Introduction To The Blurred Line
I don’t know how many Christians today really are concerned with questions of “The Law” and Grace. It probably depends on how much Bible teaching you’ve heard or the degree to which your life is moving in a place of peace and prosperity with God or is just marginally hanging on to some modicum of hope that life will get better someday.
I have observed that there are many who do not understand the gift of Grace and what it means to their lives and the principles (not the letter) of the Law that should govern their behavior. This is particularly unknown by those who are quick to dismiss the Bible as irrelevant today.
The Law of Moses with its sacrifices and ordinances being directly tied to Tabernacle/Temple worship was never intended to be the final word on salvation. It was intended to reveal to man his inadequacy to perfectly fulfill it. Therefore, every year they had to continually make sacrifices for their sins.
When Jesus came into the world He was the only One who could and did completely fulfill all the Law. And being perfect, without sin, He made himself the ultimate and final sacrifice, fulfilling the penalty of sin for all humankind for all time. In Him the Law is abolished as a means of atonement for sin.
Now salvation is only found in Jesus Christ as a free gift of Grace to everyone who will believe. There is no more work of salvation to be done—no more animal sacrifices, no more blood of bulls and goats, of rituals of cleansing and purification, no more ordinances of sackcloth and ashes, no more works of sacrifice and denial, no more demands to observe days and times in order to be worthy of righteousness. All the works of the Law are done, fulfilled and completed in Jesus. It is finished! “Tatelestai!” (τετέλεσται) Jesus cried out from the cross. Then He gave up His Spirit and died.
With that act of ultimate Love, all the Law was fulfilled and every ordinance in it that found us guilty was abolished once and for all time.
What then is the purpose of the Law today for us who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?
First, it is important to know that not all of the Old Testament is the Old Law. Much of it, such as the Psalms, Proverbs and the Prophets, the Chronicles and Kings, are instructional, historical and prophetic, much of it are songs of worship and praise and most of it are the immutable everlasting promises of God.
The parts of the Old Testament Scriptures that contain the Law (The Pentateuch = the First five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) also point to the coming Messiah, the Redeemer of the world and to the blessings of God on the seed of Abraham.
That is a profound message to every Christian. The Old Testament is essential to the New Testament believer’s understanding of the origin of things and to understanding the message of the grace of Jesus Christ.
If we, who are saved by grace, do not understand what we have been saved from we are subject to mindlessly or even deliberately embracing behaviors and ideas that are offensive and in direct opposition to God.
The functions associated with the Law are completed but the wisdom of the Law is still viable and every believer is subject to live in accordance with its spirit.
“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4
Alone, the Old Law condemns every living person to death because of sin, and only a few received a testimony of righteousness because of their faith. (See Hebrews 11) And even they all died not receiving the fulfillment of the promise because Jesus, the Messiah had not yet come.
But, when He came He brought the spirit of the Law with Him and preached it everywhere He went. He quoted the Scriptures and made reference to those that spoke of Him. He preached about tithing and fasting, about abstaining from sin and the rule of Love over the Law of sin and death. He spoke about sacrifices and circumcision, about the priesthood and those who were given stewardship of the Law for the sake of the world, but failed to fulfill their calling, the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus, a priest after the order of Melchisedec, [Hebrews 5:6] lived by and under the authority of the Law and despite or maybe because of that Law He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38
Now here is the message for us to consider well over the next few days. We are called to follow the steps of Jesus.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…” 1 Peter 2:21