What Shall We Do With The Law - Part I
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” —Romans 7:1
In the next few issues of The Evangelist, I will attempt to cover a subject that affects every believer. That is, what relationship, if any, is the new covenant believer to have with the Old Testament law? I doubt very much that there has ever been a believer who has come to know Christ as his personal Saviour who has not, at one time or another, come face-to-face with Mosaic law.
The following questions would then arise in the heart and mind of the believer:
• Do I need to follow the laws and the guidelines that God laid out for Israel in the Old Testament Scriptures?
• If the law is righteous and holy and good, which Paul says it is, then don’t I have the responsibility to keep the law?
• Is it not righteous to maintain the law of God in my heart and life?
A believer, especially one who is brand-new in the Lord and many of us who have served the Lord for years, consider these questions and others just like them as soon as we come to an awareness of the content of the Mosaic law. Not understanding what to do with the law proved to be one of the greatest problems of the early church as evidenced by the books of Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, and others. It is still a major problem that the church faces today, and it is this issue that I will attempt to address.
Judged By The Law
All men everywhere are born under law. It matters not whether one comes from a Jewish background or a Gentile background—all men are born accountable to God’s law. If a person travels through life without accepting God’s redemption plan—without accepting Christ as his Lord and Saviour—then upon his death, his soul and spirit will be placed into the place called hell. At the end of the age, as described in Revelation Chapter 20, those in hell will be brought forth to face the great white throne judgment. In this judgment, a person’s life will be evaluated in the light of the righteous Word of God. If one thought, word, or deed is found to be contrary to the righteous law of God, then that person will be sent to the lake of fire for all eternity and separated from God forever. He will be judged by the law.
If a person accepts Christ as his Saviour, then the vicarious atoning work of Jesus will be accepted as the price demanded for sins committed. Therefore, believers will not be judged by the law.
Born Under Law
All people are currently existing under one of two systems or governments as the means by which they intend to provide righteousness for themselves. Those two systems or governments will be referred to in this article as the government of grace and the government of law.
Under the government of grace, men are declared righteous by faith and then transformed to righteous lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. While not sinless or perfect, they are experiencing the truth that “sin shall not have dominion” over them.
Under the government of law, men are attempting to achieve to a status of righteousness through performance. The Holy Spirit cannot help those who attempt to produce or maintain righteousness in this manner. Their lives will exhibit inconsistency and failure. The Bible teaches us that all men everywhere are brought into this world under the government of law.
Galatians 3:23 says, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law.” The law was a “schoolmaster” that was to expose the individual as to the need for faith in Christ. Once we are saved there is no more need for this schoolmaster.
Again, in Galatians 4:4-5, we find that Jesus Himself came into the world “under the law” in order to redeem all those who existed under the law. The government of law demands that we live up to God’s holy standards or we will incur the penalty for a failure to do so. This proposed way of righteousness maintains dominion or lordship over a person until death releases him from its dominion.
Laws Of Society
Some would object and say that there are people all around the world who have never heard of the law of Moses. Once again, I remind the reader that those who don’t accept Christ will be judged by the law of God. Therefore, all are under law. Also, every society in which any are raised uses a government of law to establish or maintain righteousness. The idea is projected that if you are a good person doing good deeds then you are a righteous individual. If you are a bad person performing bad deeds then you are an unrighteous individual. It matters not what any society thinks is right or wrong, it still is true that the standard of righteousness in their minds is established by a person’s performance. Therefore, they are existing under a system or government of law that relies upon performance in order to achieve a designation of being righteous.
Freedom From The Dominion Of Law
Incidentally, there has never been a person besides Jesus Christ who lived a life under law of total righteousness, and never failed once to meet the righteous demands of a thrice-holy God. He performed the laws of God flawlessly in both spirit and in deed. He was the last Adam—the second man—and because of His sinless life accomplished as a man on this earth, He qualified as a sacrifice for the sins of all men.
He has made available the government of grace to all who will believe as God’s way of bringing righteousness to a falling race. He alone has the ability to bring humanity out from under the government of law as the means to righteousness and will place everyone who believes in a government of grace, whereby righteousness might be achieved and maintained.
Our text says that, “the law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth.” So in our next article, we’re going to focus on this truth: that death changes relationships. Don’t miss it!