When teaching about God’s laws, Bible teachers should have the following big picture perspective:
From the beginning, mankind has tended to look at God’s laws as something restrictive to which they respond rebelliously. Consider the Garden where God gave them one command among so many freedoms — “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) They were able to enjoy the benefit of everything else but instead, with some help from the serpent, focused in on the one thing God said they should not do.
Notice that disobedience came with a consequence — death, both physical and spiritual.
Man’s condition only worsened, bringing on the need for God’s judgment. After the flood, God then chose to raise up a people for Himself through Abram. This nation would be blessed by God. Important to keep in mind is that “It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith” (Rom. 4:13).
In time God gave them His laws through Moses as a guide for how to live within His blessing. Still, they looked around at the other nations at what they didn’t have and chose their idolatrous ways which took them out of the place of God’s blessing.
God gave the law for their good (Deut. 5:33), even though He knew they would never be able to keep it fully. It would show them their sinfulness and their need of God’s grace.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Rom. 3:20)
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more … (Rom. 5:20)
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom. 7:7)
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. (Gal. 3:19)
Jesus, when He came to earth, did at least four things in regard to the law.
- Jesus demonstrated what it truly meant to keep the Law. He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17).
- Jesus summed up all the law into two commandments. First, love the Lord with all of who you are. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. He said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40).
- Jesus took on Himself the curse of the law that we, who cannot fulfill the law, deserve. — “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’” (Gal. 3:13)
- Jesus did for us what the law could never do — saved us from our sin by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24) “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1-4)
In the next post we will look at some tips for teaching about God’s laws that grow out of this big picture perspective about God’s laws.