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In Defense of the Law of God, Part 2

by Jeff Wehr

TRAGICALLY, men in the pulpit actually oppose the law of God. Some of them teach that the law was only for the Jews. If that were true, then the rest of humanity, both the just and the unjust Gentile, are free from the binding claims of the law. Could you imagine living in a neighborhood where there were no restraints against murder, theft, adultery, false witness, idolatry, and swearing? Would you like to raise your family there?

Actually, what these ministers mean is that you need to obey only nine of the Ten Commandments. They contend that Christians do not need to keep the fourth commandment, the seventh-day Sabbath, holy. Only the Jews need to keep it.

They claim that Jesus gave a new law to Christians. It is the same as nine-tenths of the old law, but somehow the one-tenth omitted in the new law makes it Christian, not Jewish!

The following questions must be asked: When did Jesus give His church this new law? Where did He announce it? To whom did He announce it? How many precepts does this new law contain? And what is the penalty for transgressing it?

Can we find this new law in the gospels or the epistles of Paul? Did Jesus tell it to His disciples in secret or to a vast multitude in public? Did He announce it before or after the cross? Are there nine commandments or twelve commandments? Does this law pertain only to Christians? If there is indeed a new law, these should be very easy questions to answer.

The truth of the matter is that there is no new law and the New Testament is completely silent upon such questions.

Some teach that the Sabbath is not to be found in the New Testament, whereas the other nine commandments are clearly repeated and reaffirmed as part of God's law. However, this is not true. Neither the first, second, third, fourth, nor tenth commandment are anywhere repeated word for word in the New Testament as they are in the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20:3-17.

The other five commandments are quoted word for word in the New Testament in the following passages: Matthew 5:21-27; 15:4; 19:18-19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 7:7; 13:9; Ephesians 6:2-3; James 2:11.

In Matthew 19:18-19, Jesus quoted the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments when answering the rich young ruler. Was Jesus reinstating these commandments as if they had been abolished by His death on the cross? It is quite obvious that Jesus was not reinstating abolished commandments, because He had not yet been crucified. Jesus was simply quoting from the law itself, which had not changed.

If, of course, the Sabbath is no longer binding because it is not quoted word for word in the New Testament, then in order to be consistent we would have to say that the first three commandments are abolished also.

It is most interesting that the Sabbath commandment is actually mentioned more often than any of the other commandments in the New Testament. It is referred to no less than fifty-nine times, but never is the Sabbath said to be abolished or changed to Sunday.

If men teach that Christ gave the church a different day for worship, then where in the Bible is it mentioned? Where does it say that the seventh-day Sabbath is part of the old law, and Sunday is part of a new law?

The fact of the matter is that there is no new law. The Ten Commandments are the same as when God first wrote them with His own finger.

Even the words of the gospel writers when recording the events surrounding Christ's crucifixion, refer to the seventh-day as the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath is said to be part of the commandments at the time of Christ's death on the cross. The gospel writers record the following, "This man [Joseph of Arimathaea] went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day [Friday] was the preparation, and the sabbath [Friday night to Saturday night] drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." Luke 23:52-56. "In the end of the sabbath [sunset Saturday], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week [Sunday],came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." Matthew 28:1. All emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted.

We Are No Longer "Under the Law"

Others argue against the law of God by saying that we are "not under the law, but under grace." Therefore, we are under no obligation to obey it. Can it be that Christians are free to break the commandments concerning adultery, theft, murder, and idolatry? When Paul speaks about being "under the law," is he referring to an old law versus a new law?

There are several occasions when the apostle Paul declares that we are "not under the law." Romans 6:14-15; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:21; 5:18. Let us consider the passage found in the book of Romans:

Paul begins chapter six of Romans with three main questions concerning the temptation to sin. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" Romans 6:1-3.

Paul is speaking to converted men who have been "buried with him [Christ] by baptism." Verse 4. He encourages the converts with these words, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. . . . Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Verse 6, 11-12, 14.

Are Christians no longer "under the law" because it has been abolished? No. They are no longer "under the law" because by God's grace they are experiencing victory over sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. Because they are no longer transgressing God's law they are no longer "under the law." Because they are "under grace," they have found the power of God to overcome sin.

In the book of Galatians, Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil 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. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Galatians 5:16-18.

In this passage, who is "under the law"? Those who live according to the "lusts of the flesh." Who is not "under the law"? Those who are led by the Spirit, and those only.

Those who do not fulfill the "lusts of the flesh" are not transgressing God's law. Therefore, they are not under the condemnation of God's law.

There is absolutely nothing in this passage that intimates that the law is abolished. If the law were abolished, then nobody would be "under the law," whether they were in the flesh or in the Spirit. However, Paul makes it very clear that those who are not "under the law" are led by the Spirit. Therefore, those who are not led by the Spirit are "under the law."

In general, most Christians believe that we ought to keep nine out of the original Ten Commandments. Seventh-day Adventists believe that we ought to keep the fourth commandment as we would keep the other nine. Now, if we are "under the law" for keeping all Ten Commandments, then the rest of Christianity is nine-tenths "under the law" for keeping nine of them. However, the Bible says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." James 2:10.

Christ Is the End of the Law

The apostle Paul makes the statement in Romans 10:4 that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Some argue that Christ put an "end" to the law when He died on the cross.

James wrote, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord." James 5:11. What does James mean? Did the patience of Job terminate the Lord Jesus? Of course not; such an interpretation is not even intelligible. What we see in the patience of Job is the working out of the Lord's will in Job's life. It was the Lord's object or goal to see Job develop Christlike patience.

The "end of the law" or the object of the law is that its righteous claims be worked out in my life. When Christ came and lived out the requirements of the law, He revealed who He was and what is His will. Therefore, the purpose, the goal, or the "end of the law," is that I should be like Christ in obeying His law.

Is the Law Dead?

Some argue that the law is dead based upon the following passage found in the book of Romans:

"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also 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, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Romans 7:1-4.

Let us consider the following illustration: First, we have a woman. Let us call her Mrs. Dunn. Second, there is the husband. He is obviously Mr. Dunn. Third, there is the law which condemns adultery.

Here is the question: What dies in this illustration? Does the law die? No. Mrs. Dunn's husband dies. The law now permits Mrs. Dunn to remarry if her husband has died. But if her husband has not died, then she is not, according to the law, free to marry another man.

Is Mrs. Dunn permitted to marry another man because the law has died? Obviously not. She is permitted to remarry if her husband dies.

Now, what is truly represented by the two husbands in Paul's account is our unconverted state and the Lord Jesus. The passage actually encourages us to be married to another, namely, Christ. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also 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, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Verse 4.

We are to die to the old self and be married to Christ. However, we cannot be married to the new husband, Christ, unless the old man, the carnal mind, the body of sin, the unconverted man, and the lusts of the flesh, die.

As long as we choose to live in sin, we are married to the old sinful nature. However, when we choose to accept Christ as both Saviour and Lord, then we receive a new heart and are married to Christ.

To be continued.

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