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The Effects of the Mosaic Law

There are three perspectives from which the Bible can be read, unbelief and two from belief. The important word is “belief.” The question posed concerns The Mosaic Law. It is part of the Bible and its impact on the Unbeliever and the two types of Believers will be different. Different to the point two will see contradictions. The third, the point of view the authors wrote from, has no contradictions. A good test for me was First John.

The Unbeliever reads it with “ears that do not hear.” He does not do the most important thing that needs to be done, “believe,” so he is deaf and blind. He judges the world by the Mosaic Law but ignores the fact he cannot keep it. Add the “spirit of The Law and the fact that it takes perfection to qualify and he is incapable. But that is what The Mosaic Law is supposed to do! Convict!

NIV Romans 5:20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are two classes of Believers. Those who insist The Mosaic Law still has a place in their life (legalists) and those who do not. I belong to the second group. Before we go on there are two definitions of Greek words that need to be understood.

[Fri] a`marti,a, aj, h` sin; (1) of an act, a departure from doing what is right, equivalent to a`ma,rthma sin, wrongdoing (1J 5.17); (2) as the moral consequence of having done something wrong sin, guilt (AC 3.19; 1J 1.7); (3) as the nature of wrongdoing viewed as the rejection of God by self-assertive human beings sin, evil (RO 5.12, 13; cf. 1.21); (4) especially in Johannine usage as a moral condition of human beings in revolt against God sin, being evil, sinfulness (JN 9.34; 15.24); (5) especially in Pauline usage as an abstract moral principle or force personified as evil in character sin, evil (RO 6.12); (6) especially in Hebrews as a deceiving power personified as leading human beings to guilt and destruction (HE 3.13; 12.1

(5) above is the part we will be looking at. Paul, John and the author of Hebrews personify it. The Greek language puts a definite article in front of it, The Sin. When you see the word “sin” singular in the NIV it is this Greek construction.  So I will treat it as a proper name: The Sin Nature. I will insert it in bold parentheses in the Bible Passages I use.

 The next definition is where this unholy being lives, the same is true for sarx so I will give it a proper name also: The Flesh. 

ri] sa,rx, sarko,j, h` flesh; (1) literally, as the muscular part that covers the bones of a human or animal body flesh (1C 15.39); (2) by synecdoche, the physical body as a whole body, flesh (AC 2.31); (3) as a human being person, man (of flesh and blood) (JN 1.14); (4) euphemistically, as the seat of the sexual or procreative drive flesh (JN 1.13); (5) as relating to the earthly sphere of existence human or mortal nature, earthly descent, blood relation (RO 4.1); ethnic group, race (RO 11.14); (6) as distinguishing the corruptible from the incorruptible part of man corporeality, earthly life, physical limitation (1C 7.28; CO 1.22); (7) in a negative sense, the external side of life as an object of trust flesh (PH 3.3); kata. sa,rka from a (purely) human point of view, by human standards, as far as outward circumstances are concerned (JN 8.15; 2C 11.18); (8) in an ethical sense in Paul’s epistles; (a) as a sinful and sensual power tending toward sin and opposing the Spirit’s working flesh (RO 7.25; GA 5.17), opposite pneu/ma (spirit); (b) as life apart from the Spirit of God and controlled by sin in its expressions flesh (RO 7.5; 8.9)sa,rx N-NF-S sa,rx 

NIV Romans 7:1 Do you not know, brothers- for I am speaking to men who know the law- that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?

Paul is speaking to “men who know the law.” What he is about to say has to do with that Law. He also states the obvious; any law is moot at death. The Law concerning marriage in Jewish life was weighted against the woman.

NIV Romans 7:2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

The woman is released from the law because of the death of her husband. Now Paul gives the examples identities to illustrate his point. “Brothers” become the woman. The Law becomes the first “husband.” Jesus Christ becomes the “second husband.” The point; we are released from The Law.

NIV Romans 7:4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, {5 Or the flesh; also in verse 25} the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. 

If you are a Believer you have died to the law. The Law is for this life. We are taken, by proxy, by Jesus Christ, to the Kingdom of Heaven, earth division. Why?  So we can bear good fruit.

Now Paul takes on “the universal man” identity. Paul represents you and me. What Paul feels is what we feel as we deal with The Mosaic Law.

NIV Romans 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin (The Sin Nature) was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” {7 Exodus 20:17; Deut. 5:21} 8 But sin (The Sin Nature), seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin (The Sin Nature) is dead.

Paul did not know what “coveting” was. The Sin Nature caused him to covet because the Law said, “do not.” He sinned because of The Law. The penalty for sin; death!

NIV Romans 7:9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin (The Sin Nature) sprang to life and I died.

For the Jew The Mosaic Law directed the path to Heaven. You had to be righteous to get in and The Law defined righteousness. But the reaction of The Sin Nature actually brought sin and sin brings death.

N IV Romans 7:10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, (The Sin Nature) seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 

Since the Law defines righteousness it defines what is good regardless of what The Sin Nature causes. The Law has accomplished what it was supposed to do: identify The Sin Nature. I sin. Because I sin I must pay the penalty, spiritual death. Spiritual death is The Lake of Fire. I do not want to go to The Lake of Fire. 

NIV Romans 7:12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin (The Sin Nature) might be recognized as sin (The Sin Nature), it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin (The Sin Nature) might become utterly sinful.

The Unbeliever I has long ago recognized he cannot keep the law and has quit trying. He has devised a loose set of rules he thinks will get him into heaven and hopes that is enough. Some have convinced themselves there is no God, Heaven or Hell.  As Believers, of both stripes, we have noticed we have a problem and are convinced we are going to Hell if we do not find a something to change the outcome of our efforts to keep The Law.

We are introduced to the problem “It is The Sin Nature living in me.” It is almost like a separate being living in my body.”

NIV Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin (The Sin Nature) living in me.

Now Paul introduces us to a second unholy personification. The Sin Nature has to have a place to live, The Flesh! Together they cause us to sin unintentionally!

NIV Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. {18 Or my flesh} For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin (The Sin Nature) living in me that does it.

Just as I thought, at first, “surely I can do something about this reaction” I fail. The harder I try the harder I fall, and Paul is stronger than I am.

NIV Romans 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

 The Law of The Sin Nature within The Flesh! Like gravity! Like the law of thermodynamics! Look to the Law and you do the evil you do not want to do. Look harder and the results are worse. Paul is defeated! He cries out for help!

NIV Romans 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

There is a way! God, from the beginning knew we needed help and there has been a plan in place from the beginning. Jesus was and is the catalyst.

NIV Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

We have a sin account. Each sin has been recorded. If today were judgment day we would be guilty and the penalty would be pronounced, the second death. But Jesus Christ paid the penalty for us so “there is no condemnation for us” who “believe” He paid the price and, most importantly he had the credentials to do so. He is God and Man.

NIV Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, {1 Some later manuscripts Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,}

Jesus takes us from the realm of submitting to The Law to a place where there is a more powerful Law at work. The Law of the Spirit of Life! Submitting to God the Spirit sets me free from submitting to The Law and suffering the consequences of The Law of the Sin Nature Indwelling the Flesh. 

NIV Romans 8:2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, {3 Or the flesh; also in verses 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 and 13} God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. {3 Or man, for sin} And so he condemned sin (The Sin Nature) in sinful man, {3 Or in the flesh}

Now God the Spirit comes into our lives. He is God so He co-authored The Law. If we submit to Him The Law will be kept. The harder we submit to Him the more perfectly The Law will be kept, the exact opposite outcome of submitting to The Law.

NIV Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

It is instructive to realize the NIV from this point on translates the Greek word sarx as “the sin nature.” God’s word says the sinful man, the Unbeliever is “hostile to God and cannot submit to God’s law, the Mosaic Law. He is therefore doomed to The Lake of Fire. “The mind controlled by The Spirit has accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for his sins. He “believes.”

NIV Romans 8:6 The mind of sinful man {6 Or mind set on the flesh} is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind {7 Or the mind set on the flesh} is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

The requirement for righteousness had long been established. The Believer has fulfilled it. He is in the Kingdom of Heaven, earth division, until he physically dies then he goes to the heavenly division. He will not suffer the second death, The Lake of Fire.

NIV Romans 4:3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” {3 Gen. 15:6; also in verse 22}

The Law is still in force for the Unbeliever. It is still serving its purpose, driving all men toward the work Christ did for them. God has put in place a mechanism that can save everyone. All they have to do is “believe” it. Justice is served.

The Believer who accepts Christ’s work but still submits to The Law will continue to suffer Romans 7: 8-24.  He is still in bondage even though his sins have been paid for. He is a legalist and will suffer defeat due to The Law of The Sin Nature indwelling The Flesh. He will not be free until he physically dies.

The Believer who puts The Law behind him finds submission to God the Spirit liberating. He turns his life over to Him and follows along behind Him full of wonder as he witnesses the amazing things that happen along the way. He enjoys what Christ promised.

NIV John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus Christ has saved the Old Testament Believer also. God told him a sacrifice would cover his sins and he “believed.” God the son, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross validated all the sacrifices that were made in belief.