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Bible verses about Law, Purpose of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 17:10

The ordinance of circumcision was an outward physical sign of one's willingness to obey God and be one of His chosen people.

Under the New Covenant, God is calling a spiritual nation composed of individuals converted and regenerated by His Holy Spirit. God's people now are all to be "circumcised" spiritually. Physical circumcision is no longer necessary for religious purposes. It was a forerunner or type of what God really wanted—circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4). Paul told the congregation in Rome that physical circumcision is of no spiritual benefit (Romans 2:25-29). Spiritual circumcision, though, is a process of conversion. That Christ circumcises us spiritually is made plain in Colossians 2:10-11.

This is why the assembled apostles and elders of the New Testament church declared circumcision to be one of the physical requirements of the Old Covenant that is not necessary for Christians (Acts 15:24, 28). It is for entirely non-religious reasons that one may decide to be circumcised or have his son circumcised. There is some evidence that circumcision promotes cleanliness and health, depending on the male's overall cleanliness, morality, and health.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

Exodus 19:1-2

These and the following verses reveal that the Israelites progressed by various stages to the Promised Land. Slavery in Egypt was a type of being part of the world. Coming out of Egypt was a type of redemption or justification. The journey through the wilderness was a type of sanctification, and entering into the Promised Land was a type of salvation.

We see several clear steps in this process. Which took the longest time? Their sanctification! They came out with a high hand: "Yeah! We're free. Everything is fine. This is going to be a lark!" But where did they do all their crying? Where did they go hungry? Where did they experience pain? Where did they quake with fear? Where did they have their greatest tests? Where did they fail? In the wilderness, in the type of sanctification.

Why did they fail? Hebrews 4:1-2 makes it clear: They failed because their faith broke down during the portion of God's plan called sanctification. We might say today, they couldn't hack it. They could not endure to the end. Thus, as these verses say, their bodies were strewn from one end of the wilderness to the other.

As mentioned, being freed from Egypt pictures redemption or justification, but there was a great deal more to come. They had to walk for a lifetime - roughly 40 years - before they approached the Promised Land. Walking out of Egypt was only the beginning.

So it is with us and the receiving of our inheritance.

One of the first things that God did after He freed Israel was to enter into a covenant with them and to reveal His laws to them. There is a parallel, a pattern, here. Many want to do away with the laws of God, but if we do that - from the clear pattern shown in the Old Covenant - then we are destroying the rules of the game. It is nullifying part of the very elements necessary for our purification, which prepares us to inherit the Kingdom of God.

The revelation of the law was necessary to prepare Israel and to set down the rules for their relationships between themselves and with God. The law was designed to prepare them to be fit to live in their inheritance. It did not save or redeem them - God did that. The law's purpose was to prepare them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 

John 1:17

What did Jesus Christ establish to be taught in the churches? What He brought - in what we consider to be the New Testament era - is not at all contradictory or fundamentally different from what the Old Testament teaches. His message is complementary, completing the teaching of the Old Testament, rounding out and finishing God's revelation to mankind.

The word "but" in verse 17 has been inserted by the translators. In those Bibles that use the convention, it is in italics, which shows that it is a word added by the translators to clarify what they believe is the sense. Why did they choose "but"? The translators' fundamental belief is that Jesus came to change what was taught by Moses. However, if they had put together what the rest of the New Testament says, Jesus came and added to and completed what Moses and the other prophets preached. There is a better word to insert there: "and." Thus, "For the law was given through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." They are complementary, not contradictory. Perhaps the word "supplementary" would better explain it, thought what Jesus brought is both complementary and supplementary.

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). Consider a candy jar, which is filled only an inch. That represents what Moses taught, the law. But Jesus filled the rest of the candy jar full! Jesus brought the spirit of the law. He filled to the full the revelation of God.

What Moses taught in the law is the law of the Kingdom of God. It cannot be separated from the gospel of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought because the Kingdom of God needs law to function. God's Kingdom is a real entity. It is designed to function, and it will only function through law and, of course, grace, as they work together.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Romans 7:7

Law shows us our duties. In reference to God, it awakens us to a consciousness of sin. Through law, we become aware of the contrast between what we ought to do and what we actually do. Our civil legislators enact laws, and thus they tell us what is ethical, right, and good in a particular, secular area of life.

Instead of calling a transgression of the state's laws "sin," we call it "crime." Many crimes are also sin. The difference between secular law and God's law is that God's law relates directly to the divine. It reveals our duties to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)


 

Romans 10:4

Here, end does not mean "conclusion" as in "done away." If the law was done away, sin could not exist because Paul states, "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). Rather, end should be "goal" or "purpose," meaning that this verse names Christ as the object of the Bible (see Romans 6:22; I Timothy 1:5; James 5:11; I Peter 1:9). The law—indeed, the whole Bible—is aimed toward Him; He is its target. Paul is saying Jesus is what the law produces; He personifies its intent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part One): Introduction


 

1 Corinthians 7:19

Here the apostle Paul tells us that we are to keep the Ten Commandments under the New Covenant. It cannot be refuted. The Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant too. That part is not obsolete; we are still using it in the brand new model. The moral law is still in force and effect. To break the commandments is sin, while to do them is righteousness.

That includes all ten - not just nine. Remember Jesus' declaration that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law. If Jesus speaks the truth, how can people say that the fourth commandment is done away? They directly refute their Savior. It is really quite silly.

Most of the rest of the law, that is, part of the terms of the Old Covenant, still directly apply. How about tithing, part of the Old Covenant? We find that tithing supersedes the Old Covenant. What about the food laws, also is part of the Old Covenant? The New Testament records that they were still being kept by people who should have known better if they were done away. Many of those laws still directly apply.

Even those that may only indirectly apply are still applicable in their spirit, in their intent. Intent suggests "the stretching out." Those laws help to define sin and righteousness in specific situations. Their positive intent is always to bring us to holiness - to the image of God.

We need to discipline ourselves never to look at a law of God - whether it is civil or ceremonial - and assume it has no application for us, as if God just intended it for the Israelites back then. Far from it! God's law (and its intent) is always love and eternal, which is why Jesus says that none of it would pass until all is fulfilled.

Obedience to those laws can neither justify nor save us, but they are the wisdom and the love of God, given to guide us. We should be studying them to understand how to make our lives holier than ever before.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)


 

Galatians 2:19

The law plays a large part in our salvation in that it is through the law that we are revealed as sinners—that we might repent, be justified, and thus made alive to God. If the law were not there to tell us what sin is, we could never repent. If the law were not there to set the standard, we would never have anything to shoot for. If the law were not there to show us "this is the way to live," we would have no clear path as to what is right.

Thus the law, far from being done away, is there for our salvation—even though it cannot give us life, of and by itself. This ties in with Romans 7:7-9. Paul also says, in Galatians 2:20, that he "died," which needs to be connected with Romans 6:1-6. He died, then, because the law revealed that he was a sinner and claimed its due. He remained alive only because he is joined with Christ, becomeing a part of His body.

Paul rose from baptism as a symbol of Christ's resurrection, and he lived because of the faith of Jesus Christ, who made this possible by what He did. Paul's life was different than when he was striving to be justified by the law. The law can condemn and guide, but it cannot give one life. Nor can it give a person the power to keep it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 26)


 

Galatians 3:21

It is not the purpose of law to give life. God did not create it for that purpose. Life comes from what is already living, so a law cannot give life. Paul makes it plain that it is not the purpose of law to give life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)


 

Galatians 3:24

All of God's law is a teaching vehicle. The Hebrew word most frequently translated as "law" is torah, but torah more closely translates into the broader meaning of "instruction." Instruction spans a wide spectrum of information and methods of increasing understanding, including law but also principles, symbols, and examples from people's lives. For example, the way Jesus kept the Sabbath should be understood as torah by those determined to follow in His steps. The goal of this broad teaching approach is to reveal God and His plan to us as clearly as possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf Offering


 

Ephesians 4:13

What a tall order! Yet, it is the supreme goal of life. He is the Standard, the personification of perfect faith, love, mercy, kindness, government, etc. The purpose of the law is to guide us to an understanding of the height, breadth, and depth of the mind of Christ, which motivated His attitude and obedience. The law may seem to describe Him in broad strokes, but when one looks closer, beyond the mere statement of a law, we find a great deal more of His character and personality revealed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part One): Introduction


 

James 1:22-27

Only by careful study of God's Word, the ultimate standard of thought, speech, and conduct, can we know what is right and wrong. We must follow our study with honest and truthful comparison of those words with our own lives. If we read the words of God and walk away, forgetting what we saw, we deceive ourselves. None of us compares favorably with what we read in Scripture, so we must make changes. James says our religion—our practice of God's way of life—is vain if we omit either the positive instructions (visiting widows and orphans) or the negative ones (removing the spots from our character).

Staff
Overcoming (Part 1): Self-Deception


 

James 1:22-25

James mentions "law" ten times in his epistle, and in each case it is the moral law. He has nothing but good to say about it. James, taught by Christ, exalts the law—he glorifies it, identifying it with the gospel.

In James 1, when speaking of the Word and the importance of hearing and doing it, he, in the same breath, speaks of looking into "the perfect law of liberty." James looks at the law as explained in the gospel—the gospel shows the law in its spirituality—as the guide of the true Christian who has entered into the spirit of the law or is keeping the spirit of the law as well as the letter.

Even in the Old Testament, as Psalms 19 and 119 specifically show, it was possible for spiritually-minded people to see the beauty of the law and find delight in its precepts.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

 




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