In the Garden of Eden, after God created man, he had already provided everything that man would ever need and then He gave him a command. “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” [Genesis 2:16-17 – NIV]
God gave man just one command, to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But man could not keep that one command because it was a law unto him. Through that law came sin, because the strength of sin is the law. “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.” [1 Corinthians 15:56 – NLT]
Man was removed from the Garden of Eden. Though sin began to have dominion, yet man was unaware of sin and continued sinning and committing ungodly acts. “Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break.” [Romans 5:13 -NLT] “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” [Genesis 6:5 – NKJV]
Man needed to know what sin was and that he could do nothing about sin but needed God’s help in order to overcome sin. For this very purpose God gave the law to man. “Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” [Romans 7:7 – NIV] “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” [Romans 3:20 – NKJV]
So what was the law? God gave the people a list of commandments that was to be observed by them. Obedience to do what the commandments required them to do would result in blessings for the people and nation. Failure to do them would result in curses. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God. But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you” [Deuteronomy 28:1-2,15 – NLT]
It is impossible for man to fully obey all the commandments and God knew that man would utterly fail in it. If they would obey the law perfectly, there would be no sin. But because they were not able, sin remained. Therefore man would not be able to receive any blessings because of the law. So God provided another means for his people to obtain His blessings. He commanded them to make an offering for their sins so that their sins could be forgiven and that is how they could receive the blessings of God. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” [James 2:10 – NIV] “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” [Romans 3:20 – KJV] “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you” [Exodus 20:24 – NLT]
So the law was not given for man to be justified, rather it was just a means to show man that he was sinful and that he could not keep the law. The law itself was holy and perfect, but was unable to provide a solution to man so that he could be righteous in front of God. “For the Law never made anything perfect—but instead a better hope is introduced through which we [now] come close to God.” [Hebrews 7:19 – AMP] “The Law therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good.” [Romans 7:12 – AMP] “We know that the law is good when used correctly” [1 Timothy 1:8 – NLT] “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 – NIV]
So then why did God give the law? Firstly to show man that he was sinful and secondly to point him to a savior, one who could deliver him from sin. In other words the law became a school master to man so that it could point him to Christ. “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;” [Galatians 3:19 – NKJV] “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ” [Galatians 3:24 – NKJV]
Man would forever be condemned by the law, if there was no savior. But God in his mercy and grace provided us salvation through a saviour, His Son Jesus who came in flesh and died for our sins. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin” [Romans 8:3 –NKJV]
Jesus came to reveal the truth and the fullness of God’s grace. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14 – NIV] “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” [John 1:17 – KJV]
By His death and resurrection, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. After offering His life for us, he accomplished what the law could not do for us i.e. He removed sin by His death. This means that sin is no longer an issue between God and man because of this sacrifice. Jesus accomplished this and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, indicating His finished work. “But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.” [Hebrews 9:26 – NLT] “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” [Hebrews 10:12 – KJV]
Because of what Jesus did, grace and through grace salvation has appeared to all. When we place our faith in Jesus we are saved by this grace. This salvation is God’s gift and we can take no credit. “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” [Titus 2:11 – NLT] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16 – KJV] “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” [Ephesians 2:8 – NIV]
So when we believe in Jesus Christ, we have everlasting life. Question – What about the law? Is it obsolete? Wouldn’t it have been good if there was some way man could obey them after all the law is perfect and holy. OK, to answer the first part, Is the law obsolete? Well Yes and No.
Let’s looks at the Yes. “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” [Romans 6:14 – NLT] “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ” [Romans 7:4 – NKJV] “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.” [Romans 7:6 – NIV] This makes it very clear that we have been released from the law or dead to the law and no longer live under its requirements. Furthermore, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and striving about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” [Titus 3:9 – NKJV]. It is useless try to strive and debate about the law. God wants us to move on.
Now let’s look at the No part of it. “This is the covenant I will establish with the people 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” [Hebrews 8:10 – NIV] “None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” [Hebrews 8:11 – NKJV]
Do you get it? God Himself wants to write his laws on our hearts and minds. He does not want us to teach each other these laws. Why would he not want that? Because throughout history man taught others but he himself did not obey, which is why God wants to do it Himself.
God is interested in teaching you about Himself and His love for you. He wants a direct relationship with you without you having to depend on anyone. But it all starts with you first believing His word, and eventually as you begin to believe He begins to teach.
This is where your faith in God plays a crucial part. By faith you learn about God and His love. So instead of working out the law God now wants you to love the way He loves, but none of us are capable of exhibiting to our brothers the love that God has for us, so instead God through the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you and teaches you how to do it. So, through faith the journey begins and as you go along this journey, He keeps revealing to you more and more of His love and He does this by writing on your heart. When you see a new aspect of His love, you begin to be in awe of Him and want to share this love with others. That’s exactly the point. By sharing God’s love with others we begin to love them and thereby fulfill the law. “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:10 – NIV]
So has God started writing on your heart?