CHRIST FULFILLING THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS (2) (Continuing from last week)

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THE CEREMONIAL, JUDICIAL AND MORAL LAWS.

 

AGAIN Apostle Paul in verse 7 of Romans 8 says “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can”. The Greek “phronema tes serkos” translated “to be carnally minded” literally means “the mind of the flesh” that is –mind, thought, purpose, intention, inclination that is set on things of the flesh (worldliness) and thus to live a life of self assertion and self indulgence, is inevitably a life hostile to God and out of harmony with His will (see James 4:4). Such a course leads to estrangement from God and separation from the source of life – a separation that means death. The mind that is set on the flesh reveals its hostility against God by continuing disobedience to His law, and is wholly incapable of submitting to it. And only by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can obedience be made possible in him again.

 

The natural or carnally minded man hates God and is therefore not subject to His law. But the believer who has received the Holy Ghost – Born Again – is not at enmity with God, and is therefore subject to His law. He wants to be so and is given the power to be so. “… that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” In the OT, God through prophet Jeremiah gave great promise on this in Jer. 31:31-34 saying in effect ‘I am going to make a new convent, and the difference between the old and the new will be, that I am going to write my law in your minds and on your hearts. No longer will it be on tables of stone outside you, but on the fleshy tables of the heart’ And in Heb. 8:9-10. Apostle Paul glories in the new covenant, the new relationship, because under it the law is within the believer not outside and because the law has now been written in the minds and hearts of believers, the born again Christians are anxious to fulfill it, and are enabled to do so in spiritual fulfillment by Christ.

 

THE CEREMONIAL LAW:  Our Lord Jesus Christ completely fulfilled the ceremonial law. He observed it in His life time on earth, and, He exhorted His disciples to do the same. In His death, resurrection and ascension, He fulfilled the entire ceremonial law. This was divinely confirmed by the renting of the vail of the temple in Jerusalem at His death and finally the temple itself with all that belonged to it was destroyed. This make it imperative for the true believer to see the Lord Jesus Christ as the altar and the sacrifice and the laver of washing and the incense etc, hence such a believer shall not be bound by the Livitical order.

 

THE JUDICIAL LAW: This was primarily and especially for God’s chosen nation of Israel and operated under God’s special legislative form – THEOCRACY, in its then special circumstances. But Israel is no longer the theocratic nation. This ended with the fall of Israel’s first king, Saul (around C1025-1010BC). Christ towards the end of His ministry on earth told the Jews, “Therefore, say I unto you, the kingdom of the God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof” (Matt. 21:43). This has since then been regarded as one of the most crucial and important statements in the whole Scriptures with regard to prophecy. And Apostle Peter makes it abundantly clear that the new nation is the church. (see 1 Peter 2:9,10). There is no longer a theocratic nation – not even the church — so the judicial law has likewise been fulfilled.

 

GOD’S MORAL LAW:  These are God’s permanent and perpetual precepts which govern His relationship with mankind and the inexorable duties of man, first to God and secondly to his fellow man, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets of the Decalogue. This relationship which God established in these precepts must always subsist between Himself and man. The Decalogue is a summary reflecting several hundreds of codes classified as Mosaic Law, which was a constitution of God’s chosen people, but our Lord Jesus Christ by way of spiritual summation encapsulated them in “love for God and love for fellow man”-“The Great Commandment” (Matt 22:37 – 40) “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind – this is the first and Great Commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” To say the least, this is an armoured and permanent vest of the Moral law of God, and inexorable perpetual condition for the perpetual relationship between God and man. Thus the moral law, as interpreted and presented by the NT, stands now, as much as, it has ever done, and will do so until the end of time and until man is perfected.

 

In John’s first epistle, he very carefully reminds his readers that sin in the believer is still “a transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4) and in effect is saying that, the believer must still acknowledge his relationship to the law, for sin is transgression of the law. The moral law of God still applies to both the Jew and the Gentile – indeed the whole of mankind created by God.

 

As for the relationship of the Christian and the law – this has generated a lot of controversial exegesis of varing views. Some hold that the Christian is no longer under the law, but under grace; others say, the believer operates in faith and therefore not under the law. All the passages of the Bible applied to justify both assertions in the end tend to contradiction, especially in the Pauline epistles, on which such contentions rally heavily; but on close examination and study, thy also prove the truth that there is no contradictions in the Holy Writ.

 

Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Galatians 3 is a book that must be read and studied carefully to grasp verse by verse, what the learned apostle is saying therein. The parenthetical verses must be identified and distinguished from the verses that’s stress and emphasise the theme. The main theme of the expositions in this book is emphaised in verse 10. “For as many as are of the works of the law …” All subsequent references and mentions of “the law” are references to “the covenant of works” or put more succinetly “the law of the covenant of works” This granted: the believer is definitely not (or no longer) under the law of the covenant of Works relationship with God, because the salvation of the believer does not depend on his keeping the law relating to the covenant of works- which he cannot keep in any case, having been delivered from the curse of that law which no man can keep. This does not, and can never release a believer form the moral law of God as a rule of life. The “law” and the “Grace” are not in any relative opposition, nor are they the same. The law was not meant to save man, because it could not, and, no man can save himself by keeping the law. The law came in 430 years after God’s promise to Abraham, and was added because of transgressions, and to show the character of God’s demand, and that it might show “The exceeding sinfulness of sin” Further, the law was given, in a sense, in order to show man that he could never justify himself before God, and in order that he might be brought to Christ. In Paul’s words, it was meant to be “our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The law has a great deal of prophecy in it, and a great deal of the gospel. It is full of grace, leading men to Christ.

 

The whole purpose of grace, in a sense, is to enable man to keep the law  to think that grace is distinct and far removed from the law and has nothing to do with it is “antinomianism” – the attitude of people who abuse the doctrine of grace in order to live a sinful, slack or indolent type of spiritual life — such are found among those who orchestrate “I am not under the law, but under grace. They therefore, argue that, it does not matter what they do. Apostle Paul in Rom. 6:1,2 says “ what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid, How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Grace is quite indispensable to a life of true holiness, and there is nothing more fatal than to regard holiness and sanctification, as experiences to be received. Holiness means being righteous, and, being righteous means keeping the law. Therefore any man who claims to have received grace and is still unable to keep the law, then such may have received a psychological experience, and not the grace of God. for grace is that marvelous gift of God which, having delivered a man from the curse of the law, enables him to keep or obey it, and to be righteous as Christ was, for He kept the law perfectly. Grace is that which brings man to love God; and if he loves God, he well desire to keep His Holy Commandments. Grace is not sentimental; holiness is not an experience, both lead the believer to love the law and to desire to keep it and live a holy righteous life; and the power of God enables the believer to fulfill the law. Our Lord Jesus says in Matt. 5:19 “whosoever therefore shall break one of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”. This statement was not intended for His disciples only, but to all mankind till the end of times. It is permanent and everlasting! Christ reiterated this again in Matt. 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” The will of the Father in this passage includes the Ten Commandments and His moral law which have never, and will never be, abrogated (see Matt. 5:17,18)). The moral law of God still applies to all mankind.

 

As regards the future, two prophetic statements are worthy of note. The first is that the Kingdom of God will eventually cover the whole earth. The ‘stone’ spoken of in Dan. 2:34, 35, 45 is going to crush the kingdoms of this earth, and, the Kingdom of God and His Christ shall be established. The process is going on, it will be finally completed. Every title of the law and the prophets will be completely fulfilled. The law-breakers will finally be punished. Let us make no mistake about this. Those who die finally unrepentant, and unbelieving in the Lord Jesus Christ, are under the condemnation of the law. And, at the very end the pronouncement delivered upon them will be “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). And, it is the law that will condemn them to that. So that the moral law of God is going to be carried out fully in every respect. Those who do not avail themselves of what has been offered to them in the Lord Jesus Christ, will abide under the condemnation of the law which is the expression of God’s justice and righteousness.

 

The substitutionary doctrine of atonement emphasizes that Christ has carried out or fulfilled the law fully. He has submitted Himself to it absolutely, actively and passively; negatively and positively. All the types have been fulfilled in Him. And what remains of the prophecy will certainly come to pass. The effect of this glorious, redeeming work is not only to give forgiveness to miserable, law-breaking hell-deserving rebels against God, but to make the believing among men, sons of God – those who delight in the law of God – those who indeed hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long to be holy, not in the sense of having a wonderful feeling or experience, but who long and earnestly desire to live like Christ, and, to be like Him in every respect.