The Law of Moses and The Law of Christ
The Law has been a major stumbling stone to many in the Messianic Movement, especially to those who have come from a Gentile persuasion. These are mainly prone to error, because they will not accept that the Law has been fulfilled by Yeshua, otherwise why would He have come to die, if it wasn’t for to fulfil scripture. God sent Yeshua to confirm scripture and to be the ultimate sacrifice, something that only the Son of God could ever fulfil, since nobody was ever found to be good enough (Rev 5:4). This is why we see in the book of Revelations that the four and twenty elders fall down and worship Him, because he alone was worthy to open the seals of the book of Life (Rev 5:5) He was able, because He achieved the perfection of the Law through His death and resurrection. So let’s discuss this fulfilment:
The Law of Moses consists of 613 commandments, not merely ten. They consist of Ceremonial, Legal, and Moral commandments, and on the basis of this division many have come to think that the believer is free from the Ceremonial and Legal Commandments and is only committed to the Moral commandments.
The second real dilemma is that many believe that the Ten Commandments are alone valid for today, and not the other 6 0 3 . If Yeshua fulfilled the Law He fulfilled all of it, not just part of it. Another point I want to address is the Jewish tradition, that the Law was given to Moses by angels, when it is clear in the Old Testament that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, and not the finger of an angel. Although, the other aspects of the Law were mediated by the angels.
What was the Purpose of the Law?
The first purpose was to reveal the Holiness of God, and the standard of His Righteousness, the requirement to have a relationship with Him. There is nowhere in scripture were it says that the Law was given as a means for salvation, for that would mean that it was by works, and it can only be achieved by Grace, since no one on the planet has ever been capable of achieving the standard of righteousness required by God, to have a relationship with Him. So it must be by Grace through faith.. Now this content of faith may have changed through the ages, but the Mosaic Law was never given as a means for salvation of the Jew. As the reason for the Law was to provide a rule of conduct for the Old Testament saints, and that’s why it says;
Romans 3:20 “Because by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in His sight,
for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 3:28 “We reckon that a man is justified by faith, apart from the works of the Law”
Now it’s clear that both of these points make it evident that nobody can be justified by keeping the Law. The Law was never ever given as a means of salvation; it merely provided a rule of conduct for the Old Testament saints in the Tenach till the promise came about.
The next point I want to address is that the Mosaic Law was given so that sin could be seen as sin ,and there are three passages in Romans were Paul explains this;
Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatsoever the Law saith, it speaks to them that are under the
Law; that every mouth may be stopped, and the entire world may be brought under
the judgement of God; Because by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified
in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”
Paul who was one of the greatest scholars of his day, here emphasises that it is not possible to have justification through trying to keep the Law. So what is the Law for? If not for salvation, and not for justification, what is it for? It is for to see sin as sin!!.
Romans 5:20 “The Law came in besides, that the trespass might abound;
but were sin abounded, grace did much more abound more exceedingly”
The Law came so that trespasses may be seen to be known as openly wrong in the sight of a Holy God.
how does a person know this? Because the Law says ‘do not do it ‘
There is a further reason the Law, and that is to actually sin more! So how would that work? Paul explains in
Romans 7:7-13 “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? God forbid!! How be it, I had not known
Sin except through the Law; for I had not known coveting except the law had said,
‘Though shalt not covet’ but sin finding occasion, wrought in me through the
Commandment all manner of coveting; for apart from the law sin is dead; and I
was alive apart from the Law once; but when the commandment came, sin
revived, and I died; and the commandment, which was unto life, this I found
to be unto death; for sin finding occasion through the commandment beguiled me
and through it, slew me. So that the Law is Holy, and the Commandment Holy
and Righteous and good. Did then that which is good become death unto me?
God forbid!! But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me
through that which is good; that through the Commandment, sin might become
1Corintians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the Law”
Now we see that what Paul is trying to get at is , our sin nature needs a base of operations, it needs to function from somewhere, something has to kick in that makes it alive in us, and that is the Law. But Paul informs us, that were there is no Law, there is no sin. Now that does not mean that the people who lived before the Law were not sinners, it simply means that it was because God gave that Law, sin is now seen as sinful, and our sinful nature said No!! we will not do it! So there was now an enmity between us and God, because he had made a Law and we, in our sinful nature refused to keep it!!
But there is a more interesting reason for the Law, and we can find it in ;
Galatians 3:24 “So that the Law has become our tutor to bring us unto Christ
that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith is come,
we are no longer under a tutor.”
The final purpose of the Law is to lead us to faith, You see as much as we may try to keep the Law by our selves, however perfectly, we simply cannot, because our sin nature will immediately kick in and we are back to square one!! So we then find ourselves helpless and crying to God, who has made provision for this problem in Jesus, thus we have to lean on Him to set us free from the bondage of sin and death so that when we call on Him we can be assured that He hears us, and if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us. Now this is wonderful!! Because then we are born again as we receive His sacrifice.
The Unity of the Law of Moses
We must understand that the Law of Moses is one unit, that is the word Torah, or Law is always seen as singular, because it contains 613 commandments. Although it has these three sub -division’s Ceremonial, Legal, and Moral ,it is never divided neither is there any scriptural basis for separating the Ten Commandments (sayag) from the other 6 0 3. so we have to realise that to break one in either category is to break them all, so we read in ;
James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all”
Therefore we can not divide scripture into segments we keep and segments we don’t keep, the Law is a whole unit and we must keep it all, or none of it, we are either under grace or Law, we have to choose.!!! This is the stumbling stone that Gentiles fall onto when beginning a Messianic fellowship; you simply cannot have one foot in each camp, one in Law and one in Grace. Now they fall because they view Messianic Judaism as if it were Rabbinic Judaism , and we have nothing to do with Rabbinic’s ,which is a set of laws made by men, not God, it was written by rabbis and Jewish sages, which is all very wonderful, but it is an addition to scripture which is man made and a continual stumbling block. This is why we read it Titus 3:8-11
“This is a faithful saying and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have
believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable
to men. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the Law; for they
are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing
that such a person is warped and sinning being self condemned.” Titus 3:8-11
People trying to identify with Jews that are not born Jewish but are Gentiles, perhaps feel a lot more comfort and accepted by wearing Kippurs and Tallits and tzit tzit’s, but that is not a Biblical requirement, these are all of the outer man, but we have come to Jesus the Messiah who has prepared the inner man of the heart. That’s why it says “He is a Jew who is one inwardly” (Rom 2:28-29) Yeshua (Jesus) was the only perfect Jew, although the rest of us are pretty special!!!
If you're Jewish and wear these things, that’s fine, it is normal to you to wear them, but we are of the hidden man of the heart, and are supposed to be Jews inwardly, infact, it says here in Titus that such people that do such things are ‘warped’. That’s pretty emotive language to be using, but it goes on to say that they are sinning, because they are self condemned. That is they want to be Jews, but condemn themselves because they are not. But they have not understood the scriptures. and are trying to justify their existence.
The Biblical Position
The clear teaching of scripture is that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled by the death of Christ, which means that the Law has no authority over anyone, that is a believer has had that all dealt with at the cross. However, that did not annul the Law or in anyway take it away. For the believer it fulfilled the Law, but the Law remains in place to declare sin as sin, and therefore it declares sinners and unbelievers guilty as charged if they sin. But the believer has been buried with Him (Yeshua) in baptism and as such he is dead and lost with Christ in God. Now were there is no Law, there is no sin, and therefore no charges.
But does this mean the believer is lawless!! NO!! He is now under the Law of Christ according to Gal 6:2 and in Romans 8:2 it is called “The Law of the Spirit of life” now the reason there is so much confusion over this Law of Christ and the Mosaic Law, is because many of those new laws in the Law of Christ, are the same or similar. Why is that you may ask! Well over time God has made eight Covenants with men and each time He has transcended things from one Covenant into the things of the new one, so that they remain up to date and functional to the modern day. However, the eighth and final Covenant was the fulfilment of all things for all time, so that the New Covenant has elements of the old one, but they are more practical.
For instance the Mosaic Law forbade eating pork, but under the Law of Christ you can eat what you like. Why is this? Because the New Covenant was transcended to make allowance for the entrance of the Gentiles who had never been brought up to keep such laws, (Acts 15:19-29) having said that, common sense must prevail. In the Mosaic Law women can’t wear trousers, but in the Law of Christ, this is now possible, if they so desire, they do not sin. In the Mosaic Law we are commanded to tithe, but in the Law of Christ we don’t, why? Because all we have is Christ’s, nothing we have is our own. In the Law of Moses we have to keep Sabbath, but in the Law of Christ we don’t, why? Because its just a day without work, we can go to shul (church) anytime. All these things under the Mosaic Covenant were meant to protect its occupants till the promise of the Father had arrived, which was Christ, and now that has happened we have been given the Holy Spirit of God to comfort and instruct us on what we shall do. Infact the Bible states we are sealed in His Spirit for our protection if we live in the truth. “You shall know the Truth, and the truth shall set you free” John 8:32
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is important for you that I go away; for if I do not go away
the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart I will send Him to you. And when He has come He
will convict the world of sin, and of Righteousness, and of Judgement. Of Sin, because they do not
believe Me; of Righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see me no more; of Judgement,
because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11)
The Apostle Paul says in this regard
Col 2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival, or a new moon or
Sabbaths, which are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance is of Christ”
The believer is free to keep certain Laws if he is Jewish and wishes to, but he must not force others to do the same, why? Because Yeshua took the Laws of Moses out of the way to allow people the freedom to worship willingly as we read in
Col 2:14 “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 His cross.”
Messiah has died to give us this freedom and we should first receive it!! Then use it responsibly to build the Kingdom of God, not destroy it with legalism!!