What Best Describes The Relationship of the Believer to the Law of Moses (recognizing apriori that salvation is not by the Law)?

The believer (Jew or Gentile) is under the moral teachings of the Mosaic Law
22% (4 votes)
The believer is under the teaching of Grace (NT) which often includes parts of the Law
28% (5 votes)
The Jewish believer should obey the Law but the Gentile believer does not need to do so
0% (0 votes)
Neither Jewish nor Gentile believer should obey the Law
6% (1 vote)
Both Jewish and Gentile believers should obey the Law as much as possible
0% (0 votes)
We gain wisdom from the Law, but in no sense should we obey its teachings as constraints
17% (3 votes)
I am confused to death about this, but I know God does not expect us to eat kosher, etc.
6% (1 vote)
The Law has so many purposes, some of which are fulfilled, and some not, that no listed answer really applies
22% (4 votes)
Other
0% (0 votes)
The Law of Moses is not relevant in any way to the believer
0% (0 votes)
The rules of the Law that guide Christians must be discerned and we cannot definitely list them
0% (0 votes)
It is impossible to separate the moral and religious laws because we do not know their basis, but we can make educated guesses
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 18
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There are 17 Comments

Ed Vasicek's picture

Dr. Ron Moseley lists 9 purposes for the Law of Moses. Certainly some of these are past (Romans 10:4, for example).

Yet, as the Word of the Lord, it endures forever and ALL Scripture is both inspired and USEFUL for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So how do you view the Law? Do you trash it? Try to eat kosher and wear agrments of only one fabric?

Is getting a tattoo a matter of Christian freedom, or its prohibition a relevant part of the Law? Is such a command the ceremonial/religious law unique to Israel, or a moral law? How can you distinguish between them, if you do?

Does Acts 15:19-21 (esp. 21) imply that gentile believers participated in Synagogue life?

This poll ought to be a good one. I don't have all the answers... maybe you do. Hang on!!!
Away we go!

"The Midrash Detective"

Anne Sokol's picture

by "Law" in the poll, are you referring to the first 5 books of the OT?

Anne Sokol's picture

Make up my own answer???

the Law is perfect and so good, and Jesus lived it ALL, PERFECTLY, for me!!! Yippee!!!

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I believe that we are under grace, but there are commandments that are brought into the NT as still applicable. And yet the law has more uses than just detailing the religious life of an OT Jew. It shows us how inadequate we are, how holy God is. There is practical information about sterilization procedures (washing hands in running water, for instance) and how to prevent the spread of disease. It makes sense to have a railing around the roof of your house if it is used as a 'porch'. Our neighborhood zoning laws require homeowners to have railings next to a stairway of 3 or more steps, and around any elevated porch or deck. Isn't that a coinky-dinky?

Does anyone think that gender-bending or cross-dressing is appropriate? Shouldn't we try to preserve the difference of appearance and unique roles of the male and female? Do NT Scriptures flesh out many OT laws?

Why were tattoos prohibited? Was it just association with an idolatrous culture? Were they physically safe- IOW, is it prudent to put oneself at risk for an unnecessary cosmetic procedure? What is the motive behind it? If the motive is vanity, or an attempt to call undue attention to oneself, then the Scriptures addressing wrong heart attitudes would apply. I don't think we can say "That was OT law so it doesn't matter." God is not a simpleton, an egomaniac, or manipulative. He had a reason, and IMO we should wonder what that reason was, and not dismiss it so easily.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
by "Law" in the poll, are you referring to the first 5 books of the OT?

I refer to it as the Law of Moses in the question, which leaves the portion before Exodus 20 actually separate. But for practical purposes we can say the first 5 books, the Torah, or the Pentateuch.

"The Midrash Detective"

JD Miller's picture

Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

No doubt we are no longer under the law as given through Moses, but that does not mean that God no longer has any expectations for His people. I fear we have a tendency to want to pick and choose which parts of the law given through Moses to obey and which parts to ignore when that issue was already settled at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.
Having said that, the N.T. is filled with further expectations for believers that we must not ignore. I believe much of the solution to this puzzle is to understand that the Jerusalem Council was dealing specifically with how much of the law of Moses as observed by the Jews had to be applied to Gentile Christians. Only a few things were listed, but we must understand that even before Moses, God had expectations for man. Read the commands given to Noah and his offspring in Genesis 9. We are all descended from Noah, so these are ageless commands to all mankind.
Further as we read the N.T. we are given further clarification of what God expects of a Spirit filled believer (and it is not to keep the Mosaic Law).
I fear much confusion comes because through the years it has been much easier to just take a position that has been passed down to us and get support for it from the law of Moses (legalism), rather than either looking at other Biblical principles to support that position or realizing that it actually cannot be supported.

Anne Sokol's picture

I can say, I have kept the Law, by faith in Christ. I have believed unto righteousness.

Quote:
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. . . . For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:1-10)

Anne Sokol's picture

interestingly, perhaps the working out of our obedience might not look like what we imagine. I mean that in this sense: that Christ lived out the complete fulfillment of every single command of God, and no one noticed. In fact, He was accused of the opposite! We are so sinful, we cannot even recognize a true law-fulfiller among us! Instead, we accuse Him of our own sins.

I find this an intriguiging study--to go through the Gospels and observe how Christ fulfilled the Law. I think that's a good focus for my life because the more I mature and strengthen my faith in what Christ exactly did on my behalf fulfilling the Law, the more it can work out in my life through my faith.

Martin Luther divides the Bible into the commands of God and the promises of God. And he stresses over and over that the believer must do all he can to put off any reliance on his own works and believe in the works of Christ. That's our freedom.

In this freedom, we then become the servants of all, just as Christ was our servant--and that's where "our part" comes into play. It's interesting that he doesn't even couch it in terms of us obeying the Law or what parts of the Law (or any command of God in the OT or NT) apply to us. We are just servants, believing every drop of the Law is already done for us, so we can serve in freedom.

Charlie's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
interestingly, perhaps the working out of our obedience might not look like what we imagine. I mean that in this sense: that Christ lived out the complete fulfillment of every single command of God, and no one noticed. In fact, He was accused of the opposite! We are so sinful, we cannot even recognize a true law-fulfiller among us! Instead, we accuse Him of our own sins.

Very perceptive. It reminds me of the intro of Luther's Galatians commentary.

Luther on Galatians wrote:
St. Paul wrote this epistle because, after his departure from the Galatian churches, Jewish-Christian fanatics moved in, who perverted Paul’s Gospel of man’s free justification by faith in Christ Jesus.

The world bears the Gospel a grudge because the Gospel condemns the religious wisdom of the world. Jealous for its own religious views, the world in turn charges the Gospel with being a subversive and licentious doctrine, offensive to God and man, a doctrine to be persecuted as the worst plague on earth.

As a result we have this paradoxical situation: The Gospel supplies the world with the salvation of Jesus Christ, peace of conscience, and every blessing. Just for that the world abhors the Gospel.

Anne Sokol wrote:
Martin Luther divides the Bible into the commands of God and the promises of God. And he stresses over and over that the believer must do all he can to put off any reliance on his own works and believe in the works of Christ. That's our freedom.

In this freedom, we then become the servants of all, just as Christ was our servant--and that's where "our part" comes into play. It's interesting that he doesn't even couch it in terms of us obeying the Law or what parts of the Law (or any command of God in the OT or NT) apply to us. We are just servants, believing every drop of the Law is already done for us, so we can serve in freedom.

I love this emphasis of Luther's, but I don't think it sufficient to answer the question, "How then shall we live?" First, not everything in life is directed toward our neighbors. We still have duties directly toward God. Second, we still need to know how to serve our neighbors, information that we find in both the Mosaic Law specifically and in Luther's law-as-commands. Third, the new life of obedience to God's commands (his nature?) is one of the principal reasons that God saves us. That is, just as sanctification without a firm basis in justification is a burden and a legalism, justification without sanctification would be a sham, an outrage, a presumption upon God. Our blessedness as believers consists not only in the removal of the guilt of our sin, but also in the actual mortification of the old nature and vivification of the new "me" who is the real me, the me I was meant to be.

So, I think that the Reformed churches took a wise course in affirming a role of the law in the life of the believer. I would summarize it thus: the unbeliever may approach the gospel only through the law; the believer may approach the law only through the gospel. WCF 19 and WLC 91-152 explain the Reformed position:

WCF 19.6-7 wrote:
6. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and, not under grace.

7. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.

Also, Luther wouldn't throw away the 10 Commandments (not that you said that). In fact, the first part of his http://www.stpaulsashland.org/docs/lutheran/smallcatechism.pdf ]Small Catechism is an exposition of them.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Anne Sokol's picture

charlie, i don't think i have any disagreements with you, i think you are able to explain things that I'm not able to explain yet.

although, any obedience is really just valuable because of my faith during that obedience ... you think? I think the actual obedience I am able to do or think is a gracious act of God Wink

One thing Vitaliy talks about it how, once we understand that the law is entirely fulfilled for us, we can honestly enjoy it. It really does become sweet as honey when we understand we are not judged by it anymore.

And at that point, we can start being more honest with the Law and not reducing it to some types of commands or standards that we are able to keep ourselves, kwim? We can be more truthful about how high and holy and wonderful it is.

And once we can enjoy it, and we see God in the laws more clearly, we look into the law and can understand it and be changed by it into a truer image of God.

ramble, ramble,

this thread has made me wonder something--you know how we say that the 10 commandments are still valid, etc. well, do you really think it's true about the command about the sabbath? do you think we really still observe it? Is it going to church?

Anne Sokol's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
although, any obedience is really just valuable because of my faith during that obedience ... you think? I think the actual obedience I am able to do or think is a gracious act of God Wink
OK, I did some research, and the Bapt Confession of Faith says much more clearly and majestically what I'm tryin' to say:

there's this sort of this passive-yet-not-passive, active-yet-not-active relationship between us and God when it comes to our obedience.

Quote:
Their ability to do these good works does not in any way come from themselves, but comes wholly from the Spirit of Christ. To enable them to do good works, alongside the graces which they have already received, it is necessary for there to be a further real influence of the same Holy Spirit to cause them to will and to do of His good pleasure. But believers are not, on these grounds, to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless given a special motion by the Spirit, but they must be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

And then, it's a hard thing to know how to emphasize or focus on our obedience (or the obedience of others?) because it's nothing praiseworthy:

Quote:
And in any case, in so far as our works are good they originate from the work of the Holy Spirit. Even then, the good works are so defiled by us, and so mixed with weakness and imperfection, that they could not survive the severity of God's judgement.

Yet, quite apart from the fact that believers are accepted through Christ as individual souls, their good works are also accepted through Christ. It is not as though the believers are (in this life) wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God's sight, but because He looks upon them in His Son, and is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although it is accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

Anne Sokol's picture

The Bapt Confession (1689) says the law is three parts: ceremonial, judicial, and moral. And the moral law is binding.

Quote:
The moral law ever binds to obedience everyone, justified people as well as others, and not only out of regard for the matter contained in it, but also out of respect for the authority of God the Creator, Who gave the law. Nor does Christ in the Gospel dissolve this law in any way, but He considerably strengthens our obligation to obey it.

Although true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, because as a rule of life it informs them of the will of God and their duty and directs and binds them to walk accordingly. It also reveals and exposes the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts and lives, and using it for self-examination they may come to greater conviction of sin, greater humility and greater hatred of their sin. They will also gain a clearer sight of their need of Christ and the perfection of His own obedience. It is of further use to regenerate people to restrain their corruptions, because of the way in which it forbids sin. The threatenings of the law serve to show what their sins actually deserve, and what troubles may be expected in this life because of these sins even by regenerate people who are freed from the curse and undiminished rigours of the law. The promises connected with the law also show believers God's approval of obedience, and what blessings they may expect when the law is kept and obeyed, though blessing will not come to them because they have satisfied the law as a covenant of works. If a man does good and refrains from evil simply because the law encourages to the good and deters him from the evil, that is no evidence that he is under the law rather than under grace.

The aforementioned uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but they sweetly comply with it, as the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the will of man to do freely and cheerfully those things which the will of God, which is revealed in the law, requires to be done.

Also, I figured out why Luther talks only about the commands and the promises--that piece was "Concerning Christian Liberty." And he has a whole long piece on the 10 commandments, too. Very interesting.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Anne wrote

Quote:
The Bapt Confession (1689) says the law is three parts: ceremonial, judicial, and moral. And the moral law is binding.

Although this sounds good, the dilemma is that the Torah is a whole; we cannot always separate the moral from the ceremonial or judicial.

For example, how do we know which category these fall in:

1. Tattoos
2. Beard trimming
3. Tithing
4. Second tithing
5. Wearing fabrics of one garment
6. Sexual intercourse when the wife is menstruating
7. Eating meat with blood in it (apparently reaffirmed for gentiles in Acts 15:20)
8. Rising in the presence of the elderly (Lev. 19:32)
9. Building a parapet on your flat roof (Deut. 22:8)
10. Advocating a voluntary military with soldiers being able to opt out of a battle (Deut. 20:8)
11. A woman not wearing men's clothing (Deut. 22:5, often understood but not stated as transvestite practice)
12. Not being able to remarry a spouse you have divorced if one of you had been remarried later
13. The 7th Day of the week as a day of rest
14. Taking a year off and being supported by parents after marriage
15. Lending money at interest

We might have opinions, but how can we know for sure what category these fall in? The issue, of course, is which of these are God's revealed will for the NT believer -- whether they are good ideas or not is irrelevant.

"The Midrash Detective"

Charlie's picture

The tripartite division requires judgment. It isn't a quick fix. We should not expect the law of God to be any other way. Even the OT law, as lengthy as it is, was not exhaustive. It gave generic cases that the judges were to understand, interpret, and contextualize.

Distinguishing between the moral and ceremonial began in the OT itself. David says, "Psalm 69:30-31 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs." Or, even better known, "Psalm 51:15-17 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

How could David say that? He is already distinguishing between moral aspects of laws and ceremonial aspects.

Or take Jesus: "Matthew 22:36-40 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Notice, Jesus does not say, "These are my rules for the Church, a body of believers distinct from ethnic Israel." He is answering a question about the OT Law. So, the Law itself was not merely a body of injunctions and prohibitions, but the unpacking of a moral center. If the 2 loves are the essence of OT law, then we must affirm an essential correlation between OT and NT ethics.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

Charlie wrote:
The tripartite division requires judgment. It isn't a quick fix. We should not expect the law of God to be any other way. Even the OT law, as lengthy as it is, was not exhaustive. It gave generic cases that the judges were to understand, interpret, and contextualize.

Distinguishing between the moral and ceremonial began in the OT itself. David says, "Psalm 69:30-31 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs." Or, even better known, "Psalm 51:15-17 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

How could David say that? He is already distinguishing between moral aspects of laws and ceremonial aspects.

Or take Jesus: "Matthew 22:36-40 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Notice, Jesus does not say, "These are my rules for the Church, a body of believers distinct from ethnic Israel." He is answering a question about the OT Law. So, the Law itself was not merely a body of injunctions and prohibitions, but the unpacking of a moral center. If the 2 loves are the essence of OT law, then we must affirm an essential correlation between OT and NT ethics.

Charlie, love you brother! I agree with your heading, "True vs. Easy." Because something is not easy does not mean it is not true. I do think, however, that the examples you cited above are consistent with the Jewish idea of RANKING the importance of commands, the heavy vs. the light. For example, if a feast (which can require work) falls on a Sabbath, which takes precedence? The above passages eliminate no commands, they merely prioritize them.

There is much to commend the tripartite division, but I have found no Scripture that clearly does this. No passage COMPREHENSIVELY addresses the relationship of the believer to the Law. We have many verses that address aspects of the Law (for example, Jewish believers or Jewish proselytes who were under the Law found it a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ and thus no longer under it in that manner), but not the whole picture. That's why it is so tough to put it all together. And even the legal/judicial aspects of the Law (i.e., executing rebellious sons) has bearing, not that we seek to govern our land in such manner, but that we recognize how serious being rebellious is or how evil witchcraft is.

I think I can confidently say that the parts of the Law repeated for the New Covenant are certain, but the application of the rest of the Law to the NT believer (so that what is not followed is actually sin) is truly far from a perfect science. I know the problem lies with us, not God's Word.

Would anyone like to try to address some of the items I listed in the previous post as to their binding authority for the NT believer?

My viewpoint is that Christianity is Trans-cultural Messianic Judaism (I get the term from David Stern), but the problem falls in precisely defining what God intended specifically for the Jewish people (their God-directed unique culture) and the New Covenant gentile believer.

"The Midrash Detective"

Anne Sokol's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
Would anyone like to try to address some of the items I listed in the previous post as to their binding authority for the NT believer?

1. Tattoos
2. Beard trimming
3. Tithing
4. Second tithing
5. Wearing fabrics of one garment
6. Sexual intercourse when the wife is menstruating
7. Eating meat with blood in it (apparently reaffirmed for gentiles in Acts 15:20)
8. Rising in the presence of the elderly (Lev. 19:32)
9. Building a parapet on your flat roof (Deut. 22:8)
10. Advocating a voluntary military with soldiers being able to opt out of a battle (Deut. 20:8)
11. A woman not wearing men's clothing (Deut. 22:5, often understood but not stated as transvestite practice)
12. Not being able to remarry a spouse you have divorced if one of you had been remarried later
13. The 7th Day of the week as a day of rest
14. Taking a year off and being supported by parents after marriage
15. Lending money at interest

We might have opinions, but how can we know for sure what category these fall in? The issue, of course, is which of these are God's revealed will for the NT believer -- whether they are good ideas or not is irrelevant.

i don't know . . . are they all optional? that is my approach, although I see several of them as desirable.

I think it gets into much of an individual area, where God leads a believer personally what to do.

Number 7, for example. My BIL thinks nothing of ordering a "rare" steak. On the other hand, I was interested to note how carefully (b/c of this instruction) my husband drained the blood from a rabbit a church member shot and gave us . . . But b/c we don't catch/kill our own meat (well, most of us), and the menu offers well-done, medium, or rare, we don't think about it in those terms.

I think #10 would be pretty desirable. In fact, i think there would be times a Christian would not be able conscionably to fight for a particular govt or war. Even under communism, Christians could opt to do their mandatory military service in non-combat, more "lowly" type of service.

About the sabbath or first day, it was interesting to me to read the differences in Martin Luther's instructions and the 1689 Bapt Conf of Faith's instructions. BCF was much more comprehensive and "stricter." Luther basically talked about going to mass and then long pieces about prayer (generally) and stuff, but not thoughts like strict observance of this or that.

JD Miller's picture

As I look at Ed's list, I cannot argue them based upon the law of Moses, for that has been nailed to the cross. Does that mean I endorse tattoos? Not exactly. I do not want a tattoo because it clearly identifies with a culture and a set of values that I do not want to be identified with, but to argue it because of the law of Moses is something I cannot do and remain consistent. As far as tithing- we have a principle of bringing our increase to the storehouse and we even have an example of Abraham tithing long before Moses gave the law though we do not have a specific command. Does that mean I don't tithe? Of course not, but I do it from the heart not by constraint as I look to the principles and examples of scripture. As I consider the parapet, I do not have a roof that is easily accessed, but I did once own a house where I built a deck. Though I was not required to build a railing on it because of the OT law, I did so to make sure it was up to code and to make make sure no one would fall off and hurt themselves (love thy neighbor).

Because we are no longer under any of the Law of Moses does not mean we are lawless. It simply means we have a better standard under grace. I am sure glad I can wear polyester with my cotton and that I can have a bacon cheeseburger, but that does not mean I will feast on the blood sausage my Belgium friends make.