The Law of God: For Jews Only?
Many churches today teach that Christians are to live by faith rather than the law. Some of these same Christians teach that the law was for the nation of Israel. They believe that today’s Christians don’t need to observe God’s law because we are saved by God’s grace. I agree that we are saved by God’s grace and our faith, but the law we read about in the Old Testament is still active and valid for the modern day Christian. Here’s why I say this.
If God’s law was merely for the nation of Israel then why do we have evidence that God’s law was in force before Moses ever received the law from God? Some believe that God only gave his law to Israel after they left Egypt with Moses. But it is easy to see that God’s law existed before the time of Moses. Notice Genesis 4:1-12. Here we read that Cain killed his brother Abel and that this was sinful to do (verse 7). In I John 3:4 we read sin is the transgression of the law. So God’s law must have been around prior to Moses. In Genesis 18:20 we learn the sinfulness of the city of Sodom was very great. Once again this is evidence of the fact God’s law was around before the time of Moses.
Another example of the law in force before Moses can be found in Genesis 39:1-9. Notice especially verse 9 where Joseph tells Potiphar’s wife it would be a sin for him to go to bed with her since she was married. Abraham was said to keep God’s commandments, statutes and judgments and he also predates Moses. I think it is easy to see that God’s law was in place long before Moses received the law on Sinai to teach Israel.
Another interesting point to make in this discussion is even though God was working specifically with Israel the nation in the Old Testament, He still wanted other nations to follow His law. One interesting scripture in this regard is Deuteronomy 4:5-6. If Israel would have obeyed God’s laws faithfully, the nations around them may have taken notice of the wisdom and understanding those laws portrayed. Exodus 20:10 also tells us God wanted any aliens who lived within the nation of Israel to follow Israel’s law too. The rulers of the earth mentioned in Psalm 2:10-12 does not refer only to Israel. These rulers are told to serve the Lord. This would entail keeping His law.
There are also many scriptures in the New Testament that make it clear that Christians today should be keeping God’s laws. One of the most compelling is in Matthew 5:17-19. Here Jesus tells us that God’s law will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away. It also says that anyone (all people) who does not keep the law of God will be in a worse situation than those who do keep God’s law. Some other scriptures that promote the law in the New Testament are in the book of Romans.
In Romans 2:13 we are told we must not only hear the law but we should do the law. Notice Romans 7:12, this tells us the law is holy, just and good. Now if the law is all that why would we not want to keep the law or why would the law be only for Jews? Also read Romans 8:4. Here it says the laws requirements are righteous. Once again why would we not want to follow something that is righteous? Also remember, Paul wrote this letter to the Romans who probably had a number of believers in there group who were not Jewish.
It is also imperative to remember the law shows us what sin is and God wants us to keep away from sin. In order to stay away from sin we would need to understand the law. In the book of Romans we read in chapter 4:15 that where there is no law there is no transgression. Also in Romans 5:13 it says there is no sin without law. In other words there is no way we can’t have the law because the law helps us understand how God wants us to live.
The prophet Isaiah provides us some insight on this subject. In Isaiah 2:2-3 we read about what will be happening during the Kingdom of God on earth. So the context of this scripture is in the future. Notice it states the law will go out from Zion. This could only be referring to God’s law. It also says many peoples will come and learn of God’s ways which would include His laws. Here we see even in the future God’s law will continue to be taught to all people, not just physical Jews.
One final point to make in this discussion is the New Testament teaches us Christians are now spiritual Israel. Romans 2:28-29 teaches that being a Jew is not about your physical nature anymore, but your spiritual nature. In other words, if you are a follower of Christ, you are now a spiritual Jew and part of that new covenant with God. God’s law is still part of His new covenant (Hebrews 10:16) with mankind.