What exactly is the Law?
What are its functions?
Is the new creation under the Law?
Do I have to obey and live by the 10 commandments?
How is the Law and sin related?
I once asked a friend if he was saved and he passionately answered ‘YES!’ In order to support his answer, he told me that he knew he was saved because he tries to keep the10 commandments. Without being a psychologist, I figured that though he might have accepted Christ as his Lord and Saviour, there were certain truths he still didn’t know about salvation, and that he couldn’t truly keep the Law.
Have you ever wondered why God could be so strict to have given the seemingly weak and naturally disobedient man the law to obey, or better still, why those who were originally given the law (The Israelites) couldn’t keep it. This would bring us to an understanding of the proper function(s) of the law.
Let us consider this scenario: Abraham married his half-sister, Sarah.
“She really is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not of my mother, and I married her.” Genesis 20:12 GNT
Isaac also married his niece, Rebecca.
“Before he had finished praying, Rebecca arrived with a water-jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife Milcah”. – Genesis 24:15 GNT
At that time there were no laws against such marriages involving one’s relative, hence God didn’t count it against them as sin (for where there is no law, there is no account of sin – Romans 5:13) But in Leviticus 18:9 and 11, the Lord gave the following laws concerning sexual intercourse with one’s relatives.
“Do not have intercourse with your sister or your stepsister, whether or not she was brought up in the same house with you.
Do not have intercourse with a half-sister; she too is your sister”. GNT
Hence, upon the creation of these laws, such marriages became ‘sinful’.
The actual function of the Law
The law was given by God to bring to man’s awareness the knowledge of sin. It was to show and declare sin as “sin”, and thereby make man see his need for a Saviour.
“For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires, what the Law does is to make people know that they have sinned” – Romans 3:20 GNT
Man was never meant to be justified (that is, declared righteous) by the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus who is the end of the law.
“For Christ is the end of the Law (the limit at which it ceases to be, for the Law leads up to Him who is the fulfillment of its types, and in Him the purpose which it was designed to accomplish is fulfilled. That is, the purpose of the Law is fulfilled in Him) as the means of righteousness (right relationship to God) for everyone who trust in and adheres to and relies on Him” – Romans 10:4 AMP
The law was meant to be our instructor until Christ came and as an “instructor”, it could only instruct man on what to do but couldn’t empower him to do what to do.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster”. – Galatians 3:23-24.
And indeed, faith has come! The new creation isn’t under the law; he is made complete and justified only by faith in the finished work of Christ.
The consciousness of sin isn’t God’s plan for the new-creation, rather God wants us to be righteousness-conscious, a righteousness not based on our ability to observe the law, but on faith in Christ, for only in Him can we truly obey God and walk in freedom from sin.
“Well then, if we are saved by faith, does this mean that we no longer need (to) obey God’s laws? Just the opposite! In fact, only when we trust Jesus can we truly obey him” – Romans 3:31 TLB