Posted by: forfreedomalone | 06/07/2015

Free from burdens

A confusion I come across quite regularly, when I am teaching groups, is the difference between being “under the Law” and “the Law” itself.
Many people are of the opinion that in Moses day people were required to work very hard to keep all sorts of rules and regulations, which were impossible to keep, leaving them feeling guilty and shameful.

They believe that when Jesus came all of these rules and regulations were done away with and that now, we, who are in Christ, have a new heart which loves and we are freed from the Law.

Unfortunately, this rather muddled belief keeps people confused and under the burden of, what we might call, anti-Law.

The first misunderstanding is that “the Law” was one thing. They believe that “The Law” was the Ten Commandments (although others believe it was that plus many more sundry rules).
The Law is, actually, made up of three parts, the Commandments, the Judgements and the Ordinances.
The three parts are each quite distinct.
The Commandments are the Ten Commandments and are the righteous standard of God.

The Judgements are all the rulings on how people are to live together. They were given by God to Moses and the people so that they would have a basis for building a nation and a society which lived by God’s righteous standard.
The people who left Egypt had, for 430 years, been slaves of another nation, they had no idea how to run their own society and needed statues of civil government.  The Judgements gave Moses and the people he ultimately appointed under him, the authority to sort out disputes and to provide guidance for those in dispute.

The Ordinances were God’s rules on the role of the High Priest and the Sacrifices.

God has laid down the rules on how these people were to live together and how they were to relate to him. If they got it wrong, chose to disobey or were just really bad at getting along, he provided a system by which they could be reinstated in their relationship with him.
God clearly told them that the life was in the blood and so, they were to shed life, shed blood, in atonement for their wrong doing. He was telling them, and us, that his Law (in its fullness) is holy and is not to be treated lightly. He was also pointing to the ultimate sacrifice which was going to be required once and for all time to put man in a position of right standing with God as far as the Law was concerned.
So where is the confusion?
Well firstly, people believe that it was impossible to keep the Law.
That is not so. The rules may have been hard and it may have been difficult, but if you forgot, or just broke one of the rules, there was a complex system of sacrifices which you turned to, to find the right one to atone for your misdemeanour . There was a righteousness under the Law, it was not the righteousness which is the same as the one God has, but it was, nonetheless, a form  of righteousness.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the lamb, on the alter in the Most Holy Place which would atone for all the sins, of all the people, deliberate or not. In that moment all were wiped clean and able to begin a new year afresh.

Now, of course, with all the sacrificing that was required to keep abreast of all the errors, oversights and downright disobediences there was a constant flow of blood around the tabernacle or temple.
The people could never be rid of the awareness of sin and its effects. The stench of death was in their nostrils constantly.
The cost of the animals required and the killing of them was a burden on any family. The awareness of their sinful state and the required penalty was never hidden from them. They were sinners and they were in NO doubt about it.

When Jesus came he came as our Passover Lamb. He was the sacrifice which was offered on the Day of Atonement for us. This was the moment when all sins, by all people, in the past year were fully covered and done away with. However, almost before the High Priest had left the Holy of Holies the blood was dead and they were back at square one again.
When Jesus sprinkled his blood on the alter in the Holy of Holies in heaven it did not die, in fact it has not yet died and it never will. It is as though that perfect moment is frozen in time.  There is no need for further sacrifices if the most holy one is still acceptable……and so we are suspended in perfection. No further sacrifices are required.

Jesus also came as our High Priest. The earthly ones were prone to corruption and to dying at inconvenient times.  Jesus is perfect and alive forever. He is in the job for eternity and he is absolutely perfect at it. His job was to sprinkle the blood of the Lamb on the alter……and he has done that. When the blood dies, he will have to do it again, but, as that is NEVER going to happen, he is fulfilled that role, and there is nothing more to do.
There will never be a need for another High Priest, so that’s that, really.

What all that means is, the Ordinances are fulfilled, set aside and no longer anything we need concern ourselves with.  That heavy burden has been removed from us and we are free for the constant awareness of sin and guilt. We are now free to live a life of love, joy and peace.

When we accept that Jesus has done all this for us, we receive, by that faith, something he has already obtained by his faith…..God’s righteousness.
It is deposited into our hearts by union with him.
How does this happen?
Well, God said, in Jeremiah 31:31 that he was going to renew his covenant with his people…..yes, I did say “renew” he never said anything about scrapping an ‘old’ and writing a ‘new’ covenant. He was going to RENEW the covenant with his people….who are his people? Those who trust him.

So, if that is you, you are under the same covenant Abraham was under, and Moses, and David, and Jesus. We are a family of faith and we have a God who gives his word on things and keeps his word on things. He is a covenant making and keeping God.
In this renewed covenant he said he was going to write his laws on their hearts. Going to write WHAT?
Yes, write his laws. The very same laws he wrote on tablets of stone.
By the way, he wrote ALL of the Law on the tablets, not just the Ten Commandments.
But how can this be if we are no longer under The Law?

Well, quite easily really. “Being under the Law” meant being a tied slave to it. “Under the Law” was the constant conscience of sinfulness and the need for sacrifice. We now should be constantly aware of the fact that the perfect sacrifice has been offered for us and that we are freed from that awareness of sinfulness, because we are, by dint of our sacrifice, no longer sinners.

We are not under the Law, BUT we have that same Law written on our hearts.
This Law, combined with God’s grace (his empowering presence) and his love (his chosen approach to us, no matter what) all combine in us to create in us a state of righteousness which is exactly the same as God’s.
We live a holy life, because we want to and we are able to.
We revere God and his ways because we want to and are able to.
We love God and people because we want to and are able to.

Everything is different and exactly the same at the same time.
God’s holy standard has not change one iota, but the way we are drawn into it has. God’s perfection has not changed, but ours has. God’s word has not be violated nor has his mind been altered, but the way to righteousness has.

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