Daniel P. Barron

The Law Of God


This is a mirror of "The Law Of God" by Darwin Fish.


When we speak of the law of God, to what do we refer? Scripture uses this term in two ways. The law is a reference to the Word of God in general, i and the law is a specific reference to the law of Moses. ii It is this law, the law of Moses, to which we now look.

The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints; from His right hand came a fiery law for them. iii

This fiery law, which was to be read every seven years, iv is still a fiery law and it is still to be remembered.

Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. v

When Malachi was written, Israel was still under the covenant that was appointed and spoken through angels, vi given to Moses, vii and ratified at the foot of Mount Sinai. viii Therefore, the Lord told the Israelites to "remember the Law of Moses."

There was a time when the people of God were not under this law. There was a time when there were no "Ten Commandments" to keep. ix There was a time when there was no circumcision commanded, x no meat forbidden, xi and no Sabbath to obey. Indeed, God made the seventh day holy from the beginning, xii but He did not command its observance until the law of Moses in Exodus 16:23-30. Moreover, the "Law of Moses" did not come until Moses was over 80 years old. xiii There was a time, before the law, when God's people were not under the law; yet people were still found righteous before God.

Abel was not under the law, yet he was found righteous before God. xiv Enoch was not under the law, and he pleased God. xv Noah was not under the law, and he found favor in the eyes of God. xvi Abraham was not under the law, yet he was accounted righteous by God xvii and received the promise that in him all the nations would be blessed. xviii In the past, God's people lived godly and righteous lives, and were saved, apart from the law. xix In fact, salvation has always been through faith, even for those under the law. xx No one has ever, nor will ever, be saved by keeping the law. xxi

I. What Purpose Then Does The Law Serve?

Paul answers this question in Galatians 3:19 with: "It was added because of transgressions." xxii 1 Timothy 1:9-10 says,

the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, . . . .

It is the law that brings the knowledge of sin, xxi and with the knowledge of sin, the reality of condemnation. The law actually brings a curse, xxiii kills, xxiv and condemns the ungodly. xxv

Paul says that the law "was our tutor." xxvi What did it teach us? It taught us what was right, xxvii and it taught us about our utter wickedness. Paul writes,

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. xxviii

As the law taught us what is right and exposed our utter sinfulness, with the work of the Spirit of God, "the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ." xxvi In other words, when a man sees the standard of God, xxix and therefore sees his sinfulness, xxx he can then see his need for a Savior. xxxi

Thus, the law serves as condemnation for the unjust, xxxii and as a tutor to those who would come to faith in Christ. xxvi

II. Once Saved, What Is A Believer's Relationship To The Law?

During and after Moses, anyone who desired to come to God needed to come to Him through the covenant xxxiii of Moses. Isaiah testifies to this by saying,

Thus says the Lord: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak, saying, 'The Lord has utterly separated me from His people'; nor let the eunuch say, 'Here I am, a dry tree.'" For thus says the Lord: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants - everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant - even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." xxxiv

The covenant to which the Lord refers xxxv is the covenant xxxiii of Moses xxxvi that was in effect at that time. Here in Isaiah, God promises salvation to those who hold fast to the law of Moses.

In Deuteronomy Moses said to the children of Israel,

Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe - all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, . . . xxxvii

Taking heed to the law was Israel's life. If they would have believed God, and taken heed to His law by faith, they would have entered His rest. xxxviii But they did not believe. xxxix So, even though they had the gospel preached to them, xl they perished nonetheless; because they did not believe. xli

So, condemnation and salvation came to people through the law, under that old covenant law of Moses. But, when the Lord Jesus came, He established a new covenant. xlii This covenant is not the same as the covenant God made with the children of Israel through Moses. xliii This covenant is a better covenant, xliv with a different priesthood, the old priesthood being annulled. xlv The new covenant comes with a change of law, xlvi and results in the old covenant being made obsolete. xlvii

Therefore, those who come to faith in Christ are not under the law, the law of Moses. xlviii Because, those who have come to faith in Christ have died to the law.

Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. xlix

Just what does Paul mean when he says that we have become dead to the law? Note, he says it is through the body of Christ. l When Christ died, He took the punishment we deserved upon Himself. li As He did this, He took the "handwriting of requirements," that is, the condemnation the law brings, and nailed it to the cross. lii

Therefore, the death of Christ "wiped out" liii the curse and death and condemnation that comes with the law. liv Everyone who has been crucified with Christ lv through true faith in Him, has at the same time died to the law, that is, the requirements of the law. For in Christ, we are not under law, but under grace. lvi In other words, the requirements of the law are no longer upon us. To follow Paul's illustration, there has been a death in the marriage. Therefore, the law concerning the old marriage is no longer binding. We are free from the law of sin and death. lvii

III. Does This Mean We Make The Law Of No Effect?

It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void. lviii

Do we now obliterate the law? Do we ignore it and see it as empty words? Do we do what the wicked do and regard the law as void?

Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. lix

How do we establish the law? We establish the law "through faith." lx

For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, . . . lxi

Since "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," lxii and "there is none righteous, no not one," lxiii no one can be saved through keeping the law. Men are too sinful. lxiv For if righteousness came through the law, then Christ died in vain. lxv But, Christ did not die in vain. Because,

now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. lxvi

The law brings the knowledge of sin, xxi and pronounces men guilty before God. xxxii The law dictates the need for salvation by grace through faith, lxvii because the law was a "ministry of condemnation." lxviii The gospel, the good news, is a ministry of life. lxix Thus, through faith we establish the very purpose of the law; that is, to reveal men's wickedness, xxxii and thus their need for a Savior. xxi

IV. Once In Faith, Do We Now Live In Lawlessness?

Since we are dead to the law, xlix no longer bound by its requirements, do we live as if there is no law? Do we live in anarchy? No! In Christ we fulfill the law.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. lxx

The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in those who walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says,

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

Those who walk by the Spirit do not fulfill the lust of the flesh. And what is the lust of the flesh? It is breaking the law of God. The deeds of the flesh are all contrary to the law of God, as Galatians 5:19-21 illustrates:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

All of these things are against the law of God. But, those who walk by faith, who walk in the Spirit, these are sons of God; lxxi and these are those who fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. lxxii They do not covet. lxxiii They do not steal. lxxiv They honor their father and mother, etc. lxxv They live godly lives as a result of their trust in Christ. lxxvi

V. What About Some Of The Specifics Of The Law?

In the old covenant, the law required sacrifices for sins, lxxvii but in the new covenant, Christ is our sacrifice once for all. lxxviii Christ is our Passover, lxxix our atonement. lxxx He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. lxxxi

In the old covenant, the law required a Sabbath rest, lxxxii and those who did not keep it were to be put to death. lxxxiii In the new covenant, Christ is our Sabbath rest, lxxxiv and we have the freedom to rest on the seventh day, or regard "every day alike." lxxxv

In the old covenant, there were food laws to be observed, lxxxvi but in the new covenant, Christ declared all foods clean, lxxxvii and Paul wrote,

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. lxxxviii

The only kind of "food" that is still forbidden is blood, which is not food at all. It has been forbidden since the time of Noah. lxxxix

In the old covenant there were different feasts to be observed, xc but in the new covenant we are told not to let anyone judge us "regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths." xci In other words, we are not bound by such obligations. We are free to observe them and free to not observe them. xcii

In the old covenant there were specific commandments like not wearing a garment made of mixed linen and wool, xciii or not shaving the sides of your head or disfiguring the edges of your beard. xciv Hebrews 9:10 mentions "fleshly ordinances" under that old system, and says that they were "imposed until the time of reformation." "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come," xcv and we are no longer under such law. xcvi

VI. So, How Do We Now View The Law?

Are the Ten Commandments, now The Ten Suggestions? No, the Ten Commandments are still the Ten Commandments, and they still bring the knowledge of sin, stop every mouth, and reveal the world guilty before God. xcvii Those who walk by faith, who live according to the Spirit, fulfill them. xcviii As Paul wrote,

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." xcix

What is the one word to which Paul refers? It is love. Jesus said,

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. c

All the law is fulfilled in love, love for God and love for your neighbor. Thus, those who walk in love fulfill the law. This is a believer's view of the law. He lives it, by faith, like the Psalmist who wrote,

Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. ci

So shall I keep Your law continually, forever and ever. cii

The proud have me in great derision, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law. ciii

I remember Your name in the night, O Lord, and I keep Your law. civ

Indeed, the Psalmist was under the old covenant, and the believer today is in the new covenant, but, even in the new covenant, we keep the law in Christ, by not walking according to the flesh, but by the Spirit. xcviii

Moreover, the believer views the law as wisdom from God and that which brings knowledge, comfort, and hope.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. cv

As an example of some of the learning that we gain, note how Paul referred to the law in 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 cvi and 1 Corinthians 14:34. cvii In 1 Corinthians 9:9-10 Paul says God wrote these words in the law about oxen, not so much for the oxen, but rather for those who preach the gospel; that we might learn from the law "that he who plows should plow in hope," etc.. Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 14:34 Paul uses the law as an example of how women are to be in submission to men. The law is good. cviii The law can be used, lawfully, cix and there is much to be learned from it.

In Ephesians 5:10 and 5:17 we are commanded to find out what is acceptable to the Lord. One way to do this is to study the law. Much is revealed in the law about what is acceptable to Him. cx Likewise, in this pursuit, much is revealed in regards to that which is not acceptable to Him, i.e. an abomination. cxi There is much to learn from the law of God, as the Psalmist writes,

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law. That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. cxii

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. cxiii

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. cxiv

  1. John 10:34; Psalm 82:6; 1 Corinthians 14:21; Isaiah 28:11-12; Psalm 19:7; 78:1; Isaiah 1:10 ^
  2. Matthew 7:12; Luke 24:44; John 1:17, 45; 7:19; Acts 13:15; 28:23; Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:17; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:20-21, 28 ^
  3. Deuteronomy 33:2 ^
  4. Deuteronomy 31:9-13 ^
  5. Malachi 4:4 ^
  6. Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2 ^
  7. Exodus 31:18 ^
  8. Exodus 19:1-31:18; Nehemiah 9:13; Galatians 4:24 ^
  9. Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13; 10:4; Galatians 3:17 ^
  10. Genesis 15:6; 17:10; Romans 4:10 ^
  11. Genesis 9:3 ^
  12. Genesis 2:3 ^
  13. Exodus 7:7 ^
  14. Genesis 4:4; Matthew 23:35; Hebrews 11:4 ^
  15. Genesis 5:22-24; Hebrews 11:5 ^
  16. Genesis 6:8; Hebrews 11:7 ^
  17. Genesis 15:6 ^
  18. Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; Galatians 3:8 ^
  19. Hebrews 11:13-16 ^
  20. Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; 4:1-16; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; 11:1-32 ^
  21. Romans 3:20 ^ ^ ^ ^
  22. Galatians 3:19 ^
  23. Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Jeremiah 11:1-4; Romans 4:15; Galatians 3:10-13 ^
  24. 2 Corinthians 3:6-7 ^
  25. 2 Corinthians 3:9, "ministry of condemnation" ^
  26. Galatians 3:24 ^ ^ ^
  27. e.g. Deuteronomy 6:17-18; 1 Kings 11:33, 38 ^
  28. Romans 7:7-8 ^
  29. the law ^
  30. Jeremiah 17:9 ^
  31. Luke 18:13 ^
  32. Romans 3:19 ^ ^ ^
  33. law ^ ^
  34. Isaiah 56:1-7; see also Psalm 103:17-18 ^
  35. "and holds fast My covenant^
  36. Exodus 34:27-28; Leviticus 26:14-15; Deuteronomy 4:13 ^
  37. Deuteronomy 32:46-47 ^
  38. Hebrews 3:19 ^
  39. Deuteronomy 32:20; Psalm 78:22, 37 ^
  40. Hebrews 4:2 ^
  41. Hebrews 3:16-19 ^
  42. Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 12:24 ^
  43. Jeremiah 31:31-32; Hebrew 8:6-13; 2 Corinthians 3:6 ^
  44. Hebrews 7:22; 8:6 ^
  45. Hebrews 7:18 ^
  46. Hebrews 7:12 ^
  47. Hebrews 8:13, i.e. old, pepalaiôke, used in Luke 12:33 and Hebrews 1:11 ^
  48. Romans 10:4; Galatians 5:18 ^
  49. Romans 7:1-6 ^ ^
  50. Romans 7:4 ^
  51. Isaiah 53:5 ^
  52. Colossians 2:14; see also Ephesians 2:15 ^
  53. Colossians 2:14 ^
  54. Galatians 3:10-13; 2 Corinthians 3:7, 9 ^
  55. Romans 6:3-4, 6; Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14 ^
  56. Romans 6:14 ^
  57. Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:7 ^
  58. Psalm 119:126 ^
  59. Romans 3:31 ^
  60. Romans 3:31-4:1-13 ^
  61. Galatians 3:21-22a ^
  62. Romans 3:23 ^
  63. Romans 3:10 ^
  64. Romans 7:14-24 ^
  65. Galatians 2:21 ^
  66. Romans 3:21-22 ^
  67. Ephesians 2:8 ^
  68. 2 Corinthians 3:9 ^
  69. 2 Corinthians 3:6 ^
  70. Romans 8:1-4 ^
  71. Romans 8:14 ^
  72. Matthew 22:40; Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:14 ^
  73. Exodus 20:17 ^
  74. Exodus 20:15 ^
  75. Exodus 20:12 ^
  76. Romans 10:9-10; James 2:14-26 ^
  77. e.g. Exodus 20:24; Hebrews 9:22 ^
  78. Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:5-12; Hebrews 7:26-27; 9:23-28 ^
  79. Deuteronomy 16:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7 ^
  80. Psalm 65:3; 79:9; 1 John 2:2 ^
  81. John 1:29; Revelation 5:9 ^
  82. Exodus 20:8-11 ^
  83. Exodus 31:15; Numbers 15:32-36 ^
  84. Hebrews 4:1-10; Romans 4:3-5; 1 Peter 1:13 ^
  85. Romans 14:5 ^
  86. e.g. Leviticus 11:1-23, 41-47; Deuteronomy 14:3-21 ^
  87. Mark 7:14-20 ^
  88. 1 Timothy 4:4-5; see also Hebrews 13:9 ^
  89. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23-25; 15:23; Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25 ^
  90. e.g. Numbers 28:26-29:40 ^
  91. Colossians 2:16 ^
  92. Galatians 4:9-12; 5:1; e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 ^
  93. Leviticus 19:19 ^
  94. Leviticus 19:27 ^
  95. Hebrews 9:11 ^
  96. Galatians 3:25; 5:18; Romans 6:14 ^
  97. Romans 3:19-20 ^
  98. Romans 8:4 ^ ^
  99. Galatians 5:14 ^
  100. Matthew 22:37-40 ^
  101. Psalm 119:34 ^
  102. Psalm 119:44 ^
  103. Psalm 119:51 ^
  104. Psalm 119:55 ^
  105. Romans 15:4 ^
  106. Deuteronomy 25:4 ^
  107. Numbers 30 ^
  108. Romans 7:12; 1 Timothy 1:8 ^
  109. 1 Timothy 1:8 ^
  110. e.g. Leviticus 19:32-36; Deuteronomy 5:16, 29; 6:4-9; 10:17-20; 15:7-11; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19 ^
  111. e.g. Leviticus 18:22; Deuteronomy 7:25-26; 12:29-32; 18:9-12; 22:5; 23:18; 24:1-4; 25:11-16; 27:15-25 ^
  112. Psalm 94:12-13 ^
  113. Psalm 119:18 ^
  114. Psalm 119:142 ^

9 Responses

  1. [...] "If that's the case you can't eat seafood, wear clothes of different fabrics, and have any markings on your body." [...]

  2. [...] "You can't cite Leviticus for this stuff unless you are going to address the shrimp and mixed fabric problems." [...]

  3. [...] Indeed we are not under the law, but it is a good law nonetheless. [...]

  4. [...] And man is the gender mentioned as needing to get circumcised. Under the law, which we are no longer under. [...]

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