Are we under the law? If you are a mainstream Christian, this is an expression I guess you are familiar with and your first response would probably be “no we are not under the law, we are under grace.” To some extent this is true, the Bible does say we are not under the law we are under grace, but what does it mean to be “under the law”? If we misunderstand this one idiom, we could end up losing our salvation because of it.
Most would argue if you are under the law, you are under the law of Moses, and the Mosaic law is something you are bound to obey. In their minds, the law of Moses only had authority until the cross. When Jesus died, we entered into the dispensation of grace, and the dispensation of law ended. If this interpretation is correct, then it would mean the law of Moses does not apply to someone who is under grace. If this were true, that would mean Paul was contradicting himself when he, in 1.Cor 11:1, says we are to imitate the life of Christ. We all believe Yeshua kept the law of Moses; He had to do this to be the sinless lamb of Yehovah (God). So if Paul tells us to imitate His life, it stands to reason he is telling us to obey the law of Moses just as Jesus did. That is the only way we can imitate someone’s life by doing what they did and living our lives the way they did. Therefore it is impossible to imitate the life of Christ, or to be a follower of Christ, without choosing to obey the Mosaic law as He did. Paul would also contradict Yeshua (Jesus) whom in Mattew 23:2 gives us a clear, direct command to always obey the law of Moses, and John and James in 1.John 3:4, 3:7, 5:3, and James 2:10-26 when they tell us righteousness comes from obeying the law of Moses.
Therefore it is painfully apparent being under the law can not mean that we are not to obey the Mosaic law. It has to say something else.
Contrary to what we hear it said in most churches, there was atonement for sin before the cross. The blood of bulls and goats did take sin away (Lev 17:11) but only for unintentional sins. If you sinned intentionally in the Old Testament, there was no atonement, and you would forever be under the law cut off from grace excluded from a relationship with Yehovah. If you sinned intentionally in the Old Testament, you would find yourself under the curses of the law in Deut 28:14-45. So being under the law, means you are under the curses of the law we read about in Deut 28:14-45.
Now we understand that when Paul says we under grace and not under the law, he is not referring to the validity of the Mosaic law. He is saying that now that we have accepted Yeshua as our sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) all our sins, unintentional and intentional sins are atoned for. And if they are atoned for, we are no longer under the curses / under the law of Deut 28:14-45, instead we are under grace. As we learned last week, it also refers to not being under the curse of the law in Numbers 5.
This should make us very happy because we all know how sin brings with it consequences. What Paul is telling us here is a promise that if we accept Yeshua as our atoning sacrifice, we will not only be forgiven and reconciled to Yehovah. We will not only be able to remarry Yehovah again being free from the curse of the law in Numbers 5. We would also be free from the consequences of our sins, and we are not the ones who will be doing the job of freeing ourselves and cleaning up our own lives. Yehovah is the one who in Deut 28:1-13 promises to clean up our messed up lives even if it is messed up with all the consequences of our own doing. This does not mean that we remain passive, there might be things we need to do in the cleanup process, but we do not carry the responsibility of getting out of the messes our sins have caused in our lives. Our responsibility is to be obedient to Yehovah and His Torah, believing in the sacrifice of Yeshua for our sins. If He tells us to do something that is not contradicting to the Torah, we obey, and we do it so the cleanup process can proceed. If He does not tell us to do anything except stay obedient to the Torah, we remain obedient to the Torah and allow Him to continue the cleanup process.
How do we avoid going under the law again? Disobedience to the law of Moses causes us to go under the law. This can be a blatant sin as in breaking a commandment in the Torah, or it can be obedience to human tradition, denominational doctrines instead of the Torah. In both instances, we would be sinning, and sin always brings us under the law again. In Deut 28:14-45, we read what will happen if we go under the law again. If we choose obedience to the law of Moses, it will cause us to be under grace.
How can obedience to the law of Moses cause us to be under grace when there are so many in the world today who claim to obey the law but refuse to believe in the cross?
We have to remember, obedience to the law of Moses expects us to obey every part of it, including the sacrificial system. The book of James says if we have broken one commandment, we are guilty of breaking them all. So if you choose to obey every commandment, except one of them, you are still under the law and not grace. If you want to be under grace, you have to obey the sacrificial laws in the book of Leviticus, and this causes a problem for us.
We no longer have access to a temple to make our sacrifices outlined in the book of Leviticus. This does not mean that we can’t or should not sacrifice; Yehovah still expects us to obey that part of the law as well. But He knows we can’t follow it the way He describes it because the temple is gone, so He came up with a better solution found in the cross and the death of Yeshua His Son.
In Yeshua and the cross, all of the sacrifices are fulfilled. This is why rejecting the cross is disobedience to the law of Moses.
What does it mean to be under grace?
We already know it cant mean that the law of Moses does not apply to us anymore, because then Paul would contradict himself, Yeshua, John, and James. It simply means that now we can receive atonement for intentional sins AND unintentional sins for the first time in human history by faith in the cross. This is why Paul says the cross is better and more significant than the Mosaic law because the cross did something the law could not do by giving atonement for unintentional AND intentional sins. He never says the cross abolishes the law; he only says the cross can do something the law could not do. But the law is still in effect, or else he would contradict Yeshua, John, James, and Peter. That is grace because we dont deserve it, but Yehovah gives it to us as a gift anyway.
So now we understand that being under grace and not law means this: If you have accepted Yeshua, repented from your sins, all your, intentional and unintentional sins are now forgiven and paid for. Because of this, you are now free from the curses of the law in Deut 28:14-45, free from the curse of the law in Numbers 5, reconciled to Yehovah and all the consequences of your sins will be removed by Him. Deut 28:1-13.
At the same time, all of this comes with a warning. In the Bible, it says in the book of Hebrews, James, and Peter if we sin intentionally after having received the cross, there exists no further atonement for us. This means now that we are saved, we can not decide to sin. But if we were to choose to sin anyway, we can not come back to the cross again. Atonement for intentional sin is a one time gift only.
So how do you know if you have sinned intentionally?
The Bible says in the book of James and John, a true believer can not make that decision. So that should not be a problem for you if you are genuinely saved.
What about unintentional sin?
The Bible says in the book of Leviticus; we will continue to sin unintentionally throughout the rest of our lives. 1.John 1:9 says if we confess our unintentional sins, repent of them, we will be forgiven. Why are we so easily forgiven? Because we have accepted the cross as a sacrifice for unintentional sins.
What about all the times when we do all of the above, we know we are forgiven, but the consequences of our sins remain, and it seems as if nothing is happening or changing?
If the temple still existed, or we were now in the Millenial Kingdom, we could have gone to Jerusalem and sacrificed in the temple for our unintentional sins. This would ensure Yehovah’s help and direct intervention. The temple is gone, we are not in Israel, so we cant do that right now. So what do we do when we need Yehovahs intervention and help to clear up the messes our sins have made?
Instead of going to the temple to sacrifice, the Bible says you can make a sacrifice for your specific unintentional sins right where you are.
I dont know what you are struggling with right now; perhaps it is because of someone else’s sin that was done to you or maybe it is just because of your sins. Even if someone sinned against you, I could guarantee you are, as a result of it, guilty of unintentional crimes. When someone sins against us, we will always sin against them as an accidental response even if we dont want to. All sin also, if it was as a response to something that happened to us, is a crime against Yehovah.
If you have committed a crime against Yehovah, you can be forgiven, and He can clean up the mess your crimes have caused. Choose to confess and ask for forgiveness for your unintentional sins. Choose to repent of your unintentional crimes, even if you dont remember them. Decide to sacrifice by renewing your faith in the cross. Remind yourself that Yeshua was sacrificed for this specific sin and the mess it has caused in your life.
If you do choose to do this, you will be in obedience to the law of Moses. The law promises you that because of what you just did, Yehovah has free access to clean up your mess.
Will it happen instantly?
When Moses was given the task of leading our forefathers out of Egypt, he was given a promise, but it did not happen instantly. The promise was dependent upon Moses obedience to Yehovah’s commandments. At one point, it seemed as if Pharao would not let them go at all, but because Moses stayed obedient, they left Egypt, and there was no one feeble among them.
Just as with Moses, we are given a promise, and the promise says if we are obedient to Yehovah, He will clean up the mess in our lives and lead us out of our Egypt. At one point, it might seem as if we are never getting out of the Egypt of disease, sickness, death, debt or whatever it might be. But because you remain obedient, sacrificing for your unintentional sins, we will one day leave our Egypt, and there will be no one feeble among us.
When will it happen? Only Yehovah knows, but what is important is that we do not go under the law to make it happen. If we do, it will never happen at all. We need to stay under grace for it to come to pass. So make sure you are not under the law but walking obediently in grace at all times, and soon your Egypt will be behind you.
Remember to celebrate Shabbat today.
Yehovah bless you