Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Laying Down the Law - The Law of Liberty

Have you ever considered why the Law delivered to Moses was written on tablets of stone? The stone tablets symbolized man’s heart. Yahweh provided a parable to show His people what would happen when His law is written on stony hearts. The immediate, and irresistible, result is that the Law is broken.

Before the Law was written, Yahweh spoke His commandments to the children of Israel. In their naivete they believed they could keep the commandments of Yahweh. They said, “All the words which Yahweh has said, we will do” (Exodus 24:3).

Yahweh chose to reveal the truth of the matter through the form of a parable. He recorded His Law on tablets of stone and delivered them to the hands of Moses.

Deuteronomy 9:10
“Yahweh gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which Yahweh had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.”

The word rendered in English as “written” is the Hebrew kathab. It literally means “to grave or inscribe.” I believe the use of this word reveals that the Law of God was literally engraved into the stone tablets by the finger of God. Yahweh’s commands were not simply written on the surface as with ink. This parallels Yahweh’s effort to put His Law deep inside the stone heart of man. He knew it wouldn’t work. He wanted man to understand that it would not work.

Moses had just received the Law when Yahweh instructed him to hurry and return down the mountain. The people who had said they would do all the words of God were grossly violating His commandments. Moses descended to find Aaron serving the people before the golden calf. The people were unrestrained, acting immorally, and bringing reproach to God. When Moses saw this he cast the tablets of the Law to the ground, breaking them into pieces.

This was no rash action on Moses’ part. He had just spent forty days in the presence of the holy God. The glory of Yahweh was upon him. His actions were inspired by God. Moses completed the parable. Yahweh was revealing that it was impossible to set His Law in stony hearts. Attempting to do so would always result in the Law being broken.

Immediate following the tablets of the Law being broken, Moses commanded the Levites to slay their brothers, neighbors and friends. The Levites became the ministers of the Law following this event. In truth, they were already acting as its ministers when they went about slaying men without partiality. Those who minister the Law of Moses must of necessity be ministers of condemnation and death, for this is the ministry of the Law. The Law of Moses is rightfully called the Law of sin and death.

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

I wish to spend a moment looking at this statement of the apostle Paul. In these words we have named the two laws. Let us compare and contrast them.

•    Old Covenant: Law of sin and death
•    New Covenant: Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

The counterpart of death in the old covenant is life in the new covenant. Following the parallels here, we see that sin in the old covenant is replaced by the Spirit of Christ in the new.

The old covenant was given to men who were ruled by sin. We read this previously in a quotation from Paul’s letter to Timothy. The Law of Moses was written for the ungodly, profane and rebellious. It was written for men who were slaves of sin.

The new covenant has been given to men who are ruled by the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-9
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Yahshua, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yahshua has made me free from the law of sin and death... For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

On the one hand we have an old covenant given to men who are dead spiritually and ruled by sin. On the other hand we have a new covenant given to men who are alive in Christ and ruled by the Spirit. We should have every anticipation that the substance of these two covenants will be very different.

What do men do who are slaves to sin? They sin. They cannot keep from doing so. Men who are strangers to the life of Christ might desire to please God, but they find the ability is not present in them.

Romans 7:15, 24
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Men who are slaves to sin need something to restrain them. Yahweh does not desire men to sin. Therefore, to men in the tyrannical bondage of sin, Yahweh made a Law that was intended to restrain. It was filled with prohibitions. As we read previously, there are 365 negative commandments in the Law of Moses.

Thou shalt not murder.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not lie.
Thou shalt not covet.
Etc., etc.,

The list is long, for there is great wickedness bound up in the hearts of fallen men.

I am certain that you already know these things about man’s condition before he became a partaker of the divine nature. I share it to help you see a great truth that many Christians have not comprehended. Let me present this revelation in the following manner. We have already seen that the two covenants are presented as having characteristics opposite of one another. (Death versus life; ruled by sin versus ruled by the Spirit). Consider, then, the following:

If men ruled by the sinful flesh sin, then what do men ruled by the Spirit do?

There is only one thing the Holy Spirit desires to do. It desires to live in holiness and righteousness.

Of those born of the first Adam it is written:

Romans 3:10
"There is none righteous, no, not one...”

Of those born of the Last Adam (Christ) it is written:

I John 5:18
We know that no one who is born of God sins...

I John 2:29
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

I John 3:9
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

I know the arguments will arise in the minds of the readers. Many saints have wrestled with these statements of the apostle John. Observing transgression in their lives, they question whether they have truly been born of God. Others deny the things John has stated are true. They say these things are for a future day, but are not the present experience of those who are Christians.

People of God, John is stating accurately the present truth of every person who has been born of God, born of the seed of Christ. This is to be our present experience, but it must be entered into by faith. By faith we must put off the old man, and put on the new.

Ephesians 4:20-24
But you have not so learned Christ... that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

That work accomplished by Christ on our behalf must be entered into by faith. We must reckon our deliverance from sin to be complete, and walk in the knowledge of our union with Christ.

Romans 6:11
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Yahshua our Lord.

The covenant delivered through Moses had to be fulfilled by works. The covenant delivered through Christ is fulfilled by faith. We must believe those things God has done for us through Christ.

  • We have been set free from sin.
  • Sin no longer holds us bound.
  • We have died to sin.
  • We have become the righteousness of God in Christ.
  • We are a new creation.
  • The Spirit of Christ dwells in us.
  • We have passed from death into life.
  • Whereas we were formerly slaves to sin, we are now slaves to righteousness.

All these things are true of those who are partakers of the life of Christ. To the degree we reckon them to be true, we will find that they become our experience.

Embracing the Law of Moses will hinder you from entering into this overcoming experience of life in Christ. The Law treats men as if they are slaves to sin. It seeks to restrain them. The life of Christ needs no restraint. Even as Christ ever lived to do the will and pleasure of His Father, so too do all those who are born of His seed. Our great need is to enter into the life of Christ by faith.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

What is this faith of which Paul speaks? It is precisely what he has described. We believe that Christ is in us. He is alive and present. He is both directing and energizing us. He is ever revealing the will of the Father to us and producing in us the desire to do that will.

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...

Our Father wants us to understand our vital union with His Son. We are dead to sin and alive “in Christ.” We are to reckon it so.

What type of Law would Yahweh give to those who are walking in the revelation of their new life in Christ? Not a law of prohibition, for those who are born of Christ do not sin. The new creature in Christ lives to do the will of the Father. Therefore, the law for those who are in Christ is a law of perfect liberty.

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

James 2:8, 12
 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well... So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

Seeing that the new creation man desires only to please the Father, there is nothing prohibited from him. This is what Paul is declaring in the following Scriptures:

I Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

I Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

If Paul still saw himself as under the Law of Moses, he could not have said “all things are lawful for me.” All things are not lawful under the old covenant, for it was written for men who were slaves to sin.

In contrast, John tells us that no one who is born of Christ sins. Seeing that they do not do so, all things are lawful for them. What type of things might the new creation man want to do? Paul gives us a list in the following Scripture. Pay close attention to the words he ends with.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Christ is the perfect expression of the Father. All of the fruit listed above are part of His nature. For those who are joined to Christ, these things have also become their nature. We can do all these things as much as we want. There is no law to restrict us from being loving, or patient, or self-controlled. Seeing that those born of the seed of Christ desire ONLY to walk righteously, they do not need the Law to restrain them. The Law of Moses was not made for the righteous, but for the unrighteous.

Consider once more the condition of those who are not partakers of the life of Christ. Such ones are slaves to the lusts of the flesh. The things their flesh wants to do must be restrained. Yahweh has given fleshly men many laws of prohibition.

But those in Christ are not in the flesh. They abide and walk in the Spirit. There is a new law for them. The perfect law of liberty. It is the law of liberty that Yahweh has written on the hearts of those who have received a new spirit.

Herein is revealed one of the terrible consequences of embracing the Mosaic Law. It causes spiritual men to view themselves as sinners that need to be restrained. On the other hand, the Law of Liberty induces men to see themselves as heavenly beings born of holy seed whose desire is always to please the Father. What a Christian thinks about himself will shape his life.

Proverbs 23:7
For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

People of God, this leads us to perceive perhaps the greatest challenge of the Christian life. It must be entered into by faith.

Galatians 3:25-26
But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Yahshua.

Do you believe you are a new creation? Do you see yourself as having died to the sin-enslaved person you were before Christ? Do you reckon yourself to be dead to sin? Do you perceive yourself to be “alive to God,” energized and enabled to live a life pleasing to Him? Have you entered into the realm of living where you can confess with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me?”

As long as Christians embrace the Mosaic Law, they will hear the voice of the guardian and schoolmaster speaking to them as sinners who must be restrained. They will be hindered from perceiving the new creation they have become in Christ.

We must perceive our union with Christ. We must see ourselves as spiritual men. The Mosaic Law keeps taking us back to life before Christ. The Law was given B.C. (Before Christ). The church is living a B.C. existence. Let us go forth into A.D.. It is A new Day.

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