Shelby G. Floyd
Many sincere but uninformed persons believe that one may be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. One may be justified by the law of Christ, or the gospel, but not by the Law of Moses. In the Roman letter, Paul taught that,
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and. death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
We notice in these verses that there is a contrast between the Law of Moses which could not justify because of the weakness of the flesh, and the law of Christ which makes one free from the law of sin and death. We also notice that there is no condemnation to those who abide in the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. But this is predicated on three conditions: (1) that they are in Christ, (2) that they walk not after the flesh, and (3) that they walk after the Spirit.
The Law of Moses was never given to the Gentile people, but it was only given to those people who came out of Egyptian bondage, the children of Israel. In the book of Deuteronomy we read, “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, 0 Israel, the statues and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day” (Deuteronomy 5: 1-3). This law which was given to the children of Israel who came out of Egypt also included the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15).
The Law of Moses continued in effect for 1500 years, but during all those years that law could never take away sins in the absolute sense:
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the corners thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).
The Law of Moses could not take away sins because it was dedicated by the blood of bulls and of goats and it was not possible that the blood of animals could expiate the sins of the people. When the Law of Moses had served its purpose as a school teacher or pedagogue to bring the Jews to Christ, it was nailed to the cross and taken away. In Colossians chapter two we read of the end of the Law of Moses: “Blotting out the handwriting or or¬dinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2: l4).
The Law of Moses was never designed or intended to be a permanent law throughout all the ages of man’s existence. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Galatians 3:19). According to this verse the law was to last until Christ would come. The word “until” was the “terminus ad quem”—the final limiting point of time for the Law of Moses. Christ has come, and therefore, we are not under the Law of Moses, but we are under the gospel of Christ.
But according to the teaching of both the Old and New Testament, the Law of Moses was to be changed—abrogated, and a new covenant was to be inaugurated. For instance, Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, spoke of the new covenant saying,
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31: 31-34).
Many hundreds of years later, after the law had been nailed to the cross, and the gospel had been established, the writer of Hebrews quoted these words from Jeremiah and ap¬plied them to the gospel of Christ (cf. Hebrews 8:6-13).
However, someone will say, “Do you then reject the Old Testament completely? Does it not serve any useful purpose for man today?” And we answer that it does serve a legitimate purpose. The Bible teaches that there is much benefit to be derived from a study and learning of the Old Testament history. For instance, in Romans 15: 4, Paul pointed out some of the advantages to be derived from the Law of Moses: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
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Shelby G. Floyd