Many professing believers have erroneous ideas about still being obligated to parts of the Old Testament Law, not properly discerning that a person is either under the Law, or not. Such is an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Scripture is quite clear about the distinct separation between the old and new covenants.
To properly comprehend the significant differences, one must approach them as completely separate entities – TWO distinct and independent agreements. A person is declared eligible for the promises included under one or the other, NOT both, because each one speaks of completely different promises. Therefore, it must be decided whether you are under the Law of the Old Covenant, or under Grace and the New Covenant.
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to them who
are under the Law” – Ro.3:19.
Do you believe that you have been justified? If so, it is ONLY because you are no longer under the Law, but now in Christ by grace.
“By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be
justified in HIS sight” – Ro. 3:20.
The erroneous idea that born again believers are still under the Law, even minimal provisions of it, should be completely dismissed by rightly discerning the terminology used whereby EVERYTHING else is likewise understood. There is a significant difference between ALL of something & merely PART of something. The terms ‘absolute’ & ‘whole’ ALWAYS refer to the TOTALITY of a thing.
For example, if you give a $10 bill as payment for a $10 debt, the debt is paid in FULL; NOTHING remains. ALL of the debt has been satisfied. The WHOLE of the contract has been nullified. You are ABSOLUTELY no longer ‘under’ ANY obligation to the original contract. Scripture thoroughly declares this in several passages.
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith
APART from the deeds of the Law” – Ro. 3:28.
“You are not under Law but under Grace” – Ro. 6:14.
“Now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” – Ro. 7:6.
“What the Law could NOT do in that it was weak through the flesh, God DID . . .” Ro. 8:3.
“That the righteous requirement of the Law might be FULFILLED in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” – Ro.8:4.
“Christ is the END of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes” – Ro. 10:4.
The Law was ONLY for the JEWS. EVERYONE else is ‘outside’ the Law. Paul alludes to the distinction between JEWS and ALL other people pertaining to the application of the Law.
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews who are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; but to thosewho are without Law, as without law … that I might win those who are without Law” – 1Cor. 9:21,22.
Paul’s personal conclusion as a JEW was that he abandoned his hope in the old covenant for inclusion under the new covenant. He willingly did this because he understood that Christ’s sacrifice was the COMPLETE fulfillment and permanent REPLACEMENT of the old.
“For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God” – Gal. 2:19.
“If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died in vain” – Gal. 2:21.
“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” – Gal. 3:2.
What else DOES scripture declare about the ‘ALL or NOTHING’ provisions regarding the Law? Notice in the following verse particularly the phrase “in the book of the Law” pointing specifically to the entire Old Testament; otherwise it would be ‘books’ to specify merely the 5 books of Moses.
“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in ALL things which are written in the book of the Law, to do them” – Gal. 3:10.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of ALL” – Jas. 2:10.
So, how can there be ANY truth to doctrines that teach born again believers are STILL under certain PARTS of the Law? The phrase “as many” means that EVERYONE who continues under ANY part of the Law, is still under the CURSE of the Law. But scripture declares that through Christ truly born again believers are NO LONGER under the curse.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…” – Gal. 3:13.
Scripture adamantly declares the distinct differences between TWO covenants in the 4th chapter of Galatians. Read it prayerfully in FULL & you should understand that Paul is declaring ONE superior to the other, NOT that the NEW is some mere addendum or amendment to the OLD – but an entirely DIFFERENT covenant.
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the Law, do you not hear the Law?” – Gal. 4:21.
As with ANY testament, the newest, most recent document is the ONLY binding one. ANY former testament becomes FULLY null & void by the inception of the NEW.But the old ALWAYS pointed to the coming of the new, and that the old would be ‘cast out’ to ratify the new, and that the ‘children’ of the old were NOT heirs with the ‘children’ of the new.
“Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman & her son, for the son of the bondwoman SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free” – Gal. 4:30.
In other words, the two cannot coexist WITH each other; it is one or the other – NOT both. Of course they both make up the WHOLE of scripture, but the covenants that they proclaim are NOT simultaneously in force. Just as a blueprint is necessary for the proper construction of a building, the Law dictated the specifics regarding righteousness and introduced the Savior. Without the history recorded in the Old Testament, the reason for the New Testament would be quite vague. The Old is required to bring in the New.
“The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” – Gal. 3:24,25.
There should be NO doubt remaining that the New has completely replaced ALL of the Old by creating the NEW MAN through grace, NOT Law.
“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself ONE new man from the two, thus making peace” – Eph. 2:15.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them” – Heb. 7:25.
Those who continue to observe ANY part of the old covenant are continuing in their OWN righteousness, NOT the righteousness of God ALONE. The BOLD emphasis placed upon the word ‘uttermost’ was intentional to point out that Christ’s sacrifice was completely sufficient to satisfy ALL the Law. The term literally means ‘to the greatest possible degree, quality, or intensity: extreme, supreme, transcendent, ultimate, unsurpassable’ – leaving NOTHING to yet be added to it.
“Be found in Him, NOT having your OWN righteousness, which is from the Law, but that which is through Faith in Christ, the Righteousness which is from God by Faith” – Phil. 3:9.
Believers are to preach CHRIST – NOT ‘do this, don’t do that’. We are to walk by FAITH, not by works – even partial observance constitutes ‘works of the Law’. Now that doesn’t mean that Christians shouldn’t do good things. Good things should indeed be the evident fruit that is produced from their right relationship with Christ. However, good deeds are the RESULT of true belief, NOT the means to achieving true faith.
“Know this: that the Law is NOT made for a righteous person, but for the lawless & insubordinate, for the ungodly & for sinners, for the unholy & profane, for murderers of fathers & murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, & if there is ANY other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” – 1Tim. 1:9-11.
Christ is NOW the ONLY mediator; He ALONE is the Christian’s perfect priest. That which was established by imperfect priests was also imperfect & thereby ineffective. It needed to be abolished, so an eternal change occurred.
“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise… For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the Law. Who has come, not according to the Law of a fleshly commandments, but according to the power of an endless life … for the Law made NOTHING perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a BETTER hope, through which we draw near to God” – Heb. 7:11-19.
Pertaining to the notion that scripture nowhere declares the end to the Law:
“Christ is the END of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes” – Ro. 10:4.
Perhaps a deeper prayerful consideration of that is in order if you still feel obliged to keep even the smallest parts of the Law. The antithesis of ‘to everyone who believes’ is ‘those yet keeping the Law do not believe’. Paul addressed this issue.
“I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” – 2Cor. 11:3.
“Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?” – Gal. 3:1-4.
The replacement of the old letter of the Law with the new Spirit of the Law was prophesied.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel AFTER those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind & write them on their hearts; & I will be their God, & they shall be My people” – Heb. 8:10.
NOTICE: it is “Israel” to whom He is promising a new covenant, which replaces the old, inferior one. ONLY to Israel was the old covenant given. ONLY the Jews were bound to it; NEVER any other people (Gentiles). In the light of Christ’s revelation, they were to understand what the purpose of the Law truly was.
“The Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, but NOT the very image of the things, can NEVER with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect” – Heb.10:1.
Prayerfully consider for a moment the ENTIRE Bible as an elaborate puzzle with thousands of individual pieces, the sum of which reveal a single picture. In order to complete the puzzle’s full picture, every piece must be properly fit in its rightful place. If a piece doesn’t fit, it either belongs in another place, or is NOT really part of the puzzle at all. When the COMPLETE picture has been properly assembled, EVERY piece fits perfectly together. As one gazes upon the finished picture, it is quite obvious that there was ONLY one way that ALL the pieces are intended to fit.
Many doctrines merely put some of the picture together, leaving out many pieces. Some doctrines have wrongly forced pieces together that were never intended to fit together. But the successful ‘puzzle builder’ becomes proficient by regular exercise in the knack of knowing what pieces fit where. Scripture uses another metaphor to declare this same truth.
“Strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” – Heb. 5:14.
In conclusion, scripture also admonishes true believers to rightly comprehend the WHOLE of scripture’s teaching about the TWO covenants & commit to sound doctrine regarding the matter.
“Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, & striving about the Law; for they are unprofitable and useless”
– Titus 3:9.
For further insight into the relevance of the Law for Christians please read my other Articles:
Salvation: Obedience / Works vs. Faith / Grace
The 10 Commandments
The Relativity of the Law For Christians