Articles | "Are You Sure God’s Law Is Not For This Dispensation?"

July 25, 2019

by William Heinrich

I am weary of the evangelical criticism of God’s Holy Law. Speak of humanism and here we see its deadly lies at its worst.

            If a teacher gives a test and the pupil fails to pass, it is humanism that teaches to criticize the teacher’s test as being too hard. In the case of the Law, to criticize the test is to criticize its Maker, God, who has never erred. The folly and insanity of the evangelical here reaches to the heavens – the shame of it all.

            God’s Law is perfect, flawless, ideal. The problem is not the test but the pupil. Yet we hear the evangelical humanist crying, “Away with the test.” We see him searching God’s Word and perverting it by saying that the holy, perfect Law of God was bondage, drudgery, and bad.

            Listen to David of old speak of God’s Law in Psalm 119: “I will delight myself in the statutes; I will not forget Thy word; open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” “Give me understanding and I shall keep Thy law; I shall observe it with my whole heart.” “Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments for therein do I delight.” Listen to Jesus in John 15: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

            Brethren, Paul in Galatians does not teach Christians are free from the moral law of God. First, Paul teaches salvation is not by works, even if those works are the perfect Law of God. Second, Paul teaches when Christ came, He completed much of the Law. The need of a blueprint is no more when the building is finished, so the blueprint part of the Law is over, finished. By this I mean all that pointed to the coming Christ is over when He came. The curse of the Law is over because He stood our curse. The ceremonial types and pictures are over, for they pointed to the coming One, and He came. But Christians, the expression of God’s nature called the moral law is to be, through the Holy Spirit and our new nature, obeyed, delighted in, cherished, held in reverence, considered holy and perfect.

            Never allow the humanist to criticize the test, but let the failing of the pupil serve to cause him to look for help that cometh through faith in Christ.

            Yet the improperly informed say we in this dispensation have not received the cold, hard, impersonal Law on tables of stone; we have God’s Law written in our hearts. Brethren, listen to yourself. The source of our problem is our wicked heart. The whole stream remains polluted if it’s contaminated at the fork above. God in salvation gives a new heart, a heart that loves God’s Law. An empty heart will soon be full of evil, but God fills our hearts with the holy, pure, refreshing waters of a sanctified life in obedience to God’s moral law. The God who gives a new heart gives a new heart autographed by His code of righteousness. It is in this heart the Holy Spirit dwells to empower for freedom in obedience. It is in this power the believer fulfills the righteousness of God’s Law. God’s Law in the new heart of a regenerate man is there to be loved, protected or kept, not to be snatched away as a strong wind might blow away your hat.

            Confusion also exists by those who speak as though grace is the opposite of Law. The opposite of Law is no law or antinomianism. True, the legalist seeks to be saved by the principle of works or Law, and God only saves by grace, but it must be remembered Law and grace are not opposites. Grace operated in the Law as seen in the daily offerings of lambs slain in place of man. The Law does work wrath in man and makes nothing perfect, but it’s not a flaw in God’s holy commandments; the weakness is in man’s sinful nature. Law did not replace the grace promises made to Abraham. Both Law and grace existed parallel to each other serving their God-given purposes. So it is today. Man is not and never was under the Law for salvation, but a sanctification which stops short of perfect conformity to the moral law is not true sanctification.

            The Law of God is perpetual. Jesus said He did not come to “abolish” it. Paul said, “Do we make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law.” Jesus did not change the Law, but He did often explain it. Much confusion existed in the legalist system of the Pharisees. They misunderstood the proper use of the Sabbath. They did not understand hatred as murder and lust as adultery. Christ understood the spirit of the Law, so He gave the proper interpretation of it. However, the Pharisees did not have the Spirit, and sought to live by the letter, seeking to be righteous through Law-keeping instead of grace.

            Some have said the Law of God is not perpetual but is replaced by the law of love. I ask you, what is the law of love? Did not Jesus say, “If you love me, keep my commandments”? The love for God and man does not erase one jot or tittle of the Law. If you love God, you will keep the first table of the Law; and if you love man, you will keep the second.

            For example, to love God will result in having no other gods, and to love our neighbor will mean we will not steal from him. Actually, it’s harder to love with all our mind, soul, and strength than it is to abstain from killing, stealing, etc.

            Can you imagine man worshipping our God if He has made an imperfect law? Some are saying the Law of God is imperfect and Jesus brought in love and grace to replace it. Grace and love have always existed. Love is the motive to keep the Law, and grace is our refuge when it is broken. By attempts to establish an imperfect law, we weaken the strength of sin and the holiness of God. Man by the Law received the knowledge of sin and must be crushed by it to flee to grace and the Spirit. To weaken the Law results in every man doing what is right in his own eyes. Oh, yes, they say the Spirit is leading them, but does God’s Spirit lead apart from His Law?

            Yet others cry, “The Law was fulfilled by Christ, and we are no longer obligated to it.” Christ truly did fulfill the Law, for a broken law required death, and Christ satisfied the Law’s demand of death upon me and for me. Now by faith in Christ, God puts me in Christ’s death, and God’s righteousness is satisfied as if I paid sin’s just penalty myself. Also Christ fulfilled the Law in obedience; therefore, being the only human law-keeper, He was declared justified. By faith in Christ I am put in Christ; and therefore, I am considered a law-keeper and thus justified. Yet there is more, for I personally in this life actually am a perfect law-keeper as well. Regeneration gives me a nature that never sins. Oh, yes, I still have my old sinful nature, but that new nature is sinless and perfectly keeps God’s holy, perfect Law. In fact, it delights in the Law of God just like David of old and our Lord Jesus. Now as I yield to the Holy Spirit who will lead in holiness, God’s Law is fulfilled in me and all who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

            The Bible says sin is a transgression of the Law of God. If man was not under the moral law of God, he would have no sin. Man often determines sin by his own heart, but in Scripture it is not that determined by the heart of man but by the heart of God. God in His nature never changes. Therefore, His laws never change that flow from His nature. These are called immutable laws of God and have always existed, just as God has always existed. Some of the immutable laws are prohibitions against murder, stealing, idolatry, etc. There also are mutable laws that come from God in agreement with His nature. A mutable law is a law that is dispensational, such as the day we worship, the tree of Adam, the diet of those under law. These have moral value only because they came from God and not inherent in themselves.

            To harmonize Law and grace is impossible if one grants them the same purpose. The moral law stands as the standard of right and allows man to see himself as a sinner and be crushed. Grace working through faith serves to save the lawbreaker and grant him a new heart engraved with God’s Law as well as the Holy Spirit, the able Law-keeper. By this grace, bathed man has a renewed mind that delights in the Law of God and seeks to establish it and vindicate it.

            To harmonize Law and liberty is impossible if one seeks freedom from holiness. The sinner is held in continual bondage by sin and is by his nature an enemy of God’s Law. Regeneration frees the nature of sinful man by granting a new nature that never sins. This is true liberty and God’s liberty. One set free loves God and God’s commandments. One walking in liberty is controlled by the Holy Spirit operating through the new nature. Guilt and bondage of the broken Law fly away, and confidence and freedom prevail.

            Our final thoughts rest in the often confused words of our Lord who said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

            Those who emphasize the word “fulfill” often do it by making it mean “to do away with.” Therefore, to be consistent, they would make the verse say, “Think not that I come to do away with the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to do away, but to do away.” The word “fulfill” means to perform. This is the way this word is used elsewhere in Scripture (Cf. Romans 8:4; Romans 13:8; 1 John 5:3). Christ is therefore saying, “Think not that I am come to do away with the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to do away, but to perform.” The emphasis of verses 17 and 18 of Matthew 5 guarantees this interpretation, for in these verses He claims not one jot will be done away with, and those who break the commandment and teach men so shall be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

            Christ performed the Law, and he that abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked. It is insane to make our own law or to think God is pleased apart from His. We with the Law of God written in our own hearts join with David and delight in the commandments of God and the grace of God.