The Law - Part IV
The Law Divided Into Three Parts
Excerpted from What I Hate, That Do I, by Jimmy Swaggart
THE LAW OF MOSES, although one, was somewhat divided into three parts:
The ceremonial part of the law, which all the time pointed to Christ and was meant to symbolize Christ, was fulfilled when Christ came. Consequently, there was no more need for the symbolism. The moral law—the Ten Commandments, minus the fourth—was brought over into the new covenant, and that part of the law is still incumbent upon believers today because moral law cannot change. However, we go about keeping it in a totally different way than in the times of old. If our faith is exclusively in Christ and the cross, the Holy Spirit keeps the moral law for us. Otherwise, we will find ourselves trying to do it by our own ability and strength, which guarantees failure.
- Ceremonial law. This included the feast days, circumcision, the Sabbath, and sacrifices.
- Moral law. The consisted of the Ten Commandments (minus the fourth).
- Ritual law. Pertained to treatment of our fellow man and our treatment of God.
The fourth commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” was not brought over into the new covenant because it was exclusively between Israel and God. It was the only one of the Ten Commandments that was not moral but rather ceremonial. If one looks carefully at the New Testament, after the four Gospels, one will find that the fourth commandment is nowhere in view. In other words, Christians did not keep the Jewish Saturday, which was the Sabbath, but rather Sunday, which was the day of the resurrection (I Cor. 16:2).
The Moral Law
However, even though the moral law is very much alive and incumbent upon all believers, that law was and is kept in Christ, meaning that He lives in us, keeping the moral law (Gal. 2:20).
Jesus personally and perfectly kept the moral law (Ten Commandments) in every respect, and in the eyes of God our faith in Him grants us the status of law keeper instead of lawbreaker without us even having to think about the situation.
The “body of Christ,” as Paul uses the term, speaks of Christ offering His physical body as a sin offering on Calvary’s cross. In the vehicle of His body, He died to the law, which means that if we have faith in Him and what He did, then we died to the law also. His dying means He suffered its penalty and met its demands.
The believer is never to forget that all of this was done for him, and not at all for Christ Himself because Jesus had never broken the law or incurred its curse. Inasmuch as He has done this strictly for us, surely it would stand to reason that He would want us to have all that His great victory affords.
Once again, we go back to the fact that all of this—payment for sin and victory over sin—and that its immediate effectiveness is carried out within our lives on a day-to-day basis by continued faith in Christ and what He did at the cross, and our place in Him. This must never be misunderstood: the believer died with Him, was buried with Him, and rose from the dead with Him in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
This is what is meant in Romans 6:3: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?”
In order to be saved, the believing sinner simply has to believe that Jesus died on Calvary for him and paid his terrible sin debt. Accepting what He did and accepting Him as Savior guarantees salvation and freedom from the demands of the law.
Dominion Of Sin Broken
The believer who is in Christ—already saved—must now take his faith to a much greater degree than that of the believing sinner. He must believe that he was in Christ when these great things were done (including the resurrection), and that this great happening broke the dominion of sin. Continued faith in this great event and his part in it guarantees that it stays broken, even to where the sin nature is so isolated that it no longer is a bother or trouble to the believer. It is all wrapped up in the cross of Christ and our faith in that finished work.
That You Should Be Married To Another
This subheading refers to believers being married to Christ. He alone can provide all that is needed and in whatever capacity. When we came to Christ as believing sinners, we actually married Him. At least in the mind of God that’s exactly what has happened (II Cor. 11:1-4).
The keeping of the law of Moses was incumbent upon all, but all failed until Christ. As the representative man, Christ kept the law of Moses in every single respect, and faith in Him grants to the believer the satisfaction of the law in every respect also. Consequently, the believer is no longer obligated to the law because its demands have been met with the believer now free and qualified to look to Christ exclusively.
Even To Him Who Is Raised From The Dead
This subheading presents the believing sinner as identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Consequently, the law now has no more jurisdiction over the believer for the obvious reasons. In Romans 6:6, the “old man” (sinner) died and was buried with Christ, meaning the law has no more dominion over that person, especially considering that he has passed out of the realm where the law holds sway. He is resurrected with Christ—in effect he is in Christ—“to walk in newness of life.” Incidentally, it is a life free of the law, because its demands have been met in Christ.
Paul’s purpose now is to press home the point that the believer is not under law anymore. Consequently, a Christian putting himself under law and thus failing to avail himself of the resource of grace, which can only be brought about by our faith in Christ, is a defeated Christian. This was Paul’s own experience before he came into the knowledge of Romans 6. While the law incites the Christian to more sin, even as it always does, the law is not responsible for that sin, but the evil nature is. This can only be conquered as the believer cries in Romans 7:24, “Who shall deliver me?” and thus looks away from himself and self-dependence to the Lord Jesus.
That We Should Bring Forth Fruit Unto God
The only way that the believer can bring forth “fruit unto God” —that which God will accept—is by one’s faith placed exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the cross, and maintained exclusively in Christ and the cross. The hindrance to our living such a life is dependence on the flesh instead of on Christ. With that being the case, such a believer cannot walk in victory.
In fact, without understanding the cross of Christ as it regards our daily living—how we order our behavior and how we have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil—such a believer is guaranteed failure. And, I might quickly add, failure that gets worse and worse. It is not possible for sin to remain static. It will ultimately end in death—the death of one’s experience with God and the death of that for which Christ has paid such a price. The only answer is the cross of Christ.