Old/New Testament, law, principles? (Part 2)

In the first article I spent time to prove that the word testament was in fact erroneously translated because the Bible actually speaks of a covenant, an old covenant en a new one. Moreover it appears important to understand that God inspired people to write a book as His story of the earth, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation. There are a few crucial changes occurred in the New Covenant; these are among others:

  • The blood sacrifices, which stopped because of the sacrifice of Jesus once and for all

  • The salvation is now available to everyone who believes, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, wherever people come from, without distinction.

The following point, which we need to research, is the subject of the law and her application for us today. The law, the Old Covenant; what is law? Often people immediately refer to the Ten Commandments, which Moses had given under God’s instruction, but one forgets that it rather concerns the whole book of the law, the Torah, which contains the complete law. What is law? In the Bible we find the word testimonies. God’s testimonies are very faithful. We find this in Psalm 93: 5 “Your testimonies are very sure, Holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever”. God’s testimonies were of great value. Psalm 19: 7-9 “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether”. The law is perfect, which means clean, simple and complete, it rejoices the heart; it restores the soul; it makes the soul return. Psalm 119 is a praise song to the Torah. The word Torah is often translated as law but in fact it speaks of guideline or orientation. Psalm 119 begins with “blessed”, it means to be strong or to be made straight in order to move on. Blessed is hence: you can move forwards; you can move on. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way (undefiled means to be clean or pure, undivided in heart, to be whole from within), Blessed are thole who are whole or who are pure in their ways, who follow or walk in the law (the Torah) of the Eternal One”. Because people have the Torah, they are undefiled in their ways. The Torah was meant to give direction and guidelines. In Psalm 1 it says literally, “Blessed is the man who meditates the Torah”, the Torah, the guide, the teaching, the orientation or the wisdom of life. Psalm 19: 7 “God’s law is perfect”. The Torah is the book of the origin and of the destination. Hence the law was not a book of punishment but a book of life teachings. Psalm 119 consists of 22 times 8 verses and each strophe begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. This psalm contains all letters of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to taw, in the Greek from alpha to omega, the beginning and the end; it concerns all the original words because every Hebrew letter has its specific original meaning. In summary: The law is hence trustworthy, perfect, good and was meant as a guide. One was called blessed when one followed God’s guidelines. The law is therefore not a book of punishments but a book of direction and teaching. Yet the law did not succeed to stop people from sinning and the Scribes and Pharisees misused the law to put heavy burdens on the people. Jesus came strongly against this from the very beginning of His public ministry. The new Covenant Paul calls the law, which was good, a mentor, an educator, a paidagogos until Christ came. See Galatians 3: 24. He states in Colossians 2: 17 that the law is a shadow of the reality, which would come and again in Romans 3: 10 he says that the law is like a mirror, showing who you are and where you stand. The law, the Torah, which was good and perfect could not bring the perfection, the reality, but only give a reflection of it. Already under the Old Covenant the prophets were speaking of a new season, in which the law (the Torah) would be written on the tablets of our heart. God makes the old new. He uses the material of the Old and He renews it. Hebrews 8: 13 speaks of the fact that the law was almost obsolete. God picks it up again and makes it radiate once again. The law from within Hebrews 10: 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” The word “laws” is put in the plural form of the word torah. It speaks of the inner laws, the laws of the Spirit. Like a bird “knows” when it must fly away, so we “know” how we should walk. Read Jeremiah 8: 7 “Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment (= the justice) of the LORD”. The people of God did not know the inward laws. In the New Covenant we are joined to the Lord. The Law of Christ Jesus speaks to the leaders of the people of Israel because they had misused the law. Read Matthew 5: 17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill”. Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. He came to bring light to the Torah and to give back its original meaning. The word “fulfill” means to make full. The Pharisees had emptied the law. They were busy with little parts of the law. They were hypocrites, who were playing a role. They were not themselves. This attitude disrupted the whole meaning of the law. The tithes and the mint It concerned little plants of which the scribes were taking the tithe but they neglected the most important commands. The Pharisees had weakened the law; Jesus came to fulfill it. Read Matthew 23: 23-24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” Jesus moves on from the shadow to the reality. He shifts the concept from outer format to a more perfect way, which can only be followed through the indwelling power of Holy Spirit. A higher road “You have heard, but I tell you…”. This is the whole passage of Matthew 5 from verse 17 until 48. The laws, guidelines, teachings of Jesus are even heavier than the simple guidelines of the Torah. Jesus states that not one jota or tittle will pass from the law until all is fulfilled. See Matthew 5: 17-20 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus refers here to the end of all things, not just to His death and resurrection, nor to the fall of Jerusalem but rather to the end of this timeframe. Where do we then stand? The Spirit of the Lord writes the law, God’s guideline, on the tablets of our heart. From within, through the indwelling of the Spirit of God I now fulfill God’s torah. Paul also says in Galatians 3: 15-27 that the law does not make the promise of no effect. The law is described as a tutor, an educator of a minor or of a slave. Now that sonship has come, even higher laws are applicable; the law prescribed a certain lifestyle but Jesus exalts this standard not by taking principles out of it but by putting an even higher expectation to it. We are freed from older laws in order to fulfill new and higher laws. “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed (= Christ) should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator (= actually the mediation, the law). Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. (in other words: mediation requires more than one person, the law is hence an agreement between God and Satan, the slave driver. God is one, He is undivided) Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith, which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. Here we find some important facts:

  • The law does not make the covenant of no effect. The covenant was given to Abraham and to his seed.

  • The law makes aware of sin and has become mediation between God and the Evil one. Yet the law is not contradicting the promises given to Abraham.

  • The law could neither give life nor bring people to righteousness. The law is a tutor until Christ came.

  • Now Christ has come and we have been ransomed from the law, the mediation, because He is the Mediator of a new covenant. This covenant does not work through works of the law but rather through faith. Faith however requires a measure of maturity of the sons of God.

In Galatians 5: 13-16 Paul warns further that because we have been ransomed we should not give opportunity to the flesh. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Hence there is a requirement to continue to walk by the Spirit of God, which means to give priority to our spirit, that must rule over the rest of our being, fulfilling the law of Christ. Romans 8: 2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death”. Romans 7: 4-6 “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another (= the property of another) — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter”. Verse 14 “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin”. Again we must realize what it says here: we were slaves of sin, the property of the Evil one, who was putting his requirements on people, now we have become the property of Jesus Christ because He ransomed us from the power of the opponent. The law aroused sin, in other words the law challenged the people to transgress in order to bring forth fruit leading to death (which belongs to the opponent, Satan’s property). Hence we were slaves of sin and Satan was always ready to make people fall bearing fruit, which brought forth death. We were therefore prisoners and subject to the power of death. Now in Christ we are freed from the old law, in other words, the law, which aroused sin, the law, which led to outward forms, making us prisoners, has now been replaced enabling us to step into a new status. Now we serve the law of the Spirit, which Jesus described as a higher standard. The new law makes the former law “full” and brings it back to its original purpose. No longer does it concern outer forms but now we should live by faith. God has made us alive in order to live by the Spirit and to bear fruit by faith in God. Ephesians 2: 8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Within the New Covenant it is all about faith instead of works of the law. God had written the spiritual law on the tablets of our hearts and it is God Himself who works in us to will and to do. Philippians 2: 13-15 “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”. Duties and commandments kill the life and therefore it is imperative to activate faith from our spirit, for everything that is not out of faith is sin. Read Romans 14: 23. The law of the Old Covenant, which contains the Ten Commandments, was based on a person’s own efforts. A person cannot persevere in this because of Satan’s dominion over mankind. We are now justified through Christ without works of the law but yet submitted to a new law of the Spirit. The law of the Old Covenant was weak because of mankind, who was subject to the power of sin. Through the Spirit of God we now come in a new dimension, where we are no longer subject to laws from without, but rather laws from within, through the Spirit of God. Read Romans 8: 3-4 “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: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. Ezekiel prophesied this already under the Old Covenant in Ezekiel 36: 26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them”. Principles in Old and New Covenant God has written renewed and higher laws in our hearts. God’s law is in our innermost being. The Spirit of God reveals the full word of God, allowing me to enjoy the full blessing of it. The law of the Spirit only works through faith. Faith is active and not passive. We are responsible to activate faith, to focus on God and to allow faith to grow by the hearing of the Word of life. Everything that is not based on faith is sin because people fall back into trying through their own efforts to fulfill laws and duties and this does not work! Men cannot persevere in it. This is therefore the man, who tries to fulfill the law from his soul or emotions, but he does not experience the full blessing of it because it only works through faith, which is based on relationship with God from Spirit to spirit. People do their utmost, give money, pay their tithes out of duty and hope to receive God’s blessing from it. But these are the works of the law, outward efforts, which cannot stand. The giving of tithes is good, the giving of money if good, doing our best for God is good but is only works from the Spirit of God and led by the same Spirit but not ruled by our emotions. The Bible says that the righteous shall live by faith. Faith is related to conviction of spirit and it is God who convicts people and not men. Paul says in Philippians 3: 15 “Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” Paul does not say that you should believe this or that you should rather stay where you are but whenever you think differently concerning a portion of Scripture, or when you disagree concerning a principle of the Word, you should open yourself to the leading of the Spirit of God and He will reveal it to you. He will give you insight through the Spirit of revelation. He will bring everything in line with all the Scriptures. Therefore we cannot put any demand on people, nor lay heavy loads on them but pray that all the Scriptures of Old and New Covenant may be engraved in our hearts allowing us to live by them and receiving the full blessing of God from them. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”. All contains everything and all good work entails all commandments, which have been brought back to life by the Spirit of God and which have been given an even deeper meaning by revelation. In closure Paul states in Romans 3: 31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law”. Let us therefore continue to live by faith and conviction and thereby fulfill the law of Christ in our hearts. This law of Christ makes the whole law (the Torah) and the commandments come to their full original right. Hence the law did not disappear but has come to an even higher standard through Christ. So our righteousness will be more than that of the Pharisees and Scribes. Let us therefore live by faith demonstrating through our lives the reality of the spiritual law governed by the Spirit of our God. May God richly bless you. Irene Maat

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