Recently, blogger Xulon, from Theologica posted this excellent series focusing on ethics, Law, and the question of the Sabbath. This is post 2 of 4.
The teaching of this blog was summed up by Dr Lightner: “The Law of Moses in its entirety has been done away with as a rule of life” (Robert Lightner, “Theological Perspectives on Theonomy”, Bibleotheca Sacra 143, P235) Further, being done away with, the Law of Moses is not a path to higher sanctification so that keeping any part of the Law makes you more spiritual, nor does it mean you are more closely imitating Jesus who lived his life “under the Law”. Done away means it is no longer God’s will for the believer. Choosing to do what God does not require does not mean that one is “really going all out for God”. Indeed, it could indicate that one is ignoring what God says and substituting the wisdom of men. This does not mean that one is forbidden to follow any part of the Law as a personal or cultural preference but it would be a preference (Covered by Romans 14) and not requirement. The Scriptures supporting this are:
Important to this issue is Acts 15. The Law of Moses is a “yoke” (which Israel could not bear) which is not imposed on the New Testament believer. Note that the question comes up post-conversion. It is not a “follow The Law in order to be saved” issue, it is “once you are saved, you are required to submit to The Law”. Paul had done the part of presenting the Gospel and the people responded. After conversion, the Judaizing faction is saying that these Gentile believers must be circumcised. The circumcision in question was “according to the custom of Moses” (v 1) and was part of directing them “to observe the Law of Moses” (v 5), so it is in reference to required observance of the Law of Moses and not to the Covenant of Abraham.
Paul’s Epistle to the believers in Galatia is also important. Galatians 3:17-25 The Law is a temporary schoolmaster leading to Christ. Since his coming, the Law’s tutelage has ended.
Galatians 4:9-11 turning to the Law of Moses is choosing to be enslaved to “weak and worthless things”.
Galatians 5:2-4 Submitting to part of the Law obligates you to the whole Law and cuts you off from Christ.
Galatians 5:18 “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”
2 Corinthians 3:6-13 The Law of Moses, engraved on stones is a ministry of death. Three times this passage says it is fading and being replaced by the ministry of the Spirit.
Hebrews 7:11,12 Since the Law and the Priesthood are inseparable, and Christ’s priesthood is not in the priesthood of the Law, Christ has done away with both the Levitical priesthood and the Law. This is a significant passage for the truth that the Law of Moses has been done away. If the Law were still in effect, then Christ cannot be our High Priest.
One way to look at this by way of illustration is that when a country adopts a new Rule of Law or Constitution, the old Rule has no authority over the citizen or the Government. It has been replaced. It could be that there are some similar provisions between the two Rules (I expect to expand on this in my next blog), but those provisions have authority only because they are in the new Constitution. The old has no authority and only the new is in force. Perhaps some will continue in formerly required practices out of habit or out of culture but there is no binding obligation and these practices do not make one a better citizen than those who fully follow the new Constitution without regard for the old.
There have been those who divide the Law into parts. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that the Law contains Moral Law, Ceremonial Law, and Judicial Law. While this may be a helpful grid in analyzing the text, people use this analysis to say that only one or two of these parts were fulfilled by Christ while the other(s) are still binding on the believer. Yet, the Bible presents the Law as a unified whole.
James 2:10 says that whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at one point has broken the whole Law. Also, Galatians 5:2-4 says that obligation to any part of The Law obligates one to the whole Law.
So, when the Old Covenant was replaced by the New, there was a complete replacing in terms of authority and requirement. No New Covenant restating of Old Covenant regulation is based in its being Mosaic legislation. Rather, they are restated in the framework of New Covenant grace. In Acts 15, the regulations in the ruling are based on the offense it may give to brothers who are Jewish, not because it is in The Law of Moses.