My two most recent Bible studies focused on the Ten Commandments. Many people do not understand why I even mention them. "We are not under the Law anymore, we're under the new Covenant; we live by grace, not the law!" they tell me.
However, it has very truly been said that the New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.
It is true that we are no longer living under the Mosaic law. With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the old covenant passed away, and a new covenant began. The first covenant was not perfect, but the second one was. Hebrews 8:7 tells us:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
So then why do we even need to study the commandments given to Moses, which formed the basis of the Law? What use is there in studying something that is no longer in effect?
Well, to begin with, the Ten Commandments are still in effect, just not in the same form. We read in Matthew 22:37-40:
"Jesus said unto him, 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."
So the commandments were repeated in the New Testament by our Lord and Savior, only in a different form. The ten were boiled down into two: Love God with every fiber of your being, with all the strength that is within you, and
with every particle of your mind and will; and love and care for your neighbor and seek his good to the same extent that you
that you love and care for yourself and seek your own good. Jesus did not destroy the law; He Himself tells us:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Matt. 5:17
But what is the purpose of the Law, if we are not under the law? Too many people do not understand the role the Law plays today. It is really very simple: the law is a mirror that reflects our sinfulness. It shows us we are all sinners. The Bible tells us:
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not
known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom. 7:7)
The purpose of the law is to show us what is sinful in the sight of the Holy and Almighty God. Without the law, we would not know when or how we were guilty of sin in God's eyes.
1 Timothy 1:9-10 tells us:
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for
unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile
themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any
other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
The purpose of the law is to show us our own sinfulness.Without the law, without some standard to guide us, how would we ever know how much we have sinned against God?
Without the law, we might not realize that we are all guilty of sin, and deserving of punishment.
Bible tells us quite plainly that we are all sinners:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." (Rom. 3:10)
Therefore, the purpose of the law is to show us our own guilt, much as we would like to deny it. The law gives us God's standards for our behavior; it tells us what He expects from us.
When we measure ourselves by God's standards, we see how badly we have failed, how badly we have sinned, how guilty we are. And we are guilty--- there is no doubt about that!
I can already hear many people arguing, "Well, I'm pretty good; I keep all the important ones!"
But is that good enough? We all tend to think we're "pretty good" or "good enough". We like to pat ourselves on the back because we keep the "big" ones. But is our heart clean and pure? The Bible tells us:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:(Matt. 15:19)
If our heart isn't right, we break God's laws and commit sin. We are all guily. Our human instinct is to cover our sin, to hide our guilt, to rationalize and justify our wickedness. But that won't stand up in the light of God's law.
The law is a mirror that shows us, over and over again, that we are all guilty sinners in need of redemption. Even if we think we do "good enough", the Bible tells us:
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.(James 2:10)
Without realizing how sinful we are, we may go through life, thinking we are "good enough" to go to heaven, or "just as good" as some of these church people we see around us. But dear friends, "good enough" for us is NOT good enough for a pure and holy and righteous God!
We can never be "good enough", and it's a terrible mistake to think we can! We are not to measure ourselves by the standards of others, but by the standards set forth by a pure and holy Almighty God! The law shows us our sinfulness and shows up our disobedience.
It shows us we can never measure up on our own. It shows us how much we need Jesus to make us righteous and clean in God's sight.
If we don't know that we are sinners in need of a Savior, how then could we ever be saved?
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
That is the whole purpose of the law. It shows us that we always fall short of God's standards for us. It shows us that we are all sinners; that we are guilty in God's eyes and deserve condemnation and punishment. It makes us realize we can never be "good enough" and that we need a Savior
to save us from the condemnation we deserve. It shows us how much we need Jesus. It makes us realize that the sins He bore to Calvary were OUR sins, and that He alone paid the price that WE should have to pay for our transgressions.
That is why we still have the law, and why we need to study the Ten Commandments, even though we live by grace and are not saved by the law. And that is why Romans 7:12 tells us:
"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."