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Christian Motivation

A Comparison of the Law and Faith

 

 

by

Christopher Andrew Priebe

Jan 5, 2001

 

 

Prepared for BT819 Sin & Grace in the Old Testament

Briercrest Biblical Seminary


Outline


Introduction

  1. The Giving and Result of the Law
    1. The Desire, a People with Whom the Law Is upon Their Hearts
    2. The Result, a People Whose Hearts Are Exposed by the Law
    3. The Consequence, a People in Exile
    4. The Promise, Restoration and a New Heart
  2. The Weakness of Mankind to Keep the Law
    1. They Could Not Justify Themselves by the Law
    2. Neither Could They Maintain Their Righteousness by it
  3. The Freedom from the Law
    1. The Fear of Freedom
    2. The Point of Freedom
    3. The New Covenant
    4. Live by the Spirit
    5. Live by Love

Conclusion

Appendix A: Summary of Deuteronomy

Appendix B: Summary of Galatians

Appendix C: Summary of Romans

Appendix D: List of Key Scriptures

Annotated Bibliography


Introduction


A few years ago I started an online discipleship course called "Authentic Walk"(1) which focuses on how to live a genuine (authentic) life before God. In this course there is a strong emphasis on our actions such as praying and worshipping and overcoming temptation. The danger however is that the students might begin to rely on their actions as if salvation is by faith and then all the rest depends on them (a subtle problem common throughout the Church). This would soon lead to legalism, guilt and ironically failure since they would have departed from grace and God's strength and turned to their own. The key issue I am dealing with in this paper is not about whether we need to do works or not but about the motivation behind those works - specifically, are they trying to earn God's approval or are they simply the natural result of a Christian seeking deeper the God he or she loves? To illustrate the two I will be contrasting the motivation out of law and the motivation out of faith.

In summary, when we try to obtain justification and righteousness through the law we only discover that we are sinners and desperately need Christ. So we turn to Christ and let Him fulfill the law for us. Having fulfilled the law our motivation shifts from trying helplessly to keep it to resting in the faith it is all done. Now with circumcised hearts we seek to leave at the cross the sinful desires and be consumed with the desires of the Spirit. No longer motivated out of "I must in order to gain" but now "I will because I am". In summary, we rest in grace rather than strive in law and our motivation is "love" rather than "labour".

 

The Giving and Result of the Law


In the days of old God named a man Abraham and promised him and his seed(2) all the land he could see (Gen 13:14-17) but he had no son in his old age through whom the promise would come. But Abraham believed that God would do as He said and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen 15:1-6) even as it is our faith and not our actions that we are declared righteousness today. (Rom 4:1-25; Gal 3:6-9) Four hundred and thirty years later his decedents approached this land and God made another covenant without setting aside the first one (Gal 3:17), one which He had not made with their forefathers (Deut 5:3). This covenant that they were to perform was the 10 commandments (Deut 4:13 NASB) and they were to be upon their hearts (Deut 6:6) and in keeping them it would be their righteousness (Deut 6:25).(3)

It has always been God's intention that the law would be on their hearts(4) and all through their journey in the dessert God was humbling them with hunger and other trials and testing them to see what was in those hearts, whether or not they would keep these commands. (Deut 8:2,3) And God knew that their hearts would turn away and follow other gods, breaking His covenant (Deut 31:20). "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) is the testimony of Romans 1-3 and the history of God's people under the law. This law says, "Do not covet" and though a man might try to keep it something else within him, that sinful nature, covets and because of the command he sees that he is a sinner in need of Christ (Rom 7:7,8 & Appendix D.1) The purpose of the law then is to make one aware of his or her sin (Rom 3:20) and lead a person to Christ (Gal 3:24). As someone once explained the strong position of Martin Luther, "The law's primary and indispensable function is to serve as a 'mighty hammer' (26:336) with which God may crush human self righteousness and thus prepare otherwise complacent sinners to receive divine grace."(5) and another says, "Why did God give a law that people could not keep in their own power? Paul answers that the triumph of grace over sin shines brighter when the full depth of human sin is realized (Rom 5:20-21)...They reveal the intensity of their rebellion when they try to obey the law and discover they cannot"(6)

Obedience would have brought blessing but their disobedience brought curses (Deut 28) and like Adam and Eve they were exiled from the land even as all mankind is in a spiritual exile from the garden of God's friendship. But hope is not gone for God promised that when their children turn back to Him He will bring them back and circumcise their hearts so at last they may love Him with all their heart and soul and live (Deut 30:1-6)- the goal at last shall be seen. And it is Christ, who was the offspring who turned back to God, who walked without sin, who fulfilled this promise. N.T. Wright explains, "that in the cross of Jesus, the Messiah, the curse of exile itself reached its height, and was dealt with once and for all, so that the blessing of covenant renewal might flow out the other side, as God always intended."(7) Now we have been brought back, with circumcised hearts. Paul writes, "In him [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature... having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God..." (Col 2:11,12, emphasis mine). Circumcision of the heart then is the Romans 6 experience of leaving behind our old self and sinful desires and having a new heart set on Christ.

The Weakness of Mankind to Keep the Law


Now there are some who try to obtain justification (a legal standing before God in which their sins are not taken to account)(8) by their own actions in keeping the law. It is this motivation that Paul speaks against (Gal 5:4) for making it one's goal to keep the law is not what is bad for there is nothing wrong with desiring not to murder or steal or worship others gods and these things please God when they are obeyed. However, since we have a sinful nature we cannot obey completely and when a person tries to justify himself by his law keeping instead of accepting God's gift to fulfill those demands then it is really pride and independence that motivates that person. (Appendix D.2)

Paul has personal experience with relying on his own actions and greatness. He says, "If anyone else thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:" (Phil 3:3) He goes on, and like people who try to justify themselves today by saying "I go to Church, I pray, I read my Bible, I am relgious" and any other reasons people give that they think they can earn God's approval, Paul too lists all the great and exceptional things he is and has done. But instead of trusting he sees their futility and says, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ...I consider them rubbish [dung], that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ." (Phil 3:7-9) It is the idea of having one's righteousness come from Christ by faith and not self effort that is central to this topic. The application for Paul is that instead of boasting about how great he is He can glorify God for His great salvation, for if it is by the work of another he has nothing to boast about. (Rom 3:27-4:3; Eph 2:8,9)

This is contrary to our human nature which seeks to do all things on its own. The great pride of our independence like the little baby who says "me do!" or the alcoholic who says "I'll do it on my own." It speaks against the Eastern thought of Karma and our Western thought of the balancing scales of justice for it has nothing to do with cancelling our bad deeds with our good for all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isa 64:6). It throws out the self-help section in our bookstores and purges the modern indulgence papers(9) in the Church: merely going to Church, acting like a Christian and being a good person which many falsely rely on to obtain God's favor. All such efforts to be justified in one's own strength pushes away the strength of Christ and leaves one powerless. The only solution is to count all these efforts as loss and embrace the righteousness of Christ as a gift - undeserved, unearned - grace for the "righteous shall live by faith" (Rom 1:17)

And this verse is not only "saved by faith alone" but also "to live by faith alone." For if, we in our foolishness, begin with faith and then try to turn again to the necessity of law obedience then we will have been alienated from Christ and fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:4) That is we are no longer trusting in God's grace but ourselves. This is seen most clearly by the word, "must" for "must" implies that it is obligatory. This is seen in those who say, "You must read the Bible." "You must go to Church" "You must keep the Sabbath". This is called legalism, a life of rules, and misses the freedom that is found in Christ.(10)

And legalism is not a new struggle in the Church but way back in the very beginning there was a group of legalists who said that a Gentile convert must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. (Acts 15:1,5). One writer put it well,

We are asking the same question now as then in Galatia, "What does a Christian life that pleases God look like? Is it like the game a child plays on the pavement leading home from school, careful never to 'step on a crack' for fear of dire consequences? Or can it be a life of spontaneity and joy?"(11)

So they went on down to Jerusalem to debate this issue and Peter gives these remarkable works, "...why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke [the law] that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:10-11) The negative consequence of the false teacher's demands for circumcision and law obedience is that they would have to keep the entire law [legalism] and thus be in bondage to it for, "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Galatians 3:10) and "I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law." (Gal 5:3) There are only two ways to have a righteous life: to live one's entire life without any sin whatsoever, or to put on the righteousness of Christ by faith - one cannot have them both. And of this I speak not only of salvation 'by faith alone' but also of the entire Christian life from start to finish is to be lived by faith and not works. Therefore if one starts out with Christ and then tries to earn his or her righteousness by the law then he or she has been alienated from Christ and fallen away from grace (Gal 5:4)(12) In contrast, "by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope." (Gal 5:5)

In order to clarify, let me give some contemporary examples of dependence on our actions [legalism] as the basis of our righteousness (these are like unto our modern indulgence papers of the medieval ages). When one sins and then says, "I promise to .... if only you will forgive me again", this is self-reliance since one is bartering with God as if grace can be bought. Similarly, some feel after they sin they need to feel remorse and that they are a terrible person for a period of time in order for God to listen to them.(13) Others seek to keep the rules of the Sabbath and add one rule upon the next till they have altogether forgotten the heart of the Sabbath and exchanged the shadow for the substance. Others feel that if they do not read the Bible everyday then God will not love them. Some then try to catch up on their readings by doing twice as much the next day out of obligation and all the while turning the page to see how much more there is to read. Their Bible reading soon dries up and relationship has become ritual. Still others correctly embrace the idea that salvation includes repentance but then add rule after rule for the Christian to keep in order to either be a true Christian or in a lesser view - a worthwhile Christian. It is a life of "musts" and not the life of freedom for which Christ set us free.

The Freedom from the Law


But some are afraid of this freedom. That is they fear that now that we are free then we will just go out and sin. In a recent article Marcus suggests that these false teachers concern goes back to a common midrash interpretation of Exodus 19:17 which read that the people of Israel were actually under (not beside) Mount Sinai. Thus the mountain was hovering above them and about to fall on them if they did not accept the law and this threat they feared remained today if they rejected this law.(14)

But this misses the entire point of salvation. Simply put: a person is saved so they can be saved. That is they are saved from something (the bondage of sin) towards something (a restored relationship with God). Therefore, salvation by its very nature includes both repentance and sanctification. If someone asks to be saved only so they can go on sinning they are not asking for salvation but something else; the goal of salvation is to follow God. Paul says, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2) Our freedom from the law only comes through dying to that old life (and this part of the process of salvation), "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)

Therefore, although it is true that the Christian life is not one of "must" but it certainly one of "I will". That is a Christian will act like a Christian simply because he or she is a Christian. Jesus says, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:16-17) and "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8) But a branch does not bear fruit by striving with all its might but simply be being connected to the vine - that is a branch bears because it is a branch. Likewise, the reason a Christian bears fruit is because he or she is a Christian - that is why they became saved "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." (Rom 7:4) He who pursues sin, forgets who he is and why he was saved.

To those who take their freedom lightly, Paul says, "Everything is permissible for me"-- but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-- but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12) and "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13) for according to Romans 6 even though we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:6) we will still struggle with the sinful nature otherwise why would he petition not to give into sin? (Rom 6:11-14;16)

The life of the child of God is not a life hedged about by constraints and prohibitions, but a life of liberty in which he is free to follow all the leadings of the Spirit, and all the inclinations of the new nature which the Spirit imparts to those whom He quickens. It is a life of freedom - not freedom to sin, but freedom not to sin.(15)

But now that we have been set free from the law and are no longer under it's supervision (Gal 3:25)(16) what is to be the guiding principles of how we are to live our lives? The answer to this is found in the covenant we now enter. We have been saying that we have left the covenant of the law and returned to the covenant of Abraham which is by faith and not works (Gal 3:15-18), thus the new covenant is based on the older covenant where at last the law is upon our hearts, as always planned.

The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers 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. This is the covenant I will make with the house 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. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:8-12)

This goal of having the law in our hearts is accomplished through the giving of the Holy Spirit for now God Himself lives within us and guides us to that which is right and that which is wrong. Our mandate is as follows, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16) and "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Gal 5:18) It is this Spirit that is in conflict with the desires of the sinful nature (Gal 5:17), but fortunately those desires have been crucified with the sinful nature (Gal 5:24)(17) and so we no longer have to give into them. And Paul explains what it is like to live by the Spirit by saying, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5) That is, it all comes down to mindset and the place where the Christian should set his or her mind is not on how to make the sinful nature happy but how to make the Spirit happy. True Christian motivation then comes down to love of God.

Appropriately so for if we were to return to the distinction of the motivation of "must" and "I will" where the latter can be compared to a branch on a vine that just rests and will produce fruit (Jn 15) - love is that fruit (Jn 13:25; 1 Jn 3:14;4:7). God is love and if we love one another then we show that God now lives in us (1 Jn 4:12,16) The entire law is summarize by this one command therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Gal 5:14; Rom 13:8-10)

Conclusion


In conclusion, a person cannot earn justification or righteousness by keeping the law but only by God's grace where Christ kept the law for us. Our position both before and after salvation are based not on works but on grace. The Christian life is not one of, "I must" but "I will" -' I will', that is, 'because of who I am and not to gain anything even as a branch bears fruit because it is in the vine.' And that connection is through the Spirit who is the fulfillment of the new covenant where the law at last is in one's heart - a law which is summarized by this one command - love!

 


Notes


1. http://www.authenticwalk.com

2. Singular which Galatians 3:16 later says to be Christ and thus applies this covenant to us through Him and not the later covenant which is the law.

3. It could also be argued that this applies to all the commandments but this takes away nothing for all the commandments includes the 10 commandments but I refer just to the 10 here for both simplicity and for the most natural reading for they are what is in this context called "the commandments" (Deut 5:22). Also note I am like Paul contrasting the Abrahamic covenant where righteousness is by faith and the Mosaic covenant which some were using to justify themself by their actions (Gal 3:15-25). It can be argued that the proper keeping of the law was out of faith (Gal 2:15,16; Rom 10:3,4) and not self-justification but the arguement Paul is opposing is keeping the law in order to justify oneself.

4. See Appendix D.3 for more details. Also see Appendix A for a summary of Deuteronomy

5. Westerholm, 9.

6. Schreiner, 242.

7. Wright, 141.

8. I use "Justification" instead of "salvation" because this is the word Paul uses in Galatians (2:16,17;3:24;5:4). In English, it is like the thought, "trying to justify your actions before a judge". Interestingly, this term also applies after salvation - on what basis do you continue to be acceptable to God - your actions or God's grace?

9. In the middle ages, the Church falsely taught that the saints had so many good deeds left over that the average person could obtain them through touching a relic of the saint or buying a piece of paper in order to cancel out some of their bad deeds. Martin Luther spoke against this in the reformation; it is only through Christ our sins are taken away. Today, however some people still do good deeds in the hope it will pay for their bad. The challenge I am making however is that even some Christians rely on these deeds to keep their standing before God.

10. A little test is if a person says, "I must go to Church" and when asked why then respond, "Because God will be mad/disappointed/disapproving of me" then it legalism. But if they say, "Because I can't wait to be with God's people in a place where I grow so much" then it is something else.

11. Finch, 92

12. Ironically, some of my students falsely become so afraid of falling away by not doing good works that they almost fall away by trying so hard to do them.

13. Neither of these is the same as repentance which is saying, "I was wrong and I turn." Which is not trying to earn grace but seeking to overcome for a different motivation - that of holiness and of God Himself.

14. "If you accept the Torah, well and good; if not, that place will be your grave." (77,78) (Translated by H. Freedman, The Bablyonian Talmud: Seder Mo'ed 1: Shabbath (ed I. Epstein; London: Soncino Press, 1961) 417, altered.) (Marcus 82-83).

15. Philip Mauro, "The Christian's Relationship To The Mosaic Law" <http://www.preteristarchive.com/MauroArchive/ma-mos.html> Archived on Dec 18, 2001. From SEARCHING TOGETHER MAGAZINE, Vol. 20:1-3, 1992.

16. paidagwgoj "a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood." <http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=3807> Since we are no longer a child (Gal 4:1-2) the law no longer hangs over us.

17. The laws role however is not completely gone. It may no longer be a supervisor but it did teach us many things and shows us the things God likes and hates. For instance; the acts of the sinful nature in Gal 5:19-21 are also condemned by the law. Also, for new Christians it may be hard to discern and it may profit them to give them some suggestions as in Acts 15:19-21 but see 1 Cor 8 where some of these do not need to be kept.


Appendix A - Summary of Deuteronomy


In the desert east of the Jordon, after 40 years of wandering, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them. (1:1-3)

You convinced me to send up spies into the land but you were unwilling to go up and rebelled against God's command. I told you God would carry you as He did out of Egypt and up to this place but you did not trust in the LORD your God and God swore all of that generation would die in the dessert. You decided to fight anyhow but failed because God was not with you. (1: 26-46) For 40 years you marched in the dessert until every last fighting man among you had died. (2:1-16)

Hear now, the decrees and laws. Follow them so you may live and take possession of the land. Do not add or take away from the commands of God that I give you. (4:1-2) God destroyed everyone among you who followed Baal of Peor but all who held fast are still alive today (4:4).

At Horeb you heard God's voice declaring to you His covenant - the Ten Commandments. (4:10-13) Don't forget this covenant and make an idol for if do you will be scattered among the nations. And if there you seek God with all your heart and soul you will find Him for God is merciful. (4:15-31). It was with you, not your fathers that the LORD made this covenant (5:2) You said you would obey and God said, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (5:6-29) These commands are be on your hearts (Deut 6:6) And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. (6:25)

You must drive out the nations in the land and you must not serve their gods (7)

God led you in the dessert for forty years, humbling and testing you to see what was in your hearts - whether you would keep his commands. He made you hungry then fed you with manna to teach you man does not live on bread alone but on the every word that comes from the mouth of God. (8:1-3) Remember God when you prosper that it was from Him (8:10-18) And not because of your righteousness but their wickedness, for you continually provoked the Lord to anger in the desert (9:4-29)

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer (10:16) I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse (11:26) You will be blessed with great prosperity if you follow God (28:1-14) but suffer great curses if you do not obey and then be scattered among all the nations (28:15-68). You are standing here today to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, to confirm you as His people (29:12)

When all these blessings and curses come upon you and you take them to heart and your children return to God and obey Him with all your heart and soul, then He will bring you back. He will circumise your hearts so you will love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live. (30:1-6)

What I am commanding you today is not too difficult, it is not far away but in your mouth and heart so you can obey it. Choose life.

And God told Moses that he will soon die and the people will prostitute themselves to other gods and break the covenant. (31:14-22)


Appendix B - Summary of Galatians


I am astonished you are turning to another Gospel! Let anyone, even if it is me or an angel, that preaches another gospel be eternally condemned (1:6-9) I received this Gospel from God not man, you heard my story before. (1:11-24). Fourteen years later, I went up again to Jerusalem and though some infiltrators tried to compel Titus to be circumcised, we did not give in so the truth of the gospel will remain with you. (2:1-5) James, Peter and John gave us the right hand of fellowship and asked us to keep up the work.

We know that a man is not justified by observing the law but by faith in Jesus the Messiah (2:16) Through the law I died to the law so I can live for God, crucified with Christ and now Christ living in me - my life lived by faith. (2:19-20)

Who has bewitched you? Are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort and not the Spirit you started out with? (3:1-5) Abraham received righteousness by faith and all who have faith are his children, but all who rely on observing the law are under a curse. No, 'the righteous will live by faith'. (3:6-14).

The promise spoken to Abraham was to him and his seed (singular) which is Christ. It is this covenant, not the law (which came later), that the inheritance is dependant on. The law was added because of sin until Christ came. No one could attain righteousness by the law but were held prisoner by sin and the law. The law led us to Christ then so we are justified by faith and now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (3:15-25) You are now clothed with Christ and thus Abraham's seed, a son and a heir. (4:1-7)

You were set free so that you could be free, don't become a slave again. I tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised Messiah will be of no value to you and you will have to keep the whole law. Rather by faith we wait for righteousness we hope for.

Don't use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love - this sums up the law. Live by the Spirit and you won't gratify these desires, they conflict with the Spirit but if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law. You have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (5:13-24)

Help others caught in sin, carry each others burdens. God cannot be mocked. If you sow to please your sinful nature you will reap destruction; if you sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit you will reap eternal life. If you don't give up, you will reap a harvest. (6:1-9)

Don't let anyone cause me trouble, for I (unlike them) bear on my body the marks of Jesus. His grace be with you. (6:12-18)


Appendix C - Summary of Romans


God's wrath is against those who rejected the true image of God and exchanged it for something else. To these people he has handed them over to their sinful desires over and again. (1:18-32) And all of you who judge them are really no better and because of your stubborness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself (2:1-11). Even Gentiles have the law written on their conscious. Just because you hear the Law does not make you righteous but it is in obeying it (2:13) And the law goes deeper than rituals like circumcision but must be from the heart, you must keep its requirements or you have become like one uncircumcised (2:25-29) In conclusion both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, no one is righteous, not even one! (3:9-18) Because of this it is impossible to be declared righteous by observing the law, rather it makes us conscious of sin (3:19-20).

So there is now another righteousness that comes by faith and not by observing the law so there can be no more boasting. Does this nullify the law? No, rather it upholds it (3:21-31). Even like Abraham, he could not boast, he just had faith and God gave him righteousness as a gift. (4:1-12;16-25) It was through faith, not the law, that God promised the world to Abraham because it could not have worked the other way around since law brings wrath and where there is no law there is no transgression (4:15)

When Adam sinned, death entered the world and came to all men because all sinned (for even during the time when there was no law people still sinned). But Messiah Jesus brought righteousness to everyone. The law was added so the trespass would increase but the more it increased the more grace increased! (5:12-21)

So do we just go on sinning now? No, we died to sin, that is what baptism is about. Our old self is crucified with Christ and the body enslaved to sin has been done away with through death freeing us from sin. We are raised to a new life so now offer yourself to God. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (6:1-14) So should we sin then because we are not under law? No because if you offer yourselves to sin you will just be a slave to it again and the wage of that is death. (Rom 6:15-23)

The law only has authority over a man when he is alive, since you died that relationship has been broken. It used to be that when your sinful nature was in charge the sinful passions used to be aroused by the law but now we serve in the new way of the Spirit (Rom 7:1-6)

But the law is not bad. No, rather it shows us what sin is. It says, "Don't do this" and then sin wants to do. If it was not for this command, sin would not do that so the law actually brings death. But the law is good and spiritual, it is me that is unspiritual. I am the one who in my mind wants to do God's law but because of my sinful nature I am really a slave to the law of sin. (7:7-25) But there is now no more condemnation because even though the law was weakened by the sinful nature God met all it's requirements in me now that I have my mind set on what the Spirit desires and by this Spirit I am putting to death the misdeeds of the body (this is my obligation). (8:1-17)

Now, it is not Abraham's natural children who are God's children but the children of the promise (9:1-29) Those who pursue it by works do not attain it but rather are trying to establish their own but those who did not pursue it, have because it is by faith not works. (9:30-33) Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (10:4) There are two kinds of righteousness, one by law and one by faith: The one by law says

The man who does these things will live by them" (10:5) and the other is by accepting the good news (10:6-16)

Offer your bodies as living sacrifices and do not conform to this world's pattern but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Use your gifts with humility (12:1-8) Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good (12:21) Obey earthly authorities because of concious (13:1-7) The commandments are all summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself" He who does this has fulfilled the law for love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:8-10) Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature (13:14) Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope (15:4)


Appendix D - List of Key Verses


1. All have Sinned and the Law Reveals our Sin

  • Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)
  • There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
  • As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:10)
  • Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
  • the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)
  • For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, (Romans 8:3)
  • For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
  • Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!" (Deuteronomy 27:26)
  • The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, (Romans 5:20)
  • Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (Galatians 3:23-25)
  • The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-- not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (Hebrews 10:1)
  • What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. ( Rom 7:7-11)
  • But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. (Romans 7:13-14)
  • The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (1 Corinthians 15:56)
  • For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
  • because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15)

2. Our Righteousness cannot Come from the Law

  • And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." (Deuteronomy 6:25)
  • Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. (Psalms 119:1)
  • All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:10-11)
  • Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Romans 3:19-21)
  • For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17)
  • When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:14-16)
  • though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:4-7)
  • and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:9)
  • Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:5-7)
  • I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:2-3)
  • Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:2-4)
  • For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Romans 3:28)
  • What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." (Romans 9:30-32)
  • Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, `Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) or `Who will descend into the deep?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:4-9)

3. God Desires for our Righteousness to Come out of the Heart

  • These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. (Deuteronomy 6:6)
  • Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16)
  • For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:19)
  • I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." (Psalms 40:8)
  • The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip. (Psalms 37:31)
  • When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today...The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:1-2,6)
  • The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
  • This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 32:40)
  • For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers 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. This is the covenant I will make with the house 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. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Heb 8:7-12)
  • What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. (Galatians 3:17-19)

4. We are no Longer Bound to the Law

  • The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19)
  • By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)
  • For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. (Hebrews 7:12)
  • having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
  • Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10)

5. We are still to avoid sin.

  • What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:15)
  • Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality." The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. (Acts 21:24-26) [ I include this illustrate show how Paul was still obedient to the law ]
  • Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
  • Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (1 John 5:3)
  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
  • So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom 7:4-6)
  • Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
  • Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:24)
  • Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. (1 Corinthians 7:19)
  • Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring-- those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
  • Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

6. Our Keeping of the Law is now Summarized by Love

  • Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
  • Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)
  • You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:13-14)
  • For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)
  • So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

7. We do this not by Law Keeping but by Living by the Spirit

  • For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:3-5)
  • For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:17-18)
  • Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
  • For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)
  • So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
  • Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-- but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14)
  • Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:14)
  • Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

Annotated Bibligraphy


Finch, Karen Peterson. "Law or Liberty?" Discipleship Journal. 123 (May/June 2001), 80-85.
God does not want to be bound by legalism to the law but to live by the Spirit.

Hays, Richard B. "Three Dramatic Roles: The Law in Romans 3-4." In Paul and the Mosaic Law. James D.G. Dunn, ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.
The law has three roles: Defines the Jewish identity, pronounces condemnation on all humanity, and it is an oracle witness prefiguring the righteousness of God disclosed in Jesus Christ.

Lichtenberger, Hermann. "The Understanding of the Torah in the Judaism of Paul's Day: A Sketch" In Paul and the Mosaic Law. James D.G. Dunn, ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.
It is incorrect to think that the Jewish thought was to keep the law only to win merit and gain eternal life for the rabbis thought of life as more than the world to come and their motivation was not so much on rewards for doing it for the sake of God and Torah itself.

Marcus, Joel. "Under the Law." The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 63 (Jan 2001): 72-83.
The term, "under the law" was Paul's opponents in Galations reference to an ancient midrash of blessings and cursing of Mt. Sinai hovering over them and thus their fear of abandoning it would result in destruction, Paul focused on the curses but assumed readers understood the blessings.

Mauro, Philip. "The Christian's Relationship To The Mosaic Law" <http://www.preteristarchive.com/MauroArchive/ma-mos.html> Archived on Dec 18, 2001. From SEARCHING TOGETHER MAGAZINE, Vol. 20:1-3, 1992.
The law of Moses was only temperary and does not apply to us now, rather we live under the law of Christ and are now free - free that is to obey God.


Sanders, E.P. Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People. Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1983.
Paul breaks from the traditional Jewish understanding of covenent, election and faithfulfullness to the Mosaic law.

Schreiner, Thomas R. The law & Its Fulfillment. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993.
We cannot be saved by the law while in sin but must be saved in Christ who fulfills the law and helps us to live the law in its fulfilled state.

Schreiner, Thomas R. "Paul's View of the Law in Romans 10:4-5." Westminister Theological Journal 55 (Spring 1993): 113-135.
The purpose of Rom 10:4 is not to give a global statment about the relationship between the two testaments but, "Christ is the end of the law in the sense that he is the end of using the law to establish one's own righteousness" for as v. 5 shows one cannot keep the entire law.

Seifrid, Mark A. "The Subject of Rom 7:14-25." Novum Testamentum 34 (Oct 1992), 313-333.
Paul uses the Word "I" to represent all the readers in a rhetorical answer to show that the Law still is not enough to save them and they must be free from it.

Sloyan, Gerald S. Is Christ the End of the Law? Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1978
Christ is the end of the law as its completion but not as its repeal.

Snodgrass, Klyne. "Sheres of Influence: A Possible Solution to the Problem of Paul and the Law." Journal of the Study of the New Testament 32 (Feb 1988), 93-113.
The law should be thought of in spheres of influence, when we are under sin the law is to us sin and death but not when we are in Christ who is the goal of the law.

Westerholm, Stephen. Israel's Law and the Church Faith: Paul and his Recent Interpreters. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.
A summary of modern writers on Paul's view of the law with an extended list of definitions.

Weima, Jeffrey A.D. "The Function of the Law in Relation to Sin: An Evaluation of the View of H. Raisanen" Novum Testamentum 32 (July 1990), 219-235.
Raisanen's belief that Paul uses contradictions between the relationship of law and sin is incorrect and not in tension or contradiction but rather expressing three separate functions: cognitively revealing sinful condition to a man, converting sin into more clearly defined and serious trangressions, causatively stimulates sin.

Wright, N.T. The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.
The inability to keep the law refers to the nation of Israel who have gone into exile in accordance with the covenant of Deut 27-28 and fulfilled in the "exile" of Christ on the cross resulting in the bringing back to the covenant and circumcision of the heart in God's people.

YashaNet Staff, "Not Subject to the Law of God?" <http://www.yashanet.com/library/underlaw.htm> Archived on Dec 18, 2001.
Christianity has misinterpreted the Jewish idea of the law by saying we are no longer under it, rather God's people were always saved by faith lived out by keeping the law.


Ziesler, J.A.. "The Role of the Tenth Commandment in Romans 7." Journal of the Study of the New Testament 33 (Jun 1988), 93-113.
Paul chose the command "do not covet" to illustrate that we cannot control our desires and thus cannot keep the law, a statement he could not have made with any of the other laws.

All Scripture taken from the NIV version of the Bible.

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