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This study on the Old Covenant is the first in the series on the law.
The primary covenant of the Old Testament covenants is the Old Covenant, the law, or the Mosaic Covenant. The Old Covenant is no longer active and replaced by the New Covenant. This series on the law will show how Jesus fulfilled the law. We will also see that Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath and its feasts.
2. The Three Parts to the Old Covenant
Some people say that we are bound by moral law but not by religious or ceremonial law.
Yet there is no distinction between the three laws in the New Testament. Not once in the New Testament do we see a separation of these three aspects to the law.
A. Moral Law – Mishpatim.
“Ordinances” are based on God’s nature as Yahweh M’Kadesh (God, our holiness) as we looked at in the Five Further Attributes of Yahweh. The purpose of these ordinances is to promote welfare in those who follow them. There is little doubt that the welfare of those in adulterous relationships or murder someone will result in consequences such as broken relationships, loneliness, worry and fear of retribution. The Ten Commandments summarise moral law.
B. Ceremonial Law – Hukkim or Chuqqah.
“Statutes” focus on the relationship with God. It relates to our right standing with God through ceremonies and sacrifices. It also includes feasts and festivals, dietary and clothing requirements to make them different from the surrounding nations and signs that point to the coming Messiah (for example; circumcision, Sabbath, Passover, the redemption of the firstborn.
C. Judicial or Civil Law.
These laws encompass all moral laws except the Ten Commandments. They include laws around murder, sexuality, restitution, safe cities. Jewish culture makes no difference between moral laws and judicial laws, and nor should we.
3. The Old Covenant was Added because of Man’s Inability to Resist Sin
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.Galatians 3:19
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,1 Timothy 1:8-10
It is good for the purpose of training and correcting people locked in severe sin such incest, murder of family members.
Some people need the base of the law to understand that what they are doing is hideous in God’s sight.
Noting that Paul is saying that it must be used lawfully. Paul recognised that the law is dead, but that it had a place in helping some people understand what sin is.
4. The Old Covenant is Good and Holy
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.Romans 7:12
It is good if it is lawfully in context:
5. It Cannot Help us to Overcome Sin
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.Romans 7:18
6. The Old Covenant Brought about an Adding of Sin to our Account
For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.Romans 5:13
Here we find that sin is no longer added to our account if there is no law. Therefore when we become a believer, we are dead to sin.
7. It Brought a Conviction of Guilt
but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.James 2:9
8. The Old Covenant Empowers Sin to Kill us
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.Romans 7:11
1 Corinthians 15:56
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
9. It Brought Judgement and Condemnation
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.Romans 5:18
10. Being Under the Works of the Law brings a Curse
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”Galatians 3:10
11. From the Giving of the Law until Now, Sin Reigns Over the Unbeliever
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death…Romans 5:20-21
In Judgement of God, we found that the dead refers to those who have not yet received Jesus as Lord and entered the family of God. Therefore sin reigns over the unbeliever.
12. The Law Produces Good Desires in us to Obey it
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.Romans 7:22
13. But it Produces a Self-righteousness
and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;Philippians 3:9
14. What the Law could not do, Jesus Accomplished by Condemning Sin in the Flesh, where it Dies through His Death
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:3-4
15. It no longer Teaches us
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.Galatians 3:24
However, now that faith has come to us as believers, it no longer is needed:
But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.Galatians 3:25
Trying to obey the law, besides not helping us, will make us focus more on sin and the law, the very opposite of what we need. Walk by the Spirit and keep your eyes on Jesus.
Next, we will examine how the law no longer applies to the believer.
© Use by Permission. Awakening Impact Ministries/ Dr Neville van Eerten 2022