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The preaching and teaching of salvation by grace through faith makes many people wonder and think, “since we are now saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, do we no longer need to obey and uphold God’s laws and can we go on sinning without facing the penalty of death?”
That is indeed a good question and it is one that Apostle Paul predicted and took time to answer and explain to us in the book of Romans chapters 5 through 8.
The plain answer to the question is NO.
We must uphold God’s laws and No, we cannot go on sinning.
But what exactly is (are) God’s law(s)?
In the old testament, after God delivered and saved the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, he gave them some laws to guide and direct their living and interactions with him and one another.
In the book of Exodus 20:1-17, God gave the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai that they were to obey and live by. So the ten commandments are considered a part of God’s laws. In addition to it, other rules, statutes, and laws were added to guide the Israelites as they go into the promised land that God gave to them.
Moses told them of these rules and statues in the book of Deuteronomy starting from chapter 4.
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9:“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Then in Deuteronomy chapter 14 and the following chapters, Moses gave the Israelites more laws about clean and unclean foods, first offerings, tithes, the sabbatical year, the feast of Passover, justice, forbidden forms of worship, laws concerning Israel’s kings, provision for priests and Levites, abominable practices, cities of refuge, laws concerning warfare, witnesses, inheritance rights of firstborns, hanging of a man on the tree, marrying of female captives, sexual immorality, divorce, levirate marriage, miscellaneous Laws and many more.
The book of Leviticus also has a lot of laws regarding various types of offerings, laws concerning purification after childbirth, leprosy, bodily discharges, unlawful sexual relations, punishment for child sacrifice, etc.
The point is, Israel had a lot of laws that they were to obey and live by.
The problem is, the more the law, the more sin increased and abounded.
Before the law was given, there was already sin in the world starting from the garden of Eden and the fall of mankind. However, because there were no laid down laws, the account of sin was not kept. And where there is no law, there is no sin and people can get away with anything.
Or so we thought.
This was not the case with God. God had already established and laid down the punishment of sin which is death when he told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and if they did, they would die (Genesis 2:17). There was just one law (do not eat from this tree) and the punishment was death. This punishment was activated and death already came into the world through that sin and continued to reign over all humans who sinned even though men had no other laws to live by. (See Romans 5: 13-14).
Hence, while God waited for the perfect time to give his son, the perfect and spotless lamb for salvation and redemption from sin and its punishment, death, God gave the Israelites, His own special people, laws to guide their living.
So, the giving of the law, was God’s act of love to guide his people. The law is good.
But because man flesh was already corrupted and trapped in the claws of sin, sin took advantage of the good law and corrupted man even more.
But God knew that sin was going to take advantage of the law.
But, where sin increased, God’s love and grace increased even more. (See Romans 5:20-21).
However, Jesus has saved us completely from sin and the law of sin.
Let’s read the entire chapter 7 of Romans and a bit of chapter 8. I have written this in bullet points for better understanding. Bear in mind, Apostle Paul is speaking/writing here.
ROMANS CHAPTER 7
- To my Jewish brothers and sisters (those who know the law), don’t you know that the LAW rules people only as long as they live?
- Just as a married woman is only bound to her husband for as long as he is alive, so were you bound to the law for as long as you were alive.
- But since you died with Christ, the law no longer has effect or control on you. (Emphasis added: If the law has no effect, sin which took advantage of it also has no effect or control on you).
- You now belong (married) to Jesus, just as a widow is free to be married to another man.
- You can now freely belong to Jesus who was raised from the dead so that we might bear fruit for God.
- When we were alive in the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us. So we bore fruit for death.
- But now that we are dead to the flesh and law that once bound us, we have been released from the law.
- We now serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the law.
LAW AND SIN
- Hmmm, so is the law sinful?
- NOT AT ALL!
- However, if we didn’t have the law, we wouldn’t know what was a sin.
- I would not have known what coveting was if the law didn’t say, “thou shall not covet.”
- So, the law allowed us to know what was sin.
- BUT, sin used the law as an opportunity to produce all kinds of selfish and evil desires within me.
- Without the law, sin is dead.
- Once I was alive without the law. But when the commandment was given, sin sprang to life and I died.
- The very commandments that were intended to bring life actually brought dead
- Because sin used it as an opportunity and deceived me to think that the law was caging me.
- Sin deceived me and through the commandments put me to death,
- SO, the law is not sinful. It is holy. The commandment is holy, righteous and good.
THE LAW IS GOOD?
- So, does that mean that what is good (law) caused me death?
- NOT AT ALL!
- It was SIN that did it.
- So that sin can be fully seen as what it is, SIN (bad and evil), it used what was good to bring about my death.
- So through the commandment (law), sin is shown to be even more terribly sinful.
- It uses God’s good laws for its own evil purposes.
- The law is spiritual
- but I am unspiritual and sold out as a slave to sin.
- I don’t even understand what I do.
- What I don’t want to do, I do and what I hate, I do.
- This shows that I agree that the law is good because I know what I am doing is wrong but I do it.
- So, I am not the one actually doing the wrong things, but the sin that lives in me.
- Because I know that good does not live in me. In my sinful nature.
- I have the desire to do good but I can’t.
- I don’t do the good I want to do but the evil I don’t want to do.
- So, again, since I am doing what I don’t want to do, it is not me who does it but the sin that lives in me.
- So, even when I want to do good, I can’t because all I have in me is evil.
- My inner being delights in God’s law but I see another law at work in me.
- It wages war against the law of God that my mind approves of.
- It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body
- What a wretched man I am!
- Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to sin and death?
- Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
- So, in my mind, I am a slave of God’s law but my sinful nature is a slave to the law of sin.
Even the good LAW, could not change our sinful nature. Only Jesus’s death and resurrection (GRACE), could save us.
ROMANS CHAPTER 8: 1-4
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
- Because, through Jesus Christ, the law of the spirit that gives LIFE has set us free from the law of sin and death.
- God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering and do what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh
- God condemned sin in the flesh so that the righteous requirement of obedience to the law might be fully met in us who have believed in Jesus and live according to the spirit.
ROMANS 6: 12 – 23 Emphasis added.
Sin is no longer your master and YOU must not allow it to reign once again in your mortal body neither should you obey its evil desires and lawlessness. Don’t offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness. Instead, offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life. Offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Sin shall no longer be your master because you are no longer under the law (Where sin can enslave you) but under grace. Righteousness in Jesus Christ shall be your master.
Since we are no longer under law but under grace, shall we continue in sin then and not worry about it? NOT AT ALL!
Why shall we continue in sin when we don’t have to?
Why shall we choose to throw away God’s good laws when we have more abundant grace and ability by the Holy Spirit to obey it now?
Just as you used to offer yourself as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, NOW, offer yourself as slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness. Once upon a time you were slaves to sin and was totally free from the control of righteousness But what did you gain? Only shame! And DEATH. BUT now, you have been set free from SIN and have become slaves of God. The benefit of this is holiness and ETERNAL LIFE! The wages of sin is death and the gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
LOVE is the LAW
Are we to obey and uphold all the particular laws that were given to the Israelites in the old testament?
Because we are under a new covenant. The law of God that we are to obey is LOVE.
HEBREWS 8: 8-13
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
Christ came to fulfill all the laws that we could not fulfill and obey and through which sin put its claws on us. In Christ, the old law is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
The only Law that we must obey is LOVE. For love is the fulfillment of the law of Christ (Romans 13:8). All of the ten commandments and more are fulfilled when we love God and others. And through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, God’s love has been poured into our hearts (See Romans 5:5), so we can do what is right. We naturally flow in pleasing and loving God and loving others too.
Love is our NEW norm.
Matthew 22:37-40: “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Romans 13: 8-10: “8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Galatians 6: 2: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The law is LOVE.
The ROYAL LAW for believers is LOVE (James 2:8). This law must be upheld.
Tell me why we will want to throw away or not uphold such an amazing law? It is no burden at all.
The best part is, the Holy Spirit helps us with this. He helps us to love God and love others.
A man who thinks salvation is a license to continue in sin is not saved and does not have the spirit of Christ in him/her. How can you joyfully and willingly go on a sinning spree and back to your old life which you ought to be dead to? You should have contempt and disgust for sin. The fear and love of God should be in you. The spirit of God should overwhelm you. You should be living a life worthy of the Gospel. You should work out your salvation with fear and trembling. There’s a post on what it means to work out your salvation. Check it out.
Again, the law of God which is grounded in LOVE should be upheld. And NO, we cannot go on sinning because we are dead to sin. You have no obligation to obey your flesh and sin.
The new law is LOVE and it is been poured into our hearts.
We join the Psalmist to say, “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:8).
In the next part, we will talk about what is next after salvation?
You are Eternally Loved.