Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

Reason #4 – No One Could Every Perfectly Comply With The Law

Man has never been able to live a righteous life on his own.  If man was capable of living a life that satisfied God’s Holiness, the death of Jesus Christ would not have been necessary.  But those who claim Ezekiel 18 presents the terms of salvation for the Old Testament saint must admit they believe man was at some point capable of fulfilling the terms of the Mosaic Law.  If a man was to obtain or re-obtain eternal life based on his Law-keeping, then it must have been possible at some point in his life to stand before God with all of it fulfilled.  Those holding this position must admit this based on their interpretation of this verse:

(Ezekiel 18:21)  “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

On the other hand, the position of faith states that man was never and could never keep all the Law.  Man could never do that which is lawful and right.  The law was never made for those who could perform it.  As the Apostle Paul states,

(1 Timothy 1:9)  “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,”

Those who claim life and death in this passage are spiritual not physical must accept it was possible at some point for an Old Testament person to keep all the Law.  To this, we must say – Impossible! It insults the very nature and character of God and is an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to imply that man could ever stand righteous based on his performance.  Additionally, those who hold this position must also believe people without the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit were able to do something those who are indwelt permanently today could never do:  Keep the whole Law.


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To believe that Old Testament salvation depended on  “following the Law” is to anchor faith in a nebulous phrase.  What does “following the Law” mean anyway?

Orio Nebula:  Hubble View

Orion Nebula: Hubble View

There are several hundred commands in the Mosaic Law.  It isn’t unreasonable to ask the question – “Which commandments?”  Did God require obedience to all the commandments?  Did God require obedience to just the commands to sacrifice?  Did God require obedience to just the moral commandments?  What about the ceremonial commands?

Ultimately, the question is answered in James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  Since guilt is pronounced for failure to obey one commandment, the logical conclusion is righteousness for obedience to all commandments.  It’s  important to note that James was written after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.  This eliminates any belief that James was superseded by Christ in His earthly ministry.

We passionately proclaim the gospel of the grace of God.  We demand strict attention to the details of the gospel.  We are indignant when the details of the gospel are not presented clearly.  Why would we be any less demanding by accepting a nebulous statement about Old Testament salvation?  In order to attain or maintain righteousness under the Law, perfect obedience was and is required.  This was the situation with the Rich Young Ruler and it is still the situation today.

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A reader asked in a comment, “Why did God give the law if it had nothing to do with their salvation?”

This is a very good question.  I had this question myself at one time.  The answer is in understanding the purpose of the Law.  Scripture reveals to us two basic purposes God intended in giving the Law.

1.       The Law was given to govern Israel in her wanderings through the wilderness, possession of the land, and life in the occupied land.

The Law gave Israel a national identity amongst the Gentile nations.  It served as a testimony to the world that they were God’s chosen people and different from the heathen surrounding them.

(Deuteronomy 4:5)  Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.  (Deuteronomy 4:6)  Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

2.       The Law was given to point out sin and thus demonstrate man is a sinner in need of salvation.

Paul has a lot to say about the purpose of the Law:

(Romans 3:19)  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  (Romans 3:20)  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Them who are under the Law refers to Israel.  The rest of the world was set aside by God in Genesis 11 and therefore, already guilty before Him.  The Law points to all righteousness and wrongdoing and screams out one word:  SIN.

(1 Timothy 1:8)  But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

(1 Timothy 1:9)  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,

(1 Timothy 1:10)  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;

(1 Timothy 1:11)  According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Using the Law “lawfully” is to use it according to its intended purpose:  to point out sin.  This isn’t a dispensational change in the purpose of the Law.  This was the original intent and remains so even today.  Our unrighteousness, in contrast with God’s holy Law, should bring us to the realization that we are sinners in need of salvation.

Read the Old Testament passages carefully.  When you encounter a verse that talks about salvation, justification, or righteousness, you should look at the context.  Many of them, when the meaning and context are examined, point to national redemption promised to Israel and physical salvation from her enemies.

God never intended the Mosaic Law to be a rules list that would provide eternal life.  Man could never attain the perfection demanded by the Law in any dispensation.  That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ had to die for people in every dispensation.

To Be Continued…

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