Old Doxoblogy

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wrongly Dividing The Law Of Moses

Let me make one thing clear before I begin. I do not have a problem with dividing the Law into three parts (civil, ceremonial, and moral) in order to understand the Law as a whole. The problem that I find is this, there are those who would divide the Law of Moses, which has all been fulfilled in and by Christ, and impose one part of it, the 'Moralia', upon Christians.

Now this seems innocent enough, but is it what the New Testament teaches us to do? Is there anywhere in the New Testament that instructs us to look to the Mosaic Law for instruction in righteousness? The answer is a resounding "NO!!!" In fact, just the opposite is instructed of Christians.
I sort of hate to keep going back to Galatians 3, but I think Paul says it so clearly there. Following Paul's course of argument through the whole chapter, first, he says that the law cannot produce the Spirit in us.
Second, the flesh working to obey the Law cannot perfect us.
Third, the ongoing presence of the Spirit is not given by the Law.
Fourth, Abraham was counted righteous apart from the Law.
Fifth, those who have faith are Abraham's true children, not those who are bound by the Law.
Sixth, everyone who does not do everything contained in the Law is under a curse.
Seventh, the Law is not of faith, but of works.
Eighth, Christ delivered us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us.
Ninth, in Christ we have fulfilled the requirements of the Law and the blessing of Abraham have been given to us.
Tenth, Christ Himself is the true seed of Abraham to which the promises were made.
Eleventh, the Law does not annul or add to the covenant of promise that God gave to Abraham and his seed, Christ.
Twelfth, the blessing of Abraham is not obtained by Law, but by promise.
thirteenth, the law was a temporary covenant made with Abraham's temporal seed which had two functions;
1. To increase transgressions.
2. To restrain or hinder sin until the beneficiary (Christ) of the promise should arrive.
Fourteenth, the Law is not opposed to the promise, but is the means by which we are all united under sin, so that we might be united with the One who would deliver us from that sin through faith, and so inherit the promise in Christ.
Ffiteenth, the Law was the guardian appointed by God to keep us until faith had been revealed.
Sixteenth, now that faith has been revealed,we are no longer under that guardian (Law).
seventeenth, we are united with Christ and made sons of God by that union.
And finally, since we are united with Christ who is the rightful heir of the promises, then we are rightful heirs of the promises.

If you will notice, Paul does not make any divisions in the Law in the whole course of his argument. Instead, he later tells the Galatians,
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:1-4)
The yoke of slavery that Paul refers to is the Law. These words of Paul come on the heels of his allegorization of the children of Sarah and Hagar. Hagar (Mt. Sinai, Law), bears children for slavery. Paul uses this allegory not as a space filler, but to teach us something about the type of people the Law produces. The Law produces slaves.
Paul tells us not to submit to that Law. Which parts should we not submit to? "I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law." None of it. Paul still hasn't divided the Law into categories for the Galatians. He is driving this point into their heads, "You can't be saved, justified, sanctified, or glorified by the Law. If you try to add the Law back into the mix then you have abandoned grace and have been cut away from Christ." (My summary of the book of Galatians.)
Does this mean that Paul leaves the Galatians without a Law? No. But he gives them a different standard than the Mosaic Law. He gives them the Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is a Law that has been written upon our hearts as was promised by the prophets to be the mark of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). It is a Law that the Spirit causes us to live by. It is the Spirit Himself living and working in us.

Concerning the outward verbalization of this Law, Paul says it is fulfilled in the words, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5:14). Concerning the inward reality of this law, it is produced by the Spirit through the the various fruit listed in 5:22-23. There is no Law that will condemn such actions that are produced by the fruit of the Spirit in us. This is why Paul can so vehemently oppose the Mosaic code in its entirety. He knows that the Old Covenant has only ever produced slaves, but the New Covenant that was purchased by Christ produces those who have the Law, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of their hearts.
The Law of the New Covenant has done what the Law of the Old Covenant could not do. It has gone deeper than condemning our actions and dealt with the issues of our desires by actually implanting itself within us. It has produced a nature that willingly and lovingly obeys God's eternal and unchanging laws.

5 comments:

bluecollar said...

Yes!

Excellent!

Right-on!

Warning: DON'T EVER GET TIRED OF RESORTING TO GALATIANS 3!!!!!

Jeremy, a fine post!

Amen!
Mark

Peter D. Nelson said...

Well Jeremy I'm trying to read this as dispassionately as possible so I don't think that your yelling at me. :)

However, I think some of this is from my posting of Spurgeon's Perpituity of the Law which I am thinking you disagree with. Now the question is do I answer you here or on my blog, I'm think best my blog so that I'm not constrained.

Hope your having as much fun as I am.

Pete

Jeremy Weaver said...

Mark,
I need to get you some pom-poms and let you cheer me on in style!
I'm waiting for you to join in here.

Peter,
I'M NOT YELLING...oops! Sorry.

Actually you posted three super long posts that I didn't really have time to go through point by point, so I decided to just go at it from a 'scattergun' approach and hopefully hit everything that needed to be hit.

It's always fun when you play with guns!

bluecollar said...

I view the entire new testament as the law of Christ. The beatitudes are a description of a Christian. As we look into His word the Holy Spirit transforms us into His image.

bluecollar said...

If you got me some pom - poms I'd be the biggest, the badest, and the ugliest cheerleader of all time.