gracetidings:with dr doug mamvura
This week I would like to tackle one of the topics I believe is very controversial among many believers. I believe in order to do justice to the topic, I need to break this into two parts, hence this is Part 1. Part 1 will focus mainly on law and Part 2 will be on grace.
I always want to base my arguments on scripture, not tradition or religion. The challenge is that some of us don’t allow the Bible to get into the way of our thinking, tradition or religion. Please be warned this is going to be a bumpy ride for those of us who still believe in living under the Law.
Are we under the law or grace? John 1:17 states that “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”.
The Law was actually given by God through Moses to the Jews. In contrast to the Law, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The covenant of Law and the Gospel of grace are not the same thing. They are opposite ways of relating to God. No wonder we have two main “factions” among believers. Those who believe that we are under the Law and others who believe that we are under Grace.
Most people think that when we talk about the Law, we are referring only to the 10 Commandments. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are at least 613 laws in the Old Testament. Therefore, when we talk of the law, we are referring not only to the 10 Commandments but all the 613 laws.
What are the requirements for someone to be fully living under the law? Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:13 states that “I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
Furthermore, in Galatians 6:13, he also says “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised…” The first requirement we see from these two scriptures is that in order to be under the law you have to be circumcised. My question is are you circumcised?
The next requirement is that you have to be Jewish. It was Moses who brought the law as we so in the book of John quoted above. Law was given to the Jews by Moses. “Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek?” (Hebrews 7:11)
This reasoning was to counter the legalist who thought that the Levitical law was perfect. It was imperfect in that it couldn’t solve the sin problem. All it did was point out the problem and prescribe punishments and sacrifices that were pictures of the coming sacrifice of Jesus.
If the Old Testament Law had been perfect, then there wouldn’t have been the prophecy in Psalms 110:4 about the Messiah being a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
The Bible makes it very clear that no one can keep the Law. Jesus proved this in Matthew 5 when He taught the multitudes including His disciples about law. He said: “You have heard that it was said of old you shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of judgement. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgement. You have heard that it was said of old, You, shall not commit adultery, But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart.”
Show me who hasn’t committed just one of the two quoted offences then I will show you a liar.
It is not humanly possible to keep these laws to this level of perfection. Apostle James confirms this in James 2:10 that “For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” Given the fact that there are 613 laws, it is virtually impossible to keep all these laws.
There was only One Person who managed to keep all these laws and yet without sin. This was Jesus Christ who was God manifested in flesh. How well have you done in keeping the law as stated above, if you believe you are under the law?
If you believe you can keep the law you are a just a modern day Pharisee. Jesus used to rebuke the Pharisees because they considered themselves experts who could keep the law. “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law?” (John 7:19).
The third requirement under the law is that once you are under the Law, you have to live by law. You have to do the works of the law. “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of law” The man who does those things shall live by them”. If you are under the law what you are saying is that you have to work for your salvation to go to heaven. If you believe that it is your works that take you to heaven, then Jesus’ s death was in vain. We are saved by grace through faith not works lest any man boasts (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The fourth requirement is found in Hebrews 9:22: “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” In the Old Testament, one was supposed to kill an animal such as a lamb and offer it as sacrifice. The blood was offered through a Levitical Priest. However, this animal sacrifice would just result in the remission of sins not forgiveness of sins, meaning that the sins were not taken away and would recur. When was the last time you killed an animal to offer as a sacrifice if you are still living under the law as in the Old Testament?
I hope you can clearly see the fallacy of claiming to be living under the law. Do we really know what law is? Law shows us what sin is “because the law brings about wrath, for were there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). Law is the knowledge of sin: “Therefore the deeds of law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20)
This is a very revealing passage of Scripture. The Law wasn’t given to produce justification
What was its purpose then? It was given to give us the knowledge that we were sinners and needed salvation. If we use the Law for what it was intended to do, it is useful, but the problem comes when we use the Law for what it wasn’t intended to do. It wasn’t God’s way of getting us saved. The only way to obtain salvation is to put faith in Jesus and what He did for us as our Saviour.
It is important to realize that law enslaves you. “Do you not know that the law has dominion over man as long as he lives” (Romans 7:1). Under law you have no choice but to do the works of law. Under grace you serve not because you have to but because you want to. There is a difference. However, it is also important to realize that sin has consequences. So never abuse grace.
Law points us to Jesus and His grace. “Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we re no longer under a tutor (Galatians 3:24). Here, the Law was declared to be our “schoolmaster,” bringing us to Christ so that we might be justified by faith in Him. until Christ came, the Law was like someone trying to make us behave.
The law drove us to holiness to show the futility of self-salvation. This prepared us for the message of Christ bringing salvation as a gift. Only those who have known the oppression of the Law fully appreciate the redemption provided by Jesus as a gift.
l Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: email@example.com or Twitter @dougmamvura