact of where you were born or what your background is or what your heredity is or where your nationality is. What counts now is the fact that you know Christ. Christ is God's only plan. We are brought together in one. There is no Plan A for the church and Plan B for Israel. God is saying the civil Law is also abolished. We don't have to keep the civil Law. All Jews and Gentiles are brought together in one. What counts is not whether you're German or French or what your nationality is, but your relationship to Christ is what counts. God doesn't have two bodies; He has one body -- the church. His plan through the world is through the church.
3) Moral Law. Romans 6:14. What about the Moral Law. "For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace. We're not bound by the civil law or the ceremonial law. Does this mean we're not bound by the moral law? No "... what then? Shall we sin because we're not under the law but under grace? By no means!" He's saying we still have a responsibility to the moral law. It has meaning for us today not as a means for salvation, as a means to get us into heaven, but as guidelines for happy living. Not to put you in a better standing with God -- if you ever keep the sabbath or not is not going to change whether God loves you or not. It is simply for your own benefit here on earth.
Romans 3:31 Paul is talking about the moral law, the ethical behavior. "Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all. Rather we uphold the Law." Just because we live by grace by faith doesn't give us a license to do anything we want to do. It doesn't mean we have the freedom to do anything we want to do. We still have a moral responsibility. Romans 13:9. It's interesting to me that Paul who was so adamantly opposed to Gentiles having to keep the law to be saved and even in this book of Romans he writes several chapters saying we're not under the law but in Romans 13:9 he lists four of the Ten Commandments. "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet and whatever other commandments there might be are summed up in this one rule, love your neighbor as yourself. Love does not harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." That's grace, a loving relationship, not a legalistic ritual. We are to keep the moral law, not to prove ourselves to God, but for our own benefit and as an act of love.
There are two extremes. One is legalism that says I have to keep all the laws to prove that God loves me. The other extreme is license that says I can totally ignore all of the moral laws and do anything I want to do. As we get into Romans 7 we see the balance between legalism and license is in the middle and that's liberty -- grace. It's not legalism, it's not license, it's liberty -- freedom to love God. Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, "Do not think 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. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven..." He won't loose his salvation because you're not saved by those laws but you'll lose rewards. "... But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus did not abolish the Ten Commandments. In v. 21 he says "You've heard it said `Do not murder'" but He goes on and says don't even get angry with the kind of anger that destroys people. v. 27 "You've heard it said, `Don't commit adultery'" Jesus says don't even lust. He takes the commandments a step further. The fulfillment of the law is in Christ.
What do we want to say about the Law? We don't keep it to get to heaven. We're free from it's punishment. We're free from the penalty of it. So what value is it to the Christian? I Timothy 1:8, "We know that the Law is good if a man uses it properly." -- not to get to heaven, not to earn brownie points with God, not to say, "Hey, God, look what a neat guy I am.", not to compensate for all my sins. We use it properly. How do you use the Law properly?
Galatians 3:23-24 "Before this faith came we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has overcome, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. How do we use it properly? We use it to lead ourselves to Christ. There is no way we can keep all those Laws so we have to depend on grace, we have to come to Christ and ask Him to save us.
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