An article by Rosalind Eedle
Arthur has asked me to write something more on my studies of the Law. There have been a few responses to the first article and important points have been raised which we know need answering. First of all I would like to explain something of my own walk with the Lord. I was raised in the understanding that ‘the law was nailed to the cross’, that not only did the law of the OT not apply today but also many other things, e.g breaking of bread and baptism. I held to these teachings tenaciously until my early 20s.From then until now my understanding of God and His word have changed continuously as He has opened my mind and expanded my thinking. This has of course been the result of our joint walk with the Lord and our many investigations and discussions. In the 1980s we were exercised concerning the verse in Peter which clearly indicates that our conduct can hasten the return of our Lord. This led me to think on our life and how we conducted ourselves. Then the Lord urged me to study the subject of the Sabbath which inevitably caused me to read much of the OT Law. My overwhelming reaction then was to worship the Lord for His incredible graciousness, mercy, love and compassion for His creation. I had never realised before that the Law was so full of understanding for humankind, that He did indeed, to quote David, ‘Know our frame, He remembers we are dust.’So I began to love and cherish God’s law with a passion, the more I read the more I came to understand many of the perplexities which arise from not meditating on His law. From there I wondered whether our previous belief that the law was nailed to the cross, was in fact wrong. And so began a long study on the commandments and law in the New Testament. I wrote out every occurrence and read the contexts. Again I was absolutely convinced that the Law of God continued to be held in high esteem and was loved by those who loved Him.
In Deut. 6:5-9 God’s heart reaches out to the children of Israel “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”. This is clearly the basis on which the people of God were intended to live – a love-relationship with their Maker, a relationship which, because it was based on love, would enable them to immerse themselves, daily, in God and yes, keep and guard His commandments.
When two people love each other in a marriage, to please the other is paramount – love is the basis. Sometimes there are hard things to do to please the other, but because of love we want to and try to. So with the Lord and His relationship with His people. However, because of the fall of mankind even that love from God does not always persuade us that we should obey. So the law shows us that we fall short and are sinners. This, I know, is elementary but bears repeating. So that man would realise just how fallen we are, and how a holy God feels about disobedience and the awful effect that has on us, He gave penalties for disobedience. As I wrote in the last article, those penalties were intended to be administered righteously, with God’s hand, not man’s.
So we come to the New Testament. ‘And you, being dead in your trespasses and theuncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.’ As I pondered on this verse, wanting to face it, wanting to be made to feel uncomfortable by it so that I would not be untrue, I asked myself, who was nailed to the cross? Jesus. Jesus became sin, He carried the sins of the whole world away, He expunged them from the universe. Then it dawned on me. The handwriting of requirements which no-one, save Jesus, has been able to obey completely, had penalties. It was the penalties, the requirement for breaking those laws, which were nailed to the cross. There is now NO CONDEMNATION for those in Christ because Jesus took them and they were nailed to the cross in Him.
Paul said in Rom.3:31 ‘Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary we establish the law’. And in Rom.7:12 ‘Therefore the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good’. But, he says in verse 14 ‘For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin’. Then in Rom.8:7 ‘The carnal mind in enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be’. Therefore it is when we walk in the spirit that we are subject to the law which is spiritual as Rom 8:2,3&4 says – ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’. This does not condemn the law itself as weak, but we are weak when trying to keep the law. It is the sinful flesh and the results that required the penalties that Jesus nailed to the cross in Himself.
Galatians was written to correct the backward step some had taken in teaching that the law was to be kept in order to be righteous. The epistle is about faith in opposition to self-righteousness. As I read it became more and more obvious to me that Paul was incredulous that so soon were they going back to thinking they could be justified by keeping the law. Gal.5:4 ‘You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace.’ He says in verse 1, ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.’ It was the bondage of keeping the law in order to be righteous, thePharisaical attitude which leads to self-righteousness that was the bondage.
If then the law is ‘holy, just and good’ how could it be sinful and nailed to the cross? In the OT times the law was given to show forth the righteousness of God. Then the children of Israel were asked to keep those laws to demonsrate to the nations the character of their Maker. They, as we all would, failed. God knew they would and provided the animal sacrifices for sin. These sacrificescovered their sins until Jesus came to expunge them completely. Gal.3:23 says ‘Before faith came we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would after be revealed’. So we believe that all of the NT passages that appear to make the law of no effect or useless, are referring to being justified by keeping it. Rom.10:4 ‘Christ is the end of the law FOR righteousness to everyone who believes’. In other words in Christ we are justified, not in keeping the law.
So many times we are exhorted to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets’, ‘Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilment of the law’. John’s epistles are full of keeping the Lord’s commandments to show our love. ‘This is love that we walk according to His commandments’. Clearly, to obey our Lord should be as a result of our love for Him. There are no penalties for disobeying apart from our reaping what we sow, Jesus has dealt with sin once and for all, nailed it all to the cross. Indeed this is why Arthur and I want to observe, guard and where possible, keep God’s Holy law. It is not to be justified, because we are all condemned under the law, it is to please the Lord, to show our love for Him and ‘by our conduct, hasten His coming again’, the verse I mentioned at the beginning. We fail, but that does not prevent us from loving the law that shows us how far we have fallen and then throws us again on our Saviour to Whom we owe so much.
As I studied these things in the 1980s my heart thrilled to the ways of God with man. As I have again studied them, I feel the same. Meditating on the laws of God keep His absolutes near and dear. They help me love Him more, understand Him more and help me grasp hold of His ultimate plan for the world. To think of what He has done for us: Jesus wrenched Himself apart from the Godhead – an agony in itself – then came here to earth as a man and experienced life in a sinful and unhappy world. As if that wasn’t enough, He took on Himself all the penalties against us, took all the sin from Adam to the end, into Himself and died a horrible death. He was separated from His home, from His Father and Mother and went through unimaginable hell to release His creation from all the wretchedness of sin and death. He did this because of His love, His longing for us to be what He created us to be in the beginning. He did it so that we can have the joy of NO CONDEMNATION. Even though we remain in a fallen condition, our sins are not counted against us, we are righteous in Him. The gratitude which this love must bring forth in us causes me to say with David of old –
“Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
“Great peace have they who love Your law, and they shall have no stumbling block.”
“Deal with your servant according to Your mercy, and teach me Your statutes. I amYour servant, give me understanding that I may know Your testimonies. It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts I consider to be right, I hate every false way. Your testimonies are wonderful therefore my soul keeps them.”
To read of the law in Psalm 119 and to capture David’s love of it completely prevents any nailing of it to the cross – anything or anyone nailed to that cross was a curse. Jesus became a curse for us. But the law itself remains holy, just and good, a constant reminder that we are a fallen people and are in need of our Saviour ALWAYS. I have not covered so many things, it is such a vast subject with lots of side issues worthy of much thought but I have tried to give a few more reasons for why Arthur and I feel so strongly, and why we love God’s law so much.