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Why The Law Of Moses

I think one of the most misunderstood Biblical issues is how New Testament Christians view the Old Testament Law of Moses.  Christians are all over the map on this.  Maybe I can bring a bit of clarity to this issue, but I know I'll irritate some of you in the process.  One basic question needs to be asked.  "Why did God institute the Law of Moses in the first place"?   


To answer this question we need to go back in time as the Apostle Paul did in Romans 5:13.  He said, "Sin was in the world before the Law was given" to Moses.  He also said that sin leads to death in Romans 6:23.   Sin, death, and decay, abruptly smashed its way into creation as Adam sunk his teeth into the knowledge of good and evil.  In one split second, the molecular structure of all things took a nasty and deadly hit.  I don't believe we can even begin to comprehend the disaster of epic proportions that massacred creation in this brief memorable moment.  We may think God's creation is a wonder to behold, but since being infected with sin, death, and decay, it's a sickly shadow of what it once was.  In technical terms this is called "entropy".  That is to say, "all things move toward decay unless otherwise maintained".             


We see sin, death, and decay, infiltrating humanity when Adam glanced over to Eve as he took the first bite into the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve's intoxicatingly gorgeous naked body that had thoroughly captivated his attention had suddenly become an unbelievable embarrassment to both of them.  I can't begin to imagine the disappointment and discouragement that would have been seen on Adam's face as he watched his wife attempt to clothe herself with a cluster of leaves.  Then, to see God slicing up one of his firry little animal buddies to replace the clothes of leaves that Eve put together must have ripped his heart into pieces.  As scraps of his little lifeless friend lie scattered on the ground, feelings of rage and depression never experienced by him before would certainly understate the way he felt.  It wasn't just Eve's clothed body and the death of his buddy that would have plunged Adam into a pit of depression.  His whole wonderful world had just fallen apart before his very eyes, and all because of one stupid sinful second.  When we speak about environmental disasters; this tops the list.           


With sin, death, and decay, permeating every crook and cranny of creation, God instituted the Law of Moses into Israeli society.  In Romans 3:20 Paul stated why God did not institute the Law of Moses and then he stated why God did institute the Law.  Paul said, "No one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law "   Clearly, obedience to the Law of Moses makes no one look good in the sight of God.  Obeying any or all of its 613 rules does absolutely nothing for your good standing before the Lord.  That was never the purpose of the Law. 


The reason why God gave the Law to Moses is seen in the rest of Paul's statement.  " rather, through the Law we became conscious of sin".  The simple reason for the Law of Moses was to make man, especially Israelis, conscious of sin.  For this reason, much of the Law regulated civil matters.  Laws regarding divorce, slavery, land transactions, national boundaries, international alliances, and more, were needed practicalities to govern a sin soaked society.  Beyond these civil laws were religious laws governing matters of morality, atoning for sin, and how to relate to a holy God as a sinful person in a world of death and decay.      


A detailed discussion of the Law of Moses is a complex undertaking, but the reason why God instituted the Law is simple.  According to Paul, it was given to make us aware of our sin.  It was never intended to make anyone look good in God's sight.  Just in case you think Paul had a momentary laps of sound Biblical judgment in his letter to the Romans, he said the same elsewhere.  In Galatians 3:19 he said, "What, then, was the purpose of the Law?  It was added because of transgressions until the Seed (Jesus) has come".  Paul went as far to call these Galatians "demonized fools" for thinking they could make themselves look good in God's eyes by obeying bits and pieces of the Law.  We shouldn't come down too hard on these guys.  We as Evangelicals have done this kind of thing for years by demanding obedience to certain legalistic traditions in order to make us appear righteous in the sight of God.  I might suggest that some of us Evangelicals may be more demonized fools than the Galatians.  At least many of their laws were spoken from the mouth of God at one point in time.


In case you're wondering why I use the words "demonized fools", Galatians 3:1 and 2 says, "O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Did you receive the Spirit by the Law or by what you have heard"?  "By what you have heard" refers to the gospel of Jesus these Galatians heard preached to them.  The Greek word "baskaino" that's translated as "bewitched" portrays the idea of one being "demonically deceived into believing a lie".  So, if one is deceived in such fashion, one might reluctantly call him a "demonized fool" under certain circumstances.       


If you feel compelled to obey the Law of Moses or any legalities of man made religion to maintain a righteous standing before the Lord, I suggest that He has, and always has had, only one specific way to maintain your salvation and good standing before Him.  That's a topic for another day.






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