Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Laying Down the Law - Understanding Difficult Scriptures

Many saints who have adopted the view that the Law continues as the guardian and tutor to the saints today arrive at this view due to a misapprehension of various Scriptures. Although their conviction may be sincere, error will always result in undesirable consequences.

If you have patiently considered all the preceding material in this teaching series, you should now definitely know that the Law was not made for spiritual men and women. You should clearly perceive that those who are in Christ have died to the Law in order to be joined to another. The Law with its shadows, its weakness, and its inability to make any man perfect, has been replaced by that which is substantial, powerful and able to present men perfect.

What then, are we to make of various Scriptures that are often cited by men to advocate the continuance of the Law? Many of these Scriptures come from the life of Christ. They are His own words.

It must be understood precisely where the Law was ended. The Law still retained its authority when Christ was born.

Galatians 4:4
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law...

The covenant of the Law continued throughout the years of Christ’s ministry. The Son of God declared that He came to fulfill the Law.

Matthew 5:17-20
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Many saints do a cursory reading of this passage from Matthew’s gospel and conclude that Christ said the Law will remain as long as the heavens and earth exist. This is not what He said. Yahshua declared that the Law would not pass away “till all is fulfilled.” Immediately before this He declared that He came to fulfill the Law.

The saint must answer the question, “Did Yahshua accomplish what He said He came to do? Did He fulfill the Law?” The testimony of the Scriptures is a resounding “Yes!”

Matthew 3:13-15
 Then Yahshua came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" But Yahshua answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.

Luke 24:44
Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."

The Son of God not only fulfilled every prophecy of the Messiah, but He satisfied all the righteous requirements of the Law.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yahshua did what the Father sent Him to do. He fulfilled the Law. The Law could not pass away until all was fulfilled. The Law ended as the Son of God hung on the cross. It ended much as it began, with darkness, and terror, and the rocks being split.

Exodus 19:16-19
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because Yahweh descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

Matthew 27:50-54
And Yahshua cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split..., So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Yahshua, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

The ministry of the Law was terrifying to the soul of man from its beginning until the very end. The Law was a minister of condemnation and death. Its beginning terrified all who observed it, as did its ending.

Who could observe the judgment of the Law upon the Son of God and not be shaken to their depths? The Law did not slay Christ for His sins, but for the sins of mankind. Those who observed the crucifixion witnessed the Law’s righteous judgment on man. We should all stand with trembling to understand that it should have been us on the cross. Yahshua accepted the full judgment of the Law on our behalf, and with this judgment the Law ended.

Galatians 2:19-20
For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ...

As long as the Adamic man lived, the Law had jurisdiction over him. The covenant could only be ended by death. Those who are in Christ have died. When He was crucified, they were crucified. When Yahshua died, they died. When the Messiah rose again to newness of life, so too did all who are partakers of His life.

Romans 6:3-8
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Yahshua were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him...

For Christ, the Law ended when He died. For the Christian, the Law ends the moment they become a partaker of the life of Christ. It is with this understanding that all the words of Christ must be discerned. The Son of God’s life serves as the transition point from Law to Grace; from legal prohibition to liberty; from a written code to life in the Spirit. On the cross the Law’s claim over mankind was satisfied.

Colossians 2:13-14
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Before the eyes of the Father stand the charges of the Law. With the blood of His Son it is stamped “Paid in Full.” The Law condemned man and caused enmity to exist between God and man. Christ removed the enmity, thereby opening the door for man to become a partaker of the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of Christ residing in man that makes known the will of Christ in the heart of the believer. Those who are Christ’s are called to heed every instruction Christ discloses to them.

John 14:21-24
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Yahshua answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.”

John 15:10-12
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My

Some have erred in correlating Christ’s commandments with the commands of Moses. Similarly, some have misconstrued John’s words, believing him to be speaking of the Law of Moses in the following passage:

I John 5:2-3
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. or this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

John has elsewhere spoken of Christ’s commandments.

I John 2:3-5
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.

The commands of Christ that John refers to are the same as the commands of God mentioned later on in the same epistle. Christ also testified that His commands are one and the same with the Father’s commands.

John 14:24
He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

What are the words and commandments of Christ?

John 13:34-35
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Christ delivered to His disciples the perfect law of liberty, the law of love. Against such things there is no Law. Furthermore, Christ reveals His desire for His disciples through the Spirit who was sent to indwell them. Whatever the Spirit reveals to be the will of Christ for our lives becomes the commandment of Yahshua to us. As the saints of God walk in the Spirit they will find themselves keeping the commandments of Christ.

Remember what we have previously learned. When Christ appeared as the High Priest of a new covenant, there was necessarily a change of the Law (Hebrews 7:12). Yahshua’s commandments are not the commandments of Moses. Yahshua has delivered a new commandment. For the saints in Christ, the will of God is revealed through a new and living way.

I Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God...

John 16:14
He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

I John 4:13
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

By sending forth the Spirit of His Father to dwell in the hearts of man, Christ irrevocably changed the manner in which men would relate to God.

Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Galatians 5:16
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

People of God, although these Scriptures are familiar to the saints, few comprehend what a radical change they imply. Man had never been a dwelling place for the Spirit of God until Christ sent forth His Spirit. Beginning at the first Pentecost of the body of Christ, the saints have had the Word of God abiding within them.

Seeing that the Spirit was sent to displace the Law in its role of making known the will of the Father, what did Paul mean when he wrote the following:

Romans 3:31
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

This is a passage that many cite when they advocate a continuance of the Law. In this book we have looked at dozens of statements from the apostle Paul. These declarations plainly proclaim that the Law has no jurisdiction over those who are in Christ that we have died to the Law, that the Law was “until Christ.” Therefore, Paul’s words here cannot be interpreted to mean just the opposite. Yahweh is not a God of confusion.

Paul declares that the Law is not made void by faith. Christ said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Faith recognizes that the Law had to be fulfilled. Faith declares that it was fulfilled in Christ. Faith furthermore instructs us that we were in Christ, and through our union with Him we have also fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law. Finally, faith tells us that when Christ died, we died, setting us free from the Law that we might walk in newness of the Spirit.

Paul did not invalidate the Law. He did, however, reveal its proper place and application.

I Timothy 1:8-9
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless...

Praise God, our faith informs us that we are righteous.

II Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Philippians 3:8-9
That I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith...

Believing these things to be true, those who perceive themselves to be righteous before God are not under the Law. These ones are empowered and directed by the Spirit. It truly is a new day for those who are a new creation in Christ.

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063


Martha said...

Thank you for this post! For a couple of weeks I've been wanting to ask you about the Romans 3:31 verse. I've had both the "Mosaic Lawkeepers" and the "10 Commandment Keepers" use this verse when justifying the Law having jurisdiction over a believer's life. I knew the Spirit would direct you to write about this verse and I patiently waited and here it is! Thanks for your obedience. I've heard many times brothers and sisters use the "obey my commandments" verses for justifying the keeping of the Law. They assume all verses that mention "commandments or law" are talking about the Law of Moses.

Another issue I have come across is the use of the word, "lawless" in our English translations. I've used the KJV for years but in the last two years have been using the NKJV and the NASB and in those versions (and others) the Greek word "anomia" is translated as "lawlessness" instead of "transgression" or "transgresseth". I never realized the KJV does not have the word "lawlessness" in it at all, until I started reading other translations. "Lawkeepers" view this as an error in the KJV and maybe it is, I'm still doing some research on it. In my NKJV I see the word "lawless" everywhere and my mind wants to automatically think it's referring to the Law of Moses (I think this is going on in the "Lawkeeper's minds). My dear friend uses the word "law-less-ness" (how she pronounces it, stressing the "law-less" part) as meaning absent from the Law of Moses, justifying the use of the Law in a believer's life. The "Lawkeepers" use this verse to accuse us "Spirit led believers" who want to be led and walk in the Spirit as condoning "lawlessness", but surely depending on the context, "lawlessness" is not always referring to the Law of Moses. I think in your last post or the writing before that, you made a statement that "lawlessness" is walking in our own will and not in the will of the Father. Can you help me out here? I think this is key in a believer's life, it's one reason I think the Church is a mess, everyone has been keeping externals to appear righteous before men, but there is no "power" thereof.

Mat 23:26-28 (ESV) "You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

It's interesting Jesus was calling the "Lawkeepers" lawless here...that's the worst insult to a proud "Lawkeeper"!

Again, thanks- I am so blessed by these writings and learning much.

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Martha,

Thank you for writing and sharing your gracious comments and excellent questions.

Regarding arriving at Christ's intended meaning of what it is to be "lawless," one need look only to the following passage:

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"

Christ clearly reveals what it means to be lawless. It is to fail to do what was proclaimed in the first sentence. Man is called to "do the will of the Father who is in heaven."

This obedience is not achieved through keeping the Law. Consider that in every instance Christ cited; casting out demons, prophesying, and performing miracles, there is no prohibition in the Law of Moses pertaining to these works. The failure came in because men were not directed by the Father to these works.

Christ did all of the things mentioned, but NEVER of His own initiative. We too must be led of the Spirit in all we do.

Lawlessness for the saints in Christ is a failure to be led of the Spirit. When a man does any work of his own initiative, whether apparently a good work, or an evil work, that is an act of lawlessness.

Lawlessness is the state of being out from under authority.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.