If you love Me, keep My commandments.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’ have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
Yahshua HaMaschiah is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Q: “Jesus fulfilled the law, thereby doing away with it, so we don’t need to worry about it any more.”
When you fulfil the marriage vow, does it do away with marriage?
Q: Wasn’t the Ten Commandments altered?
Answer: God said “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:34). Was the Ten Commandments spoken from God’s lips? Yes! (Exodus 19:19; 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:10,12; 5:22-26; 18:16, Nehemiah 9:13). And this same covenant, “…shall be established for ever” and be “a faithful witness in heaven.” (Psalm 89:37). Psalm 111:7-8 confirms God’s Commandments will “stand fast for ever and ever”, and Revelation 11:19 verifies that this same covenant is in heaven. Jesus said, “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but byevery word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). The Ten Commandments were out of the mouth of God, and we are to live by them
Q: “The Ten Commandments were given to Israel only, so they are not binding on Christians.”
Answer: Actually, they were given to the stranger as well. The scripture is clear that there were not two laws, but the same law applied to both Israel and strangers (Exodus 12:49, Isaiah 56:6, Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16,29-30, Psalm 18:44).
Leviticus 24:22, “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.”
God ruled over all the kingdoms of the heathens, not just the kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 20:6). The Lord is, “the governor among the nations”(Psalms 22:28), and not just the governor among Israel.
Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (notice it does not say “jews” here, but man…all men).
This is also proven by the fact that there can be no “sin” without the “law”:
Romans 3:20, “…by the law is the knowledge of sin.”Romans 4:15, “…where no law is, there is no transgression.”
1 John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
Scripture says both Jews and Gentiles are under sin (Romans 3:9), and the “world” is guilty of breaking God’s Law. Galatians 3:22, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin…” God cannot convict the whole world of sin unless the Laws of God are binding upon everyone, because if there’s no law, there’s no sin. If God’s law was only for Israel, how could God bring judgment upon Gentiles and heathen nations for not keeping His law? The fact that God has punished Heathen nations throughout the Old Testament is proof that God’s Law was binding upon the stranger as well. This fact alone proves that all nations were to keep God’s Law.
Does anyone really believe that God would withhold His knowledge of evil from people, and then punish and destroy people for doing evil, when God never told them it was evil in the first place? Consider what scripture says. Scripture says God overlooks those who ignorantly break His Law (Genesis 20:3-6, Luke 12:47-48, Acts 17:30, Romans 2:12-15, Hebrews 5:2, James 4:17). In also says sin will only be counted against those who have heard the truth and rejected it (John 9:41; 15:22).
In other words, God would not punish people for breaking His Law, if they did not know it was against His law. How cruel it would be for God to know that a people are doing evil, yet not tell them about it, just watch and do nothing, withhold that knowledge from them, then destroy them for doing that which God has withheld from them! Is this the character of God? No, it is not.
Remember Nineveh and Jonah (in the book of Jonah)? Nineveh, a heathen city, was doing evil, and God sent a prophet to that city so these people would be informed that they were sinning. God would not destroy Nineveh until after he informed these people of their evil ways. God told Johnah to tell Nineveh they had 40 days to repent before He destroyed them. Jonah tried to run away from God because he did not want to do that. God did not begin counting down the 40 days until these people were told of their evil ways, and how it was going against God. Eventually, Jonah finally went to Nineveh and told them they were going against God’s Law, and they repented of their sins, and by God’s grace, He spared that city from destruction.
This verifies that God’s definition of evil is the same for the heathen as it is with his children. His definition of evil is revealed in His Law. That is why scripture says there is one law for both his children and heathens. Evil is evil no matter who commits it. His evil is expressed through his laws. Therefore, God’s Laws, which give a knowledge of sin, are for everyone on this planet.
Many believe that the laws contained in the Ten Commandments applied only to Jews, and not to the heathens. This goes contrary to all the evidence in scripture. For example, God told The Philistine king of Gerar, king Abimelech (i.e., a heathen, foreigner, and stranger), the following,“…Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech…said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?” (Genesis 20:3-4). If the laws contained in the Ten Commandments, such as adultery, did not apply to the heathen, how did this heathen king not only know it was a sin against God, but why did God threaten this man with death if he did not let this married woman return to her husband (Genesis 20:7)? The answer is, because there is one law for both the heathen and believers, the same law, God’s Law.
As a matter of fact, for those who believe the Old Testament was given to the house of Israel only, scripture says the New Covenant was given to the “house of Israel” only as well (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)!!! Does that mean the New Testament does not apply to believers in Christ just because it was given to the house of Israel? Of course not. And why not? Why does the New Testament apply to all people; Jews, gentiles, and believers alike? For the same reason the Old Testament applied to all people as well. Because it is Truth! Because the same law is for both Israel and strangers! Besides, “Israel” is not a specific nation or race, it is all those who believe in God. All Christians are “Israel” and “Jews” today (Romans 1:16; 2:28-29; 9:4-8; 10:12, 1 Corinthians 10:2-4, Galatians 3:16,26-29, Colossians 3:11).
Many people believe that the following laws were given to Jews only, but scripture says otherwise. In Old Testament times, non-Jews were also partakers of, not only God’s Law, but the Mosaic laws as well. God wanted the “stranger” within their gates to do the following:
- to be circumcised (Exodus 12:48);
- to keep the 7th day sabbath (Exodus 20:10; 23:12, Deuteronomy 5:14);
- to keep the yearly solemn fast (Leviticus 16:29);
- to keep the 7th year sabbath (Leviticus 25:6);
- to observe the feast of weeks (Deuteronomy 16:11);
- to observe the feast of tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:13-14);
- to not eat blood (Leviticus 17:10,12);
- to not eat animals that die of itself or is torn (Leviticus 17:15);
- to keep God’s statutes and judgments (Leviticus 18:26);
- to not eat of the holy thing (Leviticus 22:10);
- to be stoned to death if he blasphemeth the name of the LORD (Leviticus 24:16);
- to be put to death if he comes near the tabernacle (Numbers 1:51; 3:10,38; 18:4,7);
- to not eat leavened bread during the feast of unleavened bread; (Exodus 12:18-20);
- to keep the passover (Exodus 12:48, Numbers 9:14);
- to make burnt offerings to the LORD (Numbers 15:14);
- to not commit any sexual sins (Leviticus 18:26)
- to be forgiven as the children of Israel were forgiven (Numbers 15:26);
- to be cut off from among his people if he does something presumptuously (Numbers 15:30);
- to use the ashes of the heifer as a purification for sin, and it was to be a statute for ever (Numbers 19:9-10);
- to go to the cities of refuge when one kills by accident (Numbers 35:15; Joshua 20:9);
- to eat and be satisfied (Deuteronomy 14:29);
- to rejoice before the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:11);
- to hear, learn, and fear the LORD your God, and do all the words of God’s law (Deuteronomy 31:12);
- to have no idols (Ezekiel 14:7);
Jews were commanded to treat strangers:
- as one born among them (Leviticus 19:34);
- to judge strangers righteously (Deuteronomy 1:16);
- to love strangers (Deuteronomy 10:18-19);
- to share tithes with the stranger (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-13);
- to do no violence to the stranger (Jeremiah 22:3);
- to give strangers their inheritance depending in what tribe they were sojourning with (Ezekiel 47:23);
- Strangers also stood on the side of the ark and heard all the words of the law (Joshua 8:32-35).
Isaiah 56:6-7, “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
The fact that God has punished Heathen nations throughout the Old Testament is proof that God’s Law was binding upon the stranger withoutthe gates of Israel as well. If God’s Law was not binding upon them, why would God punish them for breaking His Laws?
The stranger within thy gatesGod’s fourth commandment (Exodus 20:10) tells us briefly “who” must observe this law, but there are certain people not mentioned. For example, it says, “Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter…”, but “wife” is not mentioned in this commandment! Does that mean the “wife” did not have to keep the sabbath day holy? No, of course not. The wife had to keep it just as much as the husband did. This fact shows that just because certain people are not specifically mentioned in this commandment, it does not mean they are excluded from keeping the Sabbath.
Likewise, just as God’s fourth commandment mentions the man but not his wife, the fourth commandment mentions strangers within their gates, but not outside their gates. And just as in the case with the man and wife, in which the Sabbath pertains to both of them (even though the wife is not mentioned), the same is true with the stranger within the gates as well as without the gates (even though the stranger without the gates is not mentioned).
Some may believe that the phrase “the stranger within thy gates,” (God’s fourth commandment) or “the stranger that sojourneth among you” is limited to only those strangers within the gates (i.e. strangers who soujorneth among them), and excludes all strangers without the gates. But, when we compare scripture with scripture, these phrases pertain to all strangers, whether inside or outside the gates.
Does adultery (and all the other sexual sins in scripture), only apply to Jews, or to all strangers as well? If that phrase is limited to only strangers that sojourneth among them within their gates, then we must say adultery (God’s seventh commandment) and every sexual sin in scripture, is nota sin for the stranger if he is not sojourning with them and is outside the gates of Jerusalem. Leviticus 18 lists every sexual sin that God considers an abomination. After all these sins are revealed, look what God says:
Leviticus 18:26, “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:”
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not sojourning among them, because God shows us, in His Word, that His law forbidding adultery applies to the heathen as well. God plagued Pharoaoh and his house because they were treating Abraham’s wife as an unmarried woman (Genesis 12:11-20). God told King Abimelech (the Philistine king of Gerar, a heathen) that adultery was wrong, and that the penalty for committing adultery was death (Genesis 20:1-7; 26:7-11). Therefore, the phrase “any stranger that sojourneth among you” doesnot exclude the strangers not sojourning among them.
How about God’s second commandment, forbidding idols? Is this limited to only Jews and those strangers sojourning in Israel, or does it apply to everyone?
Ezekiel 14:7-8, “For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not sojourning in Israel, because God shows us, in His Word, that His law forbidding idol worship applies to the heathen living outside of Israel. The fact that God has punished Heathen nations throughout the Old Testament is proof that God’s Law was binding upon the heathens without the gates of Israel as well. If God’s Law was not binding upon them, why would God punish them for breaking His Laws?
Deuteronomy 29:16-17, “(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)”
Notice in the above passage that scripture says Egypt and other heathen nations were committing abominations with their idols. If the law prohibiting idols did not apply to heathen nations, but only to those in Israel, why would God say these Heathen nations were sinning by having idols? The reason is because they were sinning and committing abominations by having idols, because God’s Law applied to the heathen nations as well as to the nation of Israel.
Learning God’s Word:
Was it God’s will that the stranger outside the gates not learn about and fear God, and observe the words of the law?
Deuteronomy 31:12, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:”
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not within thy gates because God shows us, in His Word, that it is God’s Will that strangers outside the gates hear and learn and fear the Lord God, and observe His Law. For example, remember Nineveh and Jonah (in the book of Jonah)? Nineveh, a heathen city, was doing evil, and God sent a prophet, Jonah, to that city so these people would be informed that they were sinning. God told Jonah to tell Nineveh they had 40 days to repent of their sins, or God would destroy them. Jonah went to Nineveh and told them they were going against God’s Law. Then the people in that heathen city repented of their sins, and started to obey God’s Law from that moment on, and God graciously spared that city from destruction.
Vex means “to suppress, treat violently, maltreat, do wrong.” Does Leviticus 19:33 apply only to strangers that sojourn with them; meaning that it was okay for God’s children to suppress, treat violently, maltreat, and do wrong to every man, woman, and child throughout the rest of the earth? Or was it God’s Will that His Children treat all men, women, and children with love, regardless of where they live?
Leviticus 19:33, ” And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.”Deuteronomy 24:14, “Thou shalt not oppress…thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:”
Obviously, all the above passages refer to all strangers, regardless of where they sojourn. Proof of this is found in:
Exodus 22:21, “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (See also Exodus 23:9).
Leviticus 18 and 20 lists all the sexual sins in scripture. After Leviticus 18 lists all these sexual sins, it states:
Leviticus 18:26, “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:”
Does this mean that these sexual sins are an abomination only for the strangers that sojourn among them, and not to the strangers in other nations? No, it does not have that meaning. This is proven by reading the context:
Leviticus 18:24-30, “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”
As we can see, it was an abomination for the heathen nations as well to commit these sexual sins. Now let’s look at Leviticus 20.
Leviticus 20:2, “Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.”
Does this mean that it is not a sin for strangers who are not sojourning in Israel? No, this phrase does not have that meaning.
Leviticus 20:23, “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.”
God abhorred these heathen nations, and cast them out, because they committed these same acts that “the strangers that sojourn in Israel” were forbidden to do. This shows that this phrase is not a term of limitation.
This command applies to all strangers, no matter where they are sojourning, or what country they are from.
Therefore, when the 4th commandment says it was for the stranger within thy gates, that means it was a law for the stranger without the gates also. That is the scriptural meaning of this phrase.
In addition, when God’s Ten Commandments were first given, what “gates” was God referring to? The children of Israel, at that time, were in Egypt, in the wilderness. They were not in the country of Israel, with gates around them. This would not happen for at least another 40 years. So, obviously, the “gates” did not refer to any physical gates or borders.
Why this phrase?Why does the fourth commandment, and many other passages, say “the stranger that is within thy gates” or “the stranger that sojourneth among you”, instead of just saying “stranger?”, so as to make it clearer that it applies to all strangers as well?
The main reason has to do with letting the children of Israel know that when a stranger in their country sins, they are not to turn a blind eye to their sin just because they are from another country. God wanted them to know that the stranger will be held accountable for their sin just as much as the children of Israel are. There is one law for all men. What applies to the children of Israel, also applies if they see a heathen down the road committing the same sin. Do not let the fact that he is from another country excuse his sin.
Another reason has to do with jurisdiction and judging. When the children of God judge others as to whether they are sinning or not, they are only allowed to judge those within their own jurisdiction, and not those without their jurisdiction. For example, the law concerning adultery applies toeveryone, believer and unbeliever alike, no matter where they sojourn. If a stranger committed adultery within the gates of Israel, he was to be stoned to death. But if a stranger committed adultery outside the gates of Israel (in another country), the children of Israel had no authority to leave their own country, enter into that pagan country, break down the adulterer’s door to his house, drag that stranger out of bed and back to Israel, then stone him to death.
In short, judgment of the strangers outside the gates of Israel is left only to God, whereas judgment of all men and women, both believers and strangers, within the gates of Israel, were given to God’s people.
Deuteronomy 17:2-7, “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”
This same truth is expressed in the New Testament as well, by brother Paul:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
As we see, Paul did not command us wholly to abstain from intercourse with worldly men, for that would require us to retire from the world. It is not the will of God that good men should retire from the world to avoid its evils; nor is that the way to become more holy, useful, or happy. Our duty is to communicate with the wicked, for the purpose of doing them good. It is important to notice that Paul did not give directions concerning our conduct towards the heathen, but towards our brothers. This is very important.
Paul is saying here that we may transact our worldly concerns with someone that knows not God, and makes no profession of Christ, whatever his character may be; but we must not even acknowledge a man professing Christ, who is evil in his conduct. Let him have this extra mark of your abhorrence of all sin; and let the world see that the assembly of God does not tolerate iniquity.
Paul says, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?” The term without signified those who were not members of the Christ’s assembly, and in this sense it is “those that are without.” In other words, “Does it belong to me to pass sentence on those which are without – which are not members of the Christ’s assembly? By no means. Pass ye sentence on them which are within – which are members of the Christ’s assembly: those which are without – which are not members of the Christ’s assembly, God will pass sentence on, in that way in which he generally deals with the heathen world.”
Paul also says, “But put ye away the evil from among yourselves.” Those who are false brethren ought to be cast out of the congregation. As for those who are outside of it, they must be left to the judgment of God. If members of the Christ’s assembly continue in evil, sin, and unrighteousness, their good, the good of the Christ’s assembly, and the honor of Christ require that they should be excluded from it.
When Paul said, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without“, it was not Paul’s business, nor ours, to judge those without; hence the rule just given is not one to regulate our intercourse with them.
When Paul said, “Do not ye judge them that are within?”, He was saying the authority of the Christ’s assembly is over those who have been united with it. It can judge them. Is not your jurisdiction as bondservant of Christ confined to those who are within the Christ’s assembly, and professed members of it? Ought you not to exercise discipline there, and inflict punishment on its unworthy members? Do you not in fact thus exercise discipline, and separate from your assembly unworthy men; and ought it not to be done in this instance, and in reference to the offender in your assembly?
Paul also stated, “Them that are without, God will judge.” The passing sentence on the heathen God hath reserved to Himself. The unconverted are left in the hands of God. He will judge them according to their deeds. We are not to seek to inflict punishment on them by shunning them, but rather to go to them in the love of Christ to try to lead them to repentance.
When Paul said, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person”, this sentence of excommunication in language is taken from the Old Testament, where the like directions are given to the congregation of Israel, relative to a man found guilty of evil:
Deuteronomy 13:5, “…So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”
Deuteronomy 17:7, “So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”
Deuteronomy 24:7, “…and thou shalt put evil away from among you.”
Discipline must be exercised in the Christ’s assembly; without this it will soon differ but little from the wilderness of this world. If evil be tolerated, the work of God cannot prosper there. The passing sentence on brothers properly belongs to us. This is a summary order to execute discipline upon the incestuous offender. But those without the assembly properly belong to God to judge.
Just as in the Old Testament, God’s children were to judge one another (those who were within their gates). But as far as a stranger (gentile), they were to judge only those strangers within their gates, even though God’s Law applied to all people, whether strangers or Jews (just as today, God’s Law applies to all people, but our judgment is limited to those within our jurisdiction). If a Jew saw a gentile committing adultery outside the gates, they were not to stone him with stones, because God judges the gentiles outside the jurisdiction of His People. Likewise, bondservants of Christ are not to judge and take action against unbelievers who are outside their jurisdiction. But those who are within the gates of Jerusalem, including the gentiles who were sojourning among them, and God’s children, they are to be judged by those within that community. That is still our duty today, to judge our brother, and take appropriate action against that brother.
But are not strangers under a different law?Even though scripture says God’s Law applies to all men, and that there were not two laws, but the same law applied to both Israel and strangers, believers and non-believers (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Isaiah 56:6, Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16,29-30, Psalm 18:44), some claim that sometimes, a stranger would not be under God’s law, and only the children of Israel would be under God’s Law, while the stranger was not.
To evidence this, they use the following scripture. It is against God’s Law for a believer to eat an animal that dies by itself (Leviticus 17:15; 22:8), but at the same time, believers are commanded to give it or sell it to an unbeliever (Deuteronomy 14:21). Another example is usury. Believers are forbidden to charge usury to another believer (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36-37, Deuteronomy 23:19), but at the same time, God commands believers to charge usury to unbelievers! A final example is that of being a bondmen (meaning a lifelong slave). Believers were forbidden from buying, selling or having bondservants that were also believers (Leviticus 25:42). However, believers were commanded to buy, sell, and have bondservants who were unbelievers (Leviticus 25:44).
But, the confusion is cleared up when we understand that this was the Law of God. When God said, “An Israelite cannot eat something that dies of itself, but the stranger can”, this is the law of God, and both the stranger and Israelite was under this law.
Let me demonstrate with a hypothetical example.
In the State of Maine, we can say all people must obey the traffic laws of that State. The Law of Maine says “Those 14 years of age and oldercan drive a car, those under 14 years of age cannot drive a car.”
Let us take 2 people. One is 23 years old, the other 13. Does this mean the 13 year old is not under this specific law of Maine, just because the 13 year old is told something different than those 14 and older? No, it does not. This is Maine’s Law, and both the 13 year old and 23 year old are bound to obey it. The 23 year old is allowed to drive, the 13 year old is not. Both these regulations are part of the Law of Maine. And all people in Maine are bound by this traffic law. Maine’s law is for both those over 14 as well as those under 14.
Likewise, God’s Law says the Israelite cannot eat an animal that dies of itself, and the stranger can.
Let us take 2 people. An Israelite and a stranger. Does this mean the stranger is not under this specific law of God? No, it does not. This is God’s Law, and both Israelites and strangers are bound to obey it. The Israelite is not allowed to eat, the stranger is. Both these regulations are part of the law of God. And all people in Israel are bound to obey it. God’s Law is for both Israelites and strangers.
You see, different people might be regulated differently by God, but all people were under the same law; God’s Law. No exceptions.
Another example to illustrate this is that God’s Law required a sacrifice for sins. However, depending upon who the man was who sinned, the sacrifices would differ for each man. The sacrificial system incorporated into law a basic principle: the greater the responsibility, the greater the culpability, the greater the sin. This is very clearly set forth in Leviticus, according to which there are four levels or grades of sin:
- of the high priest (Leviticus 4:3-12), whose sin offering required a bullock, the largest and most expensive sacrifice. Religious leaders, because they have a central responsibility with respect to the law of God, are all the more guilty, and all the more severely judged by God.
- of the sin of the whole congregation is next in consequence (Leviticus 4:13-21). The sin of a people collectively is a real one: it can be a sin of ignorance, or of falling short in obeying the law, but it is still a sin. The required sacrifice was again a bullock.
- of the sin of a ruler is next in order of consequence. The sin offering here was “a kid of the goats, a male without blemish” (Leviticus 4:22-26). The “ruler” clearly includes all civil magistrates (Proverbs 24:12).
- of the sins of individuals, of any of the people of the land, are last in the order of sins (Leviticus 4:27-35). For the well-to-do, the prosperous, a female kid was required; if they were unable to bring the kid, a lamb could be offered. For sins of inadvertency, the poor could bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons (Leviticus 5:11); for other sacrifices also, this poor man’s offering was possible.
All these people were under God’s Law. Just because the high priest was commanded to do something different than the poor man, both the high priest and poor man were under the same law…God’s Law. Likewise, just because the stranger was commanded to do something different than an Israelite, both the stranger and the children of Israel were under the same law…God’s Law.
- Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”Answer: Does this mean God’s Law is abolished? Does this mean we can make God’s Law void? Paul answers this question a few verses later:
Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
Paul certainly did not understand being justified by faith as synonymous with doing away with God’s law. On the contrary, we are to “establish” the law, which means to keep it. Paul taught that what matters is keeping the commandments of God (1 Corinthians 7:19).
- “We’re under grace, not under the law (Romans 6:14), therefore we can sin and break the law all we want to. We’re free from the law.”Answer: Paul answers this question in the very next verse:
Romans 6:15, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
He also answers it in the first 2 verses in this chapter:
Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
Paul certainly did not understand God’s grace to do away with the law or to free us from keeping the law. God puts us under grace when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Does that mean the law has been done away with now? Does that mean we can sin all we want to now? Does that mean we can now kill and steal and commit adultery?
Please cross reference Romans 6:14 with Galatians 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,” not from obedience to the law. The curse of the law is death (Romans 6:23), and there’s a curse upon those who transgress the law (Galatians 3:10). Christ tasted “death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). Thus He redeemed us from the curse of the law (death), and in its place provided eternal life! You see, Jesus did not make us free from the Law, but made us “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). “Is the Law sin? God forbid!” (Romans 7:7). The law itself is not the curse, because of John 7:49, “But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.”
Let us look at Romans 6:14 more closely:
Romans 6:14, “…for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
About the structure of Paul’s language here, this is an excellent example of an ellipsis, a figure of speech where certain words not directly expressed are understood. Other scriptural examples illustrate how we are to interpret these words.
For example, in John 6:27, Jesus used this construction when He said, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” Plainly, Jesus didn’t prohibit working for physical food (2 Thessalonians 3:10, “…if any would not work, neither should he eat.”) but He showed where we should place the emphasis, i.e., spiritual food should take precedence over physical food.
Similarly, in 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter said, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart…” In this passage, Peter didn’t forbid putting on apparel – surely women were to adorn themselves with clothing, but he placed the emphasis upon women’s inward adorning, the adorning of their spirit!
And in 1 Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Instead of saying, “give up water totally and use a bit of wine,” Paul really said, “put a small quantity of stomach wine into your water.” This was typically 20 parts of water and one part wine.
And in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” Paul was not saying that baptism was no longer binding, because Paul himself baptized many people (Acts 16:13-14, 30-34; 18:8; 19:1-6, 1 Corinthians 1:14,16). The scripture makes it clear that baptism is absolutely necessary in order for the sinner to be forgiven of his past sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21, Galatians 3:27). This passage merely shows where Paul should place the emphasis, i.e., upon preaching the word of God. When the apostles delivered the gospel, it was more important that they preach. At that time, not just anybody could teach the word of God, but anybody could baptize! Thus, the apostles rightly emphasized their preaching over baptizing believers themselves, yet they still baptized.
Likewise, In Romans 6:14, the emphasis is on grace, but it does not mean God’s Law is not subject to us. It does not mean God prohibits us from obeying his law. He doesn’t forbid us from obeying His Law. By the neglect of common sense we can have Paul saying, “I want you to sin a lot so that you can get a lot of grace.” Or we can have Timothy saying, “Paul sent me not to drink water.” Or women saying, “I cannot adorn myself with clothing.” Or others saying, “I cannot eat any more food.” Or preachers saying, “Baptism is no part of the gospel.”
- “The people of the Old Testament were saved by the law, Christians are saved by grace.”Answer: Not true. No one has ever been saved by the law. All who have been saved, in all ages, have been saved by grace alone (Isaiah 45:22). This “grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9). The law only points out sin. Christ alone can save. Noah “found grace” (Genesis 6:8); Lot found grace (Genesis 19:18-19); Moses found grace (Exodus 33:17); the Israelites in the wilderness found grace (Jeremiah 31:2); and according to Hebrews 11, Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, and many other Old Testament worthies were saved “by faith.” They were saved by looking forward to the cross; we are saved by looking back to the cross. The law is necessary because, like a mirror, it reveals the “dirt” in our lives. However, the law has no saving power. It can only point out sin. Jesus, and He alone, can save a person from sin.
- “The letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6), therefore the law is not applicable to us who have the Spirit.”Answer: The reason the law kills is that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23; 5:12). All have broken the law. And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The reason the Spirit gives life is that it enables us to keep the law and not sin (Romans 8:4, Galatians 5:16). Jesus’ obedience gave us the power to be righteous and keep the Law (Romans 5:19). As Paul said, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died [that is, the law condemned him as a sinner].” “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is … not subject to the law of God” (Romans 7:9; 8:7, 8).
- “Doesn’t 2 Corinthians 3:7 teach that the law written and engraved in stone was to be done away?”Answer: No. The passage says that the “glory” of Moses’ ministration of the law was to be done away, but not the law itself. Read the whole passage of 2 Corinthians 3:3-9 again, carefully. The subject is not the doing away with the law or its establishment, but rather, the change of location of the law from “tables of stone” to the “tables of the heart.” Under Moses’ ministration the law was on stones. Under the Holy Spirit’s ministration, through Christ, the law is written upon the heart (Hebrews 8:10). Christ’s ministration of the law is effective because He transfers the law to the heart of the believer (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). Then keeping the law becomes a delight and a joyful way of living because the Christian has true love for both God and man.
- “Romans 10:4 says that “Christ is the end of the law.” So it has ended, hasn’t it?”Answer: “End” in this verse means purpose or object, as it does in James 5:11. The meaning is clear. To lead men to Christ – where they find righteousness – is the goal, purpose, or end of the law.In the 7th chapter of Romans, Paul gives us the result in his own case. It drove him to confess that the law was holy and good, and he ought to obey it; and there it left him in distress, and crying, “The good that I would, I do not, but the evil that I would not, that I do.” The law was not able to convert him, and he cries out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Just here, the love of God in sending his Son, Jesus Christ, is presented to his mind, and that did the work. In the next chapter he explains it; “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.” The whole scripture testifies that it is only the influence of the gospel which can bring sinners to obey the law. The law will never do it.
- “Why worry about the law? Isn’t conscience a safe guide?”Answer: No! The scripture speaks of an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22), a defiled conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7, Titus 1:15), and a seared conscience (1 Tim.4:2) – none of which is safe. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”(Proverbs 14:12). God says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26). See also Genesis 6:5; 8:21, Numbers 15:39, Deuteronomy 11:16, 1 Kings 8:61, Psalms 58:2; 66:18, Proverbs 3:1,5; 16:5, Ecclesiastes 8:11, Jeremiah 17:5,9, and Matthew 15:19.
- “Didn’t the scripture predict that the Ten Commandments would end?”Answer: No. It only predicted that the priesthood, feasts, yearly sabbaths, offerings, and the ritual sacrificing would end, not the Ten Commandments themselves (Daniel 9:27, Hosea 2:11, Hebrews 7:12; 9:9-14; 10:8-9).
- “Doesn’t Colossians 2:14 teach that God’s law ended at the cross?”Answer: Many people assume that these “ordinances” that were “against us” and “contrary to us” were God’s Ten Commandments. But how is God’s Moral Law “against us” and “contrary to us”? And why would Jesus spend his life preaching the Ten Commandments if they were “against us” and “contrary to us”? Besides, Paul spoke of God’s Law as holy, just, and good many years after the cross (Romans 7:7,12).In reference to the “handwriting of ordinances…nailed…to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), the Greek word translated “handwriting” is cheirographon, and this is the only place the term is used in the scripture. It meant a handwritten record of debt, or what we would today call an IOU. In contemporary apocalyptic literature, this word was used to designate a “record book of sin,” meaning a written account of our sins.Paul was not saying that God’s law was nailed to the cross. What was nailed there, he said, was all record of our sins. Because God’s law required the death penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), this record is what “was against us, which was contrary to us”, not the law itself. He has forgiven us all our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the cross. It is the evidence against us, not the law itself, that was nailed to the cross, enabling us to be forgiven.
This becomes clear when we read the rest of Colossians 2. It is apparent that other issues were involved that had nothing to do with God’s laws given in the Old Testament. Among these were “principalities and powers” (verse 15), “false humility and worship of angels” (verse 18), forbidding to “touch, taste and handle” (verse 21) and “neglect of the body” (verse 23).
Further, Paul referred to the false teachings in Colosse as rooted in “enticing words” (verse 4), “philosophy and vain deceit” and “the tradition of men” (verse 8). He also referred to submitting to “ordinances” of this world (verse 20) and “the commandments and doctrines of men” (verse 22). Could Paul, who in Romans 7:12 said the law is “holy and just and good,” possibly be referring to the same law here, or is he addressing an entirely different issue? Paul answers this in 1 Corinthians 9:21, when he said, “I am not free from God’s law.”
- “Doesn’t Ephesians 2:15 say the law of commandments were abolished?”Answer: This verse says only the law of commandments “contained in ordinances“ were abolished, not the Ten Commandments themselves. The Ten Commandments were referred to as the “ten commandments” (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13; 10:4).In order to accurately understand this verse, Let’s read this in its context, and go back a few verses:
Ephesians 2:11, “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;”
First it should be noted that Gentiles, not Jews, are being addressed. Here, Paul uses a touch a irony, and his choice of words is interesting. He says you have been “called” uncircumcision by those who are “called” the circumcision. His point is that these Jews are “called” circumcised, but they are not. They’re circumcised in the flesh, yes, but they’re not circumcised in heart. He then proceeds to say:
Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from thecovenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”
The word “covenants” is plural! The gentiles were strangers from any covenant of God! People sometimes forget that the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)! This is very specific. If you say “I’m going to do this with Israel,” it might be construed in a spiritual or symbolic sense to be talking about the church as symbolic Israel. But when you use the term “the house of Israel,” you have suddenly become very specific. This verse says that the gentiles, in the flesh, are strangers from the New Covenant as well!
Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Far off from whom? From God, naturally. The gentiles were separated from God, and they were also far off and separated from Israel. Now, how can they be made closer to Israel unless it involved being closer to God?
Ephesians 2:14, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;”
By the term “both”, it refers to Jews and Gentiles. The apostle describes, 1) The conjunction of the Gentiles with Israel, (Ephesians 2:14,15) and, 2) The conjunction of both with God (Ephesians 2:15-18).
As far as “the middle wall of partition,” in Jesus’ day, in the temple, there was a wall that existed in the temple. When one walked into the temple, one entered an area that was called “the court of the gentiles.” The Jewish writing of that time did not call it “the court of the gentiles.” It became called that because, after they came into this area, there was an inner area into which gentiles were not allowed to come. And so the outer part was called “the court of the gentiles,” but both Jews and gentiles mingled freely in that outer court.
Now as they went in, they came to a marble wall that actually warned gentiles against coming passed that particular point, and that the death penalty would have immediately ensued if they passed that point. But what is interesting is that Ephesians 2:14 says Christ has broken down this middle wall of partition, but at the time of the writing of this letter, the wall of partition still stood! The temple had not been destroyed, it was still there and functioning, gentiles were still confined to the outer court, and gentiles were still not allowed passed that marble wall.
Now, Paul draws this analogy out of the temple showing that we all now have access to the Father, and that middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was now broken down, but ask yourself this question: “Who erected the wall between Jew and Gentile?” The answer: “The Jews themselves.”
If you search the scriptures, you will not find anywhere in the Old Testament which says, “Thou shalt erect a marble wall, and it shall say on there no gentile may go beyond here or you will be responsible for his death that will immediately ensue.”
Now, there was a barrier between Jew and Gentile, as well as between God and man, and God did not erect any of those barriers. Now, the next verse has no end of misunderstanding:
Ephesians 2:15, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances…”
The enmity that was abolished here is the enmity between Jew and Gentile. Is Paul trying to say that the law, or some portion of it, has been done away with by this statement? Well, we must also bear the following in mind. The Jews were gradually constructing ordinances and decrees (Greek – dogma) of commandments as a part of their law, which was Jewish manufactured law and tradition. And this was the source of the largest division between gentiles and jews.
Another interesting thing in this verse that must be considered is the word “abolished.” This Greek word for abolished is Greek word # 2673katargeo. If one looks at all the other verses this word appears in, something interesting appears. For example, the first time this word appears is Luke 13:7. Now, the word katargeo, the same word translated “abolished” is found in verse 7. See if you can find it.
Luke 13:6-7, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”
No, it’s not “cut it down”, it’s “cumbereth.” Why is it “abolishing” the ground? Why is it doing away with the ground? Now, if you interpret the wordkatargeo as “abolish” when you get to this verse, it does not work! You cannot translate it that way. Well, as you study through all the passages this word katargeo appears, what it means is to render powerless, to take away the strength of something. It does not always mean annuling, such as in this verse, “Why are you leaving this tree here and annuling the ground?” That doesn’t work.
So, what Paul is saying here is that Christ rendered powerless the enmity involved in the law of commandments contained in ordinances. What’s under discussion here is not whether or not the law of God is abolished. Paul really does not make any distinction as to which law he’s talking about.
The key part here is the word “ordinances” (Greek: dogma). The Greek word dogma occurs only five times in the New Testament: and in each case, it refers to the commandments of men! The other four occurrences are: Luke 2:1 and Acts 17:7, where it means the decrees of Caesar; Acts 16:4, where it means the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem concerning decisions about dietary and social relationships between Jews and Gentiles; and Colossians 2:14, where Paul speaks of the written bond with its decrees which has been canceled by the death of Christ. This last reference is in the context of regulations concerning eating, drinking, and festivals (Colossians 2:14-17). Similar regulations appear again in Colossians 2:20-22, where those who obey them are described as “subject to ordinances” (verse 20), or subject to dogmatizo. Paul’s rationale for this is that these regulations are but “commandments and doctrines of men” (verse 22). [See answer #14 above for more details.]
This also appears to be the best meaning for Ephesians 2:15. Thus the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” would be the precepts of the law as they were created by man, and not God. These ordinances refer to those jewish laws which stood as a barrier and a wall between Jew and Gentile, Christ, in His flesh, rendered powerless and meaningless.
Now, what is interesting about this is that this verse says “in his flesh” and not “through his blood.” If this passage was talking about the reconciliation of man to God, scripture normally talks about this being done through the blood of Jesus Christ. But where do Jew and Gentile find themselves reconciled? They find themselves reconciled in the flesh or body of Christ; flesh being the body of the church (the “church” is said to be members of His body in Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and Ephesians 5:30, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones”).There is where we find the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile.
Therefore, this passage means that Christ, in his flesh, in his body, has rendered meaningless the differences between Jew and Gentile, which the Jews have created over many years by human ordinances and decrees and dogmas and traditions, which they had created. This verse, and the entire chapter of Ephesians 2, says absolutely nothing about any part of the Law of God.
- “Jesus does not say we must obey the Ten Commandments in order to receive eternal life.”Answer: Yes, he most certainly does! (Matthew 19:17-19, Mark.10:17,19, Luke 10:25-28; 18:18,20). Only those who obey Him will have eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9, 1 John 2:17).
- “The Ten Commandments are not reaffirmed in the New Testament.”Answer: Actually, they are. All ten of them.
||Matthew 4:10, Acts 17:29, 1 Corinthian 8:6
||1 John 5:21, 1 Corinthians 10:7
||1 Timothy 6:1, James 5:12
||Hebrews 4:3-11, Matthew 12:12, Mark 2:27
||Matthew 19:19, Ephesians 6:2
||Romans 13:9, 1 John 3:15
||Matthew 19:18, Galatians 5:19
||Romans 13:9, Ephesians 4:28
||Romans 13:9, Colossians 3:9
||Romans 7:7, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5
- “No one can keep the law of God anyway, so don’t worry about it. We sin every day.”Answer: “Sin is lawlessness”, and Jesus was “manifested to take away our sins”, our lawlessness (1 John 3:5-6). Jesus came down to give us the power to keep the law. Satan, in order to make God’s request seem unreasonable, invented the falsehood that obedience is impossible (Phil.4:13). “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). ). All sin consists in voluntarily consenting to the desires.An Important Note: It is true that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but the very fact that we have sinned proves that the law of God is still in existence, “for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), and “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13), “for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). The very fact that we are all sinners – all still guilty of breaking the law – proves that the law is still in effect. But God does not want us to continue sinning – He came down not only to die for our past sins, but also to give us power to quit sinning, to stop serving sin (Romans 6:6), because “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).Do you know who the Holy Spirit is given to? It is given only to those who obey God’s Law (Acts 5:32). Whoever transgresses the law, and doesn’t abide in Christ’s doctrine, does not have God in him (2 John 1:9). Righteousness is obedience to God’s Law (Deuteronomy 6:25, 1 Corinthians 15:34). The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). This is how we know who is of God and who is of the devil; “Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10). Whoever disobeys God, is not of God! So simple.
Do true Christians really sin every day? The scripture says the Lord delivers us from temptation (2 Peter 2:9), so Christians cannot commit sin (1 John 3:6-9) because the wicked one cannot touch him (1 John 5:18). God gives us the power to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). John wrote these things so that we would not sin (1 John 2:1). If we hide God’s word in our heart, we should not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Christians are to have a divine nature and be purged from our old sins (2 Peter 1:4-9).
- “Did God really say he expected us to keep His Commandments?”Answer: Yes (Deuteronomy 4:2,40; 6:17; 7:11; 8:6; 10:13; 11:27; 28:1,9, Leviticus 26:15). Even after Jesus came into this world (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). He’s not foolish or cruel, but wise and loving. He wouldn’t give us commands and principles to live by if they were impossible to follow.Would God command people to keep his commandments if it was impossiblt to do? Would God command people to sin not, if it was impossiblt to do? Does the Law require that which is impossible to do? Would God punish people for doing that which is impossible to perform? Was God joking when he commanded people to keep all His commandments?
1 Kings 9:4-5, “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever,”
If it is impossible to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless, how does one explain this:
Luke 1:5-6, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all thecommandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Jesus Christ did not obey the law so that sinners would not have to obey. Jesus was obedient unto death, and this is set down as our example. We are to follow in Jesus’ steps and commit no sin (John 13:15, Philippians 2:5, 1 Peter 2:21-22; 4:1, 1 John 2:6), and keep the commandments like Jesus did (John 15:9-10, Romans 7:25). Will we walk in sin if we walk as Jesus walked (Colossians 2:6)? Will we sin if we purify ourselves like Jesus was pure (1 John 3:3)? Will we sin if we are morally perfect like our Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48)? Jesus instructed us to teach people to observe all his commandments (Matthew 28:20). “Doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13, James 1:22-25). Just like Abraham was justified by works, our faith is made perfect by our works (James 2:20-22). When Jesus healed, he would instruct them to be obedient to the Law, and “sin no more” (John 5:14; 8:11). Would Jesus tell them to sin no more if it was impossible to do? Sin is the breaking of the law, and Jesus told them to not break God’s Law anymore. Jesus does not tell people to do that which is impossible to do.
- “The Law did not exist before Moses received it at Sinai.”Answer: Wrong! Dead wrong! The scripture tells us “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (I John 3:4). When Adam disobeyed God in Eden he “sinned” (Romans 5:12). How could Adam be called a sinner clear back in Eden if God had no law back then to define sin? When Cain was thinking about murdering his brother Able, God warned him: “sin lieth at the door.” (Genesis 4:7). How could God warn Cain he was about to sin, and then place him under a curse for murdering his brother, if God had no law back then prohibiting murder? And how did Cain, and “every one” else on “earth,” know that the penalty for a murderer was death (Genesis 4:14-15) if God had no law revealing this? How could God tell Noah that mankind had become exceedingly corrupt and evil if there was no Divine Law that they had broken (Genesis 6:11-13)? What justification did God have for destroying the world by the Flood if the people were unaware of His law?How did King Abimelech (the Philistine king of Gerar, a heathen) know adultery was wrong, and that the penalty was death (Genesis 20:1-7; 26:7-11)? As did Joseph (Genesis 39:9)? How did Jacob know stealing was wrong (Genesis 30:33; 31)? The answer is obvious, because God’s Law DID exist before Moses, before Jews existed in the world. God Himself said of Abraham that he, “…obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26.5). Did you read that? How could Abraham have obeyed God’s commandments and laws unless God had already given it to him? God’s Law, His Ten Commandments, did exist before Moses repeated them.As a matter of fact, there were blood sacrifices in the Garden of Eden! After Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them in skins that were taken off animals whose blood had been poured out as a sin-offering to God (Genesis 3:21); for as we find Cain and Abel offering sacrifices to God. How did Abel know to sacrifice the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof to the Lord (Genesis 4:4) if there was no law of sacrificing and offerings? How did Noah know to take clean animals and offer them as burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20) if there were no burnt offering laws? The law that says an animal must be put to death if it kills a man (Exodus 21:29) is also in Genesis 9:5-6.
How did Judah know that Tamar, being a widow, was to marry her husband’s brother (Genesis 38:8,11) if this law was not revealed to them? The fact is, Deuteronomy 25:7-10 existed before God gave this law to Moses.
How did God teach the Israelites about the Sabbath? God sent manna six days a week for them to eat (Exodus 16). But He told them to gather twice as much on Friday because there would be none on the Sabbath. The scripture tells us God gave the Israelites manna to determine if they would walk in God’s Law (Exodus 16:4). But Exodus 16:27 tells us the very next Saturday they flunked the test, they disobeyed God by going out to gather manna on Saturday, they didn’t even obey God for one week!
So God asked them in verse 28, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” The Lord didn’t institute the Sabbath and then one week later cry out “How long will you refuse to keep My commands” the very first time they failed! No, God’s commandments had been around for more than two thousand years by then. People had been continually breaking God’s Law from Eden onwards. Even the Israelites whom He rescued from Egypt were breaking His Sabbath Day! No wonder God said, “How long will you refuse to keep My commands?”! The scripture evidence is that God’s Law had been around for thousands of years before they were reaffirmed to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
- “But Romans 5:13 says before the law was given, sin was in the world. Doesn’t this mean sin can exist without any law?”Answer: Let us read this verse in context.
Romans 5:13, “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
Many quote just the first half of this verse, without the second half. In order to understand the first half of this passage, we must understand the last half. Therefore, let us first establish what is meant by “sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
What does this passage mean? It means that sin cannot be imputed unless there is a law! Here are a couple of verses which confirm this:
Romans 3:20, “…by the law is the knowledge of sin.”1 John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
Therefore, if somebody commits sin, then it automatically means one transgressed the law. Why? Because the definition of sin is “the transgression of the law.” That is why Romans 5:13 says, “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Why is sin not imputed when there is no law? Because it is impossible that Sin could exist if there is no law!
Therefore, “sin is not imputed…”; in other words, it is not charged to men, or laid to their account; they are not held responsible and punished for it; “…when there is no law”, because sin is a transgression of a wise and good law. It follows that there was such a law binding on men before the time of Moses, and before any written revelation of the will of God was made to men.
Now, knowing that sin cannot exist without law, and that sin is the transgression of the law, how do we interpret, “Romans 5:13, “For until the law sin was in the world?” Quite easily. Before God’s Law was actually written down in the book of Moses, on stone, or on whatever other material,sin existed. Scripture says there cannot be sin unless there is a law that gives a knowledge of that sin. Therefore, since sin cannot exist unlessthere is a law, that means there must have been a law at that time! But the Law of God was not written down on books, or paper, or stone. So how could God communicate to man His Law if it was not written down? Well, God talked to man directly, He also used his prophets to communicate God’s Law, and dreams, and other ways as well. But the point of Romans 5:13 is this:
Before the Law was actually written down, and given to Moses, there was sin. And Sin cannot exist unless there is a Law. Therefore, since sin cannot exist unless there is a law, God’s Law must have existed before it was written down physically. Is there another verse which confirms God’s Law existed before it was written down and given to Moses? Yes:
Genesis 26:5, “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Obviously, God’s Law did exist before it was written down and given to Moses, as the above passage verifies.
- “Doesn’t 2 Corinthians 3:13-16 say the Old Testament was done away?Answer: No. This verse is the only verse in the entire scripture which uses the term “Old Testament.” Interestingly, what Paul says here is not that Christ takes the Law or “Old Covenant” away, but that He removes the vail which conceals the fullness of its true meaning! The veil is removed when we turn to God through Christ so that we can see that part of the Law which is written on the hearts of men through faith and a willingness to obey. Here is a verse by verse break down with my comments in brackets:
2 Corinthians 3:13, “And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:” [Notice the context of this passage is about the vail].2 Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were blinded: [the vail was preventing them from understanding the true meaning of the Law] for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” [The true message is hidden and the vail is still untaken away in the reading of the law, but the true meaning was revealed by Christ. Also notice this verse specifically says the “vail” was taken away, not the old testament].
2 Corinthians 3:15, “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” [The true meaning of the law is hid].
2 Corinthians 3:16, “Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” [When the heart shall turn to Christ, the vail, the hidden meaning of the law, shall be taken away, and the true meaning understood].
- How do you explain this verse? Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”Answer: First, let us review a little background as to the reason why Paul wrote this epistle to the Galatians. Paul led the Galatians to Christ (Galatians 3:1). They made a good start in the godly life (Galatians 3:3) and were doing well spiritually (Galatians 5:7). Later, some Jewish teachers (called Judaizers) taught the Galatians that to be saved, one must not only believe in Christ, but must also obey the Jewish law, the sign of which is circumcision.Now, concerning the verse in question, Galatians 2:16, we must ask ourselves, “Which law is Paul referring to here?” Now, let’s read this verse in context. Start at the beginning of Galatians 2, and you will see the context is about the Jewish law, like circumcision. The whole topic of Galatians 2, up until verse 16, is about circumcision and the Jewish law. This is the context of Galatians 2:16. This is the law that this verse is referring to, these carnal commandments of the Jewish law (Hebrews 7:16). The point Paul was making was that the Gentiles do not have to be converted to Judaism in order to follow Christ (Galatians 2:14, Acts 15:5-11; 21:21).Paul was saying that gentiles can cast aside the law of physical circumcision and be justified by faith. But, did Paul also include the ten commandments? Did Paul also mean that we can cast aside the physical meaning of the ten commandments and be justified by faith? The answer is definitely no. Further proof that Paul did not include the ten commandments (in verse 16) is to look at verse 17!
Galatians 2:17, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.”
These words are an objection, which the adversaries of the doctrine of justification by faith have been always ready to make against it, namely, “That if persons be not justified by their obedience to the law, then they may live as they want in the breach and violation of the law, and freely indulge themselves in sin, and consequently make Christ the minister of sin, as if he had relaxed the duty.” The apostle rejects this inference and deduction with the greatest abhorrence and detestation, saying, God forbid.
If sinners should be justified through Christ by faith without the Law, Christ would approve sinners, and should exhort them to sin by his ministry; and that it it is not necessary to observe the law in order to be accepted with God; that it pronounces a man justified and accepted who is a violator of the law; that his acceptance does not depend on his keeping the commandments; that it releases him from the obligation of God’s Law; and that it teaches that a man may be saved though he does not conform to God’s Law.
The idea is, “You seek to be justified by faith without obeying the law, You professedly reject that, and do not hold that it is necessary to yield obedience to it. If now it shall turn out that you are sinners; that your lives are not holy; that you are free from the wholesome restraint of the law, and are given up to lives of sin, will it not follow that Christ is the cause of it, that he taught it, and that the system which he introduced is responsible for it? And is not the gospel therefore responsible for introducing a system that frees from the restraint of the law, and introduces universal licentiousness?”
Paul answers that this conclusion is false, because Christ destroys sin in the believer; that being acquitted from the curse of the Law and justified they may be saved by Him. And Christ gives them that strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, which destroys sinful tendencies: so that this old man being abolished by the power of Christ crucified, Christ may live in them, and they may consecrate themselves to God. Therefore if any man give himself to sin after he has received the Gospel, let him not accuse Christ nor the Gospel, but himself, for he destroys the work of God in himself. Christ is not the minister of sin; but in turning away from Him, one makes himself a sinner.
If it turns out that we are sinners, or if others discover by undoubted demonstration that we lead lives of sin; if they see us given up to a lawless life, and find us practicing all kinds of evil; if it shall be seen not only that we are not pardoned and made better by the gospel, but are actually made worse, and are freed from all restraint. Is it to be traced to Christ? Is it a fair and legitimate conclusion that this is the tendency of the gospel? Is it to be charged on Him, and on the plan of justification through Him, that unrightousness prevails, and that men are freed from the wholesome restraints of God’s Law? God forbid. It is not so. This is not the proper effect of the gospel of Christ, and of the doctrine of justification by faith. The system is not fitted to produce such a freedom from restraint; and if such a freedom exists, it is to be traced to something else than the gospel.
Learn hence, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, cannot be rightly preached, except the duty of mortification of sin be urged and enforced with it; for the same faith that depends upon Christ for pardon of sin, does look up unto him for power and strength to vanquish and subdue sin; If we do not the latter, Christ will never do the former.
- How do you explain this verse? Galatians 3:10-11, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”Answer: Notice it says only those who continue not in the “book of the law” are cursed. It does not say those who continue in “the law” are cursed. The “works of the law” refer not to God’s Ten Commandments itself, but to the book of the Law. The “book of the law” refers to the Old Covenant laws. Only the book of the Old Covenant had curses (Deuteronomy 29:20,21,27, 2 Chronicles 34:24).Scripture is clear that Moses wrote the Old Covenant in a book (Deuteronomy 31:9) but the Ten Commandments were written by the Finger of God (Exodus 31:18). The book of statutes and judgments which Moses wrote in a book was placed in a pocket on the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:24-26). In contrast, the Law written by God on tables of stone was placed inside the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:16).Galatians 2 clearly talks of the Old Covenant law of circumcision. And chapter 3 verifies this by referring to the book of the Old Covenant that Moses wrote. How can we be sure which law is referred to?
Galatians 3:19, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come…”
The law Paul is referring to was added because of transgression (such as animal sacrifices and other such laws that were to be in force until the time of the Messiah), he is not referring to the law which defines transgressions (such as sin, which remain in force even after the time of the Messiah). This verse continues by saying this law was…
Galatians 3:19, “…ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
This law was not given to Israel immediately from God himself (as the Ten Commandments were); but was conveyed by the ministry of angels to Moses, and delivered into his hand as a mediator between God and them, to remind them of the great Mediator. When the ten commandments were given, there was no mediator between God and the people, God communicated with the people directly (Deuteronomy 5:4,22-26). It was not until after the Ten Commandments were given that Moses became a mediator (verse 27).
Please look at Galatians 3:13. It says “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” It does not say Christ redeemed us from obedienceto the law, but only from the curse of the law. Again, only the book of the Old Covenant has curses, and Jesus brought in a New Covenant.
John 7:49, “But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.”
Those who know not the law are cursed. This would not make any sense if those who know the law are cursed also. Would it?
- But what about this verse? Galatians 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”Answer: Again, this “law,” in verse four, is referring to the sacrificial laws. This is proven by the previous two verses where Paul addresses only Jews:
Galatians 5:2-3, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”
You see, this is referring to the same laws as Galatians 2 and 3, the laws of the Old Covenant, which included circumcision.
- The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), so nobody can obtain righteousness, right? Nobody can walk in all the commandments of God”.Answer: This verse is taken out of context, and does not apply to the servants of God. When read in context from verses 10-18, it can only apply to unbelievers. Psalms 14:1-3 is very similar to this verse, but this Psalm only applies to “fools” (verse 1) as Romans 3:9-18 only applies tounbelievers. Many have attained righteousness: Abel was righteous (1 John 3:12), as well as Noah (Genesis 6:9-7:1), Job (Job 9:15), Zacharias and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:5-6), Jesus (1 John 2:1), and lots of people from Abel through Zacharias (Matthew 23:35). As a matter of fact, scripture specifically says that Noah, Daniel, and Job “shall deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Ezekiel 14:14,18,20).Yes, believers in God can obtain righteousness, as many passages in scripture confirm, but unbelievers cannot, as Romans 3:10-18 describes.
- The Bible says “…all our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), so why bother to be righteous?Answer: This verse is also taken out of context, and doesn’t apply to the servants of God. Verse 7 says “and there is none that calleth upon thy name.” Obviously, servants of God do call upon the name of the Lord, so these verses pertain to unbelievers.
- “Why do so many people deny the binding claims of God’s law?”Answer: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Paul warned Timothy that the day would come when, because of their pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:12), men would no longer choose to hear the Truth, but would seek after teachers who would speak to them the things that suited the tenor of their carnal nature (2 Timothy 4:3-4). For this reason, commandment keeping has never been popular. To those who desire a way of forgetting God which will pass for remembering him, a gospel of love that requires no obedience is readily accepted (1 Peter 2:7-8).Only eight people survived the flood, because only those eight did “all that the LORD commanded” (Genesis 7:1,5). Only Lot and his two daughters survived Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:16) because only they were righteous (2 Peter 2:7-8). Out of the 603,500 Hebrews who left Egypt during the Exodus, 603,498 died before they could cross the river into their promised land 40 years later. Caleb and Joshua were theonly two survivors of the wilderness trek from Egypt to Cannan (Numbers 26:65). Why? Because only Caleb and Joshua “followed the Lord fully”( Numbers 32:11-12), while the others continued worshipping the gods and idols of Egypt.This is the reason why there were few left in Egypt, because they didn’t obey God (Deuteronomy 28:62). Because the earth transgressed the laws, the curse devoured the earth, and there were few men left. Jesus said the same about us also. “For many be called, but few chosen”(Matthew 20:16; 22:14), and there will be few that are saved (Luke 13:23-24), and there will be few that find eternal life (Matthew 7:14). Many people will do many wonderful works in Jesus’ name, but only a few will do the Will of the Father, and only those few will be saved (Matthew 7:21-23). As a matter of fact, Jesus had many disciples walking with him while he was here on earth, but at one point, many disciples walked with Jesus no more, and only a few were left who followed him (John 6:66).
Physical growth is a function of time. Intellectual growth is a function of learning. Spiritual growth is neither a function of time or learning, but it is a function of obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9). Transgression of the law is always a result of a lack of faith. People do not reject the scripture because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them!
Every man’s destiny is to be determined by deeds done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13; 22:12). If we reject God’s Law, God will reject us (Hosea 4:6). Remember, we don’t break God’s Law…it breaks us if we disobey it!