The Old Covenant Mosaic Law in the Old Testament Part 4
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. NASB
Revering and Loving the Law
We have seen that the Old Covenant Mosaic Law has been fulfilled in Christ and replaced by the New Covenant. The Old Covenant has fulfilled its place in the history of redemption and has laid the necessary groundwork for the Messiah to come and bring in the New Covenant age of Messianic Salvation. Moreover, we have acknowledged that the Law continues to fulfill some very important roles for us as a curb, mirror, and guide (pgs 12-13). Now in acknowledging these roles of the Law for us, let us understand and affirm that the Old Covenant Law is in fact the very words of God, along with all of the Old Testament, and it holds the highest place of reverence for us along with all of the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. We are not to think that the Old Testament has somehow been relegated to a lesser place in our hearts and minds, but does in fact hold the highest place of reverence as it is in fact God’s very words, and a clear declaration for us of His character and nature, as well as a solid guide into His will and His ways and His plans for redemptive history. We simply must understand how to read and apply the Law, in light of the fact that the Messiah has come and fulfilled it and given much instruction, along with the Apostles, on how to rightly understand, interpret and apply it. This we are going to learn in further detail as we begin to look at the New Testament passages that deal with the Law in the coming weeks. But let us understand that the Law should uphold and support in our hearts as a mighty foundation, the very throne of the great King Jesus, and as such, should be the object of much of our attention and affection. It should serve as a bright and shining light in showing and teaching us about our holy God and His ways. Let us use it therefore, for the things that God intended it for. If the Law makes us conscious of sin, then let it therefore do its work. As we read it and meditate on it, let it make our sin manifest to us and convict us. Let it be that schoolmaster that continually reminds us of our great need for Christ.
Romans 3:20 – 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. NASB
Galatians 3:24 – 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. NASB
Of course the great good news is, as we read the Law and learn again of our sin, we rejoice in the greatness of the salvation of God in Christ which has delivered us from the terror of the Law and made us sons and daughters in God’s family, forgiven and blessed forever. The Law then motivates greater faith and gratitude, as we see its holy terrors and realize even more how blessed we are to be forgiven and adopted! We can then learn to love the Law, and the conviction it brings, as it will do its work in teaching who God is and in learning his ways. It should occupy, along with the prophets much of our love and affection. We can learn to delight in the conviction it brings, and even long to be conformed to its holy standard, even as our precious Lord was perfectly conformed to it.
Psalm 1:2 – 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. NASB
The Law’s own testimony is that it is perfect and sure, giving wisdom and restoring the soul. Its precepts are right and bring joy even as its commandments are pure and give light to the eyes. It is clean and enduring, and its judgments are true and altogether righteous. Yes the Law is sweeter than honey and more desirable than fine gold.
Psalm 19:7-10 – 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. NASB
It is not that the Law is able to save sinners, only Jesus can do that. But it surely can enlighten us and teach us about our glorious God and impart His wisdom and knowledge to us. This is what we love about the Law. We love how it shows us the holiness of God. We love the way it convicts us as if to drive the sin out of our hearts and minds as we learn what pleases and displeases our God and Father. We treasure the Law for these reasons and we therefore allow it to work its God intended good work in us!
Psalm 119:1-12 – 119 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. 3 They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways. 4 Thou hast ordained Thy precepts, That we should keep them diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be established To keep Thy statutes! 6 Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Thy commandments. 7 I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn Thy righteous judgments. 8 I shall keep Thy statutes; Do not forsake me utterly! 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. 10 With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. 11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee. 12 Blessed art Thou, O Lord; Teach me Thy statutes. NASB
The Lutheran Formula of Concord is absolutely right in when it says, “We believe, teach, and confess that the preaching of the Law is to be urged with diligence, not only upon the unbelieving and impenitent, but also upon true believers, who are truly converted, regenerate, and justified by faith” (Epitome 6.2). Preachers must preach the Law without embarrassment. Parents must insist on obedience to its moral aspects without shame. The Law can, and should, be urged upon true believers—not to condemn, but to correct and promote Christlikeness. Both the indicatives of Scripture and the imperatives are from God, for our good, and given in grace. You see then that there is much profit even for us born again New Covenant believers in reading and studying and preaching the Law. The Belgic Confession says about the law, “we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to his will” (Art. 25) This is why Paul says…
Romans 3:31 – 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. NASB
Through the moral aspects of the Law, we establish the goodness of God and the holiness of God in our hearts and minds so that we may learn of our shortcomings and sin, acknowledge the goodness of God and seek to conform to it. As we see God’s goodness, we long to be like Him as the Spirit creates this godly desire in us. As we see our sin, we loathe and hate it and long to put it off. But this leads us to deeper faith in Christ as we realize our utter inability to conform to it and therefore run for refuge to our Savior, who has covered and washed and atoned for all of our failures. We therefore rejoice in the great salvation that Christ is for us and this cycle sanctifies us in greater and greater measure as the Spirit slowly but surely changes us from glory to glory. This is exactly how Paul reasons in Romans 7 and 2 Corinthians 3.
Romans 7:12 – 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:14 -18 – 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. NASB
Romans 7:22-25 – 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. NASB
2 Corinthians 3:18 – 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. NASB
It is important to make a distinction here between the moral and the ceremonial/civil aspects of the Law. When we speak about preaching the Law, we are speaking about bringing the moral aspects of the Law to bear upon the hearer’s conscience. We are talking about our conformity to the character and nature of God which is made manifest in the moral aspects of then Law. This is not to say that the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Law do not have any place in preaching or teaching us, surely they do. But they are not a system of legal obedience as a requirement to somehow please God. In the New Covenant age the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Law simply give us an understanding of the nature of God and the nature of the worship of God as it was expressed through the Old Covenant with Israel. But now something far greater has come in the person and work of Jesus that has fulfilled the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Law. This is the main point in the New Testament book of Hebrews chapters 1-10.
Therefore let us see that the Law surely does have a place in the life of a New Testament Christian. This is especially true of the moral aspects of the Law as a matter of obedience and pleasing God in response to the great salvation and forgiveness of sins that He has provided for us in Christ. Not only this, but even the New Testament is filled with imperatives that command us to behave in certain ways and to do certain things, all consistent with the Law of God. It also forbids us from doing many things.
Ephesians 4:25-32 – 25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. NASB
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 – 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. NASB
1 Peter 2:13-17 – 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. NASB
The Law then does have its place in our Christian Faith. But it should never be set forth as a system of legal achievement in order to be saved, but rather a grateful response to the salvation that God gives as a free gift in Christ. Salvation comes by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law, as a free gift from God, by His free grace, because of the merits of Christ.
Romans 3:21-24 – 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; NASB
Romans 3:28 – 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. NASB
Galatians 2:16 – 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. NASB
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