Teaching About The Law
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”
Matthew 5:17-20 NLT
People have a love hate relationship with the law, wouldn’t you agree? We love the law when we see it protects us, but we can hate the law when we perceive it restricts us.
The Law of Moses was God’s moral and ceremonial laws and they were given to protect his people, and to also help people love Him. Unfortunately, the religious leaders had turned the original laws into a confusing tangled mess of rules. Jesus wasn’t speaking against the laws, but against the abuses of God’s laws.
So if Jesus didn’t come to abolish the laws, it begs the question, does that mean the Old Testament laws still apply to us today? The answer is a somewhat confusing ‘yes and no.’
My NIV study Bible breaks the law down into three categories and provides details behind each one:
- Ceremonial Law
- Civil Law
- Moral Law
“Ceremonial Law (Leviticus 1:2, 3 for example) relates specifically to Israel’s worship and it’s primary purpose was to point to Jesus Christ. Therefore, these laws were no longer necessary after the death and resurrection of Christ. While we are no longer bound by ceremonial law, the principles behind them—to worship and love a holy God—still apply.
Civil Law applied to daily living in Israel (Deuteronomy 24:10, 11, for example). Because modern society is so radically different from that time and setting, all of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct. Jesus demonstrated these principles by example.
Moral Law (the Ten Commandment for example) is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience (Exodus 20:1-17). The Moral Law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today. Jesus obeyed the moral law completely.”
Let’s look at the verses for each piece of the law:
Ceremonial Law-“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the Lord, you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats. “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the Lord.” Leviticus 1:2-3 NLT
So how often were they to do this? “This is a permanent law for you, to purify the people of Israel from their sins, making them right with the Lord once each year.” (Leviticus 16:34) This once a year offering was called the Day of Atonement and all Israeli’s did this. However, other sacrifices were necessary throughout the year in order for God’s people to approach Him for different reasons. Can you imagine?
Listen, I cannot abide the sight of blood and if you read the entire chapter of Leviticus 1, it might make you a little sick. There is no way I could do any of that! Praise God Almighty that He gave His only begotten Son as the final and perfect sacrifice!
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
I am still overwhelmed when I consider the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us! He died for all of our sins so we would never have to go through this sacrificial process again once we believe in Him. Praise Him!
Civil Law-“If you lend anything to your neighbor, do not enter his house to pick up the item he is giving as security. You must wait outside while he goes in and brings it out to you.” Deuteronomy 24:10-11 NLT
This portion of the law concerned private relations between people and can be summed up in the Golden Rule:
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT
Raise your hand if you think our world has become very “me-istic” and we are in dire need of reinstating this law! (My hand is raised high in the air!)
Moral Law-this is the Ten Commandments. Simply listed they are:
- You shall have no other gods before me
- You shall not make for yourself an idol
- You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
- Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not murder
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not give false testimony [lie] against your neighbor
- You shall not covet [desire what belongs to another]
Jesus obeyed these laws completely; I wish I could say the same.
But none of us are perfect and we are all sinners, (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NIV), so how do we fulfill all three categories of the law in order to become righteous enough to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven?
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” Matthew 5:20 NLT
We do it with Jesus.
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
On our own, we simply cannot become righteous without Jesus, it’s impossible. There is not a day that goes by that any of us don’t sin. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to pray a dangerous prayer I once prayed when I thought I had gone a whole week without sinning! My prayer was simple and reckless:
“Father God, open my eyes to my sins so I can repent and be forgiven.”
Can I tell you that I almost came undone? Can I tell you that the revelation of my daily sins (notice that’s plural) were almost more that I could bear? When I thought I could not take one more minute of the wretchedness of my sins, Jesus reminded me that His death was the final sacrifice and because I believed in Him, I was “made right with God.” I have His forgiveness, I am saved, and that makes me righteous, therefore, I will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven!
Praise God Almighty, and brothers and sisters, I pray you have this righteousness as well!
Father God, thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the law as the final and costliest sacrifice ever made, so we could be made righteous in Your eyes. Father thank You that because I believe Jesus died for my sins and was raised in three days, I have forgiveness of my sins and eternal life with You. My prayer today includes the desire of my heart that all those I love surrender to Jesus so they too can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Do you need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Remember what Jesus tells us: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
If you believe this in your heart, follow this link and pray this prayer from the late Billy Graham (you may have to copy and paste the link into your browser) and you too will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: