By Robert Owens:
In America today how many laws are there?
The simple answer is no one knows. Does that mean no one can count that high or that they’ve never been collected into one massive code. Where’s Hammurabi or Justinian when you need them?
When the federal laws were first codified in 1927, they fit into a single volume. By the 1980s, there were 50 volumes of more than 23,000 pages. By 2015 it was over 80 volumes and more than 80,000 pages. Today you can’t even find out the most recent count using the all-knowing Google. In other words all of us have broken a law somewhere along the line the government just hasn’t decided to pick us up yet.
That’s sort of how the Mosaic Law is. No one can keep it. Jews couldn’t and we can’t.
And praise God we don’t have to.
The Law of God is called the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law consists of the rules of conduct given to Moses by God, as described in the Old Testament. The Mosaic Law begins with the Ten Commandments, but it also includes the rules set forth in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. These codes and the resulting explanation of them in the Talmud enumerate to the nth degree what every Jew should do about everything.
This burden was too heavy for any human to carry which is why Jesus came to fulfill the Law. And that is what He said He came to do, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
He accompanied this statement with a small commentary on the law which spiritualized what the Jews had taken literally.
He said, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.” And as if that didn’t make it impossible to fulfill He went even further, “Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.”
Sure we might be able to resist the temptation to murder people but does that mean we’ve fulfilled the law? No Jesus tells us if we get angry with people, if we call people names we’re guilty. Have you ever done that? All I can say is, “Guilty.”
If we’re going to try to live under the Law we’re lost. We’re convicted and worthy of nothing but the hellfire of eternal separation from God which sounds like a real drag.
My advice: Don’t go there.
The Mosaic Law is like the Federal Law. It’s so all-encompassing and so heavy no one can lift it. In other words all of us have broken one of the Mosaic Laws somewhere along the line God just hasn’t decided to judge us yet.
My advice: Get out from under the Law.
You might ask, “How are we supposed to do that?”
My advice: Refer to the operator’s manual for the planet Earth; the Bible.
Jesus himself gives us the answer. When asked by the super-sized religious folks of His day, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
He gave them the answer, “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.”
That’s it. All the rest was for the Jews under the Old Covenant. That deal was completed back when Jesus hung on the cross and said, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
He even gave us a physical sign that the Old Covenant was over “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” And since God always has to go the extra mile to get it through our thick heads and dull spirits in 70 AD the Romans fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus concerning Jerusalem and the Temple, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
No one not even the Jews can even attempt to fulfill the Law without the Temple and the sacrifices it calls for. So why are so many Christians trying to do it? Why are so many preachers and teachers leading people into a way that leads to a dead end?
Paul tried to warn us, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
And of course he had to explain this a little further so maybe we’d get the idea, “The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.”
And fearing even this was not enough he added, “When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”
Isn’t that plain. When we try to earn our way to heaven by keeping rules we’re bound to fail because as soon as we accept anything as a “must do” the whole of the Law become a “better get it done.” And no one can do it.
Paul laments that no matter how hard he tried it was impossible for him to keep all the law. He realized this inability meant he was condemned no matter how good he tried to be. Because of that he cried, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And I believe anyone who is honest with themselves will admit we all have an apple out of that sack.
Luckily for us Paul also gave us the answer, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” for since we have been made alive in the Spirit towards God by being born-again we can also cry out with him, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
My advice: Die to the flesh and live to the Spirit. Discard the Old Law and embrace what Christ has done for us. He died to set us free so let’s be free indeed.
© Copyright by Robert Owens, 2018. All rights reserved.