My second most popular post has consistently been about the grace of God (second to my interview with Chris LoCurto). I also wrote a follow-up post. Here they are:
I’ve been meaning to write some more about this, but I kept putting it off. But, I had a discussion with a guy at work last night about the Law of Moses (Old Testament) and grace (New Testament). He had several questions about it, and I was able to help him understand the relationship between the two better. I hope this helps you, too.
What is the Law?
God used Moses to stand up to Pharaoh, lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and write down the Law. Many think of the 10 Commandments, but the Law encompasses all of the commandments that God gave. My teammate had the understanding that the Law was done away with now because we are under grace, not under the law. This may sound logical, but it’s not completely true.
The verse he showed me to prove his point was Romans 10:4 – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” He saw “the end of the law” and thought it meant that the Law came to an end. What the verse is saying, however, is that Jesus fulfilled, or completed, the Law. Everything in the Old Testament was pointing toward Christ, but was incomplete – until Jesus came and completed it.
The Law can be divided into three parts:
- The Ceremonial Laws (Sacrifices)
- The Moral Laws
- The Social and Civil Laws
In the Old Testament, the Jews were required to perform many sacrifices. Sometimes it was a celebration of thanksgiving. Sometimes it was in prayer and petition. But many times the sacrifices were to atone for sin (or try to do this). These sacrifices, though, were imperfect. They didn’t last – so they had to keep performing the sacrifices over and over.
When Christ came and fulfilled the law, these sacrifices were done away with. His sacrifice on the cross was the perfect sacrifice. There was no need for any other sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10-11). The sacrificial part of the Law was completed with no need to go back to them.
The Moral Law includes the 10 Commandments, as well as the other commands of how we should act and treat others. This part of the Law still applies today. Yes, the verse is still true that Christ fulfilled the Law. When it comes to the Moral Law, Christ fulfilled it in the sense of proving that it can be done. We can do it with His help, unlike what many tried to do in the Old Testament by doing it on their own.
Social and Civil Law
These last laws cover things like cleanliness, their legal system, etc. These are not directly related to moral or ceremonial things, but in the way people should live day to day.
The Law and Grace
So how does this fit with us today? The ceremonial laws and sacrifices have been done away with (Christ provided that “once for all” sacrifice). The social and civil laws act as a perfect guide for us. The moral laws are still true and valid for today – there’s many examples throughout the New Testament where the moral laws were re-enforced (thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc).
In fact, the New Testament is stricter in some ways than the Old Testament law (look at Jesus example during the Sermon on the Mount of calling hate the same thing as murder and thinking about a woman the same as adultery). The Law focuses on the outward actions. It has no direct connection with the inside of a person (their soul and spirit). In the New Testament, Christ emphasizes that it is what is inside that is most important, and that what is inside will come out.
Living under grace means that, after we receive Christ as our Savior, we are no longer bound to sin and the Law. We have liberty in Christ. But, we are warned in Galatians 5 to be careful of how we use our liberty. He says that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we should do something.
We live under grace, but we should still follow the principles laid out in the Law. Doing this will bring a peace to our soul, blessings from God, and enrich the relationships with those around us.
Do you have any thoughts on this?