This was preached by my pastor. It was to answer a question that was asked by one of the youth: “Why do we keep some laws, and don’t keep others?”
WHAT ABOUT THE LAW?
Back in the 12th Century AD, Moses Mäi-mon-ï-des – a preeminent medieval Jewish
philosopher and scholar – wrote a fourteen-volume work called Mishneh Torah. In that work, he
recorded and classified 613 Old Testament commands. While there is still much discussion as to which laws are:
1. From the LORD God.
2. From the Jewish Rabbis.
However, our purpose is not to discuss how many laws there really are – and the
reason is simply because it does NOT matter!
Why? The reason is stated in …
Verse 10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he
is guilty of all.”
Bottom line, if we only break one law we are guilty of breaking it all!
Therefore, the question that was asked is a very good/important question. The question
was asked, “Of the law in the Old Testament, why do we follow some parts of it, (i.e. the Ten
Commandments) but not others like eating unclean animals.”
In answering this question there are three points I want to mention:
I. The divisions of the law.
When it comes to the laws of God that are found in the Old Testament, we must notice
that all of the laws will fall into one of three categories.
A. The civic law – i.e. laws concerning the Jewish nation.
When the LORD God chose the nation of Israel to be His own people, they were
set up to operate as a “theocracy”.
1. The Jewish historian Josepheus first used this word in the 1st Century AD.
2. The meaning was simply that the Jews were under the direct government of the LORD God himself – i.e. the nation was in all things subject to the will of their invisible King.
3. Therefore, all the people were the servants of Jehovah, who ruled over their public and private affairs, communicating to them His will through those men who were called to be His prophets. In other words, the civic law had to do with how they were to live together as a nation of God’s people. These included God’s laws concerning:
1. Murder – theft – immorality.
4. Plowing – sowing – reaping.
5. Misdemeanors of all kinds.
These were the civil laws that the LORD God gave to the nation of Israel – and to
break these laws carried penalties which varied from paying fines to being put to
B. The ceremonial law – i.e. laws concerning the Jewish religion.
These laws were given so that men might have a right relationship with God – i.e.
these laws dealt with:
1. The rite of circumcision.
2. The keeping of the Sabbaths and the holy days.
3. The offering of the sacrifices in the Temple.
4. The keeping of a strict diet – i.e. both food and drink.
The Apostle Paul made it very clear that all of these things found their fulfillment
in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:13-17 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven
you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was
against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to
his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of
them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in
meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the
sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of
This is why, when certain Jewish teachers said that Gentiles could not become
Christians without being circumcised (cf. Acts 15), the Apostle Paul took a strong
stand – and the Jewish church agreed – that Gentiles did NOT need to follow the
ceremonial law of the Jewish religion in order to be Christians.
Bottom line: After the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, men no longer have a
right relationship with God keeping the works of the law – rather, our relationship
with God is based on our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary.
But it is important that we remember that, the ceremonial law was added because
of man’s transgression of …
C. The moral law – i.e. the Ten Commandments.
These are the ten law statements that the LORD God wrote with His finger on the
tables of stone (cf.Exodus 31:18) and gave to Moses. But not only were these
laws written on the tables of stone, notice in …
Romans 2:14-15 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by
nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law
unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts,
their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while
accusing or else excusing one another;”
Notice it now:
1. The civil laws do not apply to us since we are NOT citizens of Israel.
2. The ceremonial laws do not apply to us since Jesus Christ fulfilled all those things
that were required for men to have a right relationship with God.
3. However, the moral law still applies – so notice with me …
II. The requirements of the law.
The Bible says in …
Luke 10:25-28 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying,
Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in
the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all
thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered
You see, all of the moral law fills two categories – i.e. our relationship with God and with
men. Let’s look at the moral law in Exodus 20 …
A. Our relationship to God.
1. No other gods – cf.Exodus 20:3.
Remember, anything selfish desire that we put before obeying the will of
God is an idol (i.e. a god) that has taken God’s place in the throne room of
2. No making of idols – cf.Exodus 20:4-6.
While this is certainly speaking of those statues of false deities that we see
all around us, we must remember that an idol is any physical thing that we
allow to become more important to us than obeying God.
a. Toys – i.e. computer games, movies, TV.
b. Investments – work.
c. Possessions – i.e. cars, houses, etc.
3. No taking His name in vain – cf.Exodus 20:7.
The proper name of God is JEHOVAH, a word expressive of His essential
being. And since God is infinitely holy, His name is holy – and it is to be
regarded as holy.
Therefore, to use His name as a curse/swear word – or, to use His name in
making a statement that is untrue – is to bring upon ourselves the wrath
and judgment of God.
4. Remember to honor Him – cf.Exodus 20:8-11.
The principle here is simply that one day a week is to be dedicated to the
worshipping and honoring of our God – i.e. it was to be a day of physical
rest so that men might give themselves to spiritual endeavors.
In the New Testament, that day of rest was changed from the Sabbath to
B. Our relationship to men.
1. No dishonoring parents – cf.Exodus 20:12.
The fact this moral law is still in effect today is clearly seen in the fact that
the Apostle Paul referred to it – cf.Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20 – as
still being in force.
2. No committing murder – cf.Exodus 20:13.
3. No committing adultery – cf.Exodus 20:14.
4. No stealing – cf.Exodus 20:15.
5. No lying – cf.Exodus 20:16.
6. No coveting – cf.Exodus 20:17-18.
As we consider those moral laws, is there anyone here who has not broken at least one of
those commands? Of course, unless we have the IQ of a rock – or unless we are an
outright liar (NOTE: Rule # 9) – we will all confess that we fit in the statement of the
Apostle Paul in …
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
And that brings us to …
III. The purpose of the law.
Notice three things we need to understand concerning the purpose of the law:
A. Its revelation.
You see, when we are confronted with the demands/expectations of God’s moral
law – as we have just seen – we are brought face to face with the fact that we are
guilty sinners in the eyes of a holy God.
Romans 8:3 “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through
the flesh …”
Because of the fact that ALL of us were born with a sin nature – i.e. a nature that
naturally rebels against God’s moral laws – there is no way that we could earn our
salvation by keeping the moral law of God.
That is the same conclusion the Apostle Paul came to in …
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Bottom line: The moral law of God could never cause us to have a right relationship with God; rather, the law of God can only condemn us a guilty sinners before
a holy God.
B. Its satisfaction.
Romans 8:3 “… God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and
for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:”
The best commentary on this passage is found in …
Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one
to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no
sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
C. Its result.
When we see that we guilty of breaking God’s law – and when we understand that
Jesus Christ fulfilled the demands of the law by dying in our place – then we turn
in faith, trusting in Him as our Savior, so that …
Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us …”
This is why the psalmist said in …
Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul …”
And that is why the Apostle Paul said in …
Galatians 3:24-25 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto
Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no
longer under a schoolmaster.”
1. The moral law of God has NEVER changed – and it is that law which brings us to
faith in Christ.
2. After we are saved, we are no longer under the moral law of God – rather, now as
believers in Jesus Christ, we walk in obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit of