Lesson 5 - The Laws of God

The Ten Commandments were the law of the land of Israel.  They are recorded for us in Exodus 20:1-17.  In John 1:17 we read, "For the law was given through Moses."  He received the law from God at Mount Sinai.  The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:12, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good."  There wasn't anything wrong with God's commandments.  Man's obedience to the commandments was not good.  Many Jews sought a right relationship with God through the keeping of the law, but they all failed.  They sinned.

What was the purpose of the law?  Why was the law given?  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."  Romans 3:19, 20.  It wasn't given as a way to be right with God.  It was given to reveal the sinfulness of man, to show man his need of salvation.

In another place, Galatians 3:23, we find that "before faith came," that is, before we believed in Jesus, "the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ."  The law taught us that we are sinners, who needed to be saved.  The law is like a mirror.  We look at the mirror and discover that our face is dirty.  The mirror reveals the dirt, but it cannot wash it away.  When we see the dirt, we realize that we need to get cleaned up.  The message of the law is this: "I cannot save you.  You need a Savior.  His name is Jesus.  Turn to Him, and trust in Him for cleansing, forgiveness, and salvation.  He will save you."

The good news is that "after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."  Galatians 3:25.  We are not under the law, but under grace.  Romans 6:14.  When Jesus died on the cross, He "wiped out the handwriting of requirements (i.e. the law) that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."  Colossians 2:14.  "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."  Romans 10:4.

While all of this is wonderfully true, the New Testament mentions other laws by which the Christian should live.

 

The Law of the Spirit of Life
in Christ Jesus

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has made me free from the law of sin and death."
Romans 8:2.

What is the law of sin and death?  It is the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments in particular.  In the previous chapter reference is made to the law which said, "You shall not covet."  Romans 7:7.  This is one of the Ten Commandments.  Under the law the commandment revealed sin and brought death.  Romans 7:8-11.

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free.  Christians have not been set free to sin, but from sin.  Believers have been born of the Spirit.  He has quickened us.  He has made us alive in Christ.  The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit.  As we have already learned, He indwells every believer.

 

The Law of Liberty

"But he who looks into the perfect law
of liberty and continues in it,
and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work,
this one will be blessed in what he does."
James 1:25.

The book of Galatians has been called "The Constitution of Christian Liberty."  False teachers had entered the churches of Galatia, preaching a false gospel of works.  Circumcision was declared to be necessary for salvation.  Paul refuted this teaching, showing the believers at Galatia that Christians are not under the law, but free from the law.  One of the most important verses in this book is Galatians 5:1, which says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." 

Christ has made us free from what?  "God sent forth His Son...born under the law, to redeem (i.e. to set free by paying a price) those who were under the law....Galatians 4:4, 5.  Through the death of Christ we are free from the law.

Christians are not to be "entangled with a yoke of bondage."  What is the yoke of bondage?  The law. 

Listen to Jesus as He speaks to the entangled people of His day.  "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28.

 

The Law of Love

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
John 13:34.

The law of love is called "the royal law."  Those who fulfill this law love their neighbor as themselves, and do well.  See James 2:8, and Leviticus 19:18.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"  Galatians 5:14.

Christians are commanded to love one another.  When we live according to the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus this isn't difficult to do, because "the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:5.  As we live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our lives.  "The fruit of the Spirit is love...."  Galatians 5:22.  There isn't any law against this.

 

The Law of Faith

"Where is the boasting then? 
It is excluded.  By what law?
Of works?  No, but by the law of faith."
Romans 3:27.

It should be clear by now that no one has a right relationship with God by keeping the law.  If that was possible, that person would have boasting rights.  But it's not possible.  We can only have a righteous standing before God through faith in Christ, not through the works of the law.  All of the work was done by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross of Calvary.  We accept by faith His finished work, and give Him all the glory.

In Habakkuk 2:4 we find a verse that is quoted three times in the New Testament.  It says, "The just shall live by faith."  See also Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 11:38.

How do we live the Christian life?  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  Galatians 2:20.  (Bold is for emphasis.)         

There are two ditches to avoid on the highway of life.  On one side we have the ditch of legalism.  Here we fall into the ditch of the religious Jews, who tried to establish their own righteousness by keeping the law of Moses.  On the other side we have the ditch of licentiousness.  We have been called to liberty, but we are not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.  

 

Lesson 6 - The Work of God  

 
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