There are faiths in the world that adhere to “keeping the Law”, exactly what does that mean? When asked the question do you keep the Law, the individual is asking do you keep the Law of Moses which was given at Mt. Sinai. You can find details to this in the book of Exodus chapter 20 in which God gives the children of Israel commandments to observe.
It’s worth mentioning that while most recognise this as “The Ten Commandments” in actuality there are 613 commandments God gave at Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments are a condensed version of all the 613 commandments.
An important question to ask is are Christians are required to keep the Law? To clear up any confusion in regards to the topic at hand, I will be straightforward in saying, New Testament Christians we are not required to “keep the Law” allow me to explain.
The Purpose Of The Law
Believers do not disregard the Law as “not important” the Law is important and serves its purposes. For instance, the Law is Holy and good (Romans 7:12) it shows forth God’s moral character of perfection. The God we serve is a thrice Holy God (Isaiah 6:3). The first 5 commandments give us clear understanding of who God is and our relationship to God Himself (Exodus 20:3-11). The remaining 5 address our relationship with our fellow man (Exodus 20:12-17).
Another purpose the Law serves is to show us our sin, like a mirror it reflects ourselves back at us. God commands us to never lie and we can all agree that we’ve all lied at some time in our lives. If we had to think about how many lies we’ve told during the course of our lives it would be too many to remember. We’re told that the Law was not made for the righteous but for ungodly sinners.
1 Timothy 1:9-10 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 Law exposes sin and makes sin exceeding sinful (Romans 7:13) and death comes through the transgression of the Law. The book of Romans is great to read concerning how the Law applies to our transgression of the Law.
The final purpose of the Law serves as a tutor or schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). By seeing ourselves through the Law and the fact that we can’t keep it because none of us is perfect an alarm should go off in our head. Our conscience should be screaming “I’m in trouble with God!”, this would show you the need for a Saviour. The Law is there as a reminder to the children of Israel also to show them the need for a Christ.
Law vs Grace
Believer, take heed if you ever come across someone who tells you that you must keep the Law of Moses or any strict rule-keeping for salvation know this is false. There are cults who teach you must believe and adhere to “keeping the Law”. Groups who teach these things either upfront or subtly are Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Islam, Christadelphians, Black Hebrew Israelites etc.
They won’t admit it but they all depend on a works-based salvation, it’s Jesus plus their good deeds. The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). These groups look to gain God’s favour by working for it and the Bible is clear that there’s nothing you can do to merit salvation (Isaiah 64:6).
The term legalism is similar in that it’s still “works-based” even though you may not be referring to “The Law of Moses” as a basis but the individual is still depending on themselves to do certain things in order to remain in right standing with God. This is also called strict rule-keeping.
A group that comes to mind is a cult based in Australia (Exclusive Brethren), all men must wear white shirts with white buttons. Another rule they have is a member’s home must not share the same drainage or their home cannot touch an unbeliever’s house (adjoining walls).
The Seventh Day Adventist cult also falls into this “rule-keeping” they have strict dietary rules such as vegetarian diets and keeping the Sabbath. Here’s a quote from the SDA website concerning proper health in the eyes of the Advent movement.
“Exercise and avoidance of harmful substances such as tobacco, alcohol and mind-altering substances lead to clear minds and wise choices. A well-balanced vegetarian diet that avoids the consumption of meat coupled with intake of legumes, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, along with a source of vitamin B12, will promote vigorous health.” – SDA
Notice in the above statement “A well-balanced vegetarian diet that avoids the consumption of meat” Adventists are to avoid meat, this is a perfect picture of legalism and any group you come across who do such things should be avoided.
Christ the End of the Law
The Lord Jesus said in the synoptic Gospels while giving the sermon on the mount indirect reference to the Law, He said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17). The Law condemns sin and is used to stop every mouth or person who would seek to exalt themselves; proclaiming a person guilty before God (Romans 3:19).
We see the importance of the Law that it’s Holy and good, it exposes sin and causes sinners to come to a knowledge of themselves that they would repent and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. The Lord Jesus rescued us (believers), He lived a perfect life under the Law fulfilling all the requirements of God which you and I could never do; redeeming us that we may be adopted into the family of God (Galatians 4:4–5).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the believers’ ark in the same way Noah and his family were saved when they entered the ark by faith (Hebrews 11:7) before the world was flooded for its ungodliness (2 Peter 2:5). The Law should move you to fear that you also would take refuge in the ark which is Christ Jesus.
Believers Relationship To The Law
Therefore, anyone who’s saved in Christ is not condemned under the Law (Romans 8:1) through Christ we establish the Law (Romans 3:31) while not being affected by the Law. As Christ has “abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances;” (Ephesians 2:15). The unbeliever is not as fortunate because they are still condemned by the Law not being saved.
When a person comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ it’s never because of what they can do for God, it’s what God has done for you. Salvation is given freely by God’s grace to the one that does not work (Romans 4:4-5). If you really don’t understand how a person is saved without works/the Law my recommendation to you is to really study the book of Romans and Galatians.
Romans deals with how the Law condemns all sin making everyone guilty before God and in need of Jesus Christ, while Galatians teaches that we cannot mix our works with the saving grace of God. God does all the saving, that said in the post will be focusing on the Law of Christ in contradistinction to this post; Lord willing. God bless.