How The New Covenant Differs from the Old
by Mike Vinson
The law of God is surely a revelation of the very character and personality of God. Yet the scriptures appear to many to be filled with contradictions on this subject.
For example, Christ says:
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
From this point on, Christ begins a series of six ‘
you have heard it said by them of old time…’ followed by,
but I say unto you… In every case, the
but I say unto you… is a dramatic change from “the law” which Christ quotes every time he says
you have heard it said by them of old time…
In several instances, Christ’s teachings flatly contradict the law of Moses. This is done immediately after warning us
whosoever… shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
How can this be? The writings of the Apostle Paul contain
these things…which are…hard to be understood, by
they that are unlearned and unstable…(2Pe 3:16).
Paul asks the question
Do we then make void [Greek word – katargeo] the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Rom 3:31). Yet later he says
having abolished [same Greek word katargeo] in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances… (Eph 2:15).
Is the law “abolished” or not? These are but a couple of examples of the confusion that is the rule whenever “the law” is discussed.
It is the purpose of this paper to show that neither Christ nor Paul contradicted themselves. We will do this by demonstrating that there are two completely separate laws under discussion in the scriptures.
It will be revealed that generally the phrase “the law” when it stands alone refers to the law of Moses. It will also be shown in graphic detail how this law is “oldness of letter” and is completely different and separate from the “newness of spirit” (Rom 7:6). It will be shown how in many instances the “newness of spirit” flatly contradicts the “oldness of the letter.” The scriptures will be provided which show that while the oldness of “the letter killeth…the spirit giveth life” (2Co 3:6). Yet the “letter of the law,” while it defines sin, is not of itself sin.
The preordained function of the law of Moses corresponds with the function of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By both we come to know what sin is (Rom 7:7) and what good is and therefore both become “ministrations of death” (2Co 3:7).
While the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15) is a “ministration of death” (2Co 3:7) and is indeed “abolished” (Gr.- katargeo) and “done away” (also Gr. – katargeo), this is only so “after that faith is come” (Gal 3:25).
“The law” was not a “schoolmaster” just to bring Paul’s generation to Christ and then disappear. “The law” was OUR schoolmaster to bring US unto Christ” (Gal 3:24). This statement can be made in its past tense only “after that faith is come”. “Before faith comes” (vs. 23) we are all, generation by generation,
concluded under sin.
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
It will be demonstrated “after faith is revealed” in each generation of believers:
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
It will be shown that it is only by the law that
all the world may become guilty before God. (Rom 3:19).
The law is “abolished” and “done away” only for those “in Christ.”
We know that what things soever the law saith it saith to them who are under the law… guilty before God (Rom 3:19).
We know [and hope to demonstrate] that the law is good when used lawfully [meaning] that the law is not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient… (1Ti 1:8,9). “Lawful use of the law” is for the “lawless and disobedient”. Thank God it is not “abolished” or “done away” for those folks.
This paper will show that “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) is as superior to the ten commandments as Matthew 5 is to Exodus 20 and as meat is superior to milk.
The reader will be pointed to the scriptures which show that both laws, like both trees in the garden of Eden, were given by God and both have served and continue to serve their different and separate functions in God’s plan and purpose.
We will show that the law of Moses was for a carnal, Christ-rejecting Israel.
Yes, even “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16), those who come to know Christ, “also shall be cut off” (Rom 11:22) if not continuing to see that our standing in Christ brings us out from under the “yoke” (Act 15:10) of “bondage under the elements of the world” (Gal 4:3). These “elements of the world” under which the heir is kept until he is brought to Christ, are the ten commandments and the law of Moses.
We will determine that the failure to distinguish between these two laws keeps us from being able to differentiate between the two Israels. That failure is as vital as distinguishing Ishmael from Isaac. One of them is the heir, no longer under the “yoke” and “bondage to the elements of this world”, but the one under the law is the son of the bondwoman and will not be made heir (Gal 4:21-31). Christ cannot “be formed in those under the law” (Gal 4:19-21).
Understanding the law is just that important!
Finally, we reveal that the perfection of the lamb of God; the blamelessness of the Being without blemish; the perfect righteousness of Christ was not reckoned by His perfect obedience to the “law of Moses” which He deliberately violated on more than one occasion for the sole purpose of showing that His new covenant law was far superior to the passing old covenant law; yes, even the ten commandments.
Rather, His righteousness was based on the righteousness of the new covenant, “the righteousness of God without the law… being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ…” (Rom 3:20-22).
Christ was not “justified by deeds of the law” (vs. 20) any more than we are.
Two Opposing Theologies
There are two opposing theological thoughts and teachings among Christians today:
The vast majority of Christians (especially fundamentalists) believe that we fulfill the New Covenant (law) by keeping the Old Covenant (law) in our hearts. In this teaching, grace fills in the gaps should we fall short of perfection.
A smaller group of believers (libertarians) believe and teach that we are not under the Old Covenant (law) OR the New Covenant (law). But rather, we are free from ALL law. In this teaching grace covers all of our actions good or bad, with no consequences for anything we do.
Both of these views are untrue and unscriptural.
The New Covenant Is Not A Modification Of The Old Covenant
Lest anyone should seriously entertain the notion that the New Covenant is in harmony with the Old Covenant or that it is a modification of the Old Testament or that it is still in force today, consider the following Scriptures:
|Old Mosaic Covenant||New Spiritual Covenant|
|OLD Cov……………………2Co 3:14||NEW Covenant…..2Co 3:6|
|1st Covenant……………Heb 8:7, 9:1||2nd Covenant……..Heb 8:7, 10:1-9|
|Came by Moses……………..Joh 1:17||Came by Christ…..Heb 8:6, 9:15|
|Law of God in STONE…..2Co 3:3||Law of God in HEART ..Heb 10:16|
|Law of MOSES……..Act 13:38-39||Law of CHRIST…..Gal 6:2|
|Law of flesh……………….Rom 7:5-6||Law of the SPIRIT.Rom 8:2|
|NOT of faith………………….. Gal 3:2||Law of FAITH… Rom 3:27|
|Yoke of BONDAGE………..Gal 5:1||Law of LIBERTY. Jas 1:25|
|Law of SIN………………. Rom 7:5-6||Law of RIGHTEOUSNESS .. Rom 9:30-31|
|Law of DEATH………………2Co 3:7||Law of LIFE ..Gal 3:11,6:8|
|Christ removes OLD…….. Heb 10:9||Christ enacted NEW…. Heb10:9|
|A SHADOW……………Col 2:14-17||REALITY…..Heb 10:1-18|
|FULFILLED……………Mat 5:17-18||NOW IN FORCE….Heb 8:6, 10:9|
|Priesthood CHANGED…Heb 7:12||UNCHANGEABLE Priesthood…. Heb 7:24|
|MANY sacrifices……..Heb 9:12-13||ONE sacrifice for sin….Heb 10:12|
|IMPERFECT……………… Heb 7:19||PERFECT………. Heb 7:19|
|Blood of ANIMALS……..Heb 9:19||Blood of CHRIST… Mat 26:28|
|Circumcision……………… Exo 12:48||Uncircumcision Rom 4:9-12|
|WORKS of law……………..Gal 3:10||NOT of works-GRACE ..Eph 2:8-9|
|REMEMBERS sins……….Heb 10:3||FORGETS sins..Heb 10:17|
|YEARLY atonement……….Heb10:3||PERMANENT atonement Heb 10:14|
|SINFUL priests………………Heb 5:3||SINLESS priest…Heb 7:26|
|AARONIC priests………….Heb7:11||MELCHISEDEC priest …Heb 5:5-10|
|MAN MADE tabernacle….Heb 8:5||HEAVENLY tabernacle …Heb 8:2,9:11|
|Out of LEVI……………….. Heb 7:11||Out of JUDAH…Heb 7:14|
|WEAK,UNPROFITABLE..Heb7:18||POWER of ENDLESS LIFE … Heb. 7:16|
|NO inheritance…………….Rom 4:13||ETERNAL inheritance …Heb 9:15|
|Sacrifice of ANIMALS….Heb 9:13||Sacrifice of CHRIST ……Heb 9:28|
|Purified the FLESH……… Heb 8:13||Purged the CONSCIENCE …Heb 9:14|
|PRODUCES wrath…….. Rom 4:15||SAVES from wrath…Rom 5:9|
|Perfected NOTHING….. Heb 7:19||Perfects BELIEVERS..Heb 10:14|
|NO MERCY……………..Heb 10:28||COMPLETE MERCY ..Heb 8:12|
|NO justification……………Act 13:39||BELIEVERS justified…Act 13:39|
|BRINGS a curse……………Gal 3:10||REDEEMS from curse…Gal 3:13|
|ABOLISHED………………2Co 3:13||CONTINUES IN GLORY …2Co 3:11|
|Brought DEATH…………….2Co 3:7||Brought RECONCILIATION … 2Co 5:18|
|ISRAEL ONLY…….Deu 4:7-8, 5:3||ALL MANKIND……Mar 14:24, 2Co 5:14-19|
So we have an abundance of scriptures that tell us there was an Old Covenant (for Israel) that was an administration of condemnation and death: it was but a “shadow” of a better covenant to come and has been “annulled’. Now Christ has given us a New Covenant of the spirit based on spiritual law:
(1) the Law of God,
(2) the Law of Christ,
(3) the Law of the Spirit,
(4) the Law of Faith,
(5) the Law of Liberty,
(6) the Law of Righteousness and
(7) the Law of Life.
These seven (perfect) laws (for all mankind), written on our hearts by the spirit of God, cover every aspect of human life making the Old Covenant of none effect.
Defining Righteousness And Sin
This composition is not directed at anyone who wonders “what the definition of ‘is’ is.” While it is conceded that scriptural words and phrases do not always carry their original primary meaning, it is also asserted on scriptural grounds that the intended meaning can easily and scripturally be demonstrated to the edification of “those with eyes to see, and ears to hear” Mat 13:16. To have any rational discussion on the subject of the law of God, we simply must define two words; righteousness and sin.
Let’s look first at the word ‘righteousness’. The first mention of this word in scripture is Gen 15:6 – “And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Paul quotes this verse in Gal 3:6 arguing that righteousness attributed to ones self saves no one.
God was so pleased with Abraham’s faith that He “counted it to him for righteousness.” Is this saying that Abraham wasn’t really righteous at all, but because he believed God, God decided to substitute his faith for righteousness?
No, this is not what is meant by “counted”, neither here in Genesis nor by Paul in Gal 3:6. The Hebrew word for “counted” is chashab – Strong’s Concordance #2803. This is the word used repeatedly in Leviticus in connection with selling real estate. We today would not call these transactions, sales. We would call them leases of 49 years or less.
The land shall not be sold forever: …If your brother be waxen poor, and hath sold his possession… Then let him count [chashab] the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return[the land] unto his possession (Lev 25:22-27).
This was an equivalent value that had to be returned to the man who bought the land: Counting (chashab) from the date of the sale up to the jubilee.
And so it is with faith. Faith is the equivalent of righteousness! “Without faith it is impossible to please… God” (Heb 11:6). The author of this verse in Gen 15:6 seems to assume that we all already know what righteousness is.
The first time this word is defined is…:
Deu 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
Psa 119:172 …all thy commandments [are] righteousness.
Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Mat 19:17 …if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
To sum it up, we have two definitions of righteousness:
1) believing God and
2) obeying God’s commandments and sayings.
Combining these two definitions, we can say that doing through the faith of Christ the things God commands seems to be a good, sound, scriptural definition of ‘righteousness’. As we will demonstrate with scripture though, obedience is now defined by “love,” by “spirit,” “by grace [of God]” (Tit 2:11-12) “through faith” [of Christ] (Gal 2:20); by “these sayings of mine” not Moses (Mat 7:24 and 26); by “the word that I have spoken” (Joh 12:48) not the law of Moses. This is the only righteousness God recognizes (Eph 2:8-10).
The Hebrew word for sin is chattaah (Strong’s #2403). Sin was certainly brought in through Adam’s disobedience (Rom 5:12), but the word sin (chattaah) first appears in Gen 4:7. Cain did not see the need for a blood offering, and the Lord had consequently rejected his offering. Beginning in verse 6,
The Lord said unto Cain, Why are you wroth? And why is your countenance fallen?(Verse 7)
If you do well [righteously], shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door…
There’s our first definition of sin:
…you do not well.
In Judges 20, the Israelites are gathering an army to fight against the tribe of Benjamin. Some Benjamite men had killed a concubine belonging to a man of Ephraim.
Jdg 20:13 Now therefore deliver [us] the men, the children of Belial, which [are] in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
So the Benjamites gathered their own army against Israel. They numbered 7,700 men. Now verse 16;
Among all this people there were 700 chosen men, left-handed; everyone could sling stones at an hair breadth and not miss (chata). This word chata (Strong’s #2398) has the same root as chattaah (#2403). This is the only place out of the 220 times it is used in the Old Testament that it is translated miss. It is normally translated sin, sinning, offend, blame, fault and harm. By far the most common translation in the KJV is “sinned.”
So our second scriptural definition of sin is to “miss” the mark. The “mark”, of course, is always understood to be God’s commandments, His law. As Paul states it in Rom 7:7,
…I had not known sin, but by the law…
In our definition of righteousness, we pointed out that Gen 15:6 and Gal 3:6 both say that Abraham’s faith was counted (the equivalent) of righteousness. The flip side of that statement is our third scriptural definition of sin.
Rom 14:23 …what soever is not of faith [the faith of Christ in us – Gal 2:20] is sin.
Even obedience to the laws of God, when credited to ourselves instead of Christ’s faith working in us, is sin. Rom 2:27 says
You… by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law. And Gal 2:20 tells us
…The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the son of God…
The failure to recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives turns our righteousness into sin.
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and
Whatsoever is not of faith [the faith of Christ in us Eph 2:8 and Gal 2:20] is sin (Rom 14:23).
1Jn 3:4 –
…Sin is the transgression of the law. Though this might better be translated “sin is lawlessness”, law is still unavoidable if we are to define sin or righteousness. The inescapable truth of any definition of sin is:
…By the law is the knowledge of sin… (Rom 3:20)
In Summary of the Definitions
To sum it up: whether we’re discussing sin or righteousness, the law of God is central to both. Righteousness is heads, sin (unrighteousness) is tails on the coin of God’s law.
Having scriptural definitions of sin and righteousness, we are now in a position to evaluate the inspired teachings of the apostle Paul on this subject of the law.
Central to this discussion is remembering that there are two covenants mentioned in scripture. God
…hath made us able ministers of the new testament, [the Greek word is diatheke, Strong’s #1242, the same word translated covenant in Luk 1:72, Act 3:25; Act 7:8; Rom 9:4 and Rom 11:27], not of the letter but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life (2Co 3:6).
Paul is referring to the two covenants mentioned in
Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jer 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jer 31:33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts [in the spirit, not in the letter], and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Did you catch verse 32:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…? There is something different about this covenant. It is not according to the “letter but of the spirit” (2Co 3:6).
Verse 33 of Jer 31 tells us that both covenants concern God’s law, but the difference is that in the new covenant, nothing is physically written. The only writing involved in the new covenant is
I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts… The “inward man” is the “mind and heart” (Heb 10:16) separate from the carnal mind (Rom 7:22 and Rom 8:7) and separate from the carnal commandment (Heb 7:6). The inward spiritual law isn’t abolished; it is actually “established” and fulfilled through Christ in us (Rom 3:31). The “letter” of the law, while being “abolished” for those “in Christ,” is established as the “schoolmaster” to bring us all to Christ.
What Does The Old Covenant Include?
Now we need to ask, exactly what is the Old Covenant that has been replaced by the new covenant? Does the Old Covenant include the ten commandments? Yes, it does! It is only the ten commandments that are called the “tables of the covenant”.
Deu 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deu 9:11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, [that] the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, [even] the tables of the covenant.
It seems today that many in the body of Christ are so afraid that they will be accused of turning grace into lasciviousness, that they cannot agree with Paul that the “tables of stone” (2Co 3:3) are “the ministration of death” (2Co 3:7) and “the ministration of condemnation” (2Co 3:9).
It was the ten commandments written on two “tables of stone” that Moses had in his hands when he came down from the mount. It was the ten commandments of which Paul says “if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones was glorious…” (2Co 3:7). What was glorious is “that which was written and engraven in stones”.
The “glory of Moses’ countenance” was simply a reflection of the glory of that which was “written and engraven in stones.” (vs. 7)
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious [this is the source of the glory], so that the children of Israel could not behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which… was to be done away. The King James bible has
…which glory was to be done away, but the word “glory” is in italics meaning it does not appear in the original Greek. Now verse eleven agrees with verse seven:
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. “Glorious” is an adjective describing “that which is done away.” The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious and is done away. Until we see and agree with this statement by Paul, we will never fully see the “glory of that which remaineth.”
The “law of Moses” is the law of God only in the same sense that the first Adam is called the “son of God” (Luk 3:38) “…that was not first which is spiritual [the law of love – Mat 5], but that which is natural: [carnal old covenant law of Moses, Ten commandments – Heb 7:16 and Deu 4:13] and AFTERWARD that which is spiritual” (1Co 15:46). Speaking of the law, the first covenant, we are told “…He taketh away the first that he might establish the second” (Heb 10:9). “The law [of Moses] is not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:9).
There have always been those who will turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jud 4), but we must not let this keep us from using a “form [Greek: pattern as in 1Ti 1:16] of sound words” (2Ti 1:13).
Modern Arguments About The Law
Many today, perhaps afraid of appearing too liberal in their theology, do not believe that the ten commandments should ever be considered a part of the old covenant. “Surely”, they reason, “Paul is not saying that the Ten commandments are done away.”
The argument goes something like this:
“The only thing ‘abolished’, ‘done away’, ‘vanishing away’, ‘disannulled’ or ‘blotted out’ are the ceremonial laws regarding the sacrificial system. Christ has died for us so we no longer need those laws because Christ is the fulfillment of all those typical sacrifices. But the death of Christ did not abolish or fulfill the laws regarding the Sabbaths or the laws regarding clean and unclean meats or any of the laws of restitution or tithing, etc., etc. Oh, yes, Paul specifically states that circumcision is now of the heart in the spirit and not in the letter (flesh). But if Paul does not specifically mention that a particular part of the old covenant has been fulfilled, we cannot take it upon ourselves to decide what has and what has not been ‘fulfilled’ and ‘done away’ or ‘abolished’, etc.”
It is this more or less orthodox (not scriptural) mind set that has bequeathed us our present fractured Christian world.
Arguing that “we can’t just decide for ourselves what part of the old covenant is ‘fulfilled’, ‘disannulled’, etc.,” much of Christendom has done just that. For example, some believe we should observe the seventh day Sabbath. For these folks, if you don’t do that, you are disobeying the fourth commandment. Others have replaced the seventh day with the first day of the week. To these folks, if you aren’t in church on Sunday, you probably won’t go to heaven. And if you’re still keeping the seventh day Sabbath, then you are ‘still under the law’. The “Sunday keepers” feel they are not “under the law” because they keep the first day of the week.
Both schools of thought seem to agree that you still need to tithe. Some are more dogmatic about that than others.
Many, but not all, of the Sabbath keepers maintain that the Sabbath and the holy days and the laws of clean and unclean meats were given to Adam and kept by Noah, Job and Abraham; and therefore are eternal and are not typical so are not fulfilled, or at least not yet fulfilled in Christ. Volumes could be written on the differences in doctrines concerning the law. Many if not all, denominations have been established based on slightly different or sometimes big differences of opinions concerning the law. Is there any truth to any of their arguments?
We Cannot Pick And Choose For Ourselves
There is one truth in these arguments to which we should all agree, and that is that we cannot pick for ourselves what is and what is not “fulfilled” or “done away” in Christ (Deu 4:2, 12:32; Jer 26:2; Rev 22:18-19). These scriptures make it clear that God does not take lightly our adding to or taking away from His Word. This is about the only truth I can see in any of these arguments.
Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
With this stern warning in mind, we think it best to agree with the Lord, the prophet (Jer 31:31-33) and the apostle (2Co 3:3-11) that the old covenant with all its glory has been replaced by the new covenant (Jer 31:31-33 and Heb 8:8-10); that the new covenant is “not according to” the old (Heb 8:9); that
that which is done away was glorious… and was “written and engraven in stones” (2Co 3:11 and 7); that the new is a “better covenant” (Heb 8:6); that the old “is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13) and “he taketh away the first, that He may establish the second” (Heb 10:9). He doesn’t parse (break apart) the covenant. It is all “done away” or “abolished” (Greek – katargeo) for those “in Christ.”
Exactly What Was “Written… In Tables Of Stone”?
In the Old Testament
2Co 3:11 says: “that which is done away was glorious.” Verse 7 tells us: “the administration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious…” The only question then becomes exactly what was “written… in tables of stone (2Co 3:3)?
The phrase “tables of stone” appears twelve times in the Hebrew. Every time it appears, it refers to the ten commandments (Exo 24:12, Exo 31:18, Exo 34:1, Exo 34:4; Deu 4:13, Deu 5:22, Deu 9:9-11, Deu 10:1, 3; 1Ki 8:9).
Let’s quote just four of these scriptures which refer to the ten commandments as tables of stone.
And He [God] declared unto you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone(Deu 4:13).
When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you…(Deu 9:9)
And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant(Deu 9:11)
The Lord delivered unto me the two tables of stone written with the finger of God…(De. 9:10).
In the New Testament
The tables of stone are mentioned only two times in the New Testament.
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart(2Co 3:3)
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.(Heb 9:4)
The “tables of the covenant” were the 10 commandments written on stone (Deu 4:13 and 9:11).
The Greek word for testament and covenant are the same – diatheke (Strong’s #1242). It is used 24 times in the new testament in direct reference to the new covenant. (Mat 26.28; Mar 14:24; Luk 22:20; Rom 11:27; 1Co 11:25; 2Co 3:6, 14; Gal 3:15, 17; Gal 4:24; Eph 2:12; Heb 7:22; Heb 8:6, 8-10; Heb 9:15-17, 20; Heb 10:16, 29; Heb 12:24; Heb 13:20; Rev 11:19).
The ten commandments are the heart and soul of the old covenant. All of the other statutes and judgments are based upon and rest upon them. Without the ten commandments there would be no old covenant.
If we want to be careful not to add to or take away from the word of God, we need to simply believe “In that he saith, a new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). The ten commandments are the tables of stone of the (first) covenant (Deu 4:13).
A Schoolmaster Is Needed In Every Generation
You may be comfortable retaining some part of that old covenant. That’s fine. It was always intended to be our “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:24, 25). “But before faith comes, we are kept [Greek: sunago – to be garrisoned as by military force] under the law, shut up [Greekkatakleio – to lock up or imprison] unto the faith that will afterward be revealed” (Gal 3:23). Because “the scripture hath concluded [is also katakleio – to lock up or imprison] all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Gal 3:22).
For Whom Are The Ten Commandments Intended?
Those ‘locked up’ or ‘imprisoned’ [katakleio] “under the law” are those to whom the law is addressed. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers” (1Ti 1:9). The Law is not for a righteous man!
So who are those who are “under the law”? As far as God is concerned it is “all the world” and they are “all… guilty before God” because the law (the ten commandments) is a “ministration of death” (2Co 3:7) and “the ministration of condemnation” (2Co 3:9). Why is that? Because the ten commandments were not designed for those who have God’s law of love written on their hearts.
Animal sacrifices were typical of the sacrifice of Christ (Heb 10:10-11). Physical circumcision was typical of spiritual circumcision (Rom 2:29), and the ten commandments are typical of the spiritual laws first revealed by Christ to his disciples in Matthew 5 in His sermon on the mount.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:
Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.
It is the words of Christ (not the law of Moses) that will judge us.
Joh 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
None of these verses is referring to the law of Moses. If they were, the sermon on the mount would never have needed to be delivered.
The Purpose For Types And Shadows
Shadows cannot perfect, and the first covenant is a shadow of the second. “For the law having a shadow of good things to come…” (Heb 10:1). Notice again, no parsing (taking apart and analyzing) of “the law”.
In Matthew 5, Christ is showing what the 10 commandments foreshadowed. Six times he says “You have heard it said of old time”, then he quotes either the ten commandments or the law of Moses. It was all the same to Christ.
The first two “you have heard that it was said by them of old time” concerned the sixth and seventh commandments. The last four concerned statutes and judgments. All had already “waxed old and were ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13).
In Romans 2, Paul is calling the Jewish believers to task for judging the Gentile believers who “have not the law, but do by nature [the “divine nature” of 2Pe 1:4] the things contained in the law” (Rom 2:14). Paul is not talking about the old covenant law because that law required circumcision. Circumcision, among many other laws, is NOT by nature. The Jews thought that because they had the law of Moses, they had the truth.
Rom 2:17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, Rom 2:18 And knowest [his] will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; Rom 2:19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, Rom 2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
The old covenant, which includes the ten commandments (Deu 4:13), was a “form of knowledge and… truth”.
The Greek word for form is morphosis (Strong’s #3446) and is used only twice in the New Testament. The only other appearance is in 2Ti 3:5. In verse one, Paul is telling us what it will be like “in the last days” (vs. 2). “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”. Then in verse 5, he says “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Paul informs us “if ye be circumcised Christ will profit you nothing” (Gal 5:2).
Now Paul was circumcised and goes on to tell the Corinthians that “circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God [is everything] (1Co 7:19). Don’t let anyone tell you Paul did not believe in commandment keeping. But neither should you be deceived into believing that “commandments of God” here in 1Co 7:19 are the ten commandments of the old covenant (Deu 4:13; Exo 20). “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3). “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10).
Circumcision is as much a part of the Old Covenant as the ten commandments. And the ten commandments are the old covenant (Deu 4:13). THERE IS NO SCRIPTURE SEPARATING or PARSING OF THE LAW. IT IS “THE BOOK OF THE LAW” (Gal 3:10), AND IT IS “A DEBTOR TO DO THE WHOLE LAW” (Gal 5:3).
But the “whole law” and “the book of the law” is a mere “form of the knowledge and of the truth”. It is “a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Act 15:10).
What Paul is saying is that if we mistake the outward ritual of circumcision for the spiritual reality that “Christ will profit you nothing.” The same is true for Sabbath and holy day observance.
The weekly Sabbath and all the holy days are mere forms of Christ, just as surely as animal sacrifices were mere forms, shadows and types.
Surely no Christian would sacrifice animals and expect animal blood to cover and hide their sins. Why? Because “Christ is our Passover”. Paul did not physically keep the feast once a year with physical bread. Paul put sin out of his life every day all year. He kept the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1Co 5:8).
Let us get away from ‘forms’. Let us “keep the feast” not literally once a year, but daily with “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Let’s forsake the form of a Sabbath of one in seven and remain in our sabbatismos 24 hours a day seven days a week,
for we which have believed do enter into rest…
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.
For he that hath entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works every day. Remember, forms “deny the power thereof” because they are all just ‘forms’ of Christ. Let’s trade in the old passing, powerless form for the permanent, powerful reality of Christ through whom we can do all things and conquer sin all the time.
Mat 5 reveals to us that the 10 commandments are a morphosis, a form of godliness, not the spirit or power of godliness that Christ is revealing here for the first time. If this is not so, then there would have been no need for the “sermon on the mount”.
The believing Jews who were attempting to judahize Paul’s Gentile converts, were concerned with the letter of the law and an outward visible show of righteousness and obedience. They wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised (Act 15:1), to observe the holy days (Col 2:15) and to keep the law of Moses (Act 15:5). It was not given to them to see (Mat 13:13) that circumcision must be of the heart (Lev 26:41). They may have realized that the Messiah was to be rejected (Isa 53:3), but they did not see that he was to be a reformer like Moses. (Deu 18:15, Heb 9:10)
Yet it was all there in the “law and the prophets” for those who were given “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Mat 13:13). The purpose all the types and shadows serve, being part of the law, is as a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ” (Gal 3:24).
What Are “Good Things To Come”?
For the law, (notice it simply says “the law”, not any particular part of it; the whole law) having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered, make the comers thereunto perfect (Heb 10:1).
As with Heb 7:12, which some say refers only to the laws pertaining to the priesthood, so here also many will argue that this refers only to the laws concerning the animal sacrifices.
But, it is not any particular part of the old covenant that is being replaced; it is all of the… old” covenant that is “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). So if “the law” is simply “a shadow [a form] of good things to come, and not the very image of the things”, then what is “the very image that makes the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb 10:1)?
When our eyes are opened, and we are given ears that hear, the Bible becomes amazingly simple and pleasantly redundant in its simplicity: “let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: [all part and parcel of the old “vanishing” covenant] which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [casting that shadow] is of Christ.” Once again, they all pointed to Christ who is the center of all scripture (Col 1:19).
Again we ask, what is the “old covenant”? The answer is the same: “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; [the ones superceded by Christ in Mat 5] and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” (Deu 4:13). These are the tables and the stones referred to in 2Co 3:3, 7 and 11). The ten commandments are the foundation of the law of Moses.
Mixing The Old Covenant With The New Covenant
We cannot dissect the old covenant and use or discard its parts at random. It is all or none at all. We dare not mix the old with the new. Mat 9:16, 17, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth into an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” I think we all realize that Jesus is not speaking of literal cloths and wine bottles.
It is hard to give up the flesh (the letter of the law). It seems so right, so good to us. Old wine will always taste more mellow to the carnal mind. Christ predicted that this “time of reformation,” this “new covenant,” would not be well received. That is as true today as it has ever been. Here is Christ telling us that the new covenant will be rejected by His people for the old:
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better (Luk 5:39). That statement was made to “the disciples of John and of the Pharisees” (Mar 2:18, Luk 5:33), because to this day, it is their disciples who want to go back to the law of Moses.
Keeping the old covenant laws and the ten commandments may seem like the right thing to do (Act 15:5 –
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.), however, unless we repent of breaking these new commandments of our Lord, just like the men on whom the tower of Siloam fell, “…ye shall all likewise PERISH” (Luk 13:4-5). Mixing the new with the old does not work. It makes things worse. In fact, Jesus said, “they PERISH”! So notice what Paul tells us regarding circumcision,
I testify to every man that is circumcised [or keeps the holy days, or the clean and unclean food laws, or tithing, etc. etc.] that he is a debtor to do the whole law (Gal 5:3).
Upon what scripture therefore, have some decided that, yes, circumcision is no longer needed, but the holy days, tithing, clean and unclean food laws, etc. etc. are to be observed? It is the “whole law” that must either be kept or it is all “things written in the book of the law” that are “done away” and “disannulled” but only after the law brings us to Christ (Heb 7:18). Circumcision is a type and shadow of putting off the flesh and being given a new heart: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ [Christ living his life in us] (Gal 2:22, Col 2:11). The type, physical circumcision, has been rejected for the reality, Christ in us.
Who Is ‘The Circumcision?’
“For we [those in Christ] are the circumcision, which worship God in spirit, and rejoice in Christ and have no confidence in the flesh [such as being a physical descendant of Abraham]” (Php 3:3).
This is what Paul means when he says
…though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more (2Co 5:16). Paul is not saying that we are no longer to acknowledge Christ’s teaching given while He was in the flesh. To the contrary, he says
if any man…consent not to…the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…he is proud, knowing nothing… (1Ti 6:3). What Paul is saying is that the type, being born of David after the flesh, being Abraham’s seed after the flesh, the natural is always first (1Co 15:46). But once it is fulfilled, it
waxeth old [and] is ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13).
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
The Proper Use Of New Covenant Liberties
On what scriptural grounds do we tend to think that, yes, part of the law (circumcision) is fulfilled in Christ, but that the rest of the law is not? Paul had no such doctrine. Yes, he did “become a Jew to the Jew, and under the law to them that are under the law”, but not because those types and shadows were necessary, but simply “that I might gain the Jew” and that “I might gain them that are under the law” (1Co 9:20). When Paul says, “…I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem…” (Act 18:21), it wasn’t that he esteemed it necessary for salvation, but rather “and this I do for the gospels sake…” (1Co 9:23).
We should all follow Paul’s example and tolerate those who are “weak in the faith” (Rom 14:1). One Christian may eat things not eaten by another (vs. 2 and 3). Another Christian may observe holy days, while another doesn’t (yes, holy days were “esteemed” above other days). What is Paul’s advice? “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom 14:5). “To his own master (God) he standeth or falleth” (vs. 4).
But how did Paul really feel about clean and unclean meat laws?
Rom 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that [there is] nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him [it is] unclean.
Rom 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So exactly how do we decide how to conduct ourselves among other brothers whose spiritual development differs from ours?
Rom 14:18 For he that in these things serveth Christ [is] acceptable to God, and approved of men.
And how do we serve Christ?
Mat 25:40 …Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
Therefore the way to “serve Christ” is to become a “servant” to your brother: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mar 10:44). We must not allow our liberty to “become a stumbling block” to our brothers (1Co 8:9). Understanding the liberties inherent in the new covenant is good as long as we do not become puffed up with our “superior knowledge”.
1Co 8:1 …Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Keep holy days with those who keep holy days, eat meat with those who eat meat, herbs with those who eat herbs. Become “all things to all men that you might by all means save some” (1Co 9:22).
“…Take heed lest this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” (in faith) (1Co 8:9).
“…Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: [Gen 9:3 “…everything that moves is food for you…”], but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom 14:12-14).
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom 14:17).
The kingdom of God…is righteousness… sends many folks, oblivious to the whole point of Matthew 5, right back to the commandments of God for carnal Israel.
All your commandments are righteousness (Psa 119:172) they quote, blithely unaware that the same God who commanded carnal Israel to take an
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth changed that command to
But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also (Mat 5:38 and 39).
Yes, “all thy commandments are righteousness”, but Christ did not say “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things in the law or the Torah”. What he did say was “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say” (Luk 6:46).
Christ did not say “Whosoever cometh to me, and keepeth the Torah or the laws I gave to Moses…” What he did say was “Whosoever cometh to me and heareth MY saying and DOETH them…is like a man which built an house…upon a rock” (Luk 6:47).
Anyone who thinks that “love your enemy” is obeying the law of Moses doesn’t know the law of Moses. Anyone who thinks “except for fornication” is in the law of Moses, hasn’t read the law of Moses. Anyone who thinks “don’t look on a woman to lust after her” is in Torah doesn’t know Torah. And anyone who thinks that gathering corn to eat on the Sabbath and telling a man to take up his bed on the Sabbath are not breaking the Sabbath, simply hasn’t read the old covenant laws (Num 15:33-35; Exo16:5; Jer 17:21-22).
Christ did not do these things because they were permitted in the “spirit of the law which had been lost in the traditions of the elder.” He did them to demonstrate “that he was Lord also of the Sabbath” (Luk 6:5).
Christ, like Moses, was a reformer and a law-giver.
The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken (Deu 18:15).
Which [tabernacle of Moses] stood only in meats and drinks and…carnal ordinances, imposed on them UNTIL [but only until] the time of REFORMATION…Christ being come (Heb 9:10 and 11).
Jesus Christ for the first time in history brought a spiritual (not a letter) law (Rom 7:6, 14 and Mat 5). “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Mat 5:27) is letter law; “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mat 5:28) is spiritual law. “All these have I kept from my youth up” (Mat 19:20) and “…touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Php 3:6) are statements made by the rich young ruler and Apostle Paul respectively. Yet Christ says they were ‘lacking’ while keeping these laws (Luk 18:22). It is the “newness of spirit” primarily (Rom 7:6), that the carnal mind “cannot be subject to” (Rom 8:7). One can keep the ten commandments from his youth up and be blameless in “the law”, yet violate the “newness of spirit” (Rom 7:6), “the law of God” which is “inward” (Rom 7:22).
You can refrain from murder, adultery and love your neighbor, and still be carnal. But you cannot refrain from hate and lust and love your enemies and still be carnal. It is the spiritual law, not the ten commandments, not the letter of the law, that troubles the carnal mind.
Types And Shadows
Four times in scripture we are told that, in the eyes of God, things are not as they appear to us. Scripturally speaking the spiritual is REAL; the flesh is only the TYPE.
- “Abraham’s (physical) seed” is not “Abraham’s (real) children”. In Joh 8:38, Christ says “I know you are Abraham’s seed…”, yet two verses later He denies that they are really his seed by saying: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham” (vs. 39).
- Jews are not Jews: “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly…but he is a Jew which is one inwardly…” (Rom 2:28 and 29).
- Circumcision isn’t really circumcision: “…Neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter…” (Rom 2:28 and 29).
- Israel is not ‘Israel’. “That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children [Israel] of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:4).
The first chapter of the book of Romans tells us to whom the book is addressed and what is its subject. The book of Romans is written to the Gentiles, “both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians …both wise and unwise” (Rom 1:14-15). The subject concerns the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [back-see your Bible margin] the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18). These are men who “knew God, (but) they glorified him not as God … but…changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image… like corruptible man… who changed the truth of God into a lie …who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death (yet they) not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom 1:18-32).
Will anyone deny that those who were “holding (back) the truth” who “knew God but glorified Him not as God”, “who [know] the judgment of God” yet “have pleasure in them that” disobey; will anyone argue with Paul as to who these men are? “Behold you are called a Jew, and rest in the law, and make your boast of God, and knowest His will, and [are] …instructed out of the law…” (Rom 2:17-18). The rest of chapter two is a verbal reprimand to the Jews (who were God’s people) for their hypocrisy. It concludes with a new revelation: Being Jewish and being circumcised is no longer a matter of the flesh as it had been. It is now, as a result of the arrival, death and resurrection of the Messiah, a spiritual matter, a matter of a spiritual change, a change of heart, a change of mind and spirit (vs. 28 and 29).
While it is overly brief, it is not one bit inaccurate to say that the rest of the entire book of Romans deals with this change revealed in chapter two: “He is NOT a Jew which is one outwardly… He IS a Jew which is one inwardly…”
“…NEITHER is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh… circumcision IS that of the heart, in the Spirit… There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit… the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we [Gentiles, not physical Jews] are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom 8:1, 16, 17).
In Rom 9, Paul lets us know that while he has acknowledged the wisdom and sovereignty of God, just like Abraham with Ishmael, he is grieved for “my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3).
In Gen 16, Abram and Sarai conspire to help God accomplish His promise to Abram to make of him a great nation.
In Gen 17, God reveals to Abraham that the seed that would be the heir was not Ishmael. Abraham’s response was identical to that of Paul upon learning that his “kinsmen according to the flesh” had been “broken off” and replaced by the “children of promise” (Gal 4:28). We are not called the sons of Isaac because we are told that we, as Isaac, are “the children of the promise”. Why would someone who IS as Isaac be called his son? We are sons of Abraham as was Isaac, and therefore, heirs of the promise as was Isaac. “O, that Ishmael might live before thee” (vs. 18), was Abraham’s response. In chapter 21, Sarah bears Isaac, “…and she (Sarah) said unto Abraham, cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with… Isaac” (vs. 10). “And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son” (Ishmael). Ishmael was Abraham’s son, his “kinsman according to the flesh”. “And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.”
This is exactly what Paul is experiencing in Rom 9: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart… for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (vs. 2 and 3). This is what we experience as we see our fellow Christians succumbing to falsehoods and deceits.
Why is Paul grieved for “my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites…” (Rom 9:3-4)? Because he has just told us of the change that took place upon the arrival of Christ. Being a Jew and being circumcised now is a matter of promise, of faith, “of the spirit” (Rom. 2:28-29). “He is NOT a Jew which is one outwardly.”
Here in Rom 9 speaking of his “kinsmen according to the flesh” that are the physical descendants of Isaac, Paul again says: “They are not all Israel which are of Israel” (vs. 6). “…that is, they which are the children of the flesh (my kinsmen according to the flesh – vs. 3) THESE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD;… that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth” (Rom 9:8, 11).
In chapter 10, we are told: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (vs. 12, 13).
But aren’t the Jews, modern Israel, still God’s chosen people? Aren’t “the gifts and calling of God without repentance’ (Rom 11:29)? Won’t the Jews be converted after the rapture and rule with us here on the earth?
The answer is yes “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” and yes, “all Israel (my kinsmen according to the flesh) shall be saved”, but “they are not… Israel which are of Israel (physically)… neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children… that is they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:6-8). ANYONE WHO REJECTS CHRIST IS “NOT A JEW”.
No, Israel “according to the flesh” will not be reigning on the earth with the saints during the millennium.
How can we know that physical Israel will not reign with the saints? Because Paul tells us that “Hagar (not Sarah) answers to Jerusalem that now is and is in bondage with her children” (Gal 4:25). Hagar and Ishmael are “of the flesh” and “flesh…cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. “Now we brethren (Gentile Galatians) as Isaac was are the children of promise, but as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now” (vs. 29). Did you catch that? The Gentile Galatians are “as Isaac was… the children of promise.” They are the same “children of the promise… counted for the seed” of Romans 9:8. And Romans 9:8 also says “They which are the children of the flesh (physical descendants of Isaac) ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD…”
Notice how Gal 4 harmonized with Rom 9: “nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son (Jews and Israelites who are not in Christ): for the son of the bondwoman (Jerusalem that now is in bondage – vs. 25) shall not be heir with the son of the free woman” (Gal 4:30).
So, who is the true spiritual Israel counted for the seed of Abraham? “So then brethren, we [Gentile Galatians] are NOT the children of the bondwoman, but [WE are the children] of the free” (vs. 31). “…If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promises” (Gal 3:29). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but [what does avail much is] a new creature. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom 9:6). “And as many as walk according to this rule [that physical parentage and fleshly circumcision avail nothing, but being in Christ makes us the spiritual circumcision and spiritual Israelites], peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).
The Israel “according to the flesh” of Rom 9:3-4 is opposed to the “Israel of God” of Gal 6:16.
The “son” of the Israel “according to the flesh” will not be made heir with the son of the Israel of God. “Israel [according to the flesh] hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it.” “The election [the Israel of God] has obtained that which Israel [according to the flesh] had sought (Rom 11:7).
That’s why Paul says of the “Israel of God”, those who are in Christ, “Do ye not know the saints shall judge the world… know ye not that we shall judge angels… (1Co 6:2-3)?
So those in Christ will judge angels AND the world; and will “not be heir” with the son of the bondwoman.
Didn’t we agree that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance? What about the valley of dry bones “the whole house of Israel” who say “our hope is lost, we are cut off” (Eze 37:25)?
It will be when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel (the whole house of Israel – Eze 37:25) shall be saved…” (Rom 11:25 and 26). The “fulness of the Gentiles” is all those who will be in the second resurrection.
Exactly when will the fulness of the Gentiles be come in so the whole house of Israel can be saved? “When thy sisters Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, THEN thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate” (Eze 16:55).
Is there a scholar anywhere who doesn’t agree that the perverted Sodomites will be raised in the second resurrection, also known as the Great White Throne judgment, where all the dead are judged and those whose names are not in the book of life will be cast into the “lake of fire” (Rev 20:12-15). This is where and when the “whole house” of physical Israel will be “restored to (her) former estate.”
Until this present time, physical, Christ-rejecting Israel, with “the law of Moses” has served as “a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…”(Heb 10:1). In 1Co 10, Paul gives us a brief synopsis of Israel’s history of rebellion against God while wandering in the wilderness. In verse 6, he says: “Now these things were our examples…” Again in verse 11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples”
“Example” and “ensample” are the same Greek word tupos (Strong’s #5179).
The point is that the entire history of “Israel after the flesh” (1Co 10:18), including the giving of the law, is a tupos or type of the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16). “The law (had) a shadow of good things to come” (Heb 10:1). The “good things to come” are all those things possessed by those who are “in Christ.”
There Is A Change
But now that the body casting those types and shadows has come (Col 2:16, 17), “there is of necessity a change… of the law” which “the people received under the levitical priesthood” (Heb 7:11).
Let’s put this “change of the law” in modern terms. If I had a contract (covenant) with you last year, and I broke the terms of that contract, you would have every legal right to cancel that contract and draw up a new one. In the new contract, you could change or retain any part of the old contract that you want, but the old contract would be abolished, and the new contract would be established. (Heb 7:11)
In Heb 7, Paul tells us that this is exactly what has taken place. Under the old contract, only the sons of Aaron could be priests. In the new contract, the Aaronic priesthood has been replaced by the Melchizedek priesthood, the priesthood that existed before the Levitical Aaronic priesthood; a priesthood that had everything to do with God’s calling and had nothing to do with one’s pedigree or physical lineage (Gal 3:28-29).
Verse 12 is a pivotal scripture: “For the priesthood being changed there is of necessity a change also of the law”. This “change” is not just in the law requiring that priests be descended from Aaron. It is a change of “the law”… “received”…”under” the Levitical priesthood: “For under it (the Levitical priesthood) the people received the law [of Moses]” (vs. 11).
Speaking of this change in his various letters, Paul uses eight phrases that are misused, abused and misunderstood by many in the body of Christ today. Those eight phrases are:
…a change also of the law.Heb 7:12
…that which is done away.1Co 13:10; 2Co 3:7, 11
…that which is abolished.2Co 3:13 – abolishing the
law of commandments contained in ordinancesEph 2:15
…blotting out the handwriting of ordinancesCol 2:14
…a carnal commandment… [has been] …disannulled.Heb 7:16-18
…ready to vanish away.Heb 8:13
…under the law.Rom 3:19; Rom 6:14,15; Gal 3:23; Gal 4:4,5, Gal 4:21; Gal 5:18
He taketh away the first that he may establish the second(Heb 10:9)
In this 7th chapter of Hebrews, Paul informs us that the Aaronic Levitical priesthood has been replaced with a priesthood after the order of Melchisedek. In verse 11, he says “the people received the law” under the Levitical priesthood.
But in verse 12, he makes a statement which bears heavily on the answer to all these statements, concerning the law and its present form and function. “For there being a change in the priesthood, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (The law which the people received under the Levitical priesthood.)
Many contend that the only law under consideration here in verse 12 is the law concerning the priesthood only. Let us assume for the moment that this is true. Verse 11 then would really be saying this; “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood [laws], (for under it the people received the [Levitical priesthood] law)…”
This is obviously absurd. It is the law given by God to Moses, which the Levitical priesthood administered, and taught to the people, that is under discussion here in verse eleven. This is the law which the scribes and Pharisees mistakenly assumed would perfect them. (Vs. 11) This is the law referred back to in verse twelve where we read: “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (The law just mentioned in verse 11 which was assumed to perfect the people.) Laws regarding the priesthood were never assumed to perfect the people. Laws administered by the Levitical priesthood were assumed to perfect the people.
But Christ demonstrates in Matthew 5 that the law of Moses (the 10 commandments and the statutes and judgments – the Old Covenant – Deu 4:13) are all types and shadows “of the law of the spirit of life” (Rom 8:2).
Notice I did not say that Christ demonstrates the “spirit of the law” in Mat 5. The phrase “the spirit of the law” is not to be found in scripture. “…In newness of spirit” is a scriptural phrase and is always used in opposition to “the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6).
“…The letter…” is not a phrase for rabbinical or Pharisaical “traditions of the elders” which had
robbed the law of its original spiritual intent. The letter always opposes the spirit. “The letter” is “the law of Moses.” There is no spirit to “hate your enemy” or “an eye for an eye.”
Hate your enemy (Mat 5:43) taken from God’s command to Israel in Deu 23:3-6 is not to be spiritually construed to mean “love your enemy.”
“Love your enemy” is opposed to “hate your enemy.” If you try to somehow make the old agree with the new, you will end up “making the tear worse;” “breaking the bottles” and “spilling the wine” and the result would be to “perish”!
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I came not to destroy, but to fulfil (Mat 5:17).
“…One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mat 5:18). Christ is not saying that Torah, the law, would be in effect till some time after the millennium. If that were the meaning, then circumcision would be necessary for salvation, because it is one of the most oft repeated, obvious requirements of, and the original token of God’s relationship with his people (Gen 17:10 and Jos 5:3-7).
“As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things [physical circumcision?] which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10).
If “till all be fulfilled” (Greek – pleroo) means keeping every “jot and tittle” of “all things written in the book of the law to do them, then why does Christ in this same chapter urge his disciples to break the law and love their enemies?
Obviously pleroo “fulfilled” has more to do with bringing the law to a spiritual consummation in “Christ [who] is the end [end product, goal – love] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom 10:4), than it has to do with keeping every jot and tittle in Torah. What Christ is saying is that when all is pleroo, the law will pass away.
Has heaven or earth passed away? Why then are we not circumcising?
If “the man which doeth those things [contained in the law] shall live by them” (Lev 18:5) is a positive statement encouraging us to keep the law, why then is Paul contrasting “the righteousness which is of the law” with the righteousness which is of faith (Rom 10:4-6)? “Thou shalt not kill” has become “don’t even hate your brother” and “thou shalt not commit adultery” has become “don’t even look at a woman to lust after her.” So there really is a “change also of the law” (Heb 7:12).
The Greek word translated change, is Strong’s Concordance #3346, metatithemi. This word is used in Jud 4 – “…certain ungodly men turning (metatithemi) the grace of God into lasciviousness.” The change (metatithemi) here in Jud 4 is a drastic change. So is the change in Heb 7:12. But the “change also of the law” is in the opposite direction from this “change” or “turning” in Jud 4. Let us allow Christ himself to demonstrate what is involved in this “change also of the law,” in this “new covenant… not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…”
In Mat 5:17, He tells us: “think not that I am come to destroy [kataluo #2647] the law or the prophets. I came not to destroy, but to fulfil [pleroo #4137].”
The word kataluo, “destroy,” appears sixteen times in the New Testament. The first time it is used is here in Mat 5:17. The next appearance of this word is in Mat 24:2; “…Jesus said… there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down” (kataluo). Of the sixteen entries of this word kataluo, the translation “destroy” and “thrown down” are by far the most common. Christ did not come to “destroy” or “throw down” the law, but to fulfil (pleroo) the law.
This word, pleroo (#4137), appears 90 times in the New Testament, generally in reference to various Old Testament prophecies about Christ being pleroo or fulfilled.
But this is also the word used in Rom 8:4. In verse three, Paul says that God sent Christ to accomplish in us what the law could not accomplish because of the “weakness of the flesh”. So “Christ in us” (Gal 2:20) accomplishes something the law could not do. Christ strengthens us “that the righteousness of the law might be-pleroo-fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh [the letter] but after the spirit.” This is the “law of love” (Mat 22:37-40) that faith establishes (Rom 3:31-“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”). Establishing the “law of love” necessitates the “disannulling of the commandment” (Heb 7:18) as Christ demonstrates in Matt. 5. “The law” is itself a prophecy and type of the kingdom of God. It is through the “fulfilling and vanishing away” of the old testament law that the kingdom of God is “established” in the person and body of Jesus Christ.
The Righteousness of the Law
In Paul’s writings, the phrase “after the flesh” and “after the letter” are used interchangeably (Rom 2:29, 8:1); contrasted to “after the spirit” (2Co 3:6).
Rom 8:4 is often quoted by those who want to retain the ten commandments of the law of Moses: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”
If we are walking after the spirit, we are not walking after the letter, “For the letter kills but the spirit gives life” (2Co 3:6). Simply not killing your brother and not committing adultery will not land you in the first resurrection. It will take a “change of the law” to accomplish that because a “change of the law” is also a change “of the heart” “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2Co 3:3). It is this changed law; walking after the spirit; that Christ demonstrates for us in Mat 5. In verse 17, he tells us he came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law. Keeping the “newness of spirit” may or may not fulfill the law of Moses (the ten commandments), but the law of Moses (the ten commandments) does not fulfill the “newness of spirit”, the law of love (Rom 13:10). The rest of the chapter demonstrates what he meant by this, and we will see that it involves a drastic “change also of the law.”
Six times in this same chapter, demonstrating what he meant by the word pleroo (fulfill), Christ quotes out of the law of Moses preceding each quote with “You have heard that it was said by them of old time…”, then Christ ‘changes’ what he quotes.
Obedience to the Ten Commandments Insufficient for Salvation
Christ precedes the changes He has made in the law with this statement, “…I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” There are many hypocritical Pharisees (Mat 23:2-3 and Rom 2:23-24) although there were others, perhaps Nicodemas, the rich young ruler and Joseph of Aramathea who, like the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus, were “touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless” (Phil. 3:6). But even the righteousness of a “blameless” keeper of the ten commandments was still to be “counted as dung” (Php 3:8) and “filthy rags” (Isa 64:6) and “yet lacking” (Luk 18:22).
Php 3:9 is the sum of it, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, [this is the ten commandments and though blameless, we must exceed that.] But that which is through the faith of Jesus Christ, [the spirit, not letter, the changes in Matt. 5, etc.] The righteousness which is of God [not of self, Gal 2:20] by faith [of Christ]” (Gal 2:20).
Let us now examine the changes Christ made in the law.
Change #1 – Thou Shalt Not Kill
The first example of this “change… of the law” is found in…:
Mat 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
This, of course, is a reference to what we call the sixth commandment in the order given in Exo 20. Notice now how Christ “changes” this law.
Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
That is quite a “change… of the law”. It certainly wasn’t metatithemi “changed” or “turned” into “lasciviousness”. Instead the person who “hates his brother without a cause is now as guilty before God as a murderer!
That, I submit, is a demonstration of “a change also of the law” under this new priesthood after the order of Melchisedek; this “new covenant” “not of the letter but of the spirit”. This change is so drastic that it has, for those who walk in the spirit, “done away” with the need for “thou shalt not kill” (Exo 20:13). Parents, schools and courtrooms are still in desperate need of some of the laws of Moses. It is “for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:9). “…The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ… BUT AFTER THAT FAITH IS COME, WE ARE NO LONGER UNDER A SCHOOLMASTER”. But if we live in the spirit, a much higher law has been written on the heart (Gal 3:24, 25).
Change #2 – Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
The next “you have heard it said by them of old time” is the seventh commandment. Mat 5:27 – “Thou shalt not commit adultery:”
Once again Christ is going to demonstrate for us a “change also of the law”, “not of the letter but of the spirit”; a “new covenant”. He will be writing his new covenant law “not on tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of the heart”. The new covenant is not a “version” of the OLD. It is an entirely NEW Covenant. Christ will show us what is meant by “when that which is perfect is come that which is in part shall be done away” (1Co 13:10). This “change of the law” concerning the seventh commandment will “abolish… the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15). It will “blot out the handwriting of ordinances” (Col 2:14). “A carnal commandment will be disannulled.” (Heb 7:16-18). This “new covenant” “…hath made the first old. Now that which is old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). All of these statements of the Apostle Paul are demonstrated in the changes in the law made by Christ here in Mat 5. He does not kataluo (destroy) the law, but he doeskatargeo (abolish) the “law of commandments contained in ordinances [Eph 2:15] by reason of the glory that excelleth” (2Co 3:10).
Mat 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
Now notice how the “law of the spirit of life” contrasts with the letter; verse 28, “But I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Under the old covenant, your mind could be filthy as long as you didn’t physically commit the act of adultery. Not so in this new covenant. If our obedience does not come from the deepest part of our being; from the heart (2Co 3:3) “not of the letter but of the spirit” (2Co 3:6), it will not even be counted as obedience or righteousness. You “have committed adultery with her already in your heart”. You “by the letter..transgress the law” (Rom 2:27).
Paul agrees with Christ. ‘Letter only’ obedience amounts to disobedience, and is no more acceptable to our heavenly father than it is to us. Any decent parent who tells a child to close the door and is obeyed with a slammed door, will immediately administer the much deserved discipline for what really amounts to disobedience.
The Scriptural Definition And Function Of Grace
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Tit 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Yes, the King James Version has “teaching” where I have “chastens” but while it is true that teaching can involve discipline, “teaching” is not the best word to convey the seriousness with which God deals with “ungodliness and worldly lusts” Chastening is the scriptural function of Grace.
The Greek word for teaching is paideuo (Strong’s #3811). It is the same word translated “chasteneth” in Heb 12:6: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (paideuo) and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. “When we are judged, we are CHASTENED of the Lord…” (1Co 11:32).
This is how “where sin abounds grace [in the form of corrective chastening] does much more abound” (Rom 5:20 and Rom 6:1, 2). Anyone who believes that they can come and stay ‘just as I am’ doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘Father’, nor the scriptural definition of grace. “Grace… chastens us [to] deny ungodliness and worldly lusts…” (Tit 2:11, 12).
We may certainly come ‘just as I am’, but we had better “go and sin no more lest a worse thing (discipline from a loving Father) come unto thee” (Joh 5:14).
This is surely a ‘wet blanket’ to those who want only to hear about the salvation of all. There is no way around Mar 9:45 and Heb 12:6. It is “EVERY SACRIFICE” and “EVERY SON”. There are NO EXCEPTIONS! The doctrine of universal reconciliation through a false definition of grace is just as nourishing to the Adversary as the false doctrines of eternal death or eternal torment. What do we think the word ‘dragged’ means? Chastening IS certainly a ‘dragging’. No child goes willingly and cheerfully to be disciplined.
We are “justified freely by his grace” (Rom 3:24). There is no charge and there is nothing we can do to earn the chastening and scourging [of] “EVERY son whom He receiveth” (Heb 12:6). It is given freely.
Change #3 – Divorce and Remarriage
We now come to the third “you have heard that it was said…” Mat 5:31: “It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.”
The previous two “changes of the law” (Heb 7:12) have been dramatic. Will this change be any less so? Not likely. Before we examine this change, let’s ask the question: what did the two previous changes have in common?
In the first change, being “angry with your brother without a cause” is elevated to the offense of murder.
In the second change, “looking on a woman to lust after her” has been elevated to the offense of adultery.
What they have in common is that they have both been dramatically changed from a “letter” law to a “spiritual” law. “Who hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant] NOT OF THE LETTER BUT OF THE SPIRIT, FOR THE LETTER KILLETH, BUT THE SPIRIT [The new covenant] GIVETH LIFE” (2Co 3:6).
Before we continue, let us take note that this change has nothing to do with the ten commandments, but only the statutes and judgments. There was no difference to Christ; it was all “the law of Moses.”
Continuing on; “It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him write her a bill of divorcement. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife saving for the cause of fornication; causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, commits adultery” (Mat 5:31-32). So what “change also of the law” (Heb 7:12) has been made here? Did Christ really say that “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery”?
No he did not!! The changes made here are as monumental as the changes in the sixth and seventh commandments. This change is in fact simply expanding upon the changes made in the “thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment.
Christ is not banning divorce here, and he did not say “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced comitteth adultery.”
The Greek word translated ‘divorced’ here in Mat 5:32 is apaluo (Strong’s #630). This is the same word which is properly translated ‘put away’ in the preceding verse.
The translators’ mistake here has contributed to mountains of unnecessary misery over the past 400 plus years.
While it is true that a Christian couple would never seek to dissolve “that which God hath joined together”, it is not true that Christ said “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” What He did say was
whosoever shall marry her that is put away (apoluo) committeth adultery.
There is a Greek word for divorce. It is apostasion (Strong’s #647). It does not appear in Mat 5:32. It does appear in Mat 5:31: “…let him give her a writing of divorcement (apostasion).” Under the law of Moses, a man was never to apoluo (#630) or ‘put away’ his wife without giving her apostasion; a bill of divorcement.
But men have never kept the law of Moses. Men were ‘putting away’ or apoluo their wives without a bill of divorcement or apostasion. Christ was stating the obvious when he pointed out that legally this “causes” the woman and the man she marries to commit adultery because she is not legally apostasion or divorced.
Why would Christ mention this? He certainly was not suggesting that this somehow complicated things for the Father to decide what was to be held accountable for whatever. He is not in any way excusing sinful actions on the part of either partner in the marriage. This was simply a legal statement. It is helpful to realize that before Sinai and the giving of the “law of Moses” the world was governed by the law of Hammurabi.
Under both laws the husband was the decision maker and wives were owned by their husbands.
Under both laws the husband could divorce his wife for many reasons besides fornication. “…if you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go…” (Deu 21:14).
But there was one major distinguishing feature between the law of Moses and the law of Hammurabi regarding the subject of divorce. The law of Hammurabi says simply “if a man wishes to separate from his wife… he shall give her the amount of her purchase money… and let her go” (Law 138). “…if her husband offer her release, she may go on her way…” (Law 141). “She shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house” (Law 142).
Under the law of Hammurabi women had very few legal rights or protections. Nowhere did Hammurabi require a husband to give his ex-wife a bill of divorcement. The door was wide open for a self-centered, jealous and spiteful ex-husband to deny the fact that he had divorced his wife.
The law of Moses on the other hand required the husband to give the wife a written and signed bill of divorcement. So while divorcing one’s wife was a simple matter under the law of Moses [simply “if you have no delight in her” (Deu 21:14)], the ex-wife at least had the added legal protection of being in possession of a document which proved she was legally free to “go and be another man’s wife” (Deu 24:2).
Now let’s go to Mat 19 and see how the KJV translators correct themselves regarding this Greek word apoluo – which is the same word translated ‘divorce’ in Mat 5:32 –
the Pharisees… came to him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (vs. 3).
Why would the Pharisees ask Christ this question “to tempt him”? Perhaps this was some time after the humiliation the Pharisees suffered when they brought an adulterous woman to Christ.
Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act (Joh 8:4). The law says,
If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die (Deu 22:22).
The emphasis is on the man. The Pharisees had already admitted they had caught her “in the very act”. If they were serious abut keeping the law, where was the man? Of course they weren’t sincere about obeying God; they only wanted to rid themselves of their nemesis who was constantly revealing them for the hypocrites they were. A new tack had to be taken.
So in this case, with the allowances for divorce plainly and explicitly given in the law, the Pharisees, like so many so-called Christians today without the faith of or the spirit of Christ in them, were simply looking for a way around the spiritual new law. This spiritual law had never been given before — certainly not by Moses. The Pharisees knew this and weren’t about to miss a chance to point that out. This is not a new application of the law, this is not some fabled ‘spirit of the law’; this is new law disannulling the old law (Heb 7:18).
Our wise, all knowing Savior knew exactly what was taking place here. He knew that the Pharisees preferred their “own righteousness which is of the law” (Php 3:9) to the spiritual law which He was revealing.
So what do these statutes and judgments of “the Lord your God” have to say about divorce? What are the scriptures the Pharisees had on their side? Do these scriptures (yes, these are scriptures) actually say that a man can put away his wife for any reason or “every cause” (Mat 19:3).
Well, as a matter of fact, they do: “When a man hath taken a wife and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness [ervah #6172] in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement [kerithuth #3748] and give it in her hand, and send her out [shalach #7971] of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife” (Deu 24:1,2).
The “some uncleanness” is certainly not speaking of sexual fraud. The penalty for that was death. “…they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die…” (Deu 22:21). Neither was it adultery. The penalty for adultery was also death (Deu 22:22).
The Hebrew word translated “uncleanness” is ervah (Strong’s #6172). It appears 40 times in the Old Testament. 37 times it is translated “nakedness”. Its first appearance is typical of its use: “And Ham the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father…” (Gen 9:22). Of the remaining 3 verses, it is translated shame. In Isa 20:4: “So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners… even with their buttocks uncovered to the shame [or nakedness – ervah #6172] of Egypt.”
In Deu 23:14, we are given the meaning of this word to be applied here in Deu 24:1. “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of the camp, to deliver thee and to give up thine enemies before thee: therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing [or nakedness – ervah #6172] in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deu 23:14).
The church of Laodicea is told that she thinks she is rich and has need of nothing, but in reality, she is “poor and blind and naked. I counsel you to buy of me… white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear” (Rev 3:17-18). Nakedness in scripture is a type of sin; not any particular sin but any sin. The white raiment is defined as “the righteousness of the saints” (Rev 19:8). This is “Christ in us” (Gal 2:20) covering any sin.
Clearly the Pharisees were right. Adultery and sexual fraud were punishable by death (Deu 22:21, 22) not “a bill of divorcement” and “she may go and be another man’s wife”. “Some uncleanness” really was all that the law of Moses required for divorcing one’s wife.
But in case there is any doubt that the Pharisees were right in their understanding and that Christ wasn’t really “changing the law”, let’s look at one more scripture. If you “seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to your wife; then thou shall bring her home to thine house; …and be her husband and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money…” (Deu 21:11-14)
The reason given here to “let her go” (shalach #7971, the same word translated “send her out” – Deu 24:1) is simply “you have no delight in her” or as the Pharisees put it “for every cause” (Mat 19:3).
Modern Theology Versus Paul
Sounds like the Pharisees knew the letter of the law pretty well. Better apparently than some bible teachers of our day who say that in Mat 5, Christ’s words here are “not to be construed to mean that Jesus is putting away all these divine laws, or that he is replacing each of them with something different or better. It is not the law of God he is discrediting; it is the Pharisaical interpretation of the law and a legalistic spirit that he is disagreeing with… The purpose of the ‘sermon on the mount’ was to improve upon the law’s interpretation and application. The true spirit of the law had been lost through the traditions of the elders” (Divorce and Remarriage is NOT Adultery by S. Jones, pg. 10).
This statement pretty well summarizes the orthodox teaching on “the law” of what is called our “Judeo-Christian culture”. But this doctrine does not follow a “pattern of sound words” (2Ti 1:13). It is not in accord with scripture.
To begin with, nowhere in the bible is the “law of Moses” called ‘divine law’. It is called “the law of Moses” eleven times in the New Testament (Luk 2:22; Luk 24:44; Joh 1:45; Joh 7:19; Joh 7:23; Act 13:39; Act 15:5; Act 28:23; Rom 10:5; 1Co 9:9; Heb 9:19). Secondly, according to Jer 31:32 the new covenant is “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…” So it is “different”. According to Heb. 8:6, it is “a better covenant”. What makes it better according to Heb. 8:10 is that God’s laws, only since Christ, are “put into their minds and written in their hearts.” This is called “of the spirit and not of the letter” in 2Co 3:6. To say “the true spirit of the law had been lost through the traditions of the elders” is to say that in reality there was no difference between the old and new covenant. To say that ‘Christ was simply restoring what had “been lost”‘ is not the teaching of Mat 5 or the Apostle Paul.
This “new covenant” is “not according to” the old; it is “different” and it is “better”, because it, not the old one, is of the spirit. If we insist on believing that “the true spirit of the law had been lost through the traditions of the elders” (ibid.), we are denying that there is any difference to begin with. “Not according to” the old means that the old NEVER was intended to be written on their hearts and minds” (Heb 8:10). It was designed as a “carnal commandment” (Heb 8:16). It did not carry with it the promise of eternal life. That is what is meant by “not in tables of stone” (2Co 3:3) and “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2Co 3:6). The old covenant is the ten commandments written on two tables of stone “his covenant which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” (Deu 4:13). It was definitely “…not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and isobedient” (1Ti 1:9).
Yes, Psa 37:31 and Psa 40:8 say “the law of… God is in his (the righteous man’s) heart.” Having God’s law of Moses “within” one’s heart is obviously quite different, so far as God is concerned, from having it “written on our hearts and minds” (Jer 31:31; Rom 8:2; Heb 8:10 and 2Co 3:3).
If this is not true, then in reality there is no “change also of the law”, and all of Paul’s statements concerning the “letter” of the law are in error.
Now that we have established that the law of Moses concerning divorce was indeed changed, let us consider the direction of this change. The first two changes amounted to requiring the impossible of the flesh. What human being without God’s spirit could live without hate, or what man can live without looking on a woman to lust after her; especially in a time so similar to the “days of Noah” and in a country so similar to Sodom?
What was Christ’s answer to these religious leaders asking the baited question; can a man “put away his wife for every cause”? (Mat 19:3) “And he answered and said unto them, Have you not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Had Christ not been “changing… the law”, he would not have allowed himself to be drawn into a discussion with the Pharisees about the law of Moses. Christ was oblivious to the law of Moses. Instead, he changes the source of authority from what was given by God to the physical nation of Israel through Moses (Deu 5:31) to that which comes directly from the mind of God and was never written on “tables of stone”. In other words, once again, Christ introduces the new spiritual law, never before known to man, and certainly not in the words he had given Moses “if thou have no delight in her, then you shall let her go…” (Deu 21:14).
While the “spiritual law” asks what is commendable and ideal, the letter asks what is permissible? What can I get by with? The Pharisees, in their divinely appointed role as a type of the flesh and letter of the law, could not receive this changed spiritual answer.
“Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away?” (Mat 19:7)
The way the Pharisees phrased this question you might think we were commanded to seek some little reason to put our wives away. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate question; why did God through Moses, make provision for divorce? Why did God, through Moses, allow men to divorce their wives? Simply because “[you] found some uncleanness in her” or “if you have no delight in her” (Deu 24:1; Deu 21:14).
“…Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. Now for the third time Jesus emphasizes his new spiritual law: “And I say unto you whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Mat 19:8-9).
This was such a profound change from what the disciples had been brought up with (the law of Moses) that it elicited this response: “His disciples say unto him, if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is good not to marry” (Mat 19:10). Clearly Christ is not talking about simply remembering to write that “bill of divorcement” before you send her out of your house. The disciples would have had no problem with that, but this was more than they could receive. “But He (Christ) said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given” (Mat 19:11). Christ’s answer to “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every (any) cause? did not appeal to the law of Moses, but rather to the spirit of God, whose representative he was, for its authority. Once again Christ ignores the law of Moses, is oblivious to it. His answer is: “What… God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” Show me that anywhere in the Old Testament. Truly, Christ, like Moses, was a great reformer (Heb 9:10). Do you realize this answer by Christ is the equivalent of saying the law of Moses is men putting a marriage asunder?
Christ himself has not changed (Heb 8:13. He has always been the Christ of Mat 5, 6 and 7, but the law he gave through Moses was for Israel “according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3-4) not the “children of the promise” (Rom. 9:6-8) who are now called “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:15,16), and “able ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit… (2Co 3:6). That letter law brings us to Christ and then for the chosen person is “abolished” (Eph 2:15).
The new seed of Abraham (“now if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed” Gal 3:29) has the new covenant with a new spiritual law (2Co 3:6) written on their hearts (Heb 8:10) and nowhere else.
Some people who do see the differences between the old and new covenant conclude that Christ is not the God of the old covenant. In truth, He is the same God. He was merely using the entire history of “Israel according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3) along with the law given to govern that carnal nation, as simply a type and shadow of the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:15, 16), and as such, “Israel according to the flesh” and the “Law of Moses” were both temporary types and shadows of the “Israel of God” and “the law of God after the inward man” (1Co 9:6 and 11; Rom 7:22).
Truly, Christ does not change, for He is of the spirit (Joh 3:34), but anything, especially the law which is not of faith, must be changed. (Joh 3:6, 7 and Heb 8:13).
Christ appealed to the spirit in his “thou shalt not kill” change, and he appealed to the spirit in his “thou shalt not commit adultery” change. If we do not glean the spirit of this “but I say unto you”, we will not be able to “receive this saying” concerning divorce and remarriage.
Now let’s take what Christ has said here and analyze it with spiritual eyes and ears (Mat 13:13).
Hardness Of Your Heart
First, what does “hardness of your hearts” mean? Are these laws on divorce and remarriage the only laws written “because of the hardness of your hearts”? Absolutely not! Any and every law ever written is written “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Rom 2:5). Hardness of heart is a form of self-centered rebellion and self-will.
“The law [of Moses] is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Ti 1:9), those with hardened hearts.
We must understand this if we are to understand the place and function of the law of Moses (1Ti 1:9-10 – the law is not made for a righteous man but for the… disobedient) as opposed (yes, opposed) to “the law of God after the inward [spiritual] man” (Rom 7:22) which is for the righteous man because it (not the ten commandments) is …”newness of spirit not oldness of letter” (Rom 7:6).
We are now able to ask, what does “saving for the cause of fornication” (Mat 5:32) or “except it be for fornication” (Mat 19:9) mean? This is, without a doubt, one of the most hotly contested biblical questions of all time. So as with all our definitions of words or phrases, we need to allow God’s word to be our dictionary and lexicon.
God Hates Putting Away
The first scripture that should always be quoted before this discussion begins is Mal 2:16 – “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away…” That fact is foremost in the mind of everyone who has the spirit of God dwelling in them.
Marriage is the most sacred institution God has bequeathed to man. It is by its very nature the most intimate, maturing, loving and nurturing relationship one can experience in this physical life. It is a reflection of our relationship to God (Isa 54:6). Christ is the bridegroom of the bride (Mat 9:15) and He tells us plainly that He hates “putting away”. So whatever “except it be for fornication” means, it certainly is not an easy way to dissolve a marriage. No one with the mind of God is looking for a way to dissolve “what God hath joined together”. Every God-fearing Christian is seeking to nurture and strengthen the marriage bond. Looking for another mate is certainly not even a consideration for anyone who can truthfully say “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal 2:20).
The Meaning Of Fornication
So with the “Not my will but thine be done” attitude of Christ, (Luk 22:42), let us consider the meaning of this word “fornication”. The Greek here for fornication is porneia (Strong’s #4202). The word appears 25 times in the New Testament: Mat 5:32, 19:9; Mar 7:21; Joh 8:41; Act 15:20, 15:29, 21:25; Rom 1:29; 1Co 5:1, 6:13,18, 7:2; 2Co 12:21; Gal 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 4:3; Rev 2:21, 9:21, 14:8, 17:4, 18:3 and 19:2. These 25 words are all in the present tense.
The past tense of this noun is porneuo (Strong’s #4203), and it appears in seven verses in the New Testament: 1Co 6:18, 10:8; Rev 2:14, 2:20, 17:2, 18:3 and 18:9.
Now Christ was a Jew living with the Old Testament only. To know for certain what Christ meant by porneia, we must find a scripture in the New Testament that refers to a specific act of porneia in the Old Testament. Of the 32 verses listed above where this word appears, the only verse that refers to a specific act of porneia in the Old Testament is 1Co 10:8: “Neither let us commit fornication (porneuo #4203), as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.”
This is a reference to the seduction of Israel by the daughters of Moab on the advice of the prophet Baalam (Num 31:16). Apparently twenty-four thousand died altogether, but twenty-three thousand died the first day of the plague.
Now notice the spiritual affect of this physical sin. “And Israel abode in Shittim and the people began to commit whoredom (Hebrew word zanah, fornication-Strong’s #2181) with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself to Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel” (Num 25:1-3).
Physical fornication (porneuo or porneia) led Israel to spiritual fornication or idolatry.
The Hebrew word for fornication is zanah (Strong’s #2181). It appears 82 times in the Old Testament. It is translated variously harlot, whore, whoring and fornication. The first time this word for fornication, zanah appears is in Gen 34:31: “…should he deal with our sister as with an harlot (zanah)?”
This physical application represents 25 of the 82 entries of this word fornication in the Old Testament Hebrew. The remaining 57 entries are spiritual in their application: “Lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring (zanah – fornication) after their gods and do sacrifice unto their gods and one call you and you eat of his sacrifice” (Exo 34:15).
This scripture is typical of well over 2/3 of the entries for a spiritual application of this word zanah: “He [Jehoram, king of Judah] made high places [for idol worship] in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication [Hebrew: zanah], and compelled Judah thereto.”
Clearly “the invisible things…” [spiritual fornication among them] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [like physical fornication]” (Rom 1:20). The primary sin “not after the letter, but after the Spirit” (2Co 3:6) in the New Covenant, is unfaithfulness to God, or spiritual fornication.
It is before God that we take an oath to be faithful to our mates. Physical marriage is simply a type of our relationship with our God. Our faithfulness to our mate is a reflection of how faithful we are to God, our Father, and Christ, our husband (2Co 11:2). “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32).
But spiritual idolatry or fornication can be and is more than just physical fornication: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry” (Col 3:5). In the strictest sense, any sin that comes between us and our husband, Jesus Christ, (2Co 11:2) becomes unfaithfulness, spiritual idolatry or fornication. Idolatry, spiritual fornication, is not a thing of the past. It is more prevalent in society and in the church of this materialistic age than it has ever been in history. Also, idolatry and spiritual fornication are increasing every day. “…In the last days… evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2Ti 3:1 and 13).
What Christ then is saying in Mat 5:32: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery…”, is that anyone putting away his mate for purely a selfish motive is the one responsible for any adultery committed.
What would be an unselfish motive? Let’s let the Apostle Paul answer that question: “If the unbelieving depart, let him [or her] depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage [to the marriage vows] in such cases” (1Co 7:15). Now, Israel was still in the land, still claiming to be God’s wife while she was in effect, slapping her husband in the face and committing “adultery” with anyone and everyone including “stones and stocks” (Jer 3:9). If a man or woman beats and abuses a mate or children, he or she is as guilty of leaving that union as Israel was of leaving God. And He wrote Israel a “bill of divorcement” (Jer 3:8).
“And whosoever shall marry her that is put away (not divorced) committeth adultery:” There is no respect of persons with God (Rom 2:11). There is neither male nor female in Christ (Gal 3:28). So this verse could just as scripturally read “Whosoever shall put away her husband saving for the cause of fornication”, and “whosoever shall marry him that is put away committeth adultery”.
There are those who say, in effect, that the exception clause is no exception. They quote Rom 7:2: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law (of Moses) to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.”
Those who quote this verse in support of ‘no exception’ must be simply ignorant of the law of Moses. As demonstrated above, there were many reasons in the law of Moses for a man to put away his wife, including “she find no favor in his eyes” (Deu 24:1) and “if you have no delight in her” (Deu 21:14).
The only conditions given in the law under which a man could never put away his wife, was if he had falsely accused her of premarital sex (Deu 22:19) or if he himself were guilty of premarital sex with his wife (Deu 22:29).
There are certainly no provisions in the law of Moses for a woman to put away her husband “if he find no favor in her eyes” or “if she have no delight in him”. Instead, “the woman which hath an husband was bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth…” (Rom 7:2) so long as “she findeth favor in his eyes” (Deu 24:1).
Christ, of course, once again acts oblivious to the law of Moses. He changes the law as He sees fit, for He sees things as the Father sees them. (Joh 5:30).
There is no respect of persons under this new law. The accountable party or parties are held responsible for their own deeds. (Rom 2:6 and Gal 6:7). We must consider the atmosphere in which Christ lived. Under Moses’ law, a man could put away his wife for almost any reason. Christ was, as always, placing the ideal before us as our goal.
Later however, in the gospels, He simply tells us how we are to deal with that which is less than ideal (1Co 7). “I have yet many things to reveal unto you, but you cannot bear them now” (Joh 16:2). Some of these “many things” were the fact that Christ fulfilled circumcision (Rom 2:29); that accepting Christ turned a Gentile into a Jew (Rom 2:28-29 – this was and is especially hard for many to bear!); that the entire law of Moses, including the ten commandments (2Co 3:6-7) was to be replaced by a new covenant written on fleshy tables of the heart (which was and is perhaps the hardest truth of all for both physical and spiritual Jews to accept). Tables of stone have no glory of themselves.
What was written on those tables of stone was what made Moses’ face shine. “That which was made glorious (the ten commandments written and engraven in stones – Exo 31:18 and Deu 9:10) “HAVE NO GLORY in this respect, by the reason of the glory that excelleth (the New Covenant)…”the epistle of Christ… written… in fleshy tables of the heart” (2Co 3:3 and 7).
Now there is something else Christ had to reveal that could not have been bourn at that time (Joh 16:12). Once again, His instrument for this revelation is the apostle Paul “…to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1Co 7:1). “Defraud ye not one another, [don’t withhold sexual relations from each other] except it be by consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and come together again, that Satan tempt ye not for your incontinency” (1Co 7:5). “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner [celibacy], and another after that (vs. 7). What Paul is saying is that God has not gifted some men to live without a wife. Such men need a wife “to avoid fornication”, and being “tempted of Satan”.
This is certainly not the tone of the “sermon on the mount”:, the revelation of the new covenant in Matthew 5. In that chapter, our Savior is setting forth the ideals of the new covenant. This was not the time or place for the revelation of the “abolishing of the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15). The sermon on the mount was not the time to reveal that “Israel according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3 and Eph 2:11,19) was to be “broken off” (Rom 11:11,19) and replaced by the true “Israel of God” which has nothing to do with physical descent (Gal 6:15,16; Rom 9:6-8, Gal 3:28,29). Indeed there were “many things they could not bear then” (Joh 16:12). That God would call the Gentiles at all was more than the disciples could bear at the time of Matthew 5.
But Paul’s Corinthian epistle is addressed to Gentiles. Not only that, but these Gentiles were “carnal babes in Christ” (1Co 3:1-3). Former “fornicators…, thieves… and drunkards” (1Co 6:9-11). They, as we all do, were even then struggling against the flesh (Gal 5:17).
So this is the time and place to reveal even more of the differences between the two covenants, the old (of the letter, law of Moses) and the new (written only in ‘fleshy tables of the heart’ 2Co 3:3).
Our Maker knows better than we, that maturity is a process. “If you CONTINUE in my word, then are you my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Joh 8:31,21). There are far more “disciples” than there are “disciples indeed”. The Corinthians were, being “carnal babes”, merely “disciples”. But the inspired word of God is for us all regardless of our degree of maturity in Christ.
Paul did not say “To please God let every man have his own wife”. He did not say “come together again because you love your mate”. It was “come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” and “to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife and every woman have her own husband”.
Why did Paul put it this way? “For [because] I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner [the ability to live a celibate life], and another after that” (needing a mate “to avoid fornication” and “that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency” (1Co 7:5).
Continuing this thought: “I say therefore [with the understanding laid down in verse 7] to the unmarried (agamos #22) and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I” (1Co 7:8).
Paul did not say “I say therefore to virgins and widows…” He said “unmarried”. Does unmarried mean virgin?
This word ‘unmarried’ appears in only four verses in the New Testament, and they are all right here in 1Co 7. The first is verse 8 which we’ve just quoted. The next is verse 11: (starting in verse 10) “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband (Mar 10:12) – Christians do not seek an excuse to dissolve “that which God hath joined together”): (vs 11) but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried…” (agamos #22). This is obviously not talking about a virgin.
So what is Paul saying here? Does this verse forbid divorce and remarriage? In verse one, Paul says “Now concerning the things whereof you wrote unto me…”. It is obvious from the context of this chapter, that “the things whereof ye wrote unto me” concerned relationships between married couples. Verses 1-11 appear to be addressed to believing couples while verses 12-15 are addressed to couples in which one spouse is not a believer. This being the case then, the answer to our question is yes, divorce and remarriage is not even a consideration for truly believing couples. Why would anyone truly attempting to please their Maker and their mate want a divorce? Of course, believers have problems, too, but the advice for true believers is not “a brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” but is instead “…if she (or he) depart, let her (or him) remain unmarried (agamos) or be reconciled to her husband (or his wife); and let not the husband (or wife) put away his wife (or her husband -1Co 7:11). Notice the change of subject in verse 12: “But to the rest”, that is, those with unbelieving spouses.
Let’s now go to the next verse containing this word “agamos“, verse 32: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried (agamos #22) cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:” There is nothing in this verse that tells us whether the unmarried is a virgin or a divorcee.
The last verse we have to consider is verse 34: “There is a difference between a wife and virgin.” [That statement clarifies verse 27: “are you loosed from a wife”] The unmarried woman [agamos#22, the ‘virgin’] careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and in spirit: but she that is married (the wife as opposed to the virgin) careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”
What can we conclude from these four verses? Verses 10 and 11 do not make it clear whether “agamos” includes divorcees (“if the wife departs, let her remain agamos“) and verse 34, while it only makes it clear that agamos includes virgins, yet it also makes the “are you loosed from a wife” of verse 27 appear to be clearly a divorced man who had married a woman instead of a man who never had a wife.
To be on the safe side though, let’s consider this word ‘loosed’ in verse 27: “Art you bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed (lusis #3080 from 3089). Art you loosed (luo #3089) from a wife (not a virgin, not a prostitute) seek not a wife.”
This first ‘loosed’ is lusis #3080. It appears only here in this verse. It is derived from the second ‘loosed’, luo which appears in 40 verses in the New Testament. The following four verses are typical. We’ll take one quote from each Gospel to illustrate:
- Mat 21:2: “…Go into the village… and… ye shall find an ass tied and a colt with her: loose (luo) them and bring them unto me.”
- Mar 1:7: “…the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose (luo).”
- Luk 13:15: “…doeth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose (luo) his ox or his ass from the stall and lead him away to watering?”
- Joh 11:44: “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: …Jesus saith unto them, loose (luo) him, and let him go.”
It is obvious that ‘luo‘ means to ‘unloose’ that which had been joined together whether by a ‘tie’, a ‘latchet’, a ‘stall’ or ‘graveclothes’.
The man in verse 27 had been “loosed” from a “wife”…”are you loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.” A Christian does not seek to leave his mate, and because of “the present distress”, Paul’s advice is to forego marriage altogether. Now still speaking to the man who has been “loosed from a wife”, notice verse 28: “BUT AND IF YOU MARRY, YOU HAVE NOT SINNED; and [besides the man who was loosed from a wife] if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned…” There would not be the contrasting ‘and’ if they were both virgins.
There is an ‘exception clause’. There are scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage. There are however, NO scriptural grounds for priests and ministers making decisions for fellow believers in the painful situations some believers find themselves. To their “own masters they stand or fall”.
This “but and if you” [a “loosed from a wife” – a divorced person] marry you have not sinned” is an application of the “exception clause of Matthew 5 and Matthew 19? The fornication referred to by Christ in Matthew 5 is consistent with every other statement in the six different “you have heard it said by them of old time…”, “but I say unto you” changes that Christ made here? …Consistent in that every change was from the physical to the spiritual sphere. …Consistent in that in the Old Testament, of the 82 entries for the Hebrew word for fornication, zanah #2181, 57 entries are spiritual in their application? That’s over two to one condemning Israel for turning her back on God, turning to other gods and committing fornication (zanah) by putting another husband in place of her true husband.
It was the unbelieving that departed. God had not sought a divorce, but “for all the causes where by backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce” (Jer 3:8). The law of Moses certainly allowed for God to remarry (Deu 24:1), but with no regard for the law of Moses, much less Rabbis of Mishnah, Christ (in Mat 5 and 19) and Paul also provided for the injured party to remarry. Whether some men want to acknowledge it or not, at least the word of God does: “For I would that all men were even as I myself [able to live a celibate life]. But every man [and woman] has his proper gift of God, one after this manner [celibacy] and another after that [someone who God has not equipped for such a life but on whom He has bestowed a different gift].”
Indeed God and anyone with the mind of Christ “hates putting away” but provision is made for a believer whose unbelieving mate decides to leave: “A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (1Co 7:15).
As we have pointed out, verses one through eleven of this chapter are addressed to couples who both are believers: “And unto the [believing] married I command yet not I, but the Lord [only believing couples would care about a command from the Lord] let not the wife depart from her husband. But and if she depart, let her [a believing wife married to a believing husband] remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her [believing] husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”
“Yet not I but the Lord” shows that Paul was aware of what Christ had said in Mat 5:31, 32 and 19:4-12. Paul is not going to teach contrary to his teacher.
Paul obviously saw the spiritual change of “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. He also understood the spiritual application of “except it be for fornication” (Greek porneia, Hebrew- zanah).
As pointed out above, of 82 entries for this Hebrew word, over two thirds of the entries (57 to be exact) are used for the nation of Israel turning her back on God committing spiritual fornication (zanah). According to this apostle, a believer is not to put away his unbelieving mate so long as the mate “be pleased” to dwell with him” (1Co 7:12).
“But if the unbelieving depart, [notice it is always the unbeliever who departs] let him [or her] depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace” (1Co 7:15), not to beatinds, abuse and living in fear of our lives. It is the abuser who has ‘left’ the relationship, not the abused.
No doubt, there are situations in which both mates feel the other is the “unbelieving”. God alone can be the judge of some of the situations found within the body of Christ. God’s word simply gives to us all, what God’s mind is in these matters.
Nowhere in scripture is there a single example of any minister or fellow Christian enforcing these words upon others. Quite to the contrary, Paul says; “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2Co 1:24).
Let us follow Paul’s example, and never try to exercise dominion over the faith of a brother; “ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him lest such an one be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2Co 2:7). This, it is believed, is referring to the fornicator who was living with “his father’s wife” (1Co 5:1). We should indeed separate ourselves from such overt fornication and idolatry. But let us not make judgments on relationships of which we have no intimate knowledge.
Instead, let us love and pray for those who are involved in such painful struggles.
Change #4 – SWEAR NOT AT ALL
Let’s go on now to our next “change of the law”. “Again you have heard it said by them of old time [God through Moses – Lev 19:12], Thou shalt not forswear [Strong’s #1964 epiorkeo – commit perjury] thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; …but let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Mat 5:34, 37).
Is anyone who knows the law of Moses (“For I speak to them that know the law” – Rom 7:1) going to argue that Christ is not really changing anything here; the law was really spiritual all along; men had simply been unaware of that or had lost the spirit of the law and all Christ came to do was to restore the law to its original glorious position it had lost through the traditions of the elders?
No, this is not the case. Christ is indeed “changing the law” (Heb 7:12) not just the “law of the priesthood” a phrase not found in scripture. Just what did the law say about swearing or making oaths? “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name” (Deu 6:13) “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name” (Deu 10:20).
Does that in any way agree with “swear not at all”? Of course not. Christ is demonstrating that He, like Moses before him, is making drastic changes in the law. Yet most refuse to believe that because the ten commandments are part (the heart) of the old covenant. They refuse to apply the words of Paul “abolished”, “done away”, “disannulled”, “vanishing away”, and “nailed to the cross” to the ten commandments.
Why should we not swear at all? Because swearing has no place with us in the kingdom of God. Most have at best a very foggy notion about what constitutes the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ came with the kingdom of God IN Him. The kingdom IS the gospel (Mat 4:23). This same kingdom must be IN us (Luk 17:21). Before the manifested sons of God can bring the kingdom to all creation (Rom 8:18-23), it must first be established WITHIN. We enter INTO the kingdom of God, just as God (and His kingdom) enters into us. But Jesus said that unless our “righteousness” should “exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees”, we will NOT enter into the kingdom (Mat 5:20).
Many scribes and Pharisees kept the ten commandments but will not be in the kingdom of God. Saul (Paul) was a Pharisee who “…touching righteousness which is of the law, BLAMELESS” (Php 3:7), yet Saul was unfit for the kingdom. Likewise, the young rich man who came to Jesus seeking salvation into the kingdom was denied even though he kept all of the commandments from his youth. Why? What did he lack? He lacked “perfection”.
Jesus said to him: “If you will be PERFECT… sell… give to the poor… follow me” (Mat 19:16-26). Keeping all the old covenant and ten commandments is not good enough to enter the kingdom of God. Our Lord’s new teaching is that we must be “perfect” (Greek: teleios, complete, mature).
But here is the problem. The Mosaic law and law-keeping “perfected [matured] NOTHING” (Heb 7:19)! And the Levitical priests and all their sacrifices perfected nothing. Likewise, swearing by God’s name or swearing an oath in the name of God did not make their word any more honest nor did it add one cubit of stature to their carnal character.
So we are not to swear at all anymore. Peter swore and cursed with an oath to his own dismal chagrin (Mat 26:69-75), for which he repented bitterly. Swearing by “our head” (our name and character) or “for heaven’s sake” or “for land’s sake” or “by h-o-l-y Jerusalem” or on “a Bible” or on a “stack of Bibles” will not add one cubit of truth to our statements. But should GOD swear an oath, it is eternally true. It is by an OATH that Jesus Christ is now our High Priest after the order of Melchisedec of a “BETTER covenant” (Heb 7:21-22), the IS “PERFECT” (vs 19), that will “NEVER CHANGE” (vs 24), that “SAVES to the uttermost” (vs 25), and all this is by an oath from the word of God (vs 21 and 28).
Now that Jesus has taught us this new truth regarding swearing oaths, it now “…is of EVIL” if we continue to keep the old letter of the law.
Change #5 – “An eye for an eye…”
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Mat 5:38-42). This writer had an interesting experience involving Mat 5:42 which will serve to demonstrate what is meant by “not of the letter, but of the spirit” (2Co 3:6).
A minister in his late 70’s was holding a Bible Conference with “Salvation by Grace Alone” as the theme of the conference. Having attended several similar conferences in the previous few years, it began to dawn on me that what these people meant by “grace alone” was that there was no place at all in the new covenant for “good works”. The emphasis seemed to be more “revel in your liberty” than “showing yourself a pattern of good works” (Tit 2:7). I have yet to hear a sermon at these conferences with the title of “show yourself a pattern of good works”.
This group would have more likely turned grace into lasciviousness than try to ‘earn’ their own salvation, both of which are distortions of biblical truth.
“I don’t want to hear one word about works in this conference” were the opening words of our host. I had traveled many miles for the express purpose of discussing the place and function of works in the new covenant, so I simply waited til the first break and asked what the sermon on the mount was all about, if there was no place for works in the new covenant.
“So you think the words of Christ are for us?”, I was asked.
“Well, I certainly do”, I replied.
“Then give me all the money you have on you”, he demanded. “Christ said ‘give to him that asks of you’, and I’m asking for all of your money. You say you think the words of Christ are for you, so give me all your money.”
I must confess this caught me a bit off guard. “I’m also told to provide for my own household, and I have to get back home, so I can’t do that.”
“See, you don’t really believe the words of Christ are for you or you would give me what I asked for,” he said.
Having had time to reflect on this experience, the meaning of the phrase “of the spirit, not of the letter” has begun to sink more deeply into my heart and mind.
Here was an elderly minister, highly respected by his congregation and many of his fellow ministers, and yet with all of his years of ministry, he was taking the words of our Lord in the sermon on the mount, revealing for the first time a secret concerning the spiritual new covenant, and turning that very spiritual revelation into mere cold, written, legal words to be adhered to without one ounce of spiritual discernment.
Yes, even the New Covenant can, by the wiles of the Adversary, be perverted into mere letters which would have a person showing anything but love.
I was probably made to look foolish to those who were near, but fortunately for us all “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). So a loving Father looked down on us all and judged us all as He saw fit, according to our faith and the integrity of our hearts.
For me to have given him my traveling expenses simply because Christ, in His revelation of a new spiritual covenant, had stated, “Give to him that asks of you” without consideration for the effect of doing so, would have been tantamount to breaking the spirit of the law of love.
Christ’s main purpose for making that statement was to draw a contrast between the carnal law God gave Moses; “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and the new spiritual law He was giving through Christ; “resist not evil…” Find that anywhere in the old covenant law of Moses! For that matter, find a Christian today who believes that NOT resisting evil is good advice. Whether or not most Christians ever see it, the truth is “the law [of Moses] is not for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Ti 1:9).
Change #6 – Love Your Neighbor: Hate your Enemy
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Mat 5:43, 44).
Once again, the law of the new covenant reverses the law of the old. Once again, while being liberated from tedious rituals, the burden of the spirit is impossible for flesh alone to receive. Who among us, without the empowering spirit of God, can love their enemy, do good to them that hate them and pray for them which despitefully use them and persecute them?
Why Abolish The Old Covenant?
Whenever we avoid scriptural terms like “abolished”, “done away”, “disannulled”, “vanish away”, “nailed to the cross”, etc., we have taken the first step away from “a form of sound words which thou hast heard of me” (God through Paul – 2Ti 1:13). There is a reason why the adversary doesn’t want God’s people to see the truth of the abolishment (#2673 Greek-katargeo – 2Co 3:13) or the doing away (#2673 katargeo) of that which was made glorious (the ten commandments). The reason is “for if that which is done away (katargeo) was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious” (2Co 3:10 and 11).
So long as the adversary can keep our eyes on the old covenant, we will never fully see the glory of the new: “Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart” (2Co 3:15). How true this is of all those who want to retain parts, of their own choosing, of the old covenant.
Moses was a mere type of Christ (Deu 18:15). The law of Moses is but a shadow of the spiritual law of God (Heb 10:1). Types and shadows serve a necessary purpose, but are completely incapable of revealing the fullness of the body of Christ to whom we are to be conformed.
Of just what will clinging to the letter rob us? Let’s list a few of those godly thoughts:
- We wouldn’t see that ‘thou shalt not kill” has been replaced with “don’t be angry with your brother” (Mat 5:21-22)
- We wouldn’t see that “thou shalt not commit adultery” has been changed to “don’t look on a woman to lust after her” (Mat 5:27-29)
- We won’t see that “write her a bill of divorcement” has been changed to “except for fornication” (Mat 5:31-32; 19:3-9)
- “Perform your oath” has been changed to “swear not at all” (Mat 5:33 and 37) “An eye for an eye” has been changed to “resist not evil, but turn the other cheek” (Mat 5:38-42)
- “Love your neighbor, but hate your enemy” has been changed to “love your enemy” (Mat 5:43-48)
- Outward circumcision is replaced with spiritual circumcision (Rom 2:27)
- We won’t see that the “letter” really “transgresses the law” (Rom 2:27
- A Jew who is an outward Jew only “is not a Jew”. (Who do you know who actually believes this verse of scripture? Rom 2:28)
- We won’t see that Gentiles can be Jews – “he is a Jew which is one inwardly” (Rom 2:29). We won’t see that circumcision is “not in the letter”, “which is outward in the flesh” (Rom 2:29 and 28)
- We won’t see that “circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit” (Rom 2:29)
- We won’t see that being Abraham’s children has nothing to do with physical descent, but has everything to do with knowing and being in Christ (Gal 3:29) and simply “doing the works of Abraham” (Joh 8:37 and 39)
- We won’t see that “in thee shall all nations be blessed” (Gal 3:8 and Gen 18:18) has only to do with Abraham’s “one seed… which is Christ and not his “many” other seeds (Gal 3:16)
- We won’t see that the law brings us to Christ and then (and not until then) “We are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:23-25)
- We will think that adoption pertains to physical Israel only (Rom 9:3-4) and fail to see that adoption is now only a matter of being in Christ (Gal 4:5). “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption…” (Rom 8:15)
- We won’t see that the “promises” (Rom 9:4) are only for those in Christ (Gal 3:29)
- We won’t see that “the glory” (Rom 9:4) is only for those “in Christ” (Rom 5:2 and 3; Rom 6:4; 8:18) “that he might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which he hath afore prepared unto glory” (Rom 9:23; 1Co 2:7; etc.)
- If we cling to the letter, we will not see that “the covenants” (Rom 9:4) pertain to us: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament [covenant]; not of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2Co 3:6; Heb 8:8; 8:13; 12:24)
- We will wrongly think that “the giving of the law” pertains to physical Israel (Rom 9:4) when in reality, “the law is spiritual” (Rom 7:14). “I delight in the law of God AFTER THE INWARD MAN” (Rom 7:22) “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what [the letter of] the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh: God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law [“of God after the inward man” Rom 7:22] might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh [the letter of the law which ‘killeth’ 2Co 3:6] but AFTER THE SPIRIT” (Rom 8:2-4)
- We will erroneously think that “the divine services of God” pertain to Israel according to the flesh when in reality, only those in Christ can serve God: “I beseech ye therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable [divine] service” (Rom 12:1). The “divine service…” of the “worldly sanctuary” were only “a figure for the time then present… imposed on them until the time of REFORMATION” (Christ, like Moses, was a reformer – Heb 9:1, 10).
- We won’t see that “the promises” (Rom 9:4) are ours! “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God BY US!” [Not by those who reject Christ!] (2Co 1:20). “Having therefore these promises [Preceding three verses, quoted from promises made to “Israel” in Lev 26:12, Isa 52:11 and Isa 43:6], dearly beloved, let us [the Corinthian Gentiles]cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Co 7:1).
- We won’t see that the old letter of the law has not only been “annulled”, “abolished” and “nailed to the cross”, but that it has been replaced by a better spiritual law. (Rom 7:6)
- We may not have even noticed that the TEN commandments have now been replaced by SEVEN (the number of perfection) SPIRITUAL LAWS. When believers now speak of the “Law of God” we don’t mean the ten commandments, but God’s seven spiritual laws recorded in the New Testament:
- The Law of God… Heb 10:16
- The Law of Christ… Gal 6:2
- The Law of the Spirit… Rom 8:2
- The Law of Righteousness… Rom 9:30-31
- The Law of Faith… Rom 3:27
- The Law of Liberty… Jas 1:25 and
- The Law of Life… Gal 3:11, 6:8.
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds as of many [physical Israelites]; but as of ONE, and to thy seed WHICH IS CHRIST… If ye be in Christ, then [and only then] are ye… heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:16 and 29).
As long as our eyes are on the old covenant, we will never see what true circumcision is, what a true Jew is (Rom 2:28, 29). We will, like Esau, fail to see our birthright as rulers and judges of “this world” (1Co 6:2). We will give this birthright, as most Christians do, to “Israel… according to the flesh…” (Rom 9:3 and 4) who are called “Agar… answering to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children” (Gal 4:25). So we have the seemingly impossible situation of those who claim to be Christ’s representatives on earth, the leaders in Christendom, standing as the staunchest supporters of “the son of the bondwoman”. (“Hagar… Jerusalem that now is” who rejects Christ.)
“Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we (those in Christ – Gal 3:29 – “heirs according to the promise”) are not the children of the bondwoman (Jerusalem that now is – Gal 4:25), but of the free” (Gal 4:30-31). “The free” are the “Israel of God” of Gal 6:16 “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”
In Gal 5:1, Paul opens our eyes to the bondage of the old covenant as opposed to the liberty of the new. If you doubt that this is his point read verse 2: “Behold I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised [live by the old covenant, the letter of the law] Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3).
Once again, yes indeed, Christ “magnified the law and made it honorable” (Isa 42:21), but we do not pick and choose for ourselves what part of the old covenant is to be retained because the “law of Moses” which is the law of God for carnal Israel (Heb 7:16), is “abolished” (katargeo #2673 – 2Co 3:13).
Not just circumcision, not just the laws on divorce and remarriage, not just the laws regarding oaths and vows, but “the law” has been abolished. “He is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3).
To make the law “honorable” (Isa 41:21), required the giving of the spirit which could not be done until after Christ had died and been resurrected: “…I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (Joh 16:7) with “newness of spirit” (Rom 7:6). Receiving God’s Spirit (see article onTrinity) has everything to do with understanding the “things of the spirit” which “the natural man receiveth not: (1Co 2:16). With the Spirit, we have the mind of Christ.
Yes, it is true, the words of the Holy Spirit are “turned… into lasciviousness” (Jud 4) every day, but that should never be used as an excuse to try to “help God to keep this from happening by avoiding certain words and phrases He has chosen to use to tell us that the old covenant, all of it, is “abolished” and has been replaced with an “honorable law” (Isa 42:21), a spiritual law (Rom 7:6).
The new “spiritual law” of Rom 7:14 is not the “carnal commandment” of Heb 7:16, but the “spirit” of Rom 7:6: “But now we are delivered from the law [of Moses given by God for carnal Israel], that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of letter” (as in Matthew 5 and all the epistles of Paul and the other apostles.
Bible Expositors Versus Scripture
Let’s take the time here to contrast this statement of scripture (Rom 7:6) with some prevailing teachings concerning the Old Covenant law.
This writer is certainly casting no aspersions on the character or intentions of those whom he is quoting. It was only ‘yesterday’ that these were my own convictions. They do not conform to scripture, however, which is our only criteria for truth. Notice what one writer has to say regarding the old covenant:
“The fault with the old covenant was not the terms, [He means the law, the Torah] but the fault was that the people did not keep their promise of obedience to the terms, of keeping Yahweh’s law, the ten commandments. To shore up this weakness in the people, Yahweh is going to establish a new covenant with them: ‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their El, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, Know Yahweh, for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Heb 8:10-12 RSV)
Notice, instead of writing His laws on tablets of stone, He will put them in their minds and hearts. …The terms on the part of the people haven’t been changed, they still must obey His law, the ten commandments, but He, by putting them into their hearts and minds has made it possible to do so. …Now we have the spirit of the law.” [The Covenants, The Law and Grace by Henry Anderson, pp 9 and 11.]
Is this really why God wants to give us His spirit? So we can “by that spirit… keep the letter of the law”?
What does the above writer think Paul meant when he said “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2Co 3:6)?
If “the letter killeth” why would the spirit help us to keep it?
These are completely separate and incompatible covenants. We, in Christ, are in a “new covenant”. Contrary to the prevalent teaching on this subject, we are not keeping the “spirit of the letter” or the “spirit of the old covenant which had been lost in the traditions of the elders”. The ‘spirit of the letter’ is like saying the ‘the spiritual carnal mind’. The new covenant is “not in oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6) and the “oldness of the letter” had no spirit to lose. “The law [of Moses] is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Ti 1:9).
If one is keeping the letter of the law, he is a “debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3); not just the Sabbath and holy days, not just the clean and unclean meat laws, not just the “immutable moral law”, but “the whole law”. The “old covenant” is “waxing old” and is “decaying” and is “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). Once again we ask, what is the old covenant? Once again, we answer “he declared unto you his covenant… even ten commandments; …upon two tables of stone” (Deu 4:13).
“The spirit of the letter” is not a pattern of sound words because it is not in the scriptures. It will mislead you, and you will end up attempting to retain the letter to some degree. “Not of the letter, but of the spirit (2Co 3:6) “…in newness of spirit and NOT in oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6) and “in the spirit, and NOT in the letter” (Rom 2:29). These verses are a pattern of sound words which if used and adhered to will deliver us from many erroneous teachings.
Apparently the above expositor believes ‘”Now since we have the spirit of the law living in us and by that spirit, we keep the letter”. To him “not of the letter” doesn’t really mean “NOT of the letter”; but rather ‘one can’t keep the letter without the spirit, and one can’t keep the spirit without the letter.’ This is scriptural nonsense.
Again I ask, is that really why we were given the spirit? So we could keep the letter? Were Christ and His disciples simply lacking the spirit when they deliberately broke the letter concerning the Sabbath (Joh 5:18)? Was Jesus lacking the spirit when He healed the impotent man and told him to take up his bed and walk, contrary to the letter of the law?
The scripture 2Co 5:17 doesn’t say “…old things [the old covenant] have not passed away; behold nothing has become new” or “we can now keep the letter because we have the spirit”
Decades after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Paul said, “Who hath made us able ministers of the NEW COVENANT; NOT OF THE LETTER, but of the SPIRIT: For the letter [the old covenant of ten commandments, Deu 4:13] KILLETH, but the spirit giveth LIFE” (2Co 3:6)! Notice Mat 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the PROPHETS; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Why do we fail to call attention in this verse to the word “prophets”? Jesus came to “fulfill the prophets”. All of the Old Testament prophesies concerning His humble, death-doomed first coming have been fulfilled. And just as surely, there are no more Old Testament covenant laws remaining to be fulfilled (“OLD things are PASSED AWAY” – 2Co 5:17).
We now have New Testament prophesies concerning His second coming in power and glory. And we have a New Testament law of the SPIRIT (“…behold, all things are become NEW” – 2Co 5:17). Never again will our Lord ride into an OLD Jerusalem on a donkey. Never again will men spit into His face. Never again will they mercilessly beat Him. Never again will they drive nails through His body or pierce Him in the side with a spear. Our Lord drank the last dregs for the last time. And just as surely as Jesus Christ “fulfilled’ all the prophecies concerning Him, He ALSO “fulfilled” the LAW! He filled them FULL! Nothing of them remains to be fulfilled – “IT IS FINISHED” (Joh 19:30)!
2Co 3:6: “Who [Christ Jesus] also hath made us able ministers of the NEW testament [covenant]; NOT OF THE LETTER [engraved on tablets of stone], but of the SPIRIT; for the letter KILLETH, but the SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE.” “…the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE” (John 6:63). “I am come that they might have LIFE…” (Joh 10:10). “I am the Way and the Truth and the LIFE” (Joh 14:6).
Heb 8:10: “…Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a NEW covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: NOT according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt… For THIS is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put MY LAWS into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Clearly it is NEW and NOT according to the old. Our Lord did NOT say: “…I will make a REVISED covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; somewhat MODIFIED to the covenant that I made with their fathers…” So why would anyone teach such an unscriptural theology?
“Who hath made us able ministers of the NEW testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the SPIRIT: for the letter killeth, but the SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE.” This is a “GLORIOUS” covenant (vs 8), a “ministration of RIGHTEOUSNESS” (vs 9), “Now the Lord is that SPIRIT: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY” (vs 17). Notice our “glorious liberty, righteousness and life, in the SPIRIT”? Where do we find such things in the Ten Commandments? The Old was “DO in the letter or DIE”! The New is “BE in Christ and LIVE”!!
Oh yes, God does indeed have a law, but until we see the vast difference between the old and new covenants, we will be unaware of who we are in Christ, and unaware of the opposition (NOT the compatibility) of the letter to the spirit. “…That which was done away WAS [past tense] glorious…” but “…That which was made glorious had NO glory in this respect, by reason of that which excelleth”. That which excels is “not of the letter”, but “of the spirit” (2Co 3:6,10,11).
Mr. Anderson would do well to notice all the “changes of the terms” made in Matthew 5. He would also benefit greatly from realizing that “his law” for ancient Israel was not just the ten commandments, but that “…every man that is circumcised… is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3).
“The terms on the part of the people HAVE changed; they must now obey “the law of God after the inward man” (Rom 7:22) also called the “law of the Spirit” (Rom 8:2). These were not even available at the time of Exo 20 and Deu 5). These changes are revealed in Matthew 5. They are not the letter of the ten commandments. What Christ introduced for the first time was a “magnified… honorable” (Isa 41:21) and “spiritual” (Rom 8:2) “new commandment” (Joh 13:34). When we refuse to see the point Christ made by deliberately breaking the letter of the law, we rob ourselves of spiritual vision and spiritual hearing. We are spiritually unaware of “that which remaineth”. We think we know what “remaineth”, yet we cannot cope with the teachings of Paul.
The Letter Breaks The Law!
Few Christians would agree with this heading. Yet, it is scriptural (Rom 2:27 and 29); the “letter… dost transgress the law” (vs 27). Our obedience is to be “in the spirit and NOT IN THE LETTER!” (vs 29)
Failure to follow Paul’s words (words given by the Holy Spirit) on this issue will leave us confused when we read “having abolished in his flesh… the law of commandments contained in ordinances…” (Eph 2:15); “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col 2:14).
Much of the confusion on the subject of the law stems from an egregious, deplorable error in the thinking of most Christians. This lie is perpetuated by most ministers, including the late Richard Cardinal Cushing. Cushing was an ardent ecumenical leader. In that role, he wrote an introduction to a book entitled To Understand Jews by Stewart E. Rosenberg. In this introduction, Cushing makes this statement: “It is a well-known fact of history that Jesus was an observant Jew.” If Christ were an “observing Jew”:
- Why did his very first “sermon” nearly cost him his life? (Luk 4:16-30)
- What was he doing talking to a strange Samaritan woman? (Joh 4:7-22)
- Why did he repeatedly break the Sabbath? (Mat 12:1-8, Joh 5:5-18)
- Why was he “giving the children’s bread to the dogs”? (Mat 15:22-28)
- Why does Christ contradict the law of Moses in Mat 5?
Six times he changes the law in this one chapter. He concludes his career telling his disciples “I have many [more] things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (Joh 16:12).
This was an “observant Jew”? The Jewish leaders of Christ’s day certainly didn’t think so. Undeniably they were hypocrites, and definitely Christ exposed that, but that was nothing in comparison to the reforms Christ introduces in Matthew 5. Here is what Christ truly believed that cost him his life. Here is what was despised by the religious leaders of that day as it is despised by the ecumenical leaders of today: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (Joh 14:6). “I am the door of the sheep” (Joh 10:7). “He that entereth not by the door but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (Joh 10:1).
Christ was no doubt reared observing all the Jewish laws and traditions. At the age of twelve, he submitted himself to his parents (Luk 2:51), but his ministry was anything BUT that of an “observant Jew”. No, Christ was not an observing Jew! Christ was a Christian! His was a “new commandment” (Joh 13:34) in every sense of the word. The “love” spoken of here in Joh 13:34 is not the love of the ten commandments of Exo 20, but rather the love of the new commandment, the love expounded by Jesus in Mat 5.
Two Views Of The Law
As is so often the case, the Adversary allows us to choose between two evils:
- Turn grace into lasciviousness (Jud 4). This lie teaches that when Paul says “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity even the law of commandments contained in ordinances…” (Eph 2:15), that now we are free from the laws of God. Grace (defined simply as undeserved pardon) covers all our sins. This LIE teaches in effect that no matter how sinful we are, or become, grace will “more abound” to cover our lascivious conduct.
- On the other hand, we are told a less popular but perhaps more insidious lie: “It is needful to… command them to keep the law…” (Act 15:15). Circumcision is specified as unnecessary or you can bet these people would be insisting on it, and quoting the scripture: “he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations… and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Gen 17:12 and 13).
The following is a fairly good summation of this school of thought:
“The civil laws were given to a particular people, at a particular time, and for a particular purpose. Many of them are still valid today, but changing circumstances have of necessity made a change in the application of some of those laws.
The idea extant today among religionists that Yahweh’s immutable, eternal moral law has somehow been disabled, done away, repudiated as bad, or otherwise tampered with to negate it, is ridiculous at best and fatal at worst, unless repented of. Generally, those who teach that the law is “done away”, claim that the Ten Commandments were “nailed to the cross”. And then nine of the ten were brought back, they say, leaving out that old “legalistic” fourth commandment, about the 7th day Sabbath… the Ten commandments and the rest of the moral law are eternal and will never pass away. They are part and parcel with Yahweh’s very nature and character. He would have to change in order for His law to change.” (A Question About the Law, by Frank Brown, pp. 3 and 4)”
Let’s ask Mr. Brown (as representing this school of thought) a few questions.
- Are not the Ten commandments the heart and soul of the old covenant (Deu 4:13)?
- “In that he saith, a new covenant (hath) he (not) made the first old? Now (is not) that which decayeth and waxeth old… ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13)?
- Where are the scriptures that tell us the “civil laws” are changed, but the “ten commandments and the rest of the moral laws are eternal and will never pass away?
- 4) Did not Christ require something more than commandment keeping from a man who had “kept all the commandments from his youth up” (Mat 19:20, 21)?
- Has not Christ abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments [Greek word entole – Strong’s #1785, same word as “commandments” in Mat 19:17] contained in ordinances (#1378 – dogma; five verses only Luk 2:1 – decree; Act 16:4 – decree; Act 17:7 – decrees; Col 2:14 – “handwriting of ordinances…” (Eph 2:15); “commandments contained in ordinances”.
- Are the ten commandments not dogmas? Were they not decrees? Were they not written by the finger of God (Deu 9:10) in tables of stone (Deu 4:13)?
- Is not that which was “written and engraven in stones a ministration of death (2Co 3:7)?
- Did Moses have something in his hands besides the ten commandments (the civil law perhaps) that caused his face to shine (2Co 3:7)?
- Is the “ministration of the spirit” really the same as “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones (Deu 4:13)?
- Is there not a new “glory” which “excels” the old glory to the extent that the old glory “has no glory” (2Co 3:10)?
- If the old covenant (“And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” Deu 4:13) is not done away then what, pray tell, is “that which remaineth which is more glorious” (2Co 3:11)?
- If there is not “verily a disannulling” (#115 – athetesis)) of the commandment” (Heb 7:18), does that mean that Christ has “put away (#115 – athetesis) sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:27)? Should this read ‘verily a disannulling of the civil law commandment’?
- Is Matthew 5 not a change from Exodus 20?
- How can anyone choose to keep only certain portions of “All things written in the book of the law” and still avoid the following scriptural curse: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written CURSED IS EVERYONE that continueth not in ALL things that are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10)?
Obviously “the law” (not the civil law, not the “eternal” ten commandments, but “the law”; the WHOLE LAW) and “the old covenant” (not any particular part of the old covenant, the WHOLE OLD COVENANT) is “abolished”, “done away”, “disannulled”, “waxing old”, “vanishing away”, “nailed to the cross”, etc., etc. These are the words and phrases selected by the Holy Spirit to make a point completely missed by the “turning grace into lasciviousness (Jud 4) crowd and the “It is needful to command them to keep the law” (Act 15:15) crowd.
The point is that “a NEW [Yes, it is NEW] commandment I give unto you; that… as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
It has been said that “the first four commandments teach us to love God, and the last six commandments teach us to love our brother.” Is that what Christ meant when he said “a new commandment I give unto you; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (Joh 13:34)?
If the ten commandments express the love of Christ, why does he call his saying “a new commandment”?
Matthew 5 demonstrates that the ten commandments and the law of Moses do not express the love of Christ. Matthew 5 truly is “a new commandment.” It is a commandment that is “of the spirit and NOT of the letter.” The ten commandments, on the other hand, are “for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:8-9). “Whosoever shall break one of THESE [Christ’s] least commandments …shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven… (Mat 5:19)
It is of utmost significance that Christ did not say “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you keep the ten commandments”. Because according to scripture, they could have “done all these from their youth up” and still have been lacking that which will give us eternal life (Mat 19:20).
And what was it the rich young man lacked? It was the “new commandment”, not the ten. It was the law of love, the “new covenant” that “fulfilled” and “excelled in glory” (Rom 13:9, 10; 2Co 3:10), it was “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). It was lacking these attributes that made him unwilling to “sell that he had… and follow” Christ (Mat 19:21).
We are given two unquestionable examples of the “doing away”, the “abolishing” of “the law” given by God to Moses. We are also shown how it is replaced by the “newness of spirit” of Rom 7:6; the new spiritual law of love. When Paul says “the law is spiritual” in Rom 7:14, he is referring back to verse five where he reveals the “newness of spirit”.
“At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat” (Mat 12:1).
Statutes Concerning the Sabbath Under the Old Covenant
What Christ and the disciples were doing here was not in opposition to “added on traditions of the elders”. These actions, gathering food on the Sabbath, were in direct opposition to the principle the Lord had laid down in Exo 16. In verse 4 “…the Lord [said] unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven… on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily” (Exo 16:4 and 5). “See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day” (Exo 16:29).
They were told to prepare for the Sabbath by gathering twice as much manna on the sixth day. The same was true for gathering sticks for a fire “And they that found him gathering sticks [on the Sabbath] brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation… And the Lord said unto Moses, the man shall be surely put to death:… And all the congregation …stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses” (Num 15:33, 35, 36).
Obviously, gathering food or sticks on the Sabbath was not to be tolerated under the Old Covenant.
When the Pharisee demanded an explanation of Christ for doing “that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day…” (Mat 12:2), Christ agreed with them pointing to David who had also broken the law. “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, WHICH WAS NOT LAWFUL for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests” (Mat 12:3,4).
Christ was not fleeing from Saul, yet he had not prepared for the Sabbath on the sixth day as was clearly commanded in Exo 16:4, 5 and Num 15:33-36.
Again Christ agreed with them, he and David had done that “which was not lawful for him…”. Those who deny that Christ had broken the Sabbath both disagree with Christ who admits that like David he had done that “which was not lawful for him…” (Mat 12:4), and deny that the law required one to prepare for the Sabbath on the sixth day at peril of death. This, again, was clearly commanded in Num 5 and Exo 16.
In Joh 5:5-9, it is revealed to us that Christ healed a certain man “which had an infirmity thirty and eight years” (vs 5). “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed and walk” (vs 8). “And on the same day was the Sabbath” (vs 9). “The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for you to carry your bed” (Joh 5:10).
Is this true? Was it unlawful for this man to carry his bed on the Sabbath?
“Thus saith the Lord; take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers” (Jer 17:21, 22). “…And some of my servants set I at the gates that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day” (Neh 13:19). “…the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” (Exo 20:10).
Clearly, according to the law, the man should not have been carrying his bed on the Sabbath.
“…Therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day” (Joh 5:16).
Christ does not deny working on the Sabbath, thereby breaking it. “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I WORK. The Jews sought the more to kill him because he not only had BROKEN THE SABBATH, but said also that God was his Father…” (vs 18).
Here we have it plainly stated; he “had broken the Sabbath”. This was not a matter of pointing out unscriptural “traditions of the elders that had been added to the law”. Certainly that had been done, but once again that is not the case here with Christ. The apostle John under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, states clearly “he had broken the Sabbath”. “Supposed” or Deliberate?
There are those who assert that what is actually meant here is “they supposed he had broken the Sabbath”. These people say the same thing about Christ and his disciples deliberately failing to prepare for the Sabbath, and instead picking and eating corn on the Sabbath.
Should this really read “they supposed he had broken the Sabbath”? It is worth noting that in at least one case where some had made a false assumption about our Lord, the Holy Spirit was quick to point it out. “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…” (Luk 3:23).
Christ, as we know, was born of Mary, but not of Joseph, and the Holy Spirit corrects this false assumption concerning Christ. But there is no such correction here in John 5. Instead, it is plainly stated that Christ broke the Sabbath and claimed to be God’s son, both of which were true.
Christ could easily have healed this man on the Sabbath without instructing him to “take up his bed and walk”. The only question is why did he eat corn from the field on the Sabbath, and why instruct a man to carry his bed, both in direct violation of clearly stated old covenant laws? Christ’s answer: “My Father works hitherto and I work” (Joh 5:17). Christ’s Father never tires although He sustains the universe twenty-four hours a day, SEVEN days a week.
Christ and his disciples were under no duress from the king. Christ was not a priest or even a Levite, yet He justified Himself and His disciples for working on the Sabbath.
In Mark’s account of Christ and His disciples’ flagrant violation of the laws commanding Israel to prepare for Sabbath meals on the sixth day, we read “And He [Christ] said unto them: the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”
This is certainly not the message gleaned from reading God’s rebuke of those who gathered manna on the Sabbath, or the stoning to death of the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath the equivalent of Christ and his disciples gathering corn. Christ’s whole point in gathering corn on the Sabbath was “Therefore the son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mar 2:27 and 28).
Matthew’s account of this same event concludes with these words from our Lord: “But if you had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the GUILTLESS. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Mat 12:7, 8). Christ had just admitted that He, like David, had done that “which was not lawful for him” (Mat 12:4).
John states clearly that Christ “had broken the Sabbath: (Joh 5:18) yet Christ rightly claims to be “guiltless”.
It is very instructive to note that in Mark’s gospel, the narrative of Christ and his disciples’ violation of the Sabbath preparation laws immediately follow this statement of Christ: “No man seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse, And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles” (Mar 2:21, 22).
The next verse (vs 23) begins Mark’s account of Christ and his disciples flagrantly eating corn right out of the field on the Sabbath day.
Anyone who, in this context, cannot see that Sabbath keeping has now become a new piece of cloth completely incompatible with the old letter of the law of ritualistically refraining from physical work, still insisting on “preparing for the Sabbath”, has no idea what “newness of spirit” means regarding the Sabbath. These people are attempting to put new wine (the new covenant) in old bottles (the old covenant) and as Christ so aptly put it, the result is they spill and waste the gospel of the new covenant (the new wine) and destroy the significance and lessons of the types and shadows of the law and the old covenant (the old bottles).
The True Meaning Of The Sabbath
How many seventh day Sabbath observers (who generally keep some or all of the holy days, which are also Sabbaths) know what the root meaning of the Hebrew word for Sabbath is? Many Christians following the lead of the Roman Catholic Church, observe the first day of the week as the Sabbath, and refuse to work on Sunday. How many of these people have any idea what this word means, or what the Sabbath and holy days, as given by Moses, foreshadow? Knowing this might help us keep the new wine in new bottles and old wine in old bottles.
The very first mention of the seventh day is Gen 2:2. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”. The Hebrew word translated “rested” here is shabath (Strong’s #7673). This word appears 67 times in the Old Testament, but it is used only three times in the book of Genesis. The first two are here in Gen 2, in verses two and three. In both verses, it is translated “rested”, “…and he rested on the seventh day”, “…in it he had rested from all his work”.
But no one in his right mind thinks God was so winded by Friday afternoon that he needed a breather on Saturday.
I have declared the former things from the beginning: and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass (Isa 48:3). For God, creation was simply a matter of “declaring… things” like “let there by light, dry land, fish, fowls, beasts, etc.” and he did it “suddenly”. So God certainly was not winded and in need of what we think of as “rest” from exertion and exhaustion
Shabath Means “Cease”
The very next appearance of this word gives us a clear view of its real meaning as God meant for it to be understood in Gen 2:2 and 3 and in virtually every other place it appears. “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22).
The word “cease” is shabath, the same word translated “rest” in Gen 2:2 and 3.
Now, let us look at a verse which reveals the spiritual significance of the ritual of the weekly Sabbath and of all the Sabbaths. “Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away (Heb – shabath) leaven out of your houses…”(Exo 12:15). It doesn’t take a seminary degree to know that leaven typifies sin.
As the writer of the book of Hebrews puts it: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his [Christ’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
Those in Christ have ceased from their works, not one day in seven, but seven in seven, “as God did [cease] from his”.
Yet this very verse is used by those devoid of spiritual vision to promulgate a ritual, a shadow of a spiritual reality in Christ; a “vanishing”, “old”, “decaying” “covenant” (Heb 8:13) which Christ went to great lengths to demonstrate was not compatible with the new covenant. The mixing of the two destroys both (Mat 9:16, 17; Mar 2:21, 22 and “the new agrees not with the old” – Luk 5:36 and 37).
This statement was made to the disciples of John the Baptist and the disciples of the Pharisees (Mat 9:14 and Mar 2:16 and 18). The spirit of the Pharisees is to this day the champion of the old covenant (Mat 16:6 and 12) and John’s ministry signaled the end of the old covenant (Mat 11:13 and Luk 16:16 and Joh 1:17). “…The new agreeth not with the old: (Luk 5:36). The old covenant is the letter of the ten commandments: “…His covenant… even ten commandments… upon two tables of stone” (Deu 3:14).
Some of the ‘”it is needful to… command them to keep the law” school’ (Act 15:15), have noticed the truth in Christ’s statement “…the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless” (Mat 12:5). The Sabbath is, of course, the busiest day of the week for a minister. This is his best opportunity to “command them to keep the law”. So, without one word of scriptural backing, they assume for their ministers the priesthood. Therefore, in their minds, now the ‘fact’ that the ministers are priests, justifies their working on the Sabbath. “…The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless.”
There is only one thing wrong with this bit of human reasoning. It has not one word of scriptural foundation.
To whom do the scriptures promise the priesthood? “Unto him that loved US (all of us in Christ) and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (Rev 1:5, 6). This same promise is repeated to the same group in Rev 5:10 and 20:6.
It is those “in Christ” to whom “…all the promises of God IN HIM are yea and IN HIM amen…” (2Co 1:10).
Are ministers the only ones “in Him”? Of course not, and the priesthood is not theirs alone, but for all of “us” because he “…loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests…” (Rev 1:5, 6).
Here is another exposition revealing the way many today feel about the ten commandments and the law of Moses:
“There is the absurd notion among many of the mainstream organizations of Christianity that the law of God has been abolished… There are many scriptures that confirm that the law is good and is to be obeyed… When Christ returns all of the bizarre arguments against the law will come to an end.” (Eschatology Journal; Vol. 3, No. 2 pg. 2)
This same author, in a front page article of this same issue regarding the war on drugs, makes this statement:
“Making possession of a consumable item into a crime is questionable lawmaking at best and legal malpractice at worst. When will we learn that the prohibition on drugs cannot work any more than the old prohibition on alcohol?”
We might make the same observations about murder and adultery as Christ did in Matthew 5. And we might ask the same question about the entire old covenant (all ten commandments Deu 4:13).
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me”
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”
“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”
“Honor thy father and mother”
“Thou shalt not kill”
“Thou shalt not commit adultery”
“Thou shalt not steal”
“Thou shalt not bear false witness” and
“Thou shalt not covet”
Were the sixth and seventh commands the only ones Christ changed in Mat 5? They were the only ones mentioned there, “Ye have heard it said… thou shalt not kill… but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother… shall be in danger of the judgment” (Mat 5:21, 22). And “ye have heard it said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already in his heart” (Mat 5:27, 28).
Since these are the only two commandments mentioned, are we to assume that these are the only two commandments in the old law that have been annulled and replaced by the new law of the spirit?
Can we for example proclaim outwardly:
- We have no other gods before thee, while in truth we worship our families, careers, money or whatever?
- We have no graven images outwardly, but inwardly we are slaves to “idols of the heart”, (false, unscriptural doctrines with which the “prophets deceive”-Eze 16:1-11).
- We don’t take the name of the Lord our God in vain outwardly, we even use Yahweh for God and Yashua for Jesus and yet “through breaking the law……the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…” thee, who by the letter…dost transgress the law” (Rom 2:23-27).
- We remember to keep the seventh day Sabbath outwardly, but inwardly it is an idol of the heart, that refuses to acknowledge that while Christ “did that which was unlawful to do on the Sabbath”, for the specific reason of taking our minds off outward, letter, obedience, yet he like “the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are blameless” (Mat 5:6). We refuse to believe “as he is, so are we in this world” (1Jn 4:17). So we argue that he didn’t really profane the outward Sabbath, even though he says he did. Not seeing that “as he is, so are we in this world, we can’t see that this makes us the true temple of God (1Co 3:16, 17; 1Co 6:19; 2Co 6:16), and like Christ, infinitely greater, in the eyes of God, than the outward temple (Mat 12:6), and we, through Christ have become “Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Mat 12:8).
We, because of the spiritual blindness imparted to us by our stubborn refusal to relinquish our ties to the outward letter of the law, cannot see that the reason Christ or we could “profane the Sabbath: and yet be “blameless” is because Christ is our the spiritual Sabbath: “There remaineth therefore a rest [Greek – sabbatismos – Strong’s #4520] to the people of God” (Heb 4:9). Christ replaces outward circumcision; Christ has replaced outward animal sacrifices for He is our sacrifice; Christ has just as surely fulfilled and replaced outward resting, outward ceasing from our works and outward Sabbath keeping: “For we which have believed do enter into rest…he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (Heb 4:3 and 10). This is now seven days in seven, not one day in seven.
And how do we enter into this rest? “For we which have believed [not we which keep the outward Sabbath] do enter into rest…(Heb 8:3). Yet we cling instead to the type, the shadow, the symbol, the forerunner, the escort, the physical and thereby never truly enter into Christ’s rest by ceasing from our own works.
Moses, the representative of the letter law, could not lead Israel into the promised land. “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb 10:1). “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luk 16:16). John represents the end of the law. “The law (Moses through John the Baptist) was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24) (the faith of the son of God – Gal 2:20).
This faith is “not of ourselves” (Eph 2:8). “But after that faith is come (Christ is come), we are no longer under a schoolmaster (the law)” (Gal 3:25). The “schoolmaster” is not the civil laws, the statutes, the judgments or the animal sacrifices or circumcision, or any particular part of the law. It is “the law”, the whole law.
Do you doubt this statement? “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10). “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3).
Paul says “I testify again…” This is referring back to his quote in Gal 3:10, which is from Deu 27:26 and Jer 11:3 “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL the things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” Circumcision is only one of 613 laws (“all the things that are written”).
Jeremiah puts it like this: “…Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant” (Jer 11:3).
What is the purpose of the weekly seventh day Sabbath, the new moon Sabbath, the annual holy day Sabbaths, the land sabbaths, etc? Their purpose, as with circumcision and all the words of “this law” is to point us to their ultimate fulfillment, to Christ, our Sabbath, our Passover, our Days of Unleavened Bread, our Pentecost, our Day of Trumpets, our Day of Atonement, our Feast of Tabernacles and our Last Great Day. Christ is our Jubilee, He is the Tree of Life, the river of Life, the cherubim on the vail of the temple, and every offering (yes, even the leper’s dove and the scapegoat) in the Old Testament. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell” (Col 1:15-19). “IN HIM SHOULD ALL FULLNESS DWELL!” Christ is the center of all scripture.
It does no violence to scripture at all to say that in him all is fulfilled. It was He Himself who said with His dying breath “It is finished” (Joh 19:30). It is His blood (Rom 5:9), His faith (Eph 2:8), that saves us. It is Him living His life in us through His faith in us (Gal 2:20) which empowers us to walk as He walked. “…One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled” (Mat 5:18). There are many jots and tittles in the law, and in Christ, they have all, like circumcision, the Passover, the animal sacrifices, and “all things written in the book of the law…” (Gal 3:10), been fulfilled: “For Christ, not Torah, is the end [Greek – telos, Strong’s #5056-goal, conclusion, end product] of the law, for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom 10:4). Torah is “for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:8-9).
“…ENTER INTO REST…”
I’ve spent so much time on this fourth commandment because, for those Christians who are or have been involved in outward holy day observance, it is one of the most difficult parts of the letter of the law to understand as being fulfilled in Christ. Yet this is one of the clearest statements in scripture: “For we which have believed do enter into rest…” (Heb 4:3). What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that we which have believed, observe the seventh day Sabbath? Not if Christ is our example, and not if Hebrews is to be considered as worth our consideration. His is our circumcision (Rom 2:27-29). Do we therefore continue to circumcise? He is our sacrifice. Do we therefore continue to sacrifice?
Righteousness is not a Synonym for Salvation
What it does mean is “he that entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (Heb 4:10). “His own works” does not mean disobedience to the old covenant. It actually meant obedience to the old covenant, without acknowledging Christ. “Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isa 64:6). It does not say “our unrighteousnesses are as filthy rags”. With this new view of ceasing “from his own works” in mind, Paul’s statement “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith [once again we reiterate, this is the faith of Christ – Gal 2:20]. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness [Israel had not “ceased from his own works”], hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law…” (Rom 9:30-32). “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: [what curse?] For it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10). Why is it a curse to be “of the works of the law”? Why did Israel not attain to the law of righteousness? “…For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, behold I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom 9:32-33). “Because they sought it not by faith” is a reference to “the faith of Christ” (Gal 2:20). If you are an outward Sabbath keeper, or if you think that your own personal faith saves you, you must be keeping the other 612 laws in Torah or this curse is pronounced on you. And if you think you can keep all the law by adding Christ’s faith to your faith, then you are putting new wine into old bottles and both will perish.
Alas, as Peter admitted, it is “a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Act 15:10). We have always thought that Peter was referring to circumcision alone, but the truth is, as Peter knew, “cursed is every one that continueth not in All things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them” (Gal 3:10-12). One cannot “live in them” and in the law of faith laid down in Matthew 5, because it is impossible to love your enemy and hate him at the same time; because one cannot harmonize “except for fornication” and “if she find no delight in your eyes” One cannot keep the changes made by Christ in Matthew 5 and keep the law of Moses at the same time. One cannot keep the spirit and the letter at the same time. In Col 2: 16-17 we read that Christ is the spirit and the reality of the law which was but the shadow. Now that we have the reality, it is sheer foolishness to try and spiritualize and pay homage to the shadow.
5. Getting back to the rest of the ten commandments, we come to the fifth: Honor your father and your mother. What is the primary purpose for this command? Is it primarily to teach us respect for our physical, letter, fleshly parents? Is it not obvious that all the physical, fleshly, letter experiences we have in life are primarily to teach us (there’s that schoolmaster again!) To honor our heavenly Father? Obviously, it is.
6. Thou shalt not kill and…
7. …Thou shalt not commit adultery, we have already covered extensively in our discussion of the specific changes in the law mentioned in the “sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5.
8. Thou shalt not steal. “I’m no thief!” we would all, as Christians, proclaim. Yet this is possibly the most commonly broken of God’s spiritual law. Taking that which is not ours is almost universal in the body of Christ. While loudly proclaiming God’s sovereignty, we steal from Him that for which He claims the credit, the responsibility, and for which He will receive the glory. “By grace are you saved through faith, and that [faith] not of yourselves; it [the faith] is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
We, through our stubborn adherence to the “idol of the heart” (Eze 14:7), known by the unscriptural phrase “free moral agency”, rob God of His true role in the affairs of men. Certainly we make choices based on our will, but there is nothing free about it: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” (Joh 15:16). “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (Joh 6:44). “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy…Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth” (Rom 9:16, 18).
There is but one ‘free’ will in the universe, and that is God’s. All others are either shown mercy and drawn to Christ or “whom He wills He hardeneth.”
This is a subject for a paper of its own, but we will do well to give God ALL the credit for our salvation (and our blessings) and dispense with the false doctrine of free moral agency: “Man’s goings[good or evil] are of the Lord, how can a man then understand his own way?” (Pro 20:24). “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23). Let’s stop robbing God of His sovereignty in the affairs of men.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. What primary spiritual purpose is it toward which this letter of the law points us? Is it not true that every false doctrine, every “idol of the heart” (Eze 14:7) besetting the body of Christ bears false witness against our Lord and our Father? The most grievous lie of all, no doubt, is the false tenet of eternal hell fire for those “whom he hardeneth” (Rom 9:18).
While God claims to be love (1Jn 4:8 and Eph 2:4), and while we loudly proclaim outwardly to agree with Him, inwardly we make Him a liar, capable of spiteful vengeance, of which even we, our own wicked selves, are not capable. Who among us could justify eternal, everlasting, unending torment in literal fire for all eternity for our children? The enormity of this false witness against the character of the Father who truly is a Father of love, is blasphemous! Indeed He “chasteneth every son he receiveth…” (Heb 12:6, 7), but He is nevertheless “the Savior of ALL men, specially [NOT ONLY] those who believe” (1Ti 4:10). “As in Adam all die, SO IN CHRIST will ALL be made alive” (1Co 15:22). “Who will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1Ti 2:4).
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Pe 3:9). Did you choose to be “in Adam”? No, your fabled ‘free moral agency’ had nothing to do with the fact that you are “in Adam”. While you will choose to be “in Christ”, your ‘free will’ will have nothing to do with it. You will be drawn to that decision. It is only God who is sovereign.
Let us rid ourselves of all “bearing false witness” against the word of God and the character of a truly loving heavenly Father who will “draw all men” to Himself through Christ (Joh 12:32).
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
This is the last commandment of the ten. At this point, you might be asking yourself, did the Spirit really change all ten commandments?: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new [covenant]creature: old things are passed away [the old covenant ten commandments – Deu 4:13]; behold all things are become new” (2Co 5:17).
Does “old things have passed away; behold all things are become new”, really exclude the ten commandments? Are the ten commandments God’s immutable still-in-force, moral law or were they not already “waxing old” when Christ revealed the reality of what was previously just a shadow? “In that he saith a new covenant he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). This, of course, is a direct reference to the old covenant, and the old covenant is the ten commandments and the rest of the “book of the law” (Deu 4:13). And this “vanishing away” was already taking place nearly 2000 years ago and continues to take place generation by generation as the law brings us to Christ!
So “all things” have become new to those “who are in Christ Jesus”. “Thou shalt not covet…anything that is thy neighbor’s” has been replaced just as much as “thou shalt not commit adultery” was replaced by Christ in Matthew 5. Note: Each individual commandment is not changed or modified. There was a “change in the law”. When we have a change of the guards, we have a new and different guard. When we change our clothing, we do not modify our old or dirty clothing. We discard our old clothing and replace it with new white robes.
Definition Of “The Law”
Adultery is often the end product of lust and Paul says: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom 7:7).
The phrase “the law” is used three times in this verse concluding with a quote of the tenth of the ten commandments. There should be no doubt what is meant by “the law”.
Since the Old Covenant is clearly defined as “…His covenant… ten commandments [written] upon two tables of stone” (Deu 4:13), then EVERY part of that Old Covenant, the glory of which made the face of Moses to shine (2Co 3:7-10), now has “no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away is glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious” (2Co 3:10-11).
What Replaces “The Law?”
What is “that which remaineth” that so excels the ten commandments that they are said to have “no glory” by comparison? “That which remaineth” tells us that we are not talking about a vacuum. There is something “which remaineth”: “Therefore by the deeds [doing] of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). Does the “knowledge of sin” have anything in common with the knowledge of evil? Yes, it does!
The knowledge of evil, like sin, produces death. It also produces, of necessity, a knowledge of good. Good and evil are from the same tree – “out of the ground made the Lord to grow…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:9). This knowledge of good is obtained through directly transgressing God’s command ‘don’t eat of it.’ “…Working death in me by that which is good…” (Rom 13:7). This is the ‘good’, the ‘righteousness’ that Job knew before his conversation with God in the whirlwind: Job “disannulled [God’s] judgment [and] condemned [God] that [he, Job] mayest be righteous” (Job 40:8). We are told in the first verse of Job one that Job “was perfect [good] and upright and one that feared God and eschewed [hated] evil.” How can one “fear God” and at the same time “condemn” God?
The answer is that Job had the same “knowledge of good and evil” that Adam and Eve had. Adam feared God for we are told that he said “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid…” (Gen 3:10). But like Job, Adam “disannulled [God’s] judgment [and] condemned [God]” when he believed the serpent’s lies. Both Job and Adam were ‘good men who feared God and eschewed evil’, but neither had a spiritual understanding of God’s sovereignty, and therefore acted in rebellion to God. Even our good, when not recognized as Christ in us, produced death. Such is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eating of this tree produced death.
How, then, do we attain life? Life is not to be found on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Life is only to be found on a totally separate tree; a tree without evil, the tree of life, Jesus Christ.
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:28).
Christ “bore the sins of many” “…He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Co 5:21), but when he returns, it is “unto them that look for him” and this time it is “without sin unto salvation”. Christ was spotless. He never sinned, but God made Him to be a sin offering for us.
The Law Is The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil
The law is simply a “tree of knowledge”. It is a knowledge independent of and separate from God: “knowledge [independent of Christ] puffeth up…” (1Co 8:1). “Thou…restest in the law…thou…makest thy boast of the law…[yet] through breaking the law dishonorest thou God” (Rom 2:17 and 23).
And how were they breaking the law? Do we break the law simply by disobeying its precepts? You do “be the letter and circumcision transgress the law” (vs 27). Circumcision was as lawful a precept of the law as Sabbath keeping. But they are both fulfilled in Christ. To continue the practice of things that Christ has fulfilled is to “by the letter…transgress the law.”
The law is not sin, but it is the knowledge of sin: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law…(Rom 7:7).
So life is not to be found in the tree Christ became when He was offered up at the end of his first coming. How do I dare say that Christ on the cross became the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin…” (2Co 5:21). “…God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law…” (Gal 4:4). This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more” [after the flesh] (2Co 5:16). Life is to be found in another totally separate tree “unto those that look for him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:28). Of course, Christ was not sinful and was not really a tree of knowledge of good and evil, but God considered him such “that we might (through his sacrifice) be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Co 5:21).
Christ, The Word, Is The Tree Of Life
Christ is now the tree of life to all who believe: “To him that over cometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7). “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life [the tree of life]” (Joh 6:63).
“The flesh profits nothing”. Flesh is doomed, even the flesh of Christ. “…Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2Co 5:16). Our flesh is our worst enemy. It sets itself up in the temple of God proclaiming itself to be God, demanding our total subservience. Our flesh is a beast” (Ecc 3:18) lying to us telling us we cannot make war with the beast. And indeed WE CANNOT, but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Php 4:13).
Let’s go back now to Romans 3: “Therefore by the deeds of the law [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin[and good]. But now the righteousness of God [Christ] without law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets: even the righteousness of God which is by faith OF Jesus Christ unto ALL and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference” (Rom 3:20-22).
Life comes “without law” because life is an entirely different tree from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. “Good” isn’t good enough. It is the words of Christ, which most assuredly are not the words of Torah, that “give spirit” and that “give life” (Joh 6:63).
“The righteousness which is by faith OF Jesus Christ” (Rom 3:22) is the same as “the words that I speak unto you” that “are spirit and…are life” of Joh 6:63. They are even called “the word of faith which we preach” (Rom 10:8).
The Function of The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil
While life is not in “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:9); not in the law which reveals what sin is (Rom 7:7); not in the flesh which would dethrone Christ in us (Ecc 3:18; Mat 24:15; Rev 13:16), yet it is through death that life comes: “…We were reconciled to God by the death of his son [the result of eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his [resurrected] life” (the tree of life) (Rom 5:10).
The translators have done mankind a great disservice by translating ekthanatos as “from death”. “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” (Heb 5:7). Christ was not saved “from death”. He died, but he was saved, as we will be, through death. All saints are saved through the death of the flesh. Even those who are alive at the return of Christ must exchange their fleshly bodies for spiritual bodies.
It is THROUGH the flesh (Gen 1:27), THROUGH sin (Gen 3:7), THROUGH evil (Isa 45:7), THROUGH the law (Rom 7:7 and Gal 3:23-24), THROUGH “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and THROUGH death (Heb. 5:7) that we must first pass before we can come to the “tree of life”, to Christ. It was all “predestinated” (Eph 1:11). That’s why we were called in Christ before the world began (2Ti 1:9); that’s why Christ was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
When we do come to the tree of life, we find it is guarded by “cherubim, and a flaming sword which turneth every way to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen 3:24).
These mere letter-words take on great revealing spiritual significance as the light of the spirit is shined upon them.
Before we examine the message revealed in God’s word concerning the “cherubim and fiery sword” guarding the “way of the tree of life”, we will complete our examination of the eight phrases used by Paul to drive home the need to “be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”, the old covenant. (Gal 5:1).
The better part of this paper has been a demonstration of the depth of the first phrase:
Phrase 1) “A change also of the law” (Heb 7:12)
We have demonstrated how Matthew 5 conflicts with the 6th and 7th commandments as well as four of the statutes and judgments. These, of course, are simply examples given by Christ to show that the entire old covenant was being fulfilled in Christ. Christ could not very well cover the 613 laws of the old covenant in one lesson. “Fulfilling” includes superceding, or else the Sermon on the Mount is a self-contradictory message. We have quoted the scriptures showing that the new covenant is spirit, is NOT in “the letter” (2Co 3:6). Phrase 2) “That which is done away…” (2Co 3:11)
This phrase (done away – used once as ‘put away’) is used five times by Paul in relation to the old covenant:
- 1Co 13:10 – “When that which is perfect is come [the law of love] then that which is in part [the ten commandments and the old covenant] shall be done away.”
- “When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child…” (Hate your enemies as opposed to love your enemies; don’t kill as opposed to don’t hate; don’t commit adultery as opposed to don’t look on a woman to lust after her, etc.) but when I became a man, I put away [Greek-katargeo) childish things” (1Co 13:11). (“…the heir as long as he is a child…[is] under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father…to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, Gal 4:1-5). The Greek for ‘child’ in verse one is #3516 – nepios – an infant or toddler, NOT #5207 – huios used in verse 5 which signifies an adult son. Huios in the King James is translated son, sonship and adoption. It has nothing to do with our present concept of adoption, but means a mature adult son about to take over his father’s trade. Paul says “the heir as long as he is a child [nepios] differs nothing from a servant” [a bond servant, a slave] (Gal 4:1).
- “But if the ministration of death [the old covenant, Deu 4:13], written and engraven in stones was glorious so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory [ministration of death] was to be done away…” (2Co 3:7).
- “For if that which is done away was glorious [the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, vs. 7], much more that which remaineth [the law of love, that which is perfect – 1Co 13:10] is glorious” (2Co 3:11). Paul is saying that Moses’ face with its temporal glory is a type of the temporal old covenant “ministration of death and condemnation.” As we so often do, we’ve taken the type, “Moses’ face”, and made it the antitype, the reality. Moses had his face before the two “tables of stone” were placed into his hands. When those two tables with the ten commandments written on them were placed in Moses’ hands, his face began to shine. But that shining did not last very long. God is telling us that that covenant was a temporary covenant with a fading temporal glory. It was the covenant that made Moses’ face glorious. Moses’ face did not give glory to the covenant.
- “But their minds were blinded for until this day remaineth the same [blinding] vail not taken away in the reading of the old covenant which [old covenant blinding] vail is done away in Christ[the new covenant]” (2Co 3:14).
Summary of “Done Away”
Five times we are told that:
- The ‘in part’ is replaced by the ‘perfect’ and the ‘in part’ was “done away”.
- We are to “put away” childish things when “that which is perfect is come”.
- The ministration of death written and engraven in stones was glorious and “which glory was to be done away”.
- (If) The “ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory”.
- The veil that was put over Moses’ face to hide the glory of the old covenant remains and serves as a veil that covers the glory of the new covenant, and in so doing, hides Christ. “In Christ”, however, that veil is “done away”.
That ‘vail’ typically is adhering to the old covenant. After making all these statements concerning the old covenant, Paul says: “…we have…not handled the word of God deceitfully…but if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2Co 4:13).
The Greek word for ‘done away’ or ‘put away’ in all these verses is katargeo (Strong’s concordance #2673). It appears 26 times in the New Testament:
Luk 13:7; Rom 3:3; Rom 3:31; Rom 4:14; Rom 6:6; Rom 7:2; Rom 7:6; 1Co 1:28; 1Co 2:6; 1Co 6:13; 1Co 13:8; 1Co 13:10; 1Co 15:24; 1Co 15:26; 2Co 3:7; 2Co 3:11; 2Co 3:13; 2Co 3:14; 2Co 15:26; Gal 3:17; Gal 5:4; Gal 5:11; Eph 2:15; 2Th 2:8; 2Ti 1:10, Heb 2:14
This Greek word, katargeo, has been assigned thirteen different translations in the Kings James Version.
The most common translations are ‘destroy’ and ‘done away’ with five entries each. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed [katargeo], that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom 6:6). This verse is typical of the five ‘destroy’ entries. ‘Without effect’ or ‘none effect’ is the third most common with four entries. “When I was a child[under the schoolmaster], I spake as a child, I understood as a child [in letter, ten commandments only], I thought as a child: but when I became a man [understood the law of God, the law of love revealed here in this love chapter and in Matthew 5] I put away [katargeo] childish things” (1Co 13:11).
“But when that which is perfect [the law of love] is come, then that which is in part [the old covenant ten commandments] shall be done away [katargeo] (1Co 13:10).
“For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect” [katargeo] (Rom 3:3)? This verse is typical of the four verses translated ‘without effect’ or ‘none effect’.
The next most common translation of the word katargeo brings us to our third phrase:
Phrase 3) “…That which is abolished”
This Greek word, katargeo, is the exact same word translated ‘abolished’ three times in the New Testament:
“And not as Moses which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished” (katargeo – 2Co 3:13).
“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments [the ten old covenant commandments] contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Eph 2:15).
“But now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2Ti 1:10).
While this last verse is not directly concerned with the law, it does demonstrate the meaning of the word katargeo in relation to the law. That which happens to death is that which happens to the law. Being “in Christ” in no way denies death; yea it establishes “the law of sin and death” of the flesh and in so doing, brings in “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2).
Without the destruction of the weak and beggarly elements, the law of Moses, the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus”, the law of love, could not be established. Why is that? Simply because “that [only] through death he might destroy him that hath the power over death” (Heb. 2:14). It is the law of Moses, the old covenant, on “two tables of stone”, that is according to the word of God, the “ministration of death” (2Co 3:7).
It is this law, which carries with it the fleshly inclination of thinking one’s own righteousness can save oneself that makes “all the world guilty before God” (Rom 3:19).
What is Meant by “Nature”?
The Gentiles absolutely do not “naturally” love their neighbor by the nature inherited from Adam. The most apparent part of the personality of the purest infant ever born will be his complete and total self-centeredness from the beginning. “…Both Jews and Gentiles…are all under sin” (Rom 3:9).
When Paul speaks of “the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law” (Rom 2:14), he is not referring to the Adamic nature nor the law of Moses: “…we all…in time past [lived] in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph 2:3).
The Greek word for nature is the same in both verses. It is Strong’s #5449 – phusis.
Circumcision, tithing, and Sabbath keeping are not natural to the Gentiles, and it is not the law of Moses to which Paul refers. It is the “law of the spirit of life”, the law of love, and it is kept only by “being partakers of the divine nature having escaped [through this divine nature] the corruption that is in the world through lust (2Pe 1:4).
Phrase #4 – Blotting Out the Handwriting of Ordinances
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col 2:14). The Greek word here is exaleifo – Strong’s #1813. This is the only place it appears in Paul’s writings. This Greek word does appear four more times in the New Testament, however:
- Act 3:19 – “Repent…that your sins may be blotted out.”
- Rev 3:5 – “He that overcometh…I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.”
- Rev 7:17 – “…And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
- Rev 21:4 – “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
It is translated “blotted out” three times and “wipe away” twice. Once again the “handwriting of ordinances” has the same fate as sin. Sin is destroyed (katargeo – Rom 6:6) and here the “handwriting of ordinances” is exaleifo – blotted out.
So we really need to know what the “handwriting of ordinances” is. The Greek word for “handwriting” is cheirographon – Strong’s #5498. It is a compound of #5495 cheir, the Greek word for hand and #1125 grapho, to grave or write. This just happens to be the exact description given the two tables of the old covenant: “And he declared unto you His covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote [Heb. kathab – to (en)grave] them upon two tables of stone” (Deu 4:13).
How were they graven? “And he [God] gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of stone written [kathab – graven] with the finger of God.”
How about the word “ordinances”? The Greek here is dogma, Strong’s #1378. Strong defines it as “a law (civil; ceremonial or ecclesiastical) a decree, ordinance.”
The most prominent handwritten “dogma” in the history of mankind is the old covenant, ten commandments, written with the “finger of God.” “Thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” are about as dogmatic as you can get.
We have demonstrated that the carnal mind can be subject to the law of Moses. After hearing Christ quote the ten commandments, the rich young ruler answers “all these have I kept from my youth up” (Mat 19:20). “…touching the righteousness which is in the law [I was] blameless” declares Paul of himself before his conversion (Php 3:6). But Christ teaches us that righteousness which is in the law is yet “lacking”. Outward obedience to the ten commandments does nothing to cleanse the inner man, any more than outward circumcision would give one a circumcised heart. “Cleanse first that which is within…” (Mat 23:26). This admonition can never be performed by obeying the ten commandments and the law of Moses.
How can we say this? Because they are carnal commandments for carnal men: “The law is not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and the disobedient…” (1Ti 1:9).
This is clearly stated in Hebrews 7. In verse 11, Paul points out that the people “received the law” under the Levitical priesthood. He maintains that the priesthood now, under Christ, has reverted back to the priestly system in place before Levi or Aaron, a priesthood “after the order of Melichisedec”.
“The priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (received under that priesthood) (Heb 7:12). Why change the law? “For by the law is the knowledge of sin…”
We are told clearly “for the law made nothing perfect…” (Heb 7:19). “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: FOR BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN” (Rom 3:20). This is the reason given for changing the law. This statement brings us to our fifth phrase. Phrase #5-A “Carnal Commandment Has Been Disannulled” – Heb 8:13 “Who[Christ] is made [a priest] not after the law of a CARNAL commandment, but after the power of an endless life” (vs 16). “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for theWEAKNESS AND UNPROFITABLENESS thereof” (Heb 7:18)
This verse doesn’t say the law “was weak through the flesh”. “The weakness and unprofitableness thereof” is a verbal description of the subject preceding it; ” the commandment”. Which commandment?
Matthew 5 only mentions two – murder and adultery. How did Christ demonstrate their weakness? By showing us that outward obedience to any law does nothing for the inner man. What has a man gained if he abstains from murder and yet hates his brother? What spiritual profit is it to abstain from adultery while lusting after a woman in our hearts?
This law is so weak that it tells you to hate your enemy. It favored the concept of an eye for an eye.
Paul says “the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” (1Ti 1:8). How does one use the law lawfully? By “knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (vs 9).
Many a sermon has been preached quoting “All thy commandments are righteousness” (Psa 119:172) and “sin is the transgression of the law” (1Jn 3:4) as if Christ had never said ‘love your enemy’ contrary to the law of Moses; as if he never told a man to pick up his bed on the Sabbath, contrary to the law; as if his teachings on divorce and remarriage were not contrary to the law of Moses.
Christ is our spotless and blameless Savior not because he kept the law of Moses. If he had done so, he would not be spotless. You do “…by the letter…transgress the law.” How can that be? How can one keep the letter and break the law? If you can’t answer that question, then Matthew 5 means nothing to you. The letter is the problem. It is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; “I had not known sin but by the law” (Rom 7:7). “…The law is NOT made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:9). “The letter killeth” (2Co 3:6). It was “the letter” that killed Christ, and by breaking the letter Christ kept the law of love.
Let us at this point give a couple of examples of how one “by the letter…dost transgress the law” (Rom 2:27). These examples will also demonstrate the “weakness and unprofitableness thereof” (Heb 7:18).
We will examine the two most distinguishing parts of the old covenant in the days of Christ and Paul; Sabbath keeping and circumcision.
One could be a Gentile in those days and honor parents, abstain from murder, adultery, lying, stealing, etc. and still not be distinguished as a keeper of the law. IF one kept the Sabbaths and practiced circumcision, in those days, one was definitely recognized as a “son of the covenant”.
Outward Sabbath Keeping
How did Christ feel about the Sabbath? As demonstrated above, He broke the Sabbath regulations repeatedly, admitted it and defended it: “David…did….[that] which was not lawful…” and “the priests…profane the Sabbath…” (Mat 12:4-5). That sounds like a confession to me.
Yet Christ called himself “the guiltless” “If you had known what this meaneth I will have mercy [on those breaking the outward Sabbath] and not sacrifice; ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (Mat 12;7). What was Christ’s purpose in doing what he admits was “unlawful” and “profane”? His purpose was to “enter into [the real] rest” (Heb 4:3). The real rest (Sabbath or ceasing) has no more to do with outward physical rest than the lamb slaughtered on the alter of the temple was the real sacrifice for sin. The real Sabbath has everything to do with ceasing from our works, not one day in seven, but twenty-four hours a day seven days a week! “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luk 22:42). “My Father WORKS hitherto, and I WORK.”
According to Strong ‘hitherto’ (#2193 – heos) is “a conjunction, preposition and adverb of continuance.” In other words, “My Father is on the job seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day and so am I.”
As mentioned earlier in this paper, creation had not tired our Creator. He simply ceased from his work because he had finished it. The fact God hallowed the seventh day and made it holy, makes it no more permanently holy than the holy ground in Arabia where Moses was told to take off his shoes. The seventh day Sabbath was given to ancient Israel as a type and shadow of Christ: “For we which have believed do enter into [Christ, our] rest…there remaineth therefore a Sabbath [Christ in us] to the people of God. [Because] he that is entered into his rest hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (Heb 4:3, 9-10). This “ceasing from our own works” is the Sabbath that “remaineth”, and it isn’t a one-in-seven Sabbath.
One can ask how does observance of the weakly (no, I didn’t misspell it) Sabbath break the law of the new covenant?? By clinging to a “carnal ordinance” (outwardly entering into rest) imposed on them only until “the time of reformation” (Heb 9:10), we admit that we are reserving six days of the week for our own works just as surely as the scribes and Pharisees were bearing witness against themselves by “garnishing the sepulchers of the righteous”.
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees…because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore you bear witness to yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets” (Mat 23:29-31).
Had Christ kept the seventh day Sabbath, He would have been bearing witness against Himself that six days in seven He was doing His work, not the work of His Father.
The Law – All or None at All
He would also have been required to keep the whole law: “…cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10).
“For I testify again [Paul had been here before] to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3).
James agrees with Paul. After encouraging us to “fulfill the royal law [not torah] according to the scripture”, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”, he then makes the same point about the law that Paul makes. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all…So speak ye and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. [Because] he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (Jas 2:8, 10-13). This is the same “liberty” Paul speaks of in Gal. 5:1 and which Paul also calls “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).
Those who think that the law of Moses is to be kept by those in Christ will tell you “the only thing nailed to the cross (besides an innocent man) was the animal sacrifices and the blood offering and the rituals surrounding them. All the other laws of God are still in effect today…” [Was Jesus a Racist? by Glen Myers]
While most professing Christians are not willing to go so far as Mr. Myers, “all the other laws are still in effect”, they do agree with him in varying degrees. Most professing Christians think more in line with Mr. Frank Brown quoted earlier. The common reasoning is that the ten commandments are not part of “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” “abolished” in Eph 2:15 and “blotted out and nailed to his cross” in Col 2:14.
That the phrase “the law”, when standing alone, always is intended by Paul to include the ten commandments is demonstrated above by the scriptures quoted in the previous segment The Law – All or None at All: “for I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:1). This means the whole law, not just the ten commandments. In other words, if one believes that Torah (the law) will help to save him then he is required by Torah to keep it all: “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW to do them” (Gal 3:10 which quotes from Deu 27:26 and Jer 11:3). The words “written and graven in stone” (2Co 3:7), the ten commandments, are in the “book of the law” in Exo 20 and Deu 5. That the law includes the ten commandments is unquestionable: “…I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covet” (Rom 7:7).
“The law” is a single package. Any attempt to dissect it so as to preserve some part of it will bring the curse of these verses down on those who do so.
Why then does Paul mention circumcision so often? If the whole law is meant by the phrase ‘the old covenant’, why does he make it so clear that circumcision is no longer required? Why, for example, did he not say “I testify again to every man that keeps the Sabbath that he is a debtor to keep the whole law”?
The answer is that the Sabbath, important as it was to the old covenant, was only a sign, a token (Hebrew – owth; Strong’s #226) of the covenant. “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep for a sign between me and you throughout your generations” (Exo 31:3).
Circumcision on the other hand, is called “the covenant of circumcision”. “And he [God] gave him [Abraham] the covenant of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also” (Rom 4:11).
Circumcision is the original sign of the old covenant and is used by Paul as a single word to express the thought of being a physical Israelite and considering that physical pedigree to be of some consequence to God: “And they of the circumcision which believe were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Act 10:45).
It’s obvious from this scripture that even Jews who believed in Christ at the time of Peter’s visit to Cornelius’s house still had a degree of “confidence in the flesh” (Php 3:3 and 4).
Paul’s use of the phrase “of the circumcision” encompassed both the “confidence in the flesh” and the confidence in “works of the law”; circumcision being “the sign” of the old covenant.
God’s “Tabernacle” And “Rest” Are The Same In Scripture
With this in mind, let’s continue the thought in Heb 9: “Carnal ordinance[s] [were] imposed on them [only] until the TIME OF REFORMATION. But Christ being come an high priest of GOOD THINGS TO COME by a GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this [stone and mortar] building” (Heb 9:10 and 11). And what is that “greater and more perfect tabernacle? It just happens to be the same as his real rest: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation [his tabernacle]. THIS IS MY REST forever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psa 132:13 and 14). “…The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them…” (Rev 21:3). It is those who are “in Christ” who are the Zion of Psa 132:13 and 14 and the “…a bride adorned for her husband” the “holy city New Jerusalem” of Rev 21:2.
Christ is our rest, and we in Christ are God’s: “On that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (Joh 14:20). If we are in Christ, he is in us and we are all in God through Christ.
If we insist on observing the seventh day Sabbath and all the holy days, why are we not still offering sacrifices? If we don’t offer sacrifices because the type is fulfilled in Christ, why are we still observing all the other types Christ has fulfilled? His own words are “it is finished” (Joh 19:30). “For we which have believed do enter into rest…” (Heb 4:3). Christ is our Sabbath every day. Is he not also our Passover every day, living his life in us, is he not also our days of unleavened bread every day? Is he not the Spirit coming to us, our Pentecost, every day? In Christ we are not those “that put far away the evil day and cause the seat of violence to come near” (Amo 6:3).
In Christ we “lift up our voice like a trumpet and show God’s people their transgressions” (Isa 58:1). Therefore Christ is our festival of trumpets every day.
Being “seated with him in heavenly places” (Eph 2:6) are we not at one with God? Is he not our day of Atonement?
Knowing that “as in Adam all die SO in Christ shall ALL be made alive” (1Co 15:22), is he not our festival of tabernacles and last great day?
YES HE IS! “All my Sabbaths” were festivals because they were all a celebration of Christ and his accomplishments.
Good Things To Come
In Colossians we are told “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect [Strong’s #3313 – meros – the particulars] of an holy day, or [the particulars] of the new moon or [the particulars] of the Sabbath days WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME; but the body [casting that shadow] is of Christ” (Col 2:16, 17).
There it is; holy days and Sabbaths are all “shadows” of Christ, as were the millions of animals sacrificed for the sins of Israel. Jesus is now “a minister of the true tabernacle…[that’s us]…if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests [the temple was still standing] that offer gifts [sacrifices] according to the law. Who [both the priests and the gifts or sacrifices] serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things…[they all foreshadow Christ]” (Heb 8:2-5). Paul goes on to say that this is true of the law as a whole: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Heb 10:1).
So who is our priest foreshadowed by the Aaronic priesthood? Who is our sacrifice, foreshadowed by millions of dead lambs and bulls and goats? Who is our Sabbath and holy days? Who can make the comers thereunto perfect?
I never before realized how anything so repetitive and so redundant could be so exciting. Yes, it is ALL Christ!
“According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it” (Exo 25:9).
“And look that you make them after their pattern, which was shewed you in the mount” (Exo 25:40). Christ is that ‘pattern’ and we, too, must be careful to follow the pattern.
“For Christ is the end (#5056 – telos) of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom 10:4).
That word, telos, is the same in 1Pe 1:9; “Receiving the end (telos) of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Gal 5:14)
“These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the psalms concerning me” (Luk 24:44).
This is what Christ was talking about when he said “think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. …I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mat 5:17 and 18).
Christ knew who he was. He knew he was the “till all be fulfilled”.
One Of These Least Commandments
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:19).
Is this a comment concerning the ten commandments and/or law of Moses? If it is, then Christ himself will have to “be called least in the kingdom of heaven”. Why do I say that?
I say it simply because the entire remainder of chapter 5 of Matthew consists of Christ teaching his disciples to break the law of Moses:
|Law of Moses||Law of Christ|
|Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.||“Love your enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (vs 43).|
|An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. (vs 38)||“But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…”|
|Thou shalt not foreswear (perjure) thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths (vs 33).
Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God …and swear by his name” (Deu 6:13 and 10:20).
|“But I say unto you, swear not at all…(vs 34).|
|Whosoever shall put away his wife [“if you have no delight in her – Deu 21:14] let him give her a writing of divorcement (vs 31).||“But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery…”(vs 32).|
|Thou shalt not commit adultery.||“But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (vs 28)|
|Thou shalt not kill (vs 21).||“Whosoever is angry with his brother…is in danger of the judgment” (vs 22).|
Four of these six teachings are in direct opposition to the law of Moses. The other two are certainly not “one of these least commandments” but are two of the ten, and have been changed beyond recognition
It should be clear that “one of these least commandments” refers to the column on the right, the commandments of Christ; not those given by Christ to Moses. Carnal commandments are for a carnal people.
The Meaning of “Made Under The Law”
But all the commandments of Christ, all these “But I say unto you…” in direct contradiction to the law of Moses, are apparently hidden from the orthodox Protestant and Catholic churches and from the “command them to keep the law of Moses” groups in the Christian world. Here is the lie that is believed by all three schools of religious thought. The following quotation is from The Two Covenants and the First Resurrection by Brian Convery:
“Now let’s cut to the chase. In 1Jn 2:3-6, we read a very sobering measuring stick as to the degree we are led by the spirit of God.
:3 – Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. [The implication here is very clear. If we don’t keep His commandments, all of them, we don’t know him. The professing Christian world says they know Him but preaches His commandments were nailed to the cross, done away. If that’s the case, the Bible is lying to us. There is no gray area. It is one or the other.]
:4 – He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [Very simple, isn’t it? No compromise, no second-guessing, no ifs, and or buts about it. Many denominations of Christianity today say they keep His commandments but fail to observe the Sabbath the seventh day, the same one that has been in place since creation week. They instead take their lead from Rome and keep the day of the pagan deities, Sunday.]
:5 – But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in him.
:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Jesus Christ observed the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. He kept them holy, all of them. Over seventy times in the gospels, He tells us to follow Him. Following Him has just been clearly defined here in I John. If we are following Him, we are going to do what He did. Do not lose sight of who Jesus was in the O.T. scriptures. He was the Word, that Being who created everything. He was the one who authored all the commandments, etc., of the O.T. scriptures. That’s why we read in Hebrews that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is not changing it. If you do not follow Him as He has just described in I John, then you are not led by the spirit of God.” The Two Covenants and The First Resurrection by Brian Convery, Part 3, page 1.
I have no doubt Mr. Convery is as sincere a man as I am, but he has failed to notice that Christ brought “a NEW commandment …That ye love one another as I have loved you…(Joh 13:34). Christ did not love his disciples according to Exodus 20. He loved them according to Matthew 5. He has failed to notice the outright contradictions between the “NEW commandment” of Christ and the “abolished”, “disannulled”, “nailed to the cross”, “handwriting of ordinances” that are “old covenant” “law of Moses”. This very John who Mr. Convery is quoting, never calls the holy days ‘God’s feast of Passover’ or ‘God’s feast of Tabernacles’.
John demonstrates his understanding of their fulfillment in Christ; their passing, fading nature. John always refers to “the Jews feast of Passover” and “the Jews feast of tabernacles, etc.” John sets us all a good example. Christ fulfills ALL. Those who refuse John’s example are not following Christ. They are following “the outward Jews” (Rom 2:27). Christ did not keep the seventh day Sabbath holy. He broke it repeatedly as you can read in Matthew 12. You are right, Mr. Convery, “If we are following him, we are going to do as he did.”
“Do not lose sight of who Christ was in the Old Testament scriptures. He was the Word; that being who created everything. He was the one who authored all the commandments, etc. of the Old Testament scriptures…” [Ibid]
Yes, we would do well to never “lose sight of who Christ was in the O.T. scriptures”, but if we have never known him to begin with, how then can we “lose sight” of something we never saw.
To demonstrate what I mean, here are a few things concerning the O.T. scriptures which very few have ever “had sight of” to begin with:
Cursed be he that confirmeth not ALL the words of this law to do them(Deu 27:26; Jer 11:3)
As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them(Gal 3:10).
These verses do not say “the ten commandments, all of them.” It says ALL THINGS which are written IN THE BOOK…” This would include the very things Christ taught against in Matthew 5. Yes, Christ is the author of the ten commandments. It is the ten commandments that are called the “covenant” (Deu 4:13).
- Christ is also the author of
you shall fear the Lord your God…and shall swear by his name(Deu 6:13 and Deu 10:20) What agreement does that have with the commandment of Christ
but I say unto you, swear not at all(Mat 5:34 and 37)?
- Christ was the author of
an eye for an eye(Exo 21:24 and Deu 19:21). What agreement does that have with
but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil(Mat 5:38-42)?
I could go on and on with the changes in the law which Christ made, but we have already covered this subject in this paper.
Mr. Convery, along with most of Christendom, thinks the “his commandments” of 1Jn 2:3 are the same as the ten commandments of Exodus 20. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The ten commandments are “for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:8-9). The “but I say unto you” of Matthew 5 are the “his commandments” spoken of in 1Jn 2:3, and the “one of these least commandments” of Mat 5:19).
The obvious truth is that the only time Christ was made “under the law” (Gal 4:4) was when he was “made to be sin for us” (2Co 5:21). [Updated 6/18/2007 – For a complete study of the question of Christ being made sin, please read the article He Hath Made Him to be Sin by Coy Brock elsewhere on the web site.]
“The professing Christian world…preaches his commandments were “nailed to the cross, done away”…”[Ibid.]
Those are Paul’s words, Mr. Convery (Eph 2:15 and Col 2:14). Your argument is not with the professing Christian world as they agree with you on everything but the fourth commandment. Your argument is with Paul and the Holy Spirit. The professing Christian world, like you, Mr. Convery, picks and chooses which parts of “all things written in the book of the law” they want to keep. They pick nine commandments and holidays. You pick all ten commandments and holy days.
A Synopsis Of Galatians
It is actually holy days, not holidays, to which Paul refers in Gal 4:10: “Ye observe days, months, times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Gal 4:10-11). Paul is reprimanding these Galatians (and Christians today) for observing the days and festivals of Moses!
Is Paul worried that the Galatian converts are slipping back into their old pagan holidays observance? No doubt pagans had holidays they observed just as the Jews had days which they also esteemed above other days. But paganism is not the concern or subject of the book of Galatians.
What is the point of this book? Gal 1:6-7: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from them that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another, but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ”. THAT is the subject of this book! Paul spells it out right up front. The Galatians are being influenced by someone preaching “another gospel which is not another but…pervert(s) the gospel of Christ” and “removed” (them) from him “that called you into the grace of Christ”.
What is this “gospel which is not another but pervert(s) the gospel of Christ”? It is obvious that what is troubling Paul is “the Jews religion” (Gal 1:14). The entire book of Galatians is concerned with this problem, NOT with the influences of pagans: “…I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus” (Gal 1:17).
If pagan influences have anything to do with this book, why would Paul place distance between himself and “them which were apostles before me” in Jerusalem?
What is the subject of Chapter 2: “For before that certain [men] came from James. [Peter] did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself fearing them which were of the circumcision” (Gal 2:12).
Here again is the subject of this letter to the Galatians. To say Gal 4:10 has to do with pagan holidays, is to miss the point of this entire epistle.
“We who are Jews by nature…know…that a man is not justified by the deeds of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…and not by works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified…” (Gal 2:15-16).
Does this sound like something you would say to people who were being seduced by pagan holidays and traditions? What does the next chapter concern?
“Oh, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth…This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal 3:1-3)?
This seems to be the same subject of chapters one and two, “removed from…the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal 1:6) and “certain (men) from James” (Gal 2:12), and now here in chapter 3; “received ye the spirit by the works of the law…?”
Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, continues in chapter three attempting to take the eyes of these Galatian converts off the things pertaining to the law: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith…” (Gal 3:10-11).
The rest of this chapter is devoted to Paul’s attempt to get the Galatians to see that the promises made to Abraham are actually “to thy seed which is Christ” (Gal 3:16).
“For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Gal 3:18).
The subject still hasn’t changed. The “another gospel, which is not another…but pervert(s) the gospel of Christ” is a gospel which promotes the “law of Moses” which Christ (in Matt. 5) and Paul, here and in all his epistles, say is incompatible with the “law of Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:2).
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…” (Gal 3:19).
What was “the law” of Moses added to? It was a temporary addendum to the “law of the spirit of life” (Rom 8:2), also called the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) the NEW commandment of Matthew 5, the law of love of Rom 13:10. God is not a ‘new’ God. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever” (Heb 13:8). What is ‘new’ about the new covenant, is that it was never before revealed to mankind. Christ came to reveal the Father, because the Father had never before been revealed (L 10:22). The only ‘eternal’ immutable law of God ever revealed in scripture, is the law of Christ revealed in Matt. 5-7, also called the law of love in I Cor.13: “Love never fails…” (1Co 13:8). God always has been and always will be – LOVE.
This ‘new commandment’ (Joh 13:34) is a NEW COMMANDMENT.It is not the “spirit of the letter lost in the traditions of the elders”. Letter obedience is only to rule over us “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made”.
Then what? “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal 3:23).
Here is Paul’s concern for the Galatians. Here is the “another gospel”. The law keeps us “shut up” and “under the law”, until “faith comes”. Paul says the same thing, with even more force in Rom 6:14: “…sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace”. Sin dominates those “under the law”, because they are not yet brought to Christ (Gal 3:22 and 23).
The true character (law) of God was never revealed until Christ came “to reveal the Father” (Mat 11:27 and Luk 10:22). While it had not been revealed, the law of Love (God) was still being transgressed, and this is what necessitated the “addition” of the law of Moses “because of transgressions” of the unrevealed, yet present (law of God) law of Love (Gal 3:19). The law [of Moses]entered that “the offence might abound…” (Rom 6:20), not to reveal the Father. Reading the law without accepting Christ “vails” the Father (2Co 3:15).
Paul is obviously desirous that the Romans and Galatians not be “under the law” “after faith comes”.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24).
And then…? “But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:25).
Why are we no long under a schoolmaster? “For ye are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:28 and 29).
Now, the formula laid down by the Holy Spirit through the pen of the Apostle Paul is:
- a. The law is good if used lawfully; meaning you understand that it is for the lawless and disobedient (1Ti 1:8,9).
- b. After faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster (the law) because we are not disobedient and lawless as defined by the “new commandment”, “the law of Jesus Christ”, as revealed for the first time in Matthew 5.
Yes, this was the first time. While God’s law is as old as He is, it was not revealed till Christ came:
“Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the son, and he to whomsoever the son will reveal him” (Mat 11:27).
If the law of Moses had revealed the Father, as all Christendom seems to believe, Matthew 5 would have been unnecessary. Christ Himself would have been unnecessary and salvation could have been by the law. But the law of Moses, the old covenant, the ten commandments (Deu 4:13) are for the lawless and disobedient and the “law of Christ”, the “law of love” is not revealed until Christ comes. Until then we are “kept under the law” (the letter).
We now come to Gal 4. Does the concern suddenly switch from the Galatians being seduced by Judahizers to pagan philosophers?
No, paganism is not even under consideration in this chapter. Paul is still concerned that the Galatians are allowing themselves to be influenced by those who want to keep them under the schoolmaster. He has just informed them that in Christ “we are no longer under the schoolmaster, for ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:25 and 26).
The whole weight of Paul’s point is lost by translators who fail to make clear the huge difference between the “children” (Greek – huios, Strong’s #5207) of Gal 3:26 and the “child” (Greek – nepios, Strong’s #3516) of Gal 4:1.
Paul’s entire point is that in Christ we are huios, mature sons, able to carry on with our Father’s profession.
This is contrasted with being “under the schoolmaster” and still “under the law”. Chapter four concerns this same subject “now…the heir, as long as he is a nepios, (a minor) differeth nothing from a servant (Greek – doulos, Strong’s #1401, a slave) though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father” (Gal 4:1).
Being “under the law” is to be a minor, “an immature Christian” according to Strong; according to Paul “differing nothing from a slave”.
Being under “tutors and governors” and “differing nothing from a slave” while under these “schoolmasters” is to be “nepios (immature)…in bondage to the elements of the world” (Gal 4:3). The subject of this chapter is: “…God sent forth his son…to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Greek – huiothesia, Strong’s #5206, Gal 4:4 and 5).
This “adoption” is to take on the father’s business and has nothing in common with our modern meaning for the word adoption.
Paul’s concern for the Galatians is that “another gospel” is seducing them to remain immature (nepios) Christians, robbing them of their true standing in Christ as mature sons (huios) and “heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).
“Thou art no more a servant [slave] but a son [mature Christian]; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Gal 4:7). Paul says being an immature Christian and remaining under the law even after Christ has fulfilled it, is to do “service to them which by nature are no gods” (Gal 4:8). These are the “zealously-affect-you” crowd of vs 17.
How was this desire to remain an immature Christian, “under the law”, “no more than a slave”, “doing service to them which are no gods”, “believing another gospel”, manifesting itself in these Galatian converts?
It was manifesting itself in three ways:
- “Ye observe days, months, times and years” (Gal 4:10)
- They were desiring to be under the law (vs 21)
- They were submitting themselves to physical circumcision (Gal 5:2 and 3). They were doing this to avoid being “excluded” from the fellowship of what really amounted to “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Php 3:18).
Nothing has changed. This spirit is here today. If you do not submit to the law of Moses, you will still be excluded from their fellowship. Let us not be as the Galatians who were “bewitched” by “the works of the law” (Gal 3:1-5).
Of course, those who are “bewitched” by the “works of the law” of Moses will tell you that since it was God who gave Moses the law, therefore this must be the same as the “law of God”.
Yes, Mr. Convery, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”, but if you truly believe “he is not changing it” (the law of Moses), then I can only conclude that your eyes are blinded to the virtual “reformation” (Heb 9:10) revealed by Christ in Matthew 5.
Matthew 5 is a new wine in a new bottle, a new garment made of new cloth. It is not compatible with the old covenant and attempting to make it so will only “break the bottles…spill the wine” and “make the rent worse”.
You are right, “there is no other way”, but that way is Matthew 5, not Exodus 20, or any other part of the “things written in the book of the law”.
You are right, “If you do not follow Him as He just described in I John, then you are not led by the Spirit of God.” What he just described in I John, however, has nothing to do with the ten commandments or the old covenant “letter” which are one and the same (Deu 4:13), and which are the “ministration of death” (2Co 3:7). The commandments referred to in I John are revealed in the gospels, Matthew 5-7 in particular. They are certainly not in the law of Moses, the old covenant.
As mentioned earlier, it was this same Apostle John who calls the holy days “feasts of the Jews”:
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (Joh 5:1).
“And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh” (Joh 6:4).
“Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand” (Joh 7:2).
Apparently John did not have the Sabbath and holy days in mind in I John. In all my years in a certain church, I never once heard a single minister, student or church member use John’s terminology for these days. These were “God’s Holy Days” and we took pride in the fact that we did not keep pagan holidays. Colossians tells us holy days were “a shadow of things to come” (Col 2:16 and 17).
Heb. 10 tells us the entire law was a shadow “for the law having a shadow of good things to come…” (Heb 10:1).
Yes, indeed, “If you do not follow Him as just described in I John, then you are not led by the Spirit”.
What is “the Spirit”? Does it have anything to do with the things “which you have heard said by them of old time”? Perhaps there is some agreement, but if so, it is incidental:
“THE WORDS THAT I SPEAK UNTO YOU, THEY ARE SPIRIT and they are life” (Joh 6:63). These words were penned by the same apostle who wrote I John. It is the words of Christ that give life and which will judge us (Joh 12:48).
You are right; “in 1Jn 2:3-6, we read a very sobering measuring stick as to the degree we are led by the Spirit of God.” However, it is the words of Christ, not the law of Moses, which are the “commandments” of 1Jn 2:3-6. Christ’s words are our “measuring stick” of spiritual maturity, not the law which is “not for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:9).
“The words that I have spoken” are not the words of the old covenant. Those who persist in being under that law, “shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman” (Gal 4:30).
Phrase #6 – Ready to Vanish Away – Heb 8:13
“In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13).
To Paul, as it should be to us, God’s word is reality. So far as Paul was concerned, the old covenant had been “vanishing away” from the time of Jeremiah. “…Your burnt offerings are not acceptable nor your sacrifices sweet unto me” (Jer 6:20).
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers…” (Jer 31:31-32).
As Christ pointed out, we don’t put new wine in old bottles (Mat 9:17). In the revelation of the new covenant, we are told that the new does not “accord” with the old. “No man putteth a piece of new cloth into an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse” (Mat 9:16).
There have always been, and still are today, plenty of ‘worn out’ garments around. If we attempt to repair our carnal old fleshly bodies with the ten commandments, we will only make sin appear sinful. Our righteousness must “exceed” that of Job, the rich young ruler and Paul before his conversion (Mat 5:20).
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts…’ (Jer 31:33).
But the “old is ready to vanish away”. The Greek here is not katargeo for once. It is aphanismos, Strong’s #854. This is the only place this form of this word is used in scripture. However, it is taken from aphanizo, Strong’s #853 which appears five times: Mat 6:16, Mat 6:19, Mat 6:20, Act 13:41 and Jas 4:14.
“Behold you despisers, and wonder, and perish…” (aphanizo #853 – Act 13:41).
“…What is your life? It is even as a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and vanisheth away” (aphanizo #853 – Jas 4:14).
“Aphanismos” may not be “katargeo“, but they do seem to have a lot in common.
Phrase #7 – “Under the Law”
The phrase ‘under the law’ appears in seven separate areas of scripture. When two connected verses contain the phrase we consider it as a single section of scripture, even though the phrase appears as many as three times in a single verse.
We will demonstrate with these seven sections that in God’s eyes obedience to the law of Moses is the spiritual equivalent of being “under sin”. The reason given is “because by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). In other words, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Paul is telling us that the law is equivalent to the tree placed by God in the middle of the garden of Eden, which man must eat of before he can partake of the source of life.
Yes, it was God who had told them not to eat of this tree, but the goal and purpose in creating Adam and Eve was to: “bring many sons unto glory” (Heb 2:10). Since Christ was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8), Adam had to sin in order to need a Savior. “I had not known sin but by the law” (Rom 7:7). “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that THROUGH DEATH he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14). Now “the tree of life” is not “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. The fruit of one is life and the fruit of the other is death. “For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament [covenant] that BY MEANS OF DEATH, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance”.
There it is: “…transgressions…were under the first covenant”. Sin no longer dominates us because we “are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14).
A. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). Again it’s the ten commandments that make “all the world…guilty before God”. But what does Paul mean by this next verse? “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20).
What he means, as we have said before, is that life can no more come through the law (the knowledge of sin and therefore of righteousness also – Rom 7:7) than it can come through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Bringing life is not the function of this tree (the law, the ten commandments). Its function is to bring man to the point that he sees his need for a Savior. It accomplishes this by revealing our sinful dying condition (earthy, naked) that we have from creation. Christ was slain “from the foundation of the world”, before Adam and Eve even sinned. Man was created flesh and blood, naked. He would have died if he had never eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: “Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth CORRUPTION inherit incorruption” (1Co 15:50). Adam simply needed to come to see his sad corruptible composition and condition.
B. Now notice this next verse carefully: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: (and why not?) For ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14). If there is a scripture anywhere in God’s word which demonstrates that there are two laws in view whenever Paul talks about “the law”, this is that scripture.
Our carnal minded reasoning is: “if we keep the law, then we are not dominated by sin, sin has no dominion over us.” But Paul says “…sin shall not have dominion over you for [because] you are NOT under the law.” If you are under the law, you are a sinner.
There are those who will tell you that ‘under the law’ simply means ‘under the curse of the law’ which they interpret to mean the curse of death.
Those who follow this doctrine completely miss Paul’s point that the law of Moses is itself, along with the ten commandments, the curse of death, “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones” causing Moses’ face to shine (2Co 3:7).
I am well aware that one cannot force a blind man to see. But if you have been given “eyes to see” and you have read Matt. 5, then you will see that the ten commandments once and all have lost their glory by reason of that which excels. You will further see that to cling to them and the entire Torah is to be embracing death itself: “Therefore by the deeds [Greek – ergon Strong’s #2041; doing, works] of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
The knowledge of sin saves no one, and the law, the ten commandments, are the knowledge of sin (Rom 7:7).
Those who cling to Torah and the ten commandments will quote Gal 3:12; “…The man that doeth them shall live in them.” This seems to be the only part of this verse they see. They jump on the word “live” and give it a positive connotation and deride detractors for being against life. God has simply not given them eyes to see the first part of this verse: “The law is NOT of faith…”
With that reasoning, one could take “…she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”, (1Ti 5:6) and give the word “liveth” a positive connotation and completely miss the point. Paul’s point is that “the law is not of faith”. To live by the law, “the deeds of the law” (Heb 11:6) will have the same effect as “living in pleasure”. You will be “dead while you live” because “the law is not of faith”. Now the most casual student of the scripture is aware that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb 11:6).
Paul’s point which it seems the whole of Christendom has missed is that Torah, the law, yes including the ten commandments IS itself the curse. It gives us the knowledge of sin (Rom 7:7) and of righteousness (Psa 119:172).
Our ‘idol of the heart’ (Eze 14:3-7) tells us “God’s commandments could not possibly produce death; after all they are of God and God would never give us anything that would bring forth death.” The laws God gave Moses seem “pleasant to the sight and good for food” and they are placed right there in the midst of the garden of God’s word, put there by God himself who would never put anything poison to our spiritual well being right in front of us and make it appear so good and good for us. God would never do that. “And out of the ground made the Lord to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:9).
Life Comes Through Death
Is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil good for food? That seems to be what Gen 2:9 says.
Doesn’t it produce death though? Of course, it does: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse [of death]: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in ALL things that are written in the book of the law [Torah] to do them” (Gal 3:10). This verse precedes the one quoted above and used in defense of keeping the law: “the man that doeth them shall live in them” (vs 12). Peter says concerning the law it is “a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Act 15:10).
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; THAT THROUGH DEATH he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil” (Heb 2:15).
“In the body of his flesh THROUGH DEATH, to present you holy, and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight” (Col 1:22).
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from [out of or through] DEATH…” (Heb 5:7).
There are three scriptures explaining why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil serves as food in the middle of the garden of Eden and why the ten commandments, “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones” (2Co 3:7) are placed right in the middle of God’s word.
- “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1Co 15:50).
- “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). If flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, then it stands to reason that life comes only THROUGH DEATH; the death of the flesh: “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
- “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (Joh 12:24).
While this last scripture concerns dying to the flesh, it serves to demonstrate the creator’s modus operandi: “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ once was offered to bear the sins of many…” (Heb 9:27,28).
These two scriptures, Joh 12:24 and Heb 9:27,28, reveal much of the mind of God on the subject of death. Being under the law and therefore being subject to death, are all an integral part of God’s plan. Before God ever created Adam, He had a plan of salvation for Adam and all his children.
Appearance and Composition of Sin and Death
Adam’s need for a Savior is revealed from the beginning in the description of his appearance and his composition. He was composed of dust, the very thing we are told furnishes nourishment for the Adversary who is represented here by the serpent (Gen 3:14). Another clue to Adam’s predestinated fate is that he was CREATED naked. Adam came into this world just as every person ever descended from him…NAKED. As surely as dust represents flesh, nakedness depicts the sinful nature inherent in being made of dust: “The first man [Adam in each of us] is of the earth, earthy: the second man [in each of us] is the Lord from heaven” (1Co 15:47).
All by Nature the Children of Wrath
“And so it is written the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1Co 15:45). Those who teach that the statement “the man that doeth them (the works of the law) shall live in them”(Gal 3:12) is a positive statement, will miss the fact that the “living soul” here is contrasted with the quickening (life giving) spirit. Any “living soul” is also a dying soul: “the soul that sinneth it shall die” (Eze 18:4,20). Also, anyone living in the “deeds of the law” is “not of faith” (Gal 3:12). Being “not of faith” is not a positive position to be in with God.
Adam was “not of faith” because he followed his wife who believed the serpent rather than God. Having believed the serpent, Eve, typifying the deceived church of God, ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, just as some churches today teach that the ten commandments are the same as the sermon on the mount. “And Adam was not deceived” (1Ti 2:14) but was so attached to his wife [his church] instead of his maker that he followed her instead of God.
How many sons of God see the contradictions between scripture and church doctrines but cannot face the thought of possibly losing all their friends and their family to remain true to the command of God “thou shalt not eat” of “the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil”?
As God had predestinated, both Adam (the “son of God” Luk 3:38) and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They could not be given life having eaten of this tree because “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by THE LAW is the KNOWLEDGE of sin” (Rom 3:20).
Adam was not deceived. He did not want to disobey God, but he was persuaded by his wife. Any student of scripture knows that women typify the church whether faithful or “fallen”. The moment they both ate of this tree, they became aware of a truth that had been the truth before they became aware of it. “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). This is virtually the same condition describing the “lukewarm” Laodicean church in the book of Revelation: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of my mouth. Because you sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods and have need of nothing; AND KNOW NOT THAT THOU ART wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and NAKED” (Rev 3:16,17).
So it was with Adam and Eve. They had the whole world to themselves. They were communing with God and he had given them this beautiful garden, his word. Not being aware that they are inherently sinful by their earthy composition and their naked condition, like all their descendants they partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and “all the world” henceforth becomes guilty before God” (Rom 3:19): “And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen 3:6).
The word of God does not say Eve ‘thought’ the tree was good for food; it says “the tree was good for food… pleasant to the eyes…to be desired to make one wise.”
The law, in fulfilling its function as a schoolmaster, nourishes us much as the umbilical cord nourishes an unborn infant until the time of its birth. At that point the umbilical binding must be cut, and the infant must receive a more mature nourishment. If that cord of the law of Moses is not cut and the infant does not begin partaking of the more developed nourishment of the “milk of the words” of Christ, he will die. “As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1Pe 2:2). At the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, it was Peter who called the law a “yoke… which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Act 15:10). He obviously is not referring to Torah or the law of Moses when he mentions the “sincere milk of the word”. He is rather speaking of “the words that I have spoken”: “He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words [as opposed to Torah] hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “The sincere milk” is for “newborn babes” IN CHRIST. That ‘milk’ is “Christ and Him crucified” 1Co 2:2; 3:1 and 2). While milk is the best food for ‘babes in Christ’, it is NOT the best food for a more spiritually mature person. “Howbeit we speak wisdom [not just ‘Christ and Him crucified’] among them that are perfect [mature]” (1Co 2:6).
On the other hand, the law, Torah, is “a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Gen 3:6). What does that mean? How does the law which “had no glory” (2Co 3:10) make one wise? “Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should AFTERWARDS be revealed” (Gal 3:23).
So Paul tells Timothy: “…From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures [Torah, the old covenant] which are able to make thee wise unto salvation [“the law…brings us unto Christ – Gal 3:24]through [the new covenant] faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 3:15).
The law of Moses is the law of God only in the sense that Adam in “the son of God” (Luk 3:38). The law of Moses testifies of and typifies the true law of God just as Adam “in the image of God” testifies of and typifies the true “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Col 1:15). The true “express image of His person” (Heb 1:3) is someone the first Adam must ‘put on’. “Put on the NEW man, which is renewed in knowledge [a new man with a new covenant] AFTER THE IMAGE OF HIM [Christ] who created him [the first Adam]” (Col 3:10).
We were born the typical image. We must “put on” the true image.
Did Adam Fall?
What is the function of the Old Testament scriptures. They make us aware of our inherent nakedness: “Behold, I was shapen [of the dust of the ground] in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa 51:5). The purpose of being “shapen in iniquity” (being made under the law) is to justify the judgment of God. Adam did not “fall”; he simply became aware of how low he already was – “of the earth, earthy”, “of the dust of the ground”, “naked”. This was no accident, but was by Divine design. Adam eating of the tree was “of the Lord [because] He sought an occasion against [the flesh – Adam] for at that time, [the flesh] had dominion over [Adam] (Jdg 14:4). When the flesh dominates, God “seeks an occasion against [it]. “The Lamb [was] slain from the foundation of the world” in preparation and anticipation of Adam’s sin (Rev 13:8).
We have no reason to suppose that David, who was the youngest of his brothers, was born of an adulterous mother. We are told specifically he was the son of Jesse. David is in no way slandering his mother when he says “I was shapen in iniquity”. He is rather acknowledging the earthy composition and naked condition of ALL who are born in Adam. We are all born in need of the law, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to make sin (our nakedness) appear sinful to us. The tree itself is not evil; it is “good for food”. But its fruit is the KNOWLEDGE of …evil”. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” “Was that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might appear exceeding sinful” (Rom 7:13): “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked;” (Gen 3:7).
David explains in the preceding verse why we are “shapen in iniquity and born in sin.” See what he reveals to us in Psa 51:3,4: “I acknowledge my transgression: and my sin is ever before me…that thou (God) mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear [of unrighteousness] when thou judgest.” David understood God’s purpose in creating evil; “that thou [God] mightest… be clear [of evil] when thou judgest.” David knew what judgment was all about. He knew that the day of judgment is the day when the Almighty and All Powerful God would chasten and discipline and save even the most wicked person in the universe. The “condemnation of the world” is but another less desirable “judgment” or “chastening”. “When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world” (1Co 11:32). Once again, JUDGMENT IS CHASTENING.
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey; his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom 6:16)?
This verse drives home the point Paul is making that sin is no longer defined by the inadequate idea of the law that so long as you make a good outward show of righteousness, you are therefore righteous. Simply not killing your brother is no longer sufficient; simply restraining oneself from adultery is no longer tolerable to please God; simply not stealing is not acceptable behavior.
In reality, all these “cleavings” to the ten commandments and all the works of the law, were never sufficient to please God to begin with. The law is not of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. Keeping the old law is the equivalent of Adam obeying God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He would no doubt have thought something like this: ‘I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that [I am] wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked’ (Rev 3:17).
Adam, as are all his descendants, was so spiritually blind that he did not realize that he was created naked and in need of clothing. That clothing was provided by God in the form of a sacrifice; Christ is the clothing for our sins, our nakedness, that we are born with.
Are we encouraging disobedience to God? Are we saying “let us sin that grace may abound”? Should we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? “God forbid”. We are pointing out that Adam’s earthy composition and naked condition from the hand of the creator signifies a work in progress: “The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam a quickening [life giving] spirit. Howbeit that was not first which was spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven…As we[ALL MEN] have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood [Adam’s composition even before he ate of the tree]cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (1Co 15:45-50).
“The Time Of Reformation”
C. “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law. To them that are without law, as without law, (being NOT WITHOUT LAW to God, but UNDER THE LAW TO CHRIST) that I might gain them that are without law” (1Co 9:20, 21).
Paul says he is “not without law to God but under the law to Christ. Paul was certainly not under the law of Moses, or he would have encouraged circumcision, and he would have kept “all things written in the book of the law”. So what law was he “under…to Christ?” He was under the “new commandment” (Joh 13:34); he was under “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).
Here is the scripture that explains why the apostles seemed to carry on so many Jewish, Mosaic, Old Covenant traditions even after the death and resurrection of Christ. The “law of Christ” through love, permits, and in many instances necessitates, that we submit ourselves to the “weak and beggarly elements of the world”, the law of Moses (Gal 4:1-9). But for what reason? Because Sabbath and holy day keeping was necessary? No, but “That I might by all means save some” (1Co 9:22).
Despite the fact that many people do not believe it, there was of necessity a period of transition called “the time of reformation” (Heb 9:10). Christ made it clear to us that there were “many things” even his closest associates could not “bear…now”.
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (Joh 16:12). This is a principle that applies to each believer individually. How much more time is involved in reforming whole bodies of people?! “Peter…and the other Jews dissembled (and) Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal 2:11-13) simply because in that “time of reformation”, that time of transition from the old to the new covenant, they were “not able to bear” some of the truths of the new covenant even at this late date. Paul saying “I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem” (Act 18:21) is more of a statement of where he wanted to be at that time than expressing his determination to retain and practice the Jewish tradition of esteeming one day above another, of “observing days, months, times and years” enumerated in Lev 23 and 25 and in Num 28 and 29. Immediately after chastising the Galatians for observing days, months times and years, Paul says “tell me you that desire to be under the law…” (Gal 4:21). Obviously the days, months, times and years were the Sabbaths, holy days, new moons and land rest and jubilee years cited by Moses in the scriptures in Leviticus and Numbers given above. There are no days, months, times or years to be observed under the new “law of faith” (Rom 3:27).
D. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal 3:23)
Let’s examine the context of this scripture and see if we can grasp what Paul means by this oft used phrase “under the law”. This chapter begins with Paul rebuking the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you; received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:1,2). Maybe you didn’t catch that. Paul considers the keeping of the law equivalent to “not obeying the truth”. Could it be that if one believes he must keep the law that he believes a lie? He reminds them that he is the one who introduced them to Christ and he had not instructed them to perform the “works of the law”. Paul’s teaching is based on higher laws which are given seven different names:
- the Law of God (Rom 7:22,25)
- the Law of Christ (Gal 6:2)
- the Law of the Spirit (Rom 8:2)
- the Law of Faith (Rom 3:27)
- the Law of Liberty (Jas 1:25)
- the Law of Righteousness (Rom 9:30-31)
- and the Law of Life (Gal 3:11, 6:8).
He never refers to the law of Moses, the old covenant, as anything more than a schoolmaster, a tutor, a governor to be abandoned upon coming to Christ. While Paul is emphatic about not being under ‘the law’, his readers knew what this meant: “I myself serve the law of God” with “the flesh”.
“Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect in the flesh?” (vs 3) “With the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom 7:25). Paul equates the keeping of the law with “the flesh”. In verse 7, he says that those of faith “are the children of Abraham. Verse 8 says the promise, that “in thee [Abraham] shall all nations be blessed” was actually an allusion to the calling of the Gentiles. “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:9). “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in ALL THINGS which are written in the book of the law to do them” (vs 10) “…no man is justified by the law, (for) the just shall live by faith” (vs 11); and the law is not “of faith” (vs 12). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (vs 13). So far as Paul is concerned, the law has made us all “guilty before God”, both Jew and Gentile. The promises to Abraham are only through his singular seed, Christ (vs 16). The physical promises; land, good health, wealth, etc, don’t even enter into the equation: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (vs 18).
So, why the law? It was added to demonstrate how evil WE are, to give us the knowledge of sin. For those in Christ though, it is only “til the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (vs 19). The law itself is not against the promises of God. Prophecies of the promises are within the law, but: “righteousness is not by the law” (vs 21). “But (since righteous-ness is not by the law) the scripture hath concluded all (Jew and Gentile) under sin (“by the law is the knowledge of sin” – Rom 7:7) (so) that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (vs 22).
Where are we all before we come to know Christ? “But before faith came we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith that should AFTERWARDS be revealed” (vs 23). That’s pretty clear language. All are in sin (vs. 22), under the law until faith comes and delivers us from the law (vs 23). So the law serves as the means to show us our sin and thereby bring us to recognize our need for Christ. Is there anyone who doesn’t know Christ? They will be brought to comprehend their necessity for him by being “under the law”.
Once we come to know Christ, we become aware of Matt. 5 and the new law, “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) and we no longer need the schoolmaster who brings us to Christ. No one associated with the teachings of Matthew 5 has any need for the law of the old covenant.
The laws of the old covenant become as obsolete and redundant as the sacrifices, holy days, clean and unclean meat laws and all the statutes and judgments.
They are all types and shadows of spiritual realities we obtain in and through Christ. There are no exceptions. Christ (love) has fulfilled the law for those who are in Christ.
Those who do not yet know Him NEED the law as surely as a fetus (nepios) needs an umbilical cord. This is what Paul means when he says “the law…is good…when used lawfully”; meaning that one must “know first that the law is NOT for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Ti 1:8,9). In Christ, we are not “lawless”.
We are simply under a changed law, a higher law: as high as Matthew 5 is above Exodus 20. Those in Christ, on the other hand, just as surely must cut that umbilical cord and begin taking in a more mature form of nourishment. Until they do, they will still be “under tutors and governors” and will never be more than a “slave”.
“The adoption of sons” will make him “lord of all” only when he comes out from under the “schoolmaster, governor and tutors” (Gal 4:1,2).
The law, the “schoolmaster,” will always serve as a tutor and governor to “bring us to Christ”. Each generation of the “predestinated”, “the children of promise”, will be brought to see that they need a Savior through their own “road to Damascus” experience. We are all, as only God knows how to accomplish, struck down and made to see our sins. It has never been and never will be anything less than a “fiery trial”. So “think it not strange” when the trials come (1Pe 4:12).
Once again here in Gal 4:4, being “under the law” is equated with being under sin: “But after that faith [Christ] is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:25).
Elements Of The World
E. “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal 4:4).
We have just stated that “under the law” is the same as being under sin. Chapter four simply continues on with the concept of being under a schoolmaster: “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child [Greek – nepios] differs nothing from a servant, though he be Lord of all” (Gal 4:1).
Those are Paul’s words of warning to all those who observe the days, months, times and years of the law. He asserts that you are denying yourself your inheritance. One “differ[s] nothing from a servant [slave]”. “But (you) are under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father (vs 2). Even so we [Paul himself when he was under the law] when we were children [under the “schoolmaster”] were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:3,4).
Christ Became Sin And Death
In case you didn’t grasp that, Paul said that those who were under the law and were redeemed by Christ had been “under bondage to the elements of the world”. Just another scripture telling us that clinging to the law is like clinging to sin; not because the law is sin, but because “by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 7:7). It is through sin that we die. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). It is through death also that we receive life: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that THROUGH DEATH he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14). So life comes through death, death comes through sin and sin comes through the law. Are we saying, then that Christ as stated in this verse, was “made under the law”, was made sin??? That’s right, Christ was sin: “For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be a flawless sin offering for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM” (2Co 5:21).
That’s why all of ancient Israel’s sacrifices had to be “spotless” and “without blemish”. Ancient Israel typifies the world without Christ, and their sacrifices typify our “spotless”, “blameless”, “without blemish”, sacrifice – Jesus Christ, the son of God.
F) “Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?” (Gal 4:21).
The obvious answer to this question is, no, or the Galatians would not be submitting themselves to the law. The rest of this chapter reveals the hazards of placing oneself under the law. Let it be noted that what the apostle warned would happen to those who place themselves under the law is exactly what has happened to the church which to this day continues to situate itself “under the law” while at the same time proclaiming its freedom from it:
In verse 22, Paul tells us that Abraham’s two wives typify those in the church who place themselves under the old covenant on the one hand, and those who are under the new covenant on the other hand.
The two wives were Sarah, Abraham’s only true love and his real wife all along. The other wife was given to him by Sarah!
In this allegory, Abraham, the father of the faithful, represents Christ and the wives represent two facets of the church;
- Those under the law, fallen from grace, those who receive bad advice (doctrines) from Sarah…
- and those in Christ who know what grace is and what it does.
If we are IN CHRIST, we are “Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” and “the children of the freewoman” (Gal 3:29). If we are Abraham’s seed “we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise”; “the adoption” (Gal 4:25); “the glory” (Rom 2:7 and 10; Rom 8:18; 2Co 3:8); “the new covenant” (2Co 3:6); the giving of the new spiritual law “after the inward man” (Rom 7:6 and 22); “the service” (Rom 12:1) and the promises (Gal 3:16 and 29).
Take careful note of who this true wife of Abraham becomes as Paul draws this allegory. Only those with spiritual eyes seem capable of following the mind of God as clearly expressed in this chapter.
As God sees it, those under the law (those who believe that “through the deeds of the law some flesh can be saved”, are the bondwoman. “JERUSALEM that now is and is in bondage with her children…is Agar (Hagar)”. Hagar was the mother if Ismael, the rejected son of Abraham who is called “the father of the faithful”. Abraham’s physical, fleshly descendants are “the bondwoman and her son” who were cast out (Gal 4:25-31).
“For this Agar [Hagar] is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and ANSWERETH TO JERUSALEM WHICH NOW IS AND IS IN BONDAGE WITH HER CHILDREN” (Gal 4:25).
Paul’s teaching here is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christendom. Much of Christendom teaches that since “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Heb 11:28), therefore Christ must remarry his divorced wife as soon as he returns. That is tantamount to teaching that the first Adam in the flesh can inherit the kingdom of God. Christ is already married to another. He is married to those who “are become dead to the law” (Rom 7:4). If Christ returns and remarries physical Israel, he would be an adulterer: “I have espoused you to an husband that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ” (2Co 11:2).
Insisting that Christ remarry physical Israel not only makes Him an adulterer, but it also flies in the face of the spiritual types of the old covenant: “Her former husband which sent her [physical Israel under the Old Covenant Law] away, may not take her again to be his wife…for that is abomination before the Lord…” (Deu 24:4). It negates dozens of old covenant statements concerning Israel of which the following is typical: “The end is come upon my people of [physical] Israel; I will not again pass by them any more” (Amo 8:2). “The end is come upon my people” means what it says – the end of the ages; the “Great White Throne Judgment” and “the Lake of fire”, when there will be “no more death” (Rev 20:14-21:4). Any doubt about the timing of the salvation of Israel should be removed by simply reading and believing Eze 16:55: “When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate…THEN you [Jerusalem that now is] and your daughters shall return to your former estate”. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”, but their fulfillment will not be according to our time-table. The “fulness of the Gentiles” will not happen until Sodom and Samaria are “returned to their former estate”. Then physical Israel and her daughters will return to their former estate.
Paul was well aware of this scripture in Ezekiel, and it grieved him greatly. Nevertheless, he reiterates the scripture “…cast out the bondwoman and her son [Jerusalem]: for the son of the bondwoman[physical Israel] shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman” (Gal 4:30).
So much for any doctrine which teaches that anyone (Jew or Gentile) can be saved by the works of the law. Those under the law are the bondwoman and her son. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…” And why is that? Again, we point out how Paul links the law to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the tree which can in no way lead to life: “…for by the law is the KNOWLEDGE of sin” (Rom 3:20). That is all in one verse, and that is why there can be no such thing as a gospel which is a “mixture of law and grace”. “No flesh” means not even any Jewish flesh.
To paraphrase Eph 2:11-19: We are no longer “Gentiles in the flesh.” Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition between [Jews and Gentiles]…now in Christ Jesus [we] who were sometimes afar off [from “the commonwealth of Israel] are made nigh by the blood of Christ…for to make in himself of two ONE NEW MAN so making peace…Now therefore ye are no more[Gentiles] strangers and foreigners [from the commonwealth of Israel] but are fellow citizens [in the commonwealth of Israel] with the saints and of the household of God” (Eph 2:11-19).
There is no room in scripture for the two to remain two. There is only one “truth of the (singular) gospel” that Paul appeals to when confronting Peter. He tells Peter “We…Jews…know that a man is not justified by the works of the law…”
So while some may be confused as to the function of law and grace “we…Jews… [Peter, Barnabas and Paul] know that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by the faith of Jesus Christ…for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal 2:14-16).
If Peter, Paul and Barnabas, who were all “Jews by nature” (vs 15) knew this bit of truth, who are we to say the Jews are justified by works?
Don’t stop with verse 16. Follow on with Paul’s thought: “If while (we) seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid” (Gal 2:17).
This is consistent with Paul’s teachings in Rom 6: “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (vs 18). Again in verse 22: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, Ye have your fruit unto holiness…”
Paul doesn’t say “but now that you have no sin”, but rather “but now being made free from sin…” Being free from sin is not to be understood as having no sin, rather “sin shall not have dominion over you.”
“For sin shall not have dominion over you”…” Why doesn’t sin dominate us now? “Because we are not under the law, but under grace.” (vs 14)
How clear it is that anyone who is yet governed by sin is yet under the law!
A Harmony of James and Paul
Let’s continue Paul’s thought in Gal 2: “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” “If I build again the things which I destroyed” is a reference to the law. “For I through the law am dead to the law”, is the very next verse. If we “build again” the “old man” of sin which we had destroyed, we make ourselves transgressors. Christ is not “the minister of sin” even if “I make myself a transgressor” (vs 18).
This is consistent with Rom 3:5-7, where Paul poses the same question: “If our unrighteousness [rebuilding the “old man” whom we had destroyed] commend the righteousness of God [which of course it doesn’t, any more than our sins make Christ ‘the minister of sin’], what shall we say; is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? I speak as a man. God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” (vs 7).
Paul is asking if our calling does not make us “free from sin”; if we are to simply continue in sin, why would we be considered sinners at all? “And not rather as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say, let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just” (vs 8). This “our righteousness commending the righteousness of God” and “the truth of God abounding through our lie” were both “slanderous reports” of Paul’s teachings.
What Paul did teach was the same thing James taught. While James says “faith without works [the working of Christ in us] is dead” (Jas 2:26), Paul puts the SAME TEACHING in other words: “know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1Co 6:9). Again Paul instructs: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7).
That sounds pretty close to ‘faith without works is dead’; certainly much closer than the slanderous reports being circulated that Paul taught that our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God, or the truth of God abounds through our lie. Paul says of those who say he teaches such things “their damnation is just.”
We come now to a crucial scripture in Paul’s discourse on the law in Galatians 2: “For I THROUGH THE LAW am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Gal 2:19).
If this was true for Paul, it is just as true for us today. It is through the law that “all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). It is also through the law that we today “become dead to the law.” Every child ever born must be taught right from wrong, “that all the world might become guilty before God”. So while we are not under the law after faith comes, we certainly are before it comes. The law is not against the promises of God, but rather leads us to them (Gal 3:21-23) because life comes “through death” and death comes through sin and the “strength of sin is the law.” It becomes apparent that if God had not intended for Adam to sin, He would not have made him of the dust of the ground, and naked. Since He did, He also had to make the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the law, to reveal to Adam his intolerable condition and justify God’s judgment.
God chose Isaac over Ishmael to tell us today that being physically descended from Abraham as Ishmael was, is to be counted as dung. Paul said he himself was “of the stock of Israel…an Hebrew of Hebrews…but…I count all things but loss. And do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Php 3:5-8). If it had been possible to remain a law keeping physical Jew, and still “win Christ”, Paul certainly would have. He didn’t say “I count them all but dung that I might become the apostle to the Gentiles” Paul knew better than that. There was only one way to “win Christ” and that was through the one and only gospel. The one Peter temporarily forsook when he “compelled Gentiles to live as do the Jews” (Gal 2:14). Living under the law robs even the Jews of their salvation. “We who are Jews by nature…know…that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:15-16). That’s what Paul told Peter and Barnabas when they separated themselves from the Gentiles at Antioch.
Ishmael was Abraham’s first born, but he was the son of the bondwoman and therefore had no claim to the promises or the inheritance: “He who was of the bondwoman was after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise” (Gal 4:23). “We, brethen, as Isaac was are the children of promise” (Gal 4:28). “So then brethren we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (vs 31). Those who are the children of the bondwoman have no claim at any time to the promises. As Paul explained to Peter and Barnabas in chapter two when they separated themselves from the Gentiles, “we who are Jews by nature… know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:15-16). Some things bear repetition!
Paul has just been explaining in the last half of chapter 3 and in the first half of this chapter 4 that Israel “according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3), the people of God physically descended from Abraham, are under bondage: “…the heir as long as he is a child [under the escort of the law] differs nothing from a slave…” “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage…”; all of us “before faith comes”.
There will be no mixing of law with grace, ever. “…By the deeds of the law there shall… NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:30). We’ve covered this point before, but it is worth repeating: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” is the same as saying “for the law is the tree of the knowledge of evil,” and the tree of the knowledge of… evil is not the tree of life. The tree of life is separated from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by death. “The strength of sin (and death) is the law” (1Co 15:56). The strength of life is “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2), “Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20). These are not dispensational statements; they are eternal principles. Life does not spring from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Life does not come through the law, not even for a physical Jew.
Why Christ Never Kept The Old Testament Law
2Co 5:21 says Christ “knew no sin” and the following scriptures demonstrate that righteousness is not of the law. It follows that the righteousness of Christ, “the righteousness of one” [Christ] (Rom 5:18) had nothing to do with the law of Moses. “…If righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain” (Gal 2:21), “for Christ is the end of the law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to everyone that believeth” (Rom 10:4). The righteousness of God… WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God” [Matt. 5 as opposed to Exo 20] which is by the faith of Jesus Christ…” (Rom 3:21,22).
A good portion of this paper has demonstrated that the sermon on the Mount was a systematic refutation of the law of Moses. It was delivered to Christ’s disciples. “He went up into a mountain and when he was set, his disciples came unto him” (Mat 5:1). After demonstrating the inadequacies of the righteousness of the law, Christ makes this statement in the sermon on the Mount: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness” (Mat 6:33). His righteousness is throughout the New Testament contrasted with the law of Moses: “we who are Jews by nature know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:15-16). “For by the works of the law, shall NO flesh be justified” (vs 16). Peter was reminded of this fact by Paul, but he first learned it from Christ himself.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin, but now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested [in Christ]being witnessed by the law and the prophets” (Rom 3:20-21).
What Is “The Faith Of Jesus Christ?”
Eph 2:8 tells us “By grace are ye saved through faith and that (faith) not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Does this mean that since we are saved by grace through faith that therefore there is nothing for us to do, nor anything with which to concern ourselves? HARDLY!! Paul’s epistles are full of his concern for the spiritual well-being of both himself and those under his charge.
Paul considered it a real possibility that he himself could “fall from grace”. This is not to say he feared for his salvation at the end. His anxiety was that he and those to whom he preached might not attain to the “mark for the prize of the high calling…” It is the “high calling” for which we are encouraged to strive: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1Co 9:27). “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them [of the people of God] which fell severity; but toward thee goodness, IF YOU CONTINUE IN HIS GOODNESS: OTHERWISE YOU ALSO SHALL BE CUT OFF” (Rom 11:22)
Not “continuing in his goodness” was a real and present danger to Paul; one to be avoided by all means. What then is to keep us from “falling from grace”, from “continuing not in his goodness”, from becoming a “castaway”?
The answer is always the same; grace through faith. Both are active, vigorous, very much alive and hard at work. As has already been pointed out, Tit 2:11 and 12 tell us that grace “teaches” us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts”. The Greek word for ‘teaches’ is paideuo (Strong’s #3811) the same word translated ‘chasten’ in Heb 12:6: “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth”. This is the reason the “lake of fire” is called a lake of fire. It is through the mercy of God that all receive the grace [chastening] to be saved (Rom 11:30 and Heb 4:16). “Even so have these (unbelieving) also now not believed, that through your mercy (the mercy we have received) they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy on all” (Rom 11:31 and 32).
Who administers this chastening grace to “all in unbelief”? “[Those] who… dwell with the devouring [lake of] fire, [those] who… shall dwell with everlasting burnings. He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from the holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood and turneth his eyes from seeing evil” (Isa 33:14 and 15).
Grace, then, is active and hard at work and will be so right through the lake of fire which is the second death. So how about faith?: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). “In Christ” we live by the “faith of Christ” actively living his life in our flesh.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Php 1:6). None of this, of course, has anything to do with the physical descent of anyone. If physical lineage counts for anything more than dung, and if there is an “administration” in which these things play any part, “…faith is made void and the promise [to the fathers]made of none effect” (Rom 4:14). Justification is by and through “faith without the deeds of the law” for both Jews and Gentiles (Rom 3:28-30). “Therefore we conclude that a man [any man] is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also”(vs 28-29).
Where in all scripture is there even a hint of salvation by works for anyone, Jew or Gentile? If this were possible, then life would have been through the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and there would have been no need for a second tree, the tree of life. Salvation would have been by the law and not by grace through faith.
G. “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal 5:18). This scripture is preceded by the statement: “This I say then, walk in the spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that YE CANNOT do the things that ye would” (Gal 5:16,17).
Paul is not saying that the law makes anyone sin any more than guns make people kill people. What he is explaining is that keeping the law cannot be mixed with grace. Teaching that works save anyone (even Jews) is to say that the sacrifice of Christ wasn’t really necessary.
When Paul says “for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Rom 5:14), he is not saying that this sustains the law of Moses. When Christ fulfilled the sacrifices, which were typical of Him, they were not continued – they were ended! Yet the law in which they were found was established in that it had been proven true. THIS is what Paul means when he asks “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law” (Rom 3:31). Christ was speaking to Jews in Matt. 5 when he told them the sixth and seventh commandments were insufficient for life in the kingdom of God. Any scripture contrary to Matthew 5 is contrary to the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). This includes any and all of the Old Testament scriptures that happen to contradict the new covenant revealed in Matthew 5.
Law keeping with salvation in mind is as offensive to God as offering a sacrifice after the ultimate sacrifice has been made. It amounts to rejecting the sacrifice of Christ as insufficient for our sins; so is our obedience to the old covenant. In placing ourselves under it, we are saying ‘we don’t really need the “sermon on the mount, and there isn’t any real need for a new covenant. All we need is to keep the “spirit of the old covenant”‘.
Such thinking and teaching is a bastardization of the new covenant and of the sacrifice of Christ;… “by the deeds of the law there shall NO flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). “…A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…” (Gal 2:16).
What is the New Jerusalem?
What then do we do with all the old covenant scriptures declaring that yet future offerings will be sacrificed, holy days will be observed, and the nations will bring their wealth into Jerusalem? We now understand, in Christ, that the only offerings God now recognizes are our “bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 121). We understand that we now “keep the feast with [spiritual] unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1Co 5:8). We now understand that Christ is our Sabbath (Heb 4:3 and 10). Since all the feast days are sabbaths, (Lev 23), Christ has fulfilled them all.
It is interesting to note that the only holy day specifically mentioned as being required to be observed by “Egypt, and… all nations” (Zep 14:16-19) is the festival of Tabernacles.
Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, of course, are the latter harvest, the last of the ‘Jewish feasts’ as the Apostle John would word it (Joh 5:1; 6:4; 7:2).
Prophetically and eschatalogically Tabernacles typifies the final harvest of souls and as such is closely associated with the Great White Throne judgment. Rest assured “Egypt… and… all nations” will come up to Jerusalem to this final harvest of the souls of all men “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:22).
This prophecy in Zec 14:16-19 is simply old covenant language and typology of the fulfillment of 1Co 15:22.
Even Abraham was actually “looking for a city… whose builder and maker is God.” Physical Jerusalem doesn’t fit that bill.
The New Jerusalem is the “Jerusalem which is… free [from the bondage of the law] which is the mother of us all” (Gal 4:26). It is “the bride the lamb’s wife” (Rev 21:9).
It is widely believed that because New Jerusalem is mentioned after the revelation of the Great White Throne Judgment, that Christ therefore does not marry his bride until after “the thousand years are expired” (Rev 20:7).
Paul tells us in 2Co 11:2 that we are ‘espoused to one husband’. In Rom 7:4, he tells us “ye… are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be MARRIED to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead…”
The question now arises; are we married to Christ or are we to “be priests of God and of Christ, and… reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev 20:6) as brides-in-waiting? In Eph 5, he tells us what it takes to make a marriage work. He concludes: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (vs 32). Indeed we ARE “married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead” (Rom 7:4).
No doubt our relationship will be even more glorious after the thousand years, but it is also true that “the time is AT HAND” (Rev 1:3). New Jerusalem is Christ’s “new name”; “He that overcometh…I will write upon him…New Jerusalem…my new name” (Rev 3:12).
Being “in Christ”, New Jerusalem will automatically become our new name also because “as he is so are we in this world” (1Jn 4:17): “I will make them… which say they are Jews, and are not… to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Rev 3:9).
It is generally understood that the “woman” of Rev 12 is the true church. It is the true church which brings forth “the man child” (Rev 5:12). This explains why Paul says “Jerusalem… above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal 4:26). The “woman” who brings forth the man child is the church. In biblical language, the church that brings forth the man child is also the “body” of the man child.
The “Body” and the “Bride” are the Same
The inability to see double truth is one tool used to blind the Jews till this day: “…But some said, shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was” (Joh 7:41,42).
Christ was, of course, of both Bethlehem and Galilee, but the religious men of that day did not know this double truth and so they were blinded.
There is also a double truth concerning the body of Christ. While “we know that when He shall appear we shall be like him…” (1Jn 3:2), it is also true that “now are we the sons of God” (same verse). While we are indeed still “crucifying the flesh”, we are “now… the sons of God” (1Jn 3:2). God “hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6).
“The heavenly things themselves… (being purified) with better sacrifices than (the blood of bulls and goats)” (Heb 9:23) speaks of us. We are the heavenly things that have to be cleansed by a better sacrifice than the blood of animals. We wear Christ’s new name (Rev. 3:12); we are the “espoused virgin” (2Co 11:2); we are “as Isaac” (Gal 4:28); we are “the children of promise” (Gal 4:28); we are “the adoption” (Eph 1:5; Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15, 23); and we are “the circumcision” (Rom 2:27-29 and Php 3:3). We are married to Christ (Rom 7:4) and as such we are NOW the “bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev 21:9).
The ‘Body’ and the ‘Israel’ of God are the Same
Yes, we are also “the Israel of God” who “walk according to this rule” that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumsion but a new creature” (Gal 6:15, 16). As that “new creature” we were “in times past Gentiles… at that time aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise… but now, in Christ Jesus… he hath made both ONE… for to make in himself of twain [Israel and Gentiles] ONE new man… that he might reconcile BOTH unto God in ONE BODY by the cross… now… ye are no more strangers and foreigners [from the common-wealth of Israel] but fellow citizens [in the commonwealth of Israel]” (Eph 2:11-19).
We don’t want to belabor this scripture, but Paul is NOT saying: ‘If you choose to subscribe to my gospel, I would appreciate that, and besides you can avoid all those do’s and don’ts of the law of Moses. On the other hand, Peter and all the other apostles have an alternative gospel with alternative promises and blessings which I personally consider to be inferior to the blessings of my gospel which are heavenly blessings. The blessings of the other apostles with their gospel of the circumcision, are mere physical blessings. So there it is, you choose and Christ’s grace is sufficient to save you whichever you choose.’
That is NOT the point Paul is making. His point is “by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh [not even circumcised flesh] be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). “Therefore we conclude a man (any man and every man) is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28). Deeds of the law are not part of the equation for salvation. Our “free will” had nothing to do with our being “in Adam” and while we will choose to be “in Christ”, it will be because “the Father drags us”, not because of our “free will”.
Those “in Christ” are the “Israel of God” and are also the “bride of the lamb”, “the New Jerusalem”. “…Him that overcometh… I will write upon him… the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem” (Rev 3:12). “The seed of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein” (Psa 69:36).
The Rewards of the Gospel of the Circumcision
On the other hand, anyone who chooses the gospel of the circumcision is said to be returning to “bondage under the weak and beggarly elements of this world” (Gal 4:3, 9). They are the “children of the bondwoman” and instead of being given a choice as to which road to salvation they prefer, they are “cast out” and “not to be heir with the son of the freewoman” (Gal 4:30). These people “suffer loss” even though they themselves will be saved. This is not a guarantee of being in the first resurrection. Our salvation is secure apart from works, but not so our reward: we “run to receive the prize” (1Co 9:24) and we will receive “every man according to his deeds” (Rom 2:6).
This business of being “under the law” is far more serious than a simple matter of preference. Returning back to keeping the law is equated by Paul with “bearing thorns and briars and is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Heb 6:8). What is at stake is “the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus” (Php 3:14). What is at stake is the “blessed and holy” prize of being in the first resurrection and avoiding the “burning” of the lake of fire (Rev 20:6).
We now come to the final phrase used in Hebrews in relation to this matter of the law and the covenants.
“…He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Heb 10:9). The first part of this verse is “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” It is followed by “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (vs 10).
Here once again scripture declares we are sanctified by the will of God and not our own will, but our focus here is “he taketh away the first that he may establish the second.”
What exactly is taken away? The answer is universally understood to be the old covenant which is “taken away” and replaced by the new covenant.
The depth and scope of the differences in these covenants is not universally understood. On the contrary, it seems that few indeed are willing to believe the plain and straight forward scriptures detailing the meaning of this phrase “he taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”
The many other examples which are listed under the heading “The New Covenant is not a Modification of the Old Covenant” demonstrate the truth of Paul’s statement “…we are the circumcision, which worship God in spirit… and have no confidence in the flesh” (Php 3:3).
The flesh has been taken completely out of the equation for salvation. In reality, it has never been anything more than a necessary evil to bring us to Christ in the spirit. “…though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2Co 5:16).
In Rom 3:31, Paul asks the question, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” This whole paper has established that only for those in Christ the law of Moses is “made void”, “done away” and “abolished”; all forms in the King James translation of the same Greek word katargeo.
The law itself is established by this fact. The understanding of Rom 3:31 is to be found ten verses earlier in verse 21: “But now the righteousness of God without the law [of Moses, “for the lawless” – 1Ti 1:9] is manifested, being witnessed by the law [of Moses] and the prophets.”
Had the law, the old covenant, “the ministration of death written and engraven in stones” not been “done away” for those in Christ, the law would have proven itself a false prophet. Now, only for those in Christ, it is “abolished” (Eph 2:15) and replaced by a much higher, much more honorable and spiritual law. “The Lord is well pleased for HIS righteousness’ sake; he [Christ] will magnify the law and make it honorable” (Isa 42:21). If it were already honorable, he wouldn’t need to do that, would he? If, on the other hand, it were a carnal commandment (Heb 7:16) used “lawfully” only for “the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:8-9), then a new law along the lines of Matthew 5 would be in order.
You do not “magnify” a house during construction and expect the contractor to eat the difference in cost. A new contract must be drawn up to deal with the changes. Neither do you move from the “carnal”, “lawless” and “disobedient” to the spiritual without a completely new covenant with a “change also of the law”.
Thus, the law is “established” and proven a true “witness”. So long as there is flesh on this earth, the law will be “established” for that “lawless and disobedient” flesh, to show the flesh its naked condition and make it aware of its decaying earthy composition. Generation by generation “the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ” and generation by generation “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster”. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that EVERY MOUTH may be stopped and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19).
The law of Moses is equated by Paul to the elements of the world (Gal 4:3). Notice I said ‘equated’. Not all law is the law of Moses, but all law is equated with the law of Moses as far as scripture is concerned (Gal 3:22-23 – “But the scripture hath concluded all [all Jews and Gentiles] under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were [all] kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed”, Gal 4:1 – “Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child [Greek – nepios – infant-under the schoolmaster, tutors and governors, under the law #3516]), differeth nothing from a servant [slave to sin], though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” The ministration of death is katargeo and we, in Christ only, are “free from the law of sin and death” (the ministration of death) (Rom 8:2).
It is hoped that this article will help someone, somewhere to take his eyes off the things of the flesh. Yes, Christ was born in the flesh and yes, he died on the cross for our sins, and yes, God “made him sin for us, who (Christ) knew no sin” (2Co 5:21). These were but necessary evils. “Yet now henceforth know we him no more in the flesh.” We have all been born in the flesh, and we will all die in the flesh, but it is far more edifying and encouraging to know that “NOW are we the sons of God and… we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1Jn 3:2). As we see him we “are changed into the same image from glory to glory… by the spirit of the Lord” (2Co 3:18). So while we have demonstrated the inadequacies of the law in this essay, we conclude with this reminder for any who might attempt to turn God’s disciplinary, chastening grace into lasciviousness: If we truly see him as he is, every man purifieth himself even as he is pure” (1Jn 3:3).
What we have pointed out, in effect, is the sovereignty of God in all things. “That they may know… that there is none beside me. I am the Lord and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isa 45:6,7). Yes, it was God who created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was God himself, who placed that tree right in the middle of the garden. While He had told Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, this was done only because “the Lord… sought an occasion against” Adam (Jdg 14:1-4). God had already determined that Adam would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and would come to see his naked, decaying, earthy condition, and be brought by the law to see his need for a Savior. “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship… the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8).
In God’s all knowing mind, Christ was slain as the sacrifice for the sins of the world before Adam was ever created. This gives the lie to the teaching that ‘God could know what choices you will make, but he chooses not to know.’ No, God chose to know all things because “all things are of God”. “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things…” (1Co 8:6).
Has God chosen to know the number of the hairs of your head, but not to know what you are going to do with your life? Hardly. We are plainly informed that God reveals himself to some and deliberately blinds others. “…the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded… God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear” (Rom 11:7, 8).
So what does understanding the total sovereignty of God have to do with a proper understanding of the function of the law? It has everything to do with it, because it is through the law, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that God has decreed that all the world becomes guilty before Him. “What things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom 3:19). “Wherefore then serveth the law?
It was added [to the law of God] because of transgressions [of the law of God], til the seed should come to whom the promise was made… the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we (all of us) were kept under the law… Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ… But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:19-25).
God does not change (Mal 3:6). Christ came to reveal the Father (Mat 11:27 and Luk 10:22). This He accomplished through His sacrificial life which revealed for the first time in the history of mankind the “new covenant”. The new covenant “show[s] the work of the law [of God, not Moses] written in their hearts” (Rom 2:15). Under this new covenant Christ reveals to us the Father: “I delight in the LAW of GOD after the inward man” (Rom 7:22). “…The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the LAW OF GOD neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7, 8). The LAW OF GOD the “least commandments” Christ revealed in Mat 5 to 7 are the “LAW OF THE SPIRIT” (Rom 8:2). This is the true unchangeable character of God: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS shall not pass away” (Mat 24:35).
The law of Moses, on the other hand, is only “good, if a man use it lawfully… [meaning that we know that this law of Moses, written and engraven in stones, this ministration of death] …is not made for a righteous man [the man who is not carnally minded and delights in the LAW OF GOD, the new covenant, after the inward man] but [the law of Moses is] for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:8, 9).
Understanding that the law was added to the law of God because of transgressions of the law of God helps us to see that the “lawful use of the law truly is not for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Ti 1:8,9).
This should help us to appreciate, yes, appreciate, the function of Mystery Babylon the mother of harlots and of abominations of the earth. Mystery Babylon is not the Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist religions. Mystery Babylon is “that great city… where also our Lord was crucified” (Rev 11:8). Mystery Babylon is Christendom still under the law, still under tutors and governors, still looking to men to tell them what God says just as Israel did at Mount Sinai. “And they said unto Moses, speak you with us and we will hear: but let not God speak with us lest we die” (Exo 20:19). Until we are willing to die, to be “crucified with Christ”, we will be under the law, “shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal 3:23). That is the function of Mystery Babylon, to keep us under the law, no better than a slave to sin, under tutors and governors, under the elements of this world (Gal 4:1-3). Mystery Babylon claims to be Christian. She deals in “gold, and silver and precious stones… and souls of men” (Rev 18:12,13).
“Gold, silver and precious stones” which can under the right circumstances endure the fire (1Co 3:12,13), are good works and good doctrines. If we fail to see and acknowledge the sovereignty of God in “all things”, our righteousness (our “gold, silver and precious stones”) becomes as “filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isa 64:6). Mystery Babylon is full of “good works” and it is these “good works” that provide the “strong delusion” which “God shall send” to those who “received not the love of the truth… That they all might be damned who believe not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2Th 2:10-12).
This “unrighteousness” is not blatant. It is so subtle, it is called “strong delusion”. It will all be accomplished through the law, “and when the woman [Mystery Babylon the mother of harlots] saw that the tree [the law] was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes [an outward display of righteousness] and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen 3:6).
The woman giving the law, the ministration of death, to her husband is the slovenly tendency of most “sons of God” to allow the church, “princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown” (Num 16:2) to tell them what to do instead of having a personal relationship with God through personal knowledge of his word. These are those who have not come out of Babylon. Their obedience is not based on love, but on outward signs like Sabbath (or Sunday) observance. They “observe days and months and times and years” (Gal 4:10). Thus they testify against themselves that they have not yet entered into rest. “For we which have believed do enter into rest…” (Heb 4:3). These are those who call Israel according to the flesh God’s chosen people. God, of course, has said they are his “broken off people” (Rom 11:17-20) and “will not be heir with the son of the freewoman” (Gal 4:30). Thus, they testify against themselves that they are not the sons of the freewoman but are still “under the law” (Gal 4:21).
Thus Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots is serving God’s purpose. She is raising up “false christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, she shall deceive the very elect” (Mat 24:24). It will all be accomplished through “the law”, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In so doing, Mystery Babylon will, in spite of herself, be used as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. She will keep us under tutors and governors; no more than a slave to sin, “until the time appointed of the Father” (Gal 4:1-2).
You “by the letter… doest transgress the law” (Rom 2:27). “The letter”, the law of Moses, is obviously not the law of the spirit of God, but is rather a type and shadow of God’s spiritual law. If we insist upon returning to the law, we “crucify the son of God afresh and put him to an open shame” (Heb 6:6). “…Strong meat belongeth to them that are full of age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:14). Yes, God intended all along that we should become like Him to know good and evil. Remember it was “to those… which believed on Him” that he said “I know ye are Abraham’s seed, but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you” (Joh 8:31-37). It is indeed “strong meat” to come to understand that both the good and the evil are of God, and that it is through this tree, whose fruit is death, that we are brought to life, and sin and death are destroyed. “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him through [NOT FROM] death, and was heard in that he feared” (Heb 5:6). “For of him and through him and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever, Amen” (Rom 11:36).
How could anyone say or even suggest that we should not, as mature Christians, post the Ten Commandments in our churches and in our schools and in our public buildings and instruct all to live by this Biblical code of conduct? If everyone, everywhere, made a conscious effort to keep and live by the Ten Commandments, would not most of the problems of our land disappear as a result? Would God not then bless us as a nation and make us a blessing to all nations? Are the Ten Commandments the solution to all immorality and sin? The answer to all of these questions is “NO”! It’s been tried before, and it has failed every time.
Ancient Israel said and thought that they could live perfect lives by keeping God’s Ten Commandments. They failed miserably. The Pharisees thought that they could become righteous in the eyes of God by keeping the law and the Ten Commandments. Jesus said that they will NOT be in the Kingdom of God. Modern Ireland, divided by Protestantism and Catholicism, are slaughtering each other under this same system. Peter said it all when he called this law a YOKE “which neither our fathers NOR WE were able to bear” (Act 15:10). But there is something better.
In Heb 7:16 we are told that the commandment that established the Levitical priesthood and all that they represented and taught (including the ten commandments), was “carnal”. Even the most holy and solemn day of the entire year, when the high priest entered the holy place to sprinkle blood for all the sins of Israel, these ordinances are called “carnal”. And we are told in no uncertain terms by the apostle Paul that, “To be ‘carnally minded’ is DEATH…” (Rom 8:6). The laws were carnal; the priests were carnal; the people were carnal; and the result has always been, is now, and always will be, DEATH! “The law [of Moses] is NOT MADE FOR A RIGHTEOUS MAN, but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Ti 1:9). The law of Moses is not made for a righteous man!! There is something better.
Do not confuse the Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant with the Law of God of the New Covenant. When will we finally come to believe that there really is a NEW Covenant with NEW laws, and that it is NOT fashioned after the OLD Covenant? This “New” Covenant is “not in accord” (Heb 8:9) with the Old Covenant, and the Old Covenant WAS “…even TEN COMMANDMENTS” (Deu 4:13) written upon two tables of stone. But this “New Covenant” does have laws. Oh, yes it does! Heb 8:10 – “Imparting my LAWS… on their HEARTS…” The Ten Commandments were written on stones, not on hearts. The laws of the New Covenant are (1) NOT IN ACCORD with the laws of the Old Covenant, (2) Different from the old law from which we “died” and now are “exempted” (Rom 7:4 and 6), (3) Spiritual laws (Rom 7:14) and (4) they are written “ON THEIR [AND OUR] HEARTS” (Heb 8:10).
Let me give you just one (there are dozens) simple little scriptural truth to prove once and for all that the Spiritual laws of God are NOT the Ten Commandments. Anything spiritual or spirit is ETERNAL. God’s spiritual laws ARE eternal. The Ten Commandments are temporal, “taken away”, “done away”, not to continue. The fourth commandment: “six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work…” (Exo 20:9). Is anyone so ignorant as to suggest that we will work six days out of every seven for the rest of eternity?
We are told that along with the change in the priesthood, there was also a necessity for a change in the law. There is no such thing as spiritually keeping a carnal law. Jesus wears a NEW garment and a new priestly robe. NOT according to that of Levi, but according to that of Melchizedek. Under the New Covenant we have a NEW priesthood, a NEW High Priest and NEW laws. NONE of them are reworkings or modifications of the old – they are NEW. They are the true High Priest and the true spiritual laws of God, not just the shadow. The physical priesthood and carnal laws of Israel were but a far inferior type of the spiritual and the heavenly realities that we have in Christ Jesus. They are all NEW, they are all SPIRITUAL, and they are all far, far SUPERIOR – giving LIFE, and not death.
Those who are now being regenerated and recreated into the very SONS OF GOD, becoming a NEW CREATION, are fully aware of the need for laws – spiritual LAWS. And God has provided them for us: the Law of God, the Law of Christ, the Law of the Spirit, the Law of faith, the Law of righteousness, the Law of liberty and the Law of life. All these must be in our minds and in our hearts, or we are “none of His.” Thank God that we are free from works of the carnal law, but we are anything but free from the works of God’s spiritual laws. In fact, it is through “good works” that we are, “His achievement” (Eph 2:10).
Avoid the proverbial swing of the pendulum, and submit yourself to the perfect balance of God. We are not here to become righteous through works of the Old Testament Laws, thinking we have a free will that is able to do right if God will but give us a little encouragement. Not true. Neither are we here to sit back and do nothing, thinking there are no laws and that there is nothing we must do. God’s goal in process is to SAVE THE UNIVERSE. And what is so amazing is that He proposes to do it THROUGH US – the body of Christ. Now if any should think that the highest offices and the highest calling in the universe requires NO TRAINING, think again. Time and again Jesus has said, “TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH…” Overcome what? The WORLD and OURSELVES! This is NEW Covenant teaching. No one under the Old Covenant had to overcome the world and overcome themselves. But then again, the only promises they could receive were physical, temporary, blessing of the land.
We must overcome “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”. That’s all. That’s a lot! In fact, that’s “ALL that is in the world” (1Jn 2:16). But Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD” (Joh 16:33). We must do likewise, “For whosoever is born of God OVERCOMETH THE WORLD…” (1Jn 5:4). And what is our reward for overcoming the world? Is it physical, temporary blessing of plenty of food, good health and protection from our enemies? Hardly.
Here are the ultimate goals and promises according to the New Covenant: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life…” (Rev 2:7). “To him that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (vs 26). “To him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God” (Rev 3:12). “He that overcometh shall inherit ALL THINGS; and I will be HIS GOD, and he shall be MY SON” (Rev 21:7).