(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 2)
Dear Reader, this Article is a bit lengthy. You may therefore need to read it in three or so parts. Given the important topic being discussed though, it is worth the read!
Seventh-Day Adventists love to quote the verse where the Lord Jesus stated in the New Testament, that he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). In his exact words, he said:
- “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Now it is clear from other scriptures in the Bible, that the term ‘law’ whenever used, refers generally to all of the Old Testament laws, including the ten commandments and the Mosaic law or ordinances. It is an umbrella under which all of the Old Testament laws fall and indeed, in some scriptures, the different types of old Testament laws were sometimes referred to interchangeably.
Seventh-Day Adventists teach their congregation though and try to convince others, that what Jesus said in the above statement about the law means, that those who call themselves Christians today, must keep the ten commandments laid down expressly in the Old Testament and especially, the Sabbath. They state that this law of the ten commandments still applies to the Christian and must be followed if one is to be truly saved but that the Mosaic law (which was far more detailed and specific), no longer applies.
They say this, I believe, in light of the indisputable fact that there is another scripture in the Bible that states quite clearly, that Jesus abolished ‘the law’. To explain how on the one hand, Jesus could have said that he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfil it and on the other, it be said in the Word that he abolished the law, they have therefore chosen to conclude that:
- The above statement in Mathew 5:17-18 in which the word ‘law’ is used, refers only to the ten commandments;
- The other statement in the Bible in which the same word ‘law’ is used and that clearly mentions that ‘the law’ was abolished, refers only to the Mosaic law;
- The above statement that Jesus made, about not coming to destroy the law but to fulfil it, along with the other scripture about abolition, meant he abolished the Mosaic laws but that the law of the ten commandments are to continue.
This is far from the truth, not at all confirmed anywhere in the scriptures by Jesus and is a wholly inconsistent interpretation.
FIRST of all, one meaning cannot be ascribed to the term ‘law’ in one verse and another meaning in another. Terms have the same meaning when used, throughout scripture, unless expressly stated otherwise.
If therefore, Adventists take the view that the use of the term ‘the law’ in Matthew 5:17-18 meant only the ten commandments, then they must also take the view that it means the same thing in other scriptures when used and in particular, that scripture that refers to ‘the law’ being abolished.
If they take the view that the verse that tells us that ‘the law’ was abolished was referring to only the Mosaic law, then they must also take the view, for consistency, that the verses in Matthew 5:17-18 about Jesus coming to fulfil ‘the law’, must also be referring to only the Mosaic law.
Yet, Adventists do not do this because the outcome that a consistent interpretation of the term ‘the law’ will produce is not consistent with what they teach about keeping the ten commandments and especially, the sabbath.
SECONDLY, Jesus never made any distinction between the law of the ten commandments and the Mosaic law, when he made his statement in Matthew 5:17-18. That is, he never expressly stated that he meant only the ten commandments by his use of the term ‘the law’, as the Adventists have assumed. The Adventists have therefore based their theology on an assumption that is unsupported by scripture.
Notably, Jesus never said specifically, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the ten commandments, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’. He did not use the term ‘ten commandments’ which is one aspect of the law but deliberately chose to use the general and all-inclusive term of ‘the law’.
THIRDLY, contrary to what Adventists teach about Matthew 5:17-18 endorsing the continuance of the ten commandments today, it is important to note, that when other scriptures speak of ‘the law’ being abolished, done away with or removed by Jesus, they make express reference to, not just the law in general but also specifically, the ten commandments.
For example, in Ephesians 2:15-16, it expressly states of Jesus in terms of what he did for both Israelites and Gentiles:
- “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of COMMANDMENTS contained in ordinances; for to to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”
In the above verse, the law of commandments is referred to expressly and is ‘the enmity’ that was slain or put to death by Jesus Christ, in his flesh. When he suffered and died therefore, on the cross, the law of commandments died with him. It reminds me of the picture that emerged when Samson died. When he died, the Philistines died with him. One cannot simply look at the term ‘ordinances’ and say that verse was referring only to the Mosaic law. For, the term ‘commandments’ was expressly mentioned. It therefore refers to the whole law, that which consists of the ten commandments plus the Mosaic law, sometimes referred to as ‘the law of ordinances’.
To further reinforce this fact, in Colossians 2:14, it expressly states of Jesus and what he did:
- “Blotting out the HANDWRITING of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…”
Whatever is being referred to in the above verse, it is clear that Jesus blotted it out, took it out of the way and nailed it to his cross, meaning, put an end to it. This is indisputable.
Having said that, we know for a surety, that the ten commandments were written by hand and were therefore included in what Jesus blotted out, took out of the way and nailed to his cross. For, when Moses went up to mount Sinai in God’s presence, Exodus 34:27-28 tells us:
- “And the Lord said unto Moses, write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel…And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”
When the scripture speaks of Jesus ABOLISHING ‘the law’ therefore, it was the whole law, not just the Mosaic law but also the ten commandments.
Jesus therefore abolished the Mosiac law + the ten commandments.
Having said all that, despite the view and teaching held by Seventh-Day Adventists, when one examines Matthew 5 more closely and in particular, the verses that follow verse 18, it is clear, that ‘the law’ to which Jesus referred and said he did not come to destroy but to FULFIL was not just the ten Old Testament commandments. It was the Mosaic law as well!
Jesus therefore came to fulfil the Mosaic law + the ten commandments.
It is clear that Jesus meant both the Mosaic law and the ten commandments when he spoke in Matthew 5:17-18, about him not having come to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil. For, after he made this statement, he then compared ‘the law’ to his new and even more perfect law of liberty (the New Testament commands which is what is now applicable to all Christians today), by giving some examples of ‘the law’. Notably, in giving these examples, he went beyond the list of just the ten commandments. That is, he gave examples of ‘the law’ that he referred to in Matthew 5:17-18 and in those examples, he mentioned both some of the commandments and some of the Mosaic law.
It was clear therefore, that when he spoke of coming, not to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil, he was not just speaking of the ten commandments but what is referred to as the Mosaic law as well. For example, in referring to ‘the law’, he spoke of the Old Testament law on divorce, swearing and the eye-for-an-eye law, all three of which were never contained in the ten commandments but were given under what is now called the Mosaic law.
It follows, that the law that Jesus said he did not come to destroy but to fulfil, refers to the WHOLE law, including the Mosaic law, not just the ten commandments. For, nowhere in the ten commandments does it mention anything about a bill of divorcement or an eye-for-an eye or that a person must not swear. These are however, mentioned in the more detailed Mosaic laws given to the Israelites and Jesus referred to them as some of what he meant by the use of the term ‘the law’.
If Adventists take the stance therefore, that when Jesus said he did not come to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil it, he meant that ‘the law’ was still to be adhered to, then this would mean that they themselves have failed miserably in keeping ‘the law’, as they do not keep any aspect of the Mosaic law, which is part of the whole law to which Jesus clearly and undeniably referred to in Matthew 5:17-18.
This is a most dangerous position to be in, as when trying to keep ‘the law’, if you fail in one point, it declares you guilty of all. James 2:10 states clearly: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
There is therefore no salvation for the soul when one tries to keep ‘the law’ of the Old Testament, only utter condemnation because such a person is trying to attain God’s righteousness through a means that he or she is bound to come short of, no matter how noble the intention.
Keeping the WHOLE law without offending on any point, which is what is required if you insist on keeping any aspect of it is just too much for you, to keep up! Failure is the inevitable result because the road of the law to justification, righteousness and salvation is too difficult and onerous for any to make it successfully. This was evident in the fact that the Israelites in the Old Testament, the people to whom ‘the law’ was given, already took that route as God had required and failed colossally.
THIS IS WHY JESUS CAME, so that the Israelites and all of the world (Gentiles), who by GRACE, God extended the offer of salvation to, could accept an easier route to justification through FAITH, one where Jesus had already paid the price for our redemption.
For, the road of trying to keep the law (the whole law) and perfectly, in order to obtain acceptance with God and salvation, inevitably fails but the road that simply requires that one believe on Jesus Christ and rest in him alone, by FAITH, successfully leads to our justification, acceptance with God and salvation.
Galatians 2:16,18-21 tells us:
- “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…
- For IF I BUILD AGAIN THE THINGS WHICH ARE DESTROYED, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am DEAD to the law, that I might LIVE unto God. For I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by THE FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
- I do not frustrate the GRACE of God: FOR IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN.”
Galatians 5:4 also makes it clear that, “Christ is become of NO EFFECT unto you, whosoever of you are justified by THE LAW; ye are fallen from GRACE.“
I re-emphasize the point at this juncture, that ‘the law’ of the Old Testament (which Jesus said he came to fulfil) was not just the ten commandments but also the Mosaic law. To try to keep the ten commandments therefore, while ignoring the Mosaic law is to fail miserably and to be declared guilty under the whole law, which demands perfection on all points.
If Jesus had only meant the ten commandments when he spoke about ‘the law’ he came to fulfil in Matthew 5:17-18, he would not have then mentioned as a reference, aspects of the Mosaic law, along with aspects of the ten commandments, when comparing the Old Testament law to his new commands laid down in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7.
Given the fact that Jesus was referring both to the ten commandments and the Mosaic law when he spoke of the ‘law’ in Matthew 5:17-18, what did he mean then when he said he did not come to destroy the ‘law’ but to fulfil it? In other words, given that the scriptures also teach that Jesus came to abolish the law, HOW IS ‘FULFILLING THE LAW‘ TO BE RECONCILED WITH ‘ABOLISHING THE LAW‘?
Well, it is important to remember, first of all, that the Bible never contradicts itself. The Bible clearly teaches that when Jesus came, he abolished ‘the law’, so ‘the law’ has been taken out of the way, nailed to his cross, blotted out, slain and removed. As said before, it died with the Lord Jesus Christ, when he died, him having abolished it in his flesh.
Clearly therefore, when Jesus stated in Matthew 5:17-18, that he did not come to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil, he did not mean that mankind was to continue on trying to keep the WHOLE law (the ten commandments and the Mosaic law), as some of them (the Israelites) had already tried to keep it for many years and failed. It would have made no logical sense for him to state that mankind was to still keep this law given to the Israelites, when all the world had already been declared guilty before God, as falling short of the law’s righteous standard.
Of the law and how mankind has already been declared by God to be a failure under it and therefore, could never hope again to be justified or made right with God by keeping it, Romans 3:19-20, 23 states:
- “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them 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 THERE SHALL NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED IN HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin...For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
On this question therefore, of what Jesus meant when he said that he did not come to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil, given that he did not mean that mankind was to still try to keep ‘the law’, Romans 8:3-4 gives us some insight when it states:
- “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.”
This hints at the fact that there is another route to justification which enables the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled in us, without us having to keep ‘the law’! Hence the reason that Romans 3: 21-22 states:
- “But now the righteousness of God WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”
Romans 8: 3-4 above, clearly tells us, that the righteousness of the law (or the demands or requirements of the law) are FULFILLED or satisfied or met, when we walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. That is, it is possible for the righteousness of the law to be fulfilled (and not destroyed) in human beings, when we choose to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
In that way, we do not need to keep the law because it has been abolished by Jesus Christ but by our having FAITH in him and walking in the Spirit, the righteousness of the law will be automatically fulfilled in us.
This then begs the question: If walking after the Spirit, automatically enables the law, which is righteous, to be fulfilled in us, without us having to try to work to keep the law (the whole of it), what does it mean then, to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh?
This is an important question because in it lies the solution. For, the Word of God lets us know, that those who walk after the Spirit are given a pass, (so to speak), in that they are automatically enabled to fulfil the onerous requirements of the law, without even focusing on it and trying to keep it. Walking after the Spirit is therefore something that all mankind should aim for, as it automatically gives human beings a pass grade in the sight of God (without them even working for it), when it comes to satisfying the righteous demands of the law.
WHAT IT MEANS TO WALK AFTER THE SPIRIT AND NOT THE FLESH
It is not possible for a human being to walk after the Spirit, if that human being does not have the Spirit of Christ (otherwise referred to as the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit) in him. Such a person is regarded in the Word of God as being spiritually dead. Walking after the Spirit is only possible, where the Spirit of Christ (Spirit of God) indwells a person, that person then being enabled to submit to the Holy Spirit and to pursue after those things that please the Spirit of Christ (Spirit of God), which lives within him or her.
Romans 8:9 states, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God DWELL IN YOU. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
A person is not born with the Spirit of God (Spirit of Christ) dwelling in him. He can only get the Spirit of God (Spirit of Christ), if God gives it to him.
God does not give his Spirit to everyone. He only gives it to those who, by FAITH believe from their hearts on his Son Jesus Christ and who have accepted him as Lord and Saviour over their lives, having repented of their sins and confessed with their mouths that he is Lord.
In Ephesians 1:13, Paul wrote to those who had believed in Jesus at Ephesus, surrendered their lives to his Lordship and were trusting him alone in FAITH, for salvation. He wrote of Jesus:
- “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER THAT YE BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…”
In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, saying, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that THE SPIRIT OF GOD dwelleth in you?“
The Spirit of God is powerful because it comes from God and he is all powerful. Whenever it indwells a believer therefore because it is from God and God is love, it causes the love of God to fill that believer’s heart and in so doing, it supernaturally enables and empowers that believer, motivated by love for God, which overflows to love for people, to be who God wants him or her to be and to do what he wants him or her to do. In this regard, it enables a believer, through the Spirit of Christ indwelling him or her, to do through love, what the flesh could never do.
John 6:63 states, “It is THE SPIRIT that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Of the love that accompanies the indwelling of the Spirit of God, Romans 5:5 states, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the LOVE of God is shed abroad in our hearts BY THE HOLY GHOST which is given unto us.”
1 John 4:12-13, indicated that this love that comes from God is evidence that we have his Spirit in us. The scripture states, “…If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of HIS SPIRIT.“
2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God hath not given us the SPIRIT of fear; but of power, and of LOVE, and of a sound mind.”
In Ephesians 3:14-19, it reads:
- “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by HIS SPIRIT in the inner man; that Christ may DWELL in your hearts by FAITH; that ye, being rooted and grounded in LOVE, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the LOVE of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul highlighted how the love of God, which only those who have been indwelled by the Spirit of God possess, enables them to FULFIL or meet the righteous standard of the law, without having to work at keeping the law.
- “Owe no man any thing, but to LOVE one another: for he that LOVETH another hath FULFILLED the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt LOVE thy neighbour as thyself. LOVE worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore LOVE is the FULFILLING of the law.”
In summary therefore, when we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, confess with our mouths that he is Lord and put our hope, trust and confidence in HIM ALONE by FAITH, to save us, he does and God then gives us his Holy Spirit, which indwells us. Given that God is love, his Spirit is also love and therefore, causes love for Him to be shed abroad in our hearts. Motivated by this love, it enables us through God’s Spirit, to be who he wants us to be and to do what he wants us to do and without us working at keeping the law, once love for God remains our focus, we realize, that we automatically FULFIL the law.
As an example of how accepting Jesus Christ and being IN him enables us to walk after the Spirit and in so doing, automatically FULFIL the law, imagine the following scenario:
A and B have to travel from R to S, which is a great distance. A sets out to get there, using his two feet. He finds the path long, onerous and after trying and trying, tired, he wants to give up. He is still so far from S despite all of his efforts.
B on the other hand, sets out to get to S but not in his own strength. He was GRACIOUSLY offered an opportunity to get to S through a plane, which promised to cover the distance quicker, more easily and to take him to the destination. In FAITH, B believed and put himself IN that plane. He then got to S, not by using his two feet or trying to get there in his own strength (as A has been doing to no avail) but by the POWER of that plane. He did not arrive to S tired either. For, while he was IN that plane, he rested, in full confidence and trust, by FAITH, that the plane had what it took, to get him across safely. He actually enjoyed the journey, unlike A, who never got to the destination, failed despite all his efforts and fell short because he found the path to be too burdensome.
It is the same with us when it comes to justification, righteousness and salvation. Some are trying in their own efforts to keep ‘the law’, so as to gain acceptance with God and get to heaven but they are failing miserably and only wear themselves out. For, they are using a route that is not only difficult but that is not even any more operational, it having been abolished.
God by his grace, has provided a much easier route, through his Son Jesus Christ, who has promised to get us to that destination of heaven, not in our own strength or works or efforts but in his. He has invited us to stop trying to keep ‘the law’ and to put our focus instead on HIM alone, by FAITH, promising that if we BELIEVE on him and trust HIM alone for salvation, he would enable us to fulfil ‘the law’, not by our power or our might by by HIS Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
Those that put their trust in him therefore and believe his testimony, the Bible refers to them as being IN Christ Jesus and those that are safely IN Christ Jesus, he enables them through HIS POWER ALONE to fulfil or meet the righteous standard of ‘the law’, without them even trying to keep ‘the law’. In focusing on Jesus Christ alone who is GREATER than ‘the law’, the issues highlighted in ‘the law’, automatically get dealt with.
Such persons who focus on Jesus Christ alone (and not ‘the law’) are justified, made righteous, saved by God’s power and therefore get to heaven, not on their own merit or because they have done a good job at keeping ‘the law’ (which is impossible) but because of who they were IN.
It follows therefore, that we are only able to walk after the Spirit, when we have accepted God’s free and unmerited gift of salvation, offered through the blood which was shed by Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. In so doing, by FAITH in Jesus Christ as our resurrected Saviour, we become children of God, saved from his damnation to come.
The gift of salvation, which comes solely by God’s grace, cannot be received through our works, nor do our works or our trying to obey any aspect of the Old Testament ‘law’, make us eligible or deserving of or recipients of it. Our best works and best efforts to obey or keep ‘the law’ of the Old Testament (the whole of it), have already been stated by God to be as filthy rags in his sight (Isaiah 64:6). The more we try, the more we fail and this was why Jesus came: To enable us to be made righteous through an easier route, that is, through FAITH in him alone.
For those who have accepted Jesus by grace alone, he offers a gift of justification, righteousness and salvation, through FAITH alone. The Bible states: “For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The justification which God offers through FAITH in Jesus Christ alone is therefore separate and apart from justification through the route of ‘the law’ of the Old Testament and what it demands that those who are under it do, in order to be righteous. When through FAITH we become justified, by believing that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead and confess him with our mouth as Lord, his Spirit comes to dwell in us, enabling us to now walk in the Spirit and walk after the Spirit. We become clothed in HIS righteousness, which is perfect and not our own works under the Old Testament ‘law’, which we could never do well enough, so as to render us righteous before God under it.
Furthermore, when we walk in the Spirit, the righteousness or demands of the Old Testament law are FULFILLED, as the Spirit, which is part of the Godhead is superior to and greater than ‘the law’, which was initially made by the Godhead, for man. This is why Jesus, also part of the Godhead and who often referred to himself as the Son of man (because he came through a human passage), said in Mark 2:27-28: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”
Jesus was in essence saying that he created the Sabbath to apply to men and not the other way round. The Sabbath was therefore not greater than him and he, as Lord, could disregard it if he so chose. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, being Lord over ALL is also certainly able and has the authority, to enable those who have accepted his free gift of salvation (which makes them righteous), to FULFIL the righteousness of ‘the law’, not in the oldness of the letter but in the newness of the SPIRIT.
Romans 7:6 states it nicely. It says: “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of SPIRIT, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS (OTHERWISE REFERRED TO AS ‘THE LAW OF LIBERTY’ OR ‘THE LAW OF GRACE’)
It is important to note that people who have been given the Spirit of God because they have put their FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, do not get to just live life as they please, nor do they want to. God has given them NEW TESTAMENT commands, rules and instructions but these are not burdensome to submit to because God’s Spirit indwells them and enables them. These New Testament commands are therefore called ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ or ‘the law of liberty’ or ‘the law of grace’. They are laid out in the New Testament portion of the Bible and replace ‘the law’ of the Old Testament, which is also referred to as ‘the law of sin and death’ because of how difficult it was to keep and how it therefore condemned mankind.
This new law of liberty, although much easier to obey because of God’s Spirit in us is far more superior to ‘the law’ of the Old Testament (which includes the law of the ten commandments and the Mosaic law). In fact, the Old Testament ‘law’ was considered to be so burdensome, that Paul, after having believed on Jesus Christ for his justification by FAITH alone, stated in Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath MADE ME FREE from the law of sin and death.”
Hebrews 9:13 states, on how Jesus, in his death and resurrection, abolished ‘the law’ of the Old Testament and brought in the new:
- “And for this cause he is the mediator of the NEW TESTAMENT, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
The old ‘law’ which consists of the ten commandments and the Mosaic law is now inferior to the new and superior law, which now applies to all believers. This new and superior law (the law of liberty) was laid down by Jesus Christ himself in Matthew and in the precepts given by his apostles (including Paul) in the New Testament books they wrote, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 5:17-48; 6 and 7, Jesus introduces those who are his through FAITH alone, in him alone, through GRACE alone, to this new law of liberty, which, if practised through the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit, will result in the FULFILLMENT (not the destruction) of the righteousness of the Old Testament law.
In other words, since the grace of God that brings salvation and the Spirit that comes by it is greater than ‘the law’ of the Old Testament, once we focus on walking after the Spirit and obeying the new commands of grace given in the New Testament, we automatically FULFIL the righteousness of the old law, without even trying to keep the law.
To explain this new law of liberty which is what is applicable to Christians today (not the old), in Matthew 5, Jesus first mentioned what the old law had to say on the subject and then what he, as Lord over all laws was now commanding.
An examination of the old with the new, reveals that they are not totally different but the new is far more superior, going as far as dealing with the root cause of issues and the Lord laying down New Testament commands that, if followed, would prevent an escalation to the point of some of the evils mentioned in the Old Testament laws.
For example, he stated that the Old Testament law said not to kill but that he was commanding, not to be angry at your brother without a cause. (Matthew 5:21-26). It is the anger that usually escalates to murder and so the new law of liberty is far more superior because it gives a command based on the root cause and not the outcome of the root cause.
It does so similarly with regard to the issue of adultery. The old law said not to commit adultery. The new law goes further and digs deeper, stating that one should not even look after a woman to lust after her. It is the look that leads to the lust and the lust that leads to the act of adultery. Jesus therefore stated that if there is the lust in the heart, there is already adultery committed, in the mind.
He also lays down new commands that go against the old (which he is entitled to do as Lord), placing a fresh prohibition on divorce (except for fornication) and remarriage, although the old law said this was permissible (Matthew 5:31-32).
When people who profess to know Christ therefore, divorce their spouses or are divorced by their spouses and choose to remarry someone else while their spouse is still in the land of the living, they have chosen to disobey the new law of liberty, where Jesus himself commanded that this not be done.
They cannot claim to be justified in doing so, by stating (as some of them have tried to do),that they are not under ‘the law’ but under grace because:
- 1 – Firstly, Jesus does not permit Christians today to be lawless and to do as they please. He has given them a new ‘law of grace’ otherwise known as the ‘law of liberty’, to obey. Liberty does not mean do as you please but it refers to the freedom experienced through obedience to Jesus’ commands. In other words, being justified by faith and under grace does not mean that the Christian (believer and follower of Christ) gets to live life as he pleases, licentiously, without rules and lawlessly. No. He cannot just do as he feels and claim to have liberty. While not bugged down anymore by the Old Testament law which has been abolished by Jesus Christ (Praise the Lord!), he is now still to operate by the commands given by Jesus in the New Testament, referred to in the Word as “the law to Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 9:21, in referring to those who are now under grace and no longer the law (meaning the Old Testament law), Paul wrote:“To them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,). Christians are therefore no longer subject to Old Testament ordinances which they have been freed from but they are now subject to Christ’s commands and therefore still have rules to obey.
- 2 – Secondly, the argument that they are not under ‘law’ but under grace fails, when one considers that it was the ‘law’ (Old Testament) that said that divorce and remarriage was okay when Moses gave it but it is grace (the new law of liberty) that now forbids it.
The old law supported an eye-for-an-eye mentality but the new, far more superior law of grace, which comes from the mouth of Jesus himself and is founded on love, now prohibits this (Matthew 5:38-42).
The old law said that once you made an oath or swore to the Lord, to be sure that you kept it but the new law that Jesus gives, prohibits swearing altogether (Matthew 5:33-37).
The old law stated that one should love his neighbour but the new law that Jesus gives, goes beyond that and commands that we love our enemies as well (Matthew 5:43-48).
The new law does not therefore duplicate the old law. In some areas, there are similarities but in others, there are differences.
Jesus continues in chapter 6 and 7 of Matthew, to give the new commands under the law of grace, which, if obeyed by those who have the Spirit of life in them through salvation, would enable them (by the Spirit’s empowerment) to FULFIL the righteousness of the law of the Old Testament, which is inferior to this new law of grace.
This is liberating, as under grace, one gets to be righteous through Christ (who is far superior to the old ‘law’), without having to obey to the T or to the letter, the long list of all ‘the laws’ given under the Old Testament.
JESUS’ DISCUSSION WITH THE RICH RULER
It is important to note what Jesus told the rich ruler (an Israelite/Jew) who came to him asking what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Notably, this was BEFORE Jesus’ death and therefore, he had not yet slain the enmity of ‘the law’ in his flesh although he was about to do so (Ephesians 2:15). It was when he died, that he blotted it out, removed it out of the way and nailed it to his cross Colossians 2:14).
In response to the rich ruler’s question therefore, Jesus told him that he must keep the commandments, to which, the man asked Jesus “Which?’’.
In addition to the Mosaic law, ten commandments were given by God under the Old Testament, so some may find it strange that he, as a Jew, would ask Jesus this question. In Exodus 20:3-17 and as the rich ruler must have known, the ten commandments were given directly by God to the people of Israel as follows:
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
- Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
To answer his question, Jesus did not tell him that he (the rich ruler) was wasting his time because he already knew the ten commandments in the Old Testament and the other laws, which are today referred to as the Mosaic laws. Instead, although mankind trying to keep the law was an exercise in futility, he took the time to patiently list what the man needed to obey, in order to inherit eternal life and interestingly, in doing so, he referred only to the moral laws as contained in the commandments (which I’ve heard people describe as the core essence of the constitutional laws of God). Yet, even so, he did not mention all ten commandments!
This is significant. For, it was not an error or an oversight on his part because Jesus, who is Lord and also God, does not make mistakes. Everything he does is deliberate, so he deliberately made no mention of some of the Old Testament commandments.
Notably, what he mentioned should not be regarded as an indication that people needed to go back to the Old Testament ‘law’ or to an aspect of it, that being the Ten Commandments, to try to keep it.
No. I believe that Jesus mentioned them because he had not yet nailed the law of the Old Testament to his cross but he was getting ready to do so and usher in the new.
In addition, in my view, it is important to note, that all of the commandments that Jesus mentioned to the rich ruler are also commands that he gave afresh to the Church in the New Testament. That is, some of the NEW TESTAMENT commands that Jesus gave believers who have come to him by FAITH alone for salvation are the same as some of the commandments God gave the Israelites in the Old Testament. They are therefore applicable, along with all of the other New Testament commands that Jesus gave (whether directly or indirectly through his apostles), to the Church.
When we as the Church, who are indwelled by the Spirit of God and operate under the law of grace, obey them, we do so, not because they are also mentioned in the Old Testament ‘law’ such as the ten commandments but because Jesus gave them to us as fresh commands in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, which applies to us.
In fact, although the sentiments or principle behind most of the Old Testament commandments are reiterated in other New Testament scriptures under this new law of grace, Jesus never once mentioned the sabbath as one of the new commands to the Church. In the New Testament, he and the apostles who he sent, told the Church afresh not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie and so on (all of which are founded on the principle of love which is what God is and which are referred to as God’s moral laws). Yet, Jesus who never gets a lapse in judgment because he is Lord, never told the Church to keep the sabbath. In fact, even when ‘the law’ was still technically in existence because Jesus had not yet died, when responding to the rich ruler and listing the commandments that he needed to obey then, Jesus made absolutely no mention of the sabbath!
This may be shocking to Adventists, who, although they are not Israelites but Gentiles, insist that the sabbath, which was never given to them by God, must be kept in order to be saved or to demonstrate one’s obedience to God. How can this demonstrate obedience if God never gave it to the Gentiles in the first place and even the Israelites who it was once given to are no longer required to keep it themselves, in order to inherit eternal life? Imagine, the rich ruler was an Israelite and came to Jesus at a point where ‘the law’ was still technically in operation but not once did Jesus tell him he had to keep the sabbath, although he asked what he had to do to be saved.
Jesus only gave seven (7) commandments and it is clear from other scriptures in the New Testament, that these seven (7) commandments were given afresh as commands under the NEW TESTAMENT, along with fresh new additional commands. In fact, as explained earlier, they were improved upon, as the law of grace FULFILS and even by-passes the standard of ‘the law’ of the Old Testament, by getting to the very root of issues.
Speculatively, maybe Jesus did not mention the sabbath because while he knew that seven (7) of the commandments would be repeated afresh as commands under the new law of grace for believers, the sabbath would be omitted as no longer applicable. After all, it was not moralistic in nature and once Jesus died and rose up again, those that put their trust in him by FAITH and were resting in HIM alone, would no longer need a day of rest. For, he, the Lord of the sabbath was greater than the sabbath (Matthew 12:8).
Of the discussion between Jesus and the rich ruler in Matthew 19:16-22, it reads:
- “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
In the above scripture, Jesus gave seven (7) commandments which were necessary and which have been repeated afresh today as new commands under the new law of liberty, although in greater measure. The seventh commandment was disguised in his instruction to the young man, to go and sell all he had and come and follow him. This was the commandment where God told the Israelites that they should have no other gods before him.
This man’s god was clearly money and Jesus exposed it in the instruction he gave him. For, this man valued his possessions above God, hence the reason I believe that he did not address Jesus as Lord but as ‘Master’. He knew that Jesus was great and a holy man but he did not acknowledge him as Lord over all or believe that he was and therefore, did not understand that he had the authority and the right to demand exclusive worship, to the exclusion of all else, including money.
I reiterate that the other three (3) commandments (including the keeping of the sabbath) were not mentioned at all in this portion of scripture, as precursors to eternal life.
It was the last commandment really, that was the most important, as Jesus is God and came to reconcile the world back to himself through FAITH in him alone, not keeping of the law. However, if the rich ruler had his money as his god or idol, then he could not be saved because his faith was not in the Lordship of Jesus but in his riches. He was therefore not willing to forsake all and follow Jesus.
Also, although he claimed to have kept the law from his childhood up, he may have been self-deluded but this was a lie. Jesus, knowing that trying to keep the whole law perfectly was futile for mankind to do and that this man had fallen short of its perfectly righteous standard, exposed one of the areas in which the rich ruler had failed. Sadly, when Jesus did this, instead of realizing, (in preparation for the new easier route to justification which would be by FAITH alone in Jesus Christ) that trying to keep the law in its entirety was useless and therefore, that another path was needed for salvation, the rich ruler rejected Jesus’ offer to forsake his idol and follow him and instead, went away sorrowfully in the same lost condition in which he had come.
The long and short of all of the verses I have listed so far is that for those who have accepted Jesus Christ by FAITH into their hearts, their focus should be, no longer on the Old Testament ‘law’ (which they cannot follow in its entirety and therefore leads inevitably to the condemnation of those who insist on trying to follow it). Their focus should be on the far superior law of the New Testament (‘the law of grace’ or ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ or ‘the law of liberty’), laid down by Christ himself when speaking to his disciples in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and indirectly through those very disciples and Paul, after he ascended to heaven.
To say that Christians get to live as they please under grace is therefore false. Jesus has replaced the old ‘law’ with the law of grace, which is spelt out in the many teachings he and his apostles (including Paul) gave under the New Testament.
THE LAW OF GRACE CANNOT BE EMBRACED ALONG WITH THE OLD TESTAMENT ‘LAW‘
As I close, some people are of the view that you can hold on to the law of grace and the law of the Old Testament (referred to as the law of sin and death) at the same time. Indeed, this is what the Adventists preach.
However, you cannot do so, as these two laws are mutually exclusive. You cannot hold on to the old and move forward with the new at the same time. That is, you have to decide if you will follow the Old Testament ‘laws’ (or at least try to, although I can tell you in advance that you will fail miserably) or the New Testament commands (the law of grace).
This does not mean that a person who professes Christ cannot decide to spend a day physically resting or regard one day as more holy than another. The scriptures are clear on that. However, it is important that that person understands, knows and believes the truth, that this is not essential to his or her salvation and is not an obligation that God has placed on those who are his, to demonstrate obedience to him.
When one regards a day or in particular, the Sabbath day as a day that is required to be kept, then this highlights a flaw in that person’s understanding of grace and the salvation that comes by it. If that person places reliance on that day, as many Adventists do, to be saved or accepted of God or see it as an obligation for all those who are Christians, then it means that that person is still operating under the Old Testament ‘laws’ and has therefore not yet received God’s free gift of salvation by grace, through FAITH.
That a person is operating under the Old Testament ‘laws’ (which leads hopelessly to failure and damnation if they continue under it) and therefore placing reliance on it, becomes evident when a person thinks that he or she is benefiting spiritually somehow by keeping the Sabbath day or that he or she attains some level of righteousness, superior to those who do not keep it. It also becomes evidence where a person believes that he or she is pleasing God because he or she keeps it or when that person insists that all Christians should keep it as a commandment from God and takes the view that those who profess Christianity but do not keep it are not saved because they are being disobedient to this commandment.
Some Adventists and maybe some other denominations, even go so far as to pull from the Old Testament Mosaic laws and state that God requires the Church to not eat certain meats like pork but this is not at all true. This was contained in the Old Testament Mosaic law given to the Israelites but it is not applicable to those (Gentiles and Jews) who are now under the New Covenant by FAITH in Jesus Christ alone.
In fact, the Word of God which is the authority on these matters, clearly states:
- “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in HIM: Rooted and built up in HIM, and stablished in the FAITH, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in HIM dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in HIM, which is the head of all principality and power…
- Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
- Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a SHEW of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: NOT IN ANY HONOUR to the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:16-23)
- “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in BONDAGE? YE OBSERVE DAYS, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Galatians 4:8-11)
- “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which GOD HATH CREATED TO BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING of them which believe and know the truth. For EVERY creature of God is good, and NOTHING to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For IT IS SANCTIFIED BY THE WORD OF GOD and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained (1 Timothy 4:1-6)
Paul cautioned those in the New Testament, who, like some today, insisted on holding on to one part or a few parts of the Old Testament ‘law’, as a requirement for salvation or to demonstrate obedience to God. It was either they chose the Old Testament ‘law’ in its entirety (which would inevitably lead to failure) or grace (through FAITH in Jesus Christ alone). They could not have both.
Today, Adventists (who, like all other non-Israelites are Gentiles), insist on holding on to aspects of the Old Testament ‘law’ like the Sabbath (an Old Testament Commandment) and the abstaining from certain meats (an Old Testament Mosaic law), as requirements, although ‘the law’ was never given to them in the first place and the Israelites themselves are no longer required to keep or focus on it.
This is nothing new. Similarly, back in the New Testament Bible days, those who had professed Christianity from Israelite/Jewish circles were trying to hold on to another aspect of the Old Testament ‘law’, which is circumcision.
Both are based on the same flawed principle, as both the Adventists and these people are or were seeking to be justified before God, by keeping aspects of his Old Testament ‘law’. Yet, justification comes through nothing else and no one else but Jesus, by FAITH. He alone is enough and to seek to add to God’s requirement for salvation and living (which is called ‘God’s righteousness’) is to undermine what Jesus did at the cross and to try to attain to heaven through your own righteousness, which, sadly, is no righteousness at all.
This was not regarded as acceptable at all by Paul or no big deal. Some people say that once Adventists claim to have accepted Christ Jesus by FAITH, it is no big deal if they religiously continue on in the erroneous belief, that the sabbath must still be kept and certain meats (the latter of which was never even contained in the ten commandments) must not be consumed.
In response to this thinking, here is what Paul told the Jews who had claimed that they had accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts but were still courting the Old Testament ‘law’ of circumcision, in Galatians 5:1-14:18:
- “STAND FAST therefore in the liberty wherewith CHRIST HAS MADE US FREE and BE NOT ENTANGLED AGAIN WITH THE YOKE OF BONDAGE. 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.
- Christ is become of NO EFFECT UNTO YOU, WHOSOEVER OF YOU ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW; YE ARE FALLEN FROM GRACE. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness BY FAITH. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but FAITH which worketh by LOVE.
- Ye did run well; who did HINDER YOU that ye should NOT OBEY THE TRUTH? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump…But he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto LIBERTY…For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself….But if ye be led of the Spirit, YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW.”
Additionally, know that if you refuse to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord by grace alone, through FAITH alone and think that you must do the Old Testament ‘law’ or some aspect of it in order to be saved or to please God, you have a form of godliness but are not godly or righteous because, like many others in the last days, you are denying the power of God through Jesus Christ his Son (2 Timothy 3:5). For, you are saying that FAITH in Jesus is not enough, that his grace is not enough and that the blood which he shed for you is not enough to save you. You are saying that it is faith in Jesus plus something in the Old Testament that you must do, that saves you. In so doing, you are rejecting God’s solution through his Son alone, for justification.
You are also saying that when Jesus redirected our focus on the law of grace and no more ‘the law’ of the Old Testament, that he did not have the authority to do so. In effect, you are therefore saying that the law of the Old Testament which included the sabbath is greater than the Lord who made it and therefore, you are denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ altogether. In other words, you are operating by a spirit of religion and not relationship with Jesus Christ. The latter trumps all.
JESUS IS NOW THE CHRISTIAN’S SABBATH (REST)
When we abide in Jesus, we are continually resting in him in a far more superior way than we could ever do in resting on a day. In fact, on whatever day we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives as Lord, no other day of rest is any longer of any significance because we now find our continuous rest in him. It is because Jesus is now exclusively our rest that he said in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Of this rest which can only now be found in Jesus by FAITH in him and no longer a day designated as the sabbath, Paul states in Hebrews 4:1-11, in commenting on the unbelief of the Israelites when God took them out of Egypt and how this prevented many of them from entering the promised land:
- “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into HIS rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with FAITH in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works .And in this place again, If they shall enter into MY rest.
- Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
- There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
One commentator put it beautifully when he said, “It is not that the law of keeping the sabbath has been done away with. It is now that it is kept through Christ…” In other words, Jesus Christ is our Sabbath (rest), once we remain abiding in him by FAITH.
This is in keeping with what the Lord Jesus said when he stated that he did not come to destroy ‘the law’ but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). The Old Testament law of the sabbath which was a day appointed for physical rest, has been fulfilled in Jesus himself, who, in his finished work of atonement for our sins on the cross, has enabled us to now rest through FAITH spiritually in him.
Two commentators also put it wonderfully in discussing the above scripture, when they wrote:
- “There is a sense in which to enter Christian salvation means to cease from one’s works and rest securely on what Christ has done…This cessation from works as a basis for righteousness fulfills our “Sabbath rest.” God rested from His works on the original Sabbath of Genesis 2:2 because the work was finished. We cease from self-justifying works because Jesus finished the work on the cross.”
No wonder Jesus did not mention the sabbath as one of the commandments the rich ruler needed to keep, to inherit eternal life. The sabbath was clearly a day of rest under the Old Testament but after Jesus came, he himself is now that rest that we are to enter into by FAITH and by his own words, he is greater than the sabbath.
Romans 4:4-8 tells us:
- “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Faith in Jesus: the only way now to please God and obtain righteousness
Sadly, after Jesus died, rose again and ascended to heaven, although he now offered the way to salvation through his righteousness being imputed upon those who believe on him, many Israelites continued to try to keep the Old Testament ‘laws’ (including the sabbath and the circumcision) with the hope that somehow, these efforts would buy them righteousness in God’s eyes.
Yet, God’s truth is clear. It is impossible to obtain righteousness outside of Jesus Christ and it is impossible to obtain righteousness and to gain points with God by keeping the sabbath or any other Old Testament ‘law’.
In John 14:6, Jesus stated “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In Acts 4:12, Paul stated of Jesus “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
To be righteous therefore, we, as sinful creatures with the very best of our works and efforts considered by God to be just like filthy rags, need to be clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus, which he places on all those that believe by FAITH, that he died for their sins and rose again and confess with their mouths that is Lord.
The works of ‘the law’ cannot save, add to or enhance one’s salvation. All it does it points out one’s sin, declaring them guilty before God.
In Romans 10:1-4, Paul commented on the Israelites, who, after Jesus had died, rose again and gone back to heaven were still wasting their time zealously trying to hold on to the Old Testament ‘laws’ and the Old Covenant, in the hope that it would somehow make them acceptable before God. Some were earnest in this regard, genuinely wanting to have relationship with God. Yet because they failed to realize that it was now a New Covenant in operation and that this New Covenant was founded by grace alone, through FAITH in Jesus alone and no longer the works of ‘the law’, they were still lost and in their sins.
- “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD. FOR CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to every one that believeth.”
Ironically, Paul noted earlier on in Chapter 9:30-32, that the Gentiles, who were previously outside of God’s Old Covenant and fitted for his destruction, had now obtained righteousness through FAITH in Christ, whereas the Israelites, who were God’s chosen people and the one with whom he had the Old Covenant, remained in their sins and were destined to a lost eternity because they refused to believe in FAITH on Jesus Christ and his finished work on Calvary. They refused to believe that through Him, they could be justified and access salvation.
- “…the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of FAITH. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by FAITH, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.”
(Written on 05th February, 2019, added to thereafter)
Dear Reader, please also read Part 3 in Article 246 entitled: “TO THOSE WHO INSIST ON KEEPING THE LAW (PART 3/3)”. Also, if you found the above Article to be informative, eye-opening, edifying, beneficial or interesting, I recommend that you also read the following:
- Note 82 – ‘Trying To Be The Best You Can Is Not Is Not Enough – Jesus Is The Answer’
- Note 93 – ‘Must I Keep The Law? (Part 1/3)’
- Note 237 – ‘Why Your Good Deeds/Works Are Not Enough To Earn You A Space In Heaven‘
- Note 246 – ‘To Those Who Insist On Keeping The Law (Part 3/3)‘
Under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 172 – ‘Are You Trying To Establish Your Own Righteousness?‘
- Note 184 – ‘Could You Be Sincerely Wrong?’