Tract 10e. “We Are Not Under The Law” (Rom. 6:14).
Does this mean that the Ten Commandments are abolished?
Since my family started observing God’s commandments a few years ago, we sometimes get confronted by friends who are concerned that we have supposedly rejected the Messiah because of it. We’ve been labelled as Jews, non-Christians, non-believers, anti-Christ, Muslims, and many other names; always in a derogatory sense. The early religious leaders of the Messiah’s day made Him out to be the ‘son of the devil’ for keeping His Father’s commandments instead of their religious traditions; for which they tortured and crucified Him. Acknowledging this helps us to overcome such remarks. When discussing the keeping of God’s commandments, traditionalists cite certain verses from Romans and Galatians into which anti-Jew theologians and early Church fathers like Emperor Constantine, reformer Martin Luther, and their followers have indoctrinated meanings which contradict the rest of the Scriptures. My hope is to clear up a few misunderstandings, which, when reconciled by allowing the SCRIPTURES to speak (2 Peter 1:20), allows one to understand them as one non-contradictory and infallible book (John 10:35) with instructions for life; now and after (Deut. 5:33; 30:15-20; Mat. 19:17; Rev. 14:12; 22:14).
The book of Galatians is notoriously cited as proof that God’s commandments were done away. Certain of Paul’s ‘hard to understand’ Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-17), have been misrepresented by early Church fathers, with sobering success, in an attempt to make them say that the Messiah did away with God’s commandments (compare Mat. 5:17-19) because, they say, Paul says they are a yoke of bondage. Thus they've labelled God's commandments as grievous, burdensome, and unbearable, wherefore they teach that we are now saved by grace alone, without obeying them—Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).
First off, we can know what Paul means by the yoke of bondage by defining which laws he is referring to in most of this epistle. He just finished explaining in chapter 4 verse 21-31 that we must choose between bondage and liberty. He uses the Hagar-Ishmael old covenant (bondage) versus the Sarah-Isaac new covenant (liberty) allegory to address a very important subject; JUSTIFICATION, which is his emphasis throughout the book of Galatians. He compares the old covenant with Hagar, because she gave birth to Ishmael; and with bondage to sin and death, because Ishmael was conceived and born by carnal means. On the other hand, he compares Sarah with the new covenant, because she gave birth to Isaac; and with liberty and freedom from sin and death, because Isaac was conceived and born by promise, which required the FAITH of Abraham, thus a miracle from God.
It requires FAITH in the Messiah’s sacrifice to have past sins forgiven (Rom. 3:25), which justifies us by releasing sin’s penalty, thus reconciling us to God. In Romans chapters 6 & 7, Paul emphasizes on our dying to sin together with the Messiah, and to thereafter walk in newness of life by refraining from sin, which makes us dead to the law's <nomos>1 penalties. The animal sacrifices of the old covenant, often referred to as the law of Moses, did not have provisions to take away sin (Heb. 10:4); but the sacrifice of the Messiah of the new covenant does, as the law of the Messiah (Gal. 6:2; Rom. 8:2). Neither did the old covenant promise eternal life, which is the new covenant's better promise (Heb. 8:6; 1 John 2:25). The Holy Spirit wasn’t available to the people in the days of old except to His chosen messengers and prophets. God designed the old covenant this way to train a habit of obedience into the hearts and minds of His people in order that they would become obedient to His spiritual and moral laws, the Ten Commandments. He provided material blessings for obeying His commandments, and material punishments for disobeying them (Deut. 30:19; Lev. 26; Deut. 28).
When they broke God’s commandments, they became guilty of it’s penalty, the curse of the law (Gen. 2:17; 3:16-19; Rom. 6:23), for which they were commanded to do the ‘WORKS OF THE LAW’ (animal sacrifices and rituals), which could not take away the sins but reminded them of the urgent need of a Redeeming Messiah who would (Heb. 10:3-4). This was to build up their FAITH in such a promised Messiah (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53; Gal. 4:4), who would be delivered through the covenant that He made with faithful Abraham (Gen. 12:3; [Gen. 12–18]; Mat. 1:1; Gal. 3:18, 29), which was transferred to Isaac (Gen. 26; Mat. 1:2; Rom. 9:7; Gal. 4:28; Heb. 11:18) and then to Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel (Gen. 32:28, 35:9–12; Mat. 1:2; Acts 3:13). The Messiah was born in the Israelitish tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10; Mat.1:2; Luke 3:33–34); heir to David’s throne (1 Ki. 2:33; Ps. 132:11; Jer. 23:5; Isa. 9:7; Mat. 1:1; Luke 1:32–33; John 7:42); born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:26–31). And the sacrificial and ritualistic laws delivered them all guilty before God (Rom. 3:23; Gal 3:22), thus taking them to the FAITH of that promised Messiah: Wherefore then serveth the law <nomos>1? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made... (Gal. 3:19). Wherefore the law <nomos>1 was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal.3:24). Thankfully it did just that.
It’s obvious that Paul is relating to the animal sacrificial and ritualistic laws which require physical labour, which Moses wrote into a book: For as many as are of the works <ergon>2 of the law <nomos>1 are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law <nomos>1 to do them (Gal. 3:10). Paul is not referring directly to the Ten Commandments, because it does not require ‘WORK’ to keep them. The commandments were written into stone tablets with God’s finger (Exod. 31:18), and placed inside the ark under the mercy seat (Deut. 10:5; Exod. 25:21). The additional laws were written in a book by Moses (Deut. 31:24), which was called the book and law of Moses (Josh. 8:31), and placed in the side of the ark as a witness against them (Deut. 31:26); not under the mercy seat. When a commandment from under God’s mercy seat was violated, certain duties (works of the law) were required to be performed from the book in the side of the ark to show their faith in the God of Abraham who ordained it. Through their FAITH—upon repentance, by His mercy and grace, He forgave them (2 Chron. 7:14).
When the Messiah and His apostles addressed the Ten Commandments, they used the Greek word <entole>3, which relates to precepts of God. A few examples are: Wherefore the law <nomos>1 is holy, and the commandment<entole> 3 holy, and just, and good (Rom. 7:12). For laying aside the commandment <entole>3 of God, ye hold the tradition of men… (Mark 7:8). For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments <entole>3… (1 John 5:3). If ye love me, keep my commandments <entole>2 (John 14:15). …if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments <entole>2 (Mat. 19:17). And this pattern is consistent.
The sacrificial and ritualistic laws are identified in Eph. 2:15: Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law <nomos>1 of commandments <entole>2 contained in ordinances <dogma>4.... The Greek word dogma means a civil, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical law. The Messiah, as the Lamb of God sacrifice, bore our sin and became our Passover (1 Cor. 5:8), wherewith He abolished the animal sacrifices and rituals. He qualified to be our eternal ruling King and High Priest of God’s congregation (Heb. 7–10). There’s no hint of Him abolishing any of His moral and Spiritual laws, the Ten Commandments (Mat. 5:17-19; Luke 16:17).
It’s important to discern which laws are being referred to. Paul does not say that we’ll be cursed for obeying the Ten Commandments. What’s clearly stated throughout ALL Scriptures is that we’ll be cursed for breaking them. And usually we’ll break them because, as humans, we’ll much rather obey man’s laws than God’s (Mat. 15; Mark 7; Rom. 8:7). When contested, the Scriptures tell us whom to obey (Acts 5:29; 4:19; Ps. 118:8).
Traditionalists pack a host of excuses to try to explain away the need to obey the Ten Commandments. A common response is that God required ONLY the Jews to keep them until the crucifixion, at which time they were nailed to the tree together with the Messiah; and that now we are justified by faith, without obedience to them. About 6 decades after the crucifixion, the Messiah shows John through a vision (Rev. 1:10) that the people who would be in God’s Kingdom were the ones which kept both of God’s moral requirements; keeping God’s commandments AND the faith of the Messiah (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 22:14).
Paul plainly states that justification had ALWAYS come only through FAITH, and NOT by sacrificial laws: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law <nomos>1 of Moses (Acts 13:39). And he cites from Old Testament Scriptures to prove that very point: But that no man is justified by the law <nomos>1 in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law <nomos>1 is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them (Gal. 3:11–12; cited from Hab. 2:4 and Lev. 18:5). God does not change His standards (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17), but man has worked at changing them for about 6,000 years.
The CURSE of the law is sin’s penalty, from which the animal sacrifices (WORKS of the LAW) can not free us: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law <nomos>1, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:23). He redeemed us from the CURSE; sin's certain death penalty; NOT from the law. Forgiveness of sin through FAITH in His sacrifice is the liberty wherewith He set us free from that CURSE. He overcame death for us by His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:54-57), after He exchanged His life for our death sentence (Rom. 8:2).
Because of centuries of hard bondage and slavery in Egypt, the Israelites no longer kept God’s commandments. So, because of their sinning (Gal. 3:19), God added the animal sacrificial and ritualistic laws to work together with the Abrahamic covenant, which was to work toward circumcising their hearts, so that they could love Him from their heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4). So now, when we repent for breaking God’s law and turn back to Him (2 Chron. 7:14; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 26:20), and obey them (Acts 5:32; Heb. 5:9), He imparts His Holy Spirit into our heart, which spiritually circumcises it (Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 2:11; Phil. 3:3). Thus He sheds His love into it (Rom. 5:5), which allows us to obey His royal laws of love and liberty (Rom. 13:8-10; James 2:8-12; 1 John 5:2-3)), from the heart; giving us acceptance into the new covenant.
Paul ends his allegory by telling us how carnality (resembling bondage to sin), wars against spirituality (resembling freedom from that bondage). Thus he urges us to cast out carnality (bondwoman, animal sacrifices) which cannot justify, and to put on spirituality (free woman, the Messiah’s sacrifice) which can justify, thus releasing sin’s bondage. (We must remember that an allegory doesn’t address the actual issue, but is a symbolic expression used to explain something in a deeper sense).
The animal sacrifices have become obsolete, because they’ve served their purpose (Heb. 9-10; Eph. 2:15), which was to deliver us to the FAITH of the promised Messiah’s sacrifice (Gal. 3:24), so that the death penalty could be taken away, thus giving us His gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23; 1 John 2:25). Today, just like in the days of Adam, Noah, and Moses; when we violate God’s commandments, we sin (1 John 3:4; Mat. 5:19; James 2:9-10); wherefore the law still charges us with the death penalty (Gen. 2:17; 3:3; Matt. 15:4; Mark 7:10; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15), which enslaves us into sin’s bondage. This is the CURSE of the law. And FAITH in the Messiah’s sacrifice, upon repentance, frees us from that CURSE, which justifies us; reconciling us to God. This is what the “WORKS <ergon>2 OF THE LAW <nomos>1” (the animal sacrificial laws) could NOT do (Rom. 8:3)! This is the law which truly was nailed to the tree together with the Messiah, wherefore we are no longer under it; thus DEAD to it! Let’s not forget to praise the eternal God for such an AWESOME plan. HALLELUJAH!!: ...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
1 Greek word for law #3551. nomos; law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), genitive case (regulation), specially, (of Moses (including the volume); also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle):--law.
2 Greek word for work #2041. ergon; from a primary (but obsolete) ergo (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act:--deed, doing, labour, work.
3 Greek word for commandments #1785. entole'; from 1781; injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription:--commandment, precept.
4 Greek word for ordinance #1378. dogma; from the base of 1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical):--decree, ordinance.
God’s Word can NOT contradict (John 10:35), and Paul’s writings FULLY harmonize and align with all Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16).
!! GOD BLESS !!
Scripture quotes from KJV. Greek references from STRONG'S Concordance. 'All' emphasis mine.
http://corniebanman.com, 780-928-3679. 2012.