To The Mosaic Law
by Philip Mauro
The Gentile Believer and The
We have said that the experience
of the "wretched man" of Romans 7 is not the normal experience
of a converted Gentile. It is, nevertheless, a sad fact that it may (and
often does) become the abnormal experience of converted Gentiles, who,
through ignorance of the great gospel truths revealed in Romans, or
through the influence of Judaizing teachers and legal systems of
theology, fall from their standing in grace, and seek justification, or
the gift of the Spirit, through law-works. Hence the solemn warning of
Galatians 5:4: "You are deprived of all effect from Christ,
whosoever in law are being justified; you are fallen from grace."
For as there were in Paul's day, so are there now, many who desire
"to be of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof
So also the struggle of that
"wretched man" becomes the experience of many unconverted
Gentiles who, totally ignorant of remission of sins through faith in the
blood of Christ....are seeking perpetually (because seeking vainly) for
and inclination of the heart to keep the Mosaic law. The condition of
such, if they be earnest and sincere in their desire to keep the law, is
indeed "wretched" in the extreme.
It was needful, therefore, that,
in addition to the revelation given in Romans 7 of deliverance for the
believing Jew from the yoke of the Law, the Epistle to the Galatians
should have been incorporated into the Word of God, in order to instruct
and warn Gentile believers against putting themselves under that yoke.
In referring, however, to
Galatians our object will be simply to seek the light it throws upon the
conflict described in Romans 7. What we find in Galatians affords strong
confirmation to the view that the experience described in Romans 7 is
that of a conscientious unconverted Israelite, and not at all a
"Christian" experience. In fact, the main object of the
Apostle in writing to the assemblies of Galatia was to warn them against
teachings which would lead them into such an experience.
In Galatians 2 Paul relates how he
remonstrated with the Apostle Peter for compelling the Gentiles to live
as do the Jews (v. 14). We may be sure that the matter in dispute is
esteemed by the Spirit of God to be exceedingly important; otherwise it
would not be brought to our attention in the form of a rebuke
administered by Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, to Peter, the leader
of the twelve. In this connection Paul draws the line sharply between
Jews and Gentiles, saying: "We, Jews by nature, and not sinners of
the Gentiles, knowing that a man in not justified out of the works of
the Law, but out of the faithfulness of Christ, even we [Jews] have
believed on Christ Jesus that we might be justified out of the
faithfulness of Christ, and not out of works of Law" (vv. 15-16).
And he adds: "For if I build again the things I threw down, I
constitute myself a transgressor." That is to say, if he should set
up the Law again as an obligation for himself, he would make himself a
law-breaker. "For," he continues, "I through the Law died
to the Law, that I might live to God." Here Paul again brings
himself forward, as a typical Jew, and repeats in few words the doctrine
elaborated in Romans 7. "I have been crucified with Christ,
nevertheless I live"; or, as the Greek may be equally well
rendered, "I am not any longer living, it is Christ that lives in
me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faithfulness of
the Son of God."
It is possible for every believer
to reach the place where he can make this saying of Paul his own. It
involves death to sin and life to God in Christ, and the abiding
presence of the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead. This
verse obviously contains a condensed statement of the truth revealed in
Romans 6 and 7 concerning the believer's death (as to his old nature)
with Christ, and his living again in the supernatural life of the risen
Christ. That new life is not lived under the Law of Sinai.
"I do not," says Paul,
"make void the grace of God" (as Peter was doing by his
dissimulation and by returning to the practice of Judaism) "for if
righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing"
Having thus dealt with the case of
the believing Jew, who had been delivered from the Law by means of
Christ's death, the Apostle directly addresses the Galatians, who, being
Gentiles, never were under Law, but began their relations with God in
the Spirit. The Jew began his service of God in the flesh. For him,
therefore, there might be found some excuse for continuing after
conversion as a man in the flesh under Law, not exercising the liberty
wherewith Christ had made him free. But for Gentile believers, who never
were under the Law, but had the great advantage of beginning in the
Spirit, to put themselves under Law and to attempt to be perfected in
the flesh, was the "senseless" action of those who had been
"bewitched." "O senseless Galatians, who had bewitched
you," that you should act thus after the truth concerning Christ
crucified has been plainly put before you? "Are you so senseless?
Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the
flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3). It was indeed "senseless" in the
extreme to undertake the perfecting in the flesh of the work that was
begun in the Spirit.
The Apostle then refers to
Abraham, whose faith was accounted to him for righteousness, and points
out that the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles
out of faith, proclaimed that good news to Abraham, saying, "In you
shall all nations (Gentiles) be blessed." (Gal. 3:8).
The Galatians are warned of two
serious facts. First, Paul teaches that all who are of the works of Law
(in contrast to those that are "of faith") are under the curse
of the Law. Second, he asserts that the curse comes upon every one who
continues not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to
do them. From this it follows that no one is being justified with God in
virtue of Law: "For the just shall live out of faith; but the man
that does those things (required by the Law) shall live in virtue of
them" (vv. 10-12).
In view of this, it would
naturally be asked, How does it come about that the Jews, who were
placed under the Law, which none of them has kept, have escaped from the
curse of the Law? The answer is, "Christ has redeemed us (Jews)
from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us." This
statement manifestly applies solely to Israel, for the curse of the Law
was never pronounced against the Gentiles. Hence Paul uses in verse 3:13
the pronoun "us." The contrast between Jews and Gentiles is
again clearly marked by 3:14, which goes on to say that Christ was made
a curse for the Jews in order that the blessing of Abraham might come on
the Gentiles in Christ Jesus. The contrast between the curse of the Law,
pronounced upon those who were under the Law, and the blessing of
Abraham coming to the Gentile believers in Christ, is very instructive.
And an additional result of the endurance by Christ of the curse of the
Law is then set forth, namely, the we might receive the promise of the
Spirit through faith.
The promise was made to Abraham
and to his seed long before the Law was given. From this it follows that
the promise cannot be nullified by the Law, which was given 430 years
after. If then the Law was not given for the purpose of adding anything
to the promise, or of taking anything from it, why was it given? It was
added for the sake of transgressions, that is in order that the repeated
transgressions of the Law by every Israelite might reveal the presence
and nature of sin in the flesh, and show the futility of attempting to
secure justification out of Law-works. Moreover, it was given, not as a
permanent institution, but only "until the Seed should come to whom
the promise was made." (3:19).
This statement shows that the
period of the Law was strictly limited in time, as it was limited also
in scope to the children of Israel. Its era did not begin until 430
years after God had begun to deal with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and
their descendants; and it ceased when the promised Seed died under the
Law. The curse of the Law was exhausted when Christ was made a curse by
hanging on a tree (Deut. 21:23). Whatever God's purposes were with the
Law, they were all accomplished when the promised Seed died on the
Cross. Since that event even the Jew is no longer a man under Law, for
by no amount of law-keeping can he now secure the promised blessings of
the promised land. The old covenant is entirely at an end (2 Cor.
3:7-11; Heb. 7:13). The words on the Cross, "It is finished"
(in the original it is the single word "accomplished")
included the purpose of the Law, which thereupon came to an end.
The temporary character of the Law
as a Divine institution is further set forth, with great clearness, in
verses 23-25. "Before faith came," says the Apostle, "we
[Jews] were kept [or guarded] under Law, having been shut up to the
faith which was about to be revealed. Wherefore the Law has been our
pedagogue [tutor] up to Christ in order that out of faith we might be
justified. But faith having come, we are no longer under a tutor."
By noting the tenses of the verbs, as given in the above renderings, the
sense will be readily and clearly apprehended. It is very clear indeed
that these statements apply only to Israelites. The Gentiles were not
kept under Law, but were left without Law. They were not "shut
up" in any way, but allowed to follow the devices of their own
hearts. They were not under a pedagogue, or under tutors and governors
(4:2), for God had no dealings with them. God has called Israel His
"Son" (Hosea 11:1; see Amos 3:2); and of Israel alone, of all
the peoples of the earth, can it be said that they were under tutors
awaiting the time appointed of the Father.
After speaking in the first person
of the Jews, the Apostle, addressing the Gentile Galatians, says by way
of contrast: "For you are all the children of God through faith in
Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek." The contrast
between the "we" of verses 24,25 and the "you" of
verse 26, is very significant....
Some of the statements (in
Galatians 4) are broad enough to embrace both Jews and Gentiles, for
both were, before conversion, in bondage to the elements of the world;
but the special bondage of the Jew - the yoke of the Law and the penalty
of its curse - is also specifically mentioned. As the heir is
"under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father;
even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of
the world: But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His
Son, born of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem those that were
under the Law, that we [Jews] might receive the status of sons. But
because you [Gentiles] are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His
Son into your hearts, crying, 'Abba Father.'" (4:2-6) The defective
reading of verse 6 in the A.V. "And because you are sons,"
instead of "But," as it is in the original, hides the contrast
between the case of the believing Israelite and that of the believing
Gentile. The former needed to be redeemed from under the Law before he
could receive the status of a son ("adoption of sons");
whereas for the latter there was no such need. The bondage of the
Gentiles was a different kind of bondage. They, not knowing God at all,
were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods (4:8); but the point
we wish to examine is that they were not under Law at any time, and this
point is very clearly presented in the passage we have been examining.
(Editor's note: Randall Seiver has presented a better explanation of
this passage in his book on Galatians "The Fulness of Time"
available from Sound of Grace, Webster N.Y.)
The Believer's State Is Not
One Of Lawlessness
In emphasizing the important truth
that the believer is not under the Law, because, if a Jew he was
delivered from the yoke of the Law by the death of Christ, and if a
Gentile he was never under the Law at all, must not obscure the
important fact that the state of the believer is not one of lawlessness
- far from it. What is spoken of in Romans 7 as "the Law" is
the Law given to the Israelites through Moses. That Law was by no means
a complete statement of God's requirements, though it was quite
sufficient for the purpose of revealing the presence of sin in the
flesh, for demonstrating the utter corruption of human nature, and for
making manifest the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The teachings of Jesus
Christ showed that the full requirements of God's holiness and
righteousness are far above those of the Law of Moses. "You have
heard that it was said by (or to) them of old, You shall not kill...But
I say to you, Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause,
etc." (Matt. 5:21-48).
The believer of this dispensation
is not living under the Law of Moses. That law was given for the
regulation of the conduct of men in the flesh. The believer is "not
in the flesh, but in the Spirit." (Rom. 8:9). He is not, therefore,
in the sphere in which the Law of Moses was effective.
The child of God, though not under
the Law of Moses, is "not without Law to God, but in-law to
Christ" (ennomous Christou, 1 Cor. 9:21). He owns the risen Christ
as His Lord, and judges that his entire life in the body is to be lived
no longer unto himself, but unto Him who died for him and rose again (2
Cor. 5:15). Being in the Spirit he is to be governed by "the law of
the Spirit" (Rom. 8:2). Being in Christ he is to "fulfill the
law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). This is a condition very different from
that of the Israelite under the Law of Moses, and on a much higher
plane. The life of the child of God is not a life hedged about by
constraints and prohibitions, but a life of liberty in which he is free
to follow all the leadings of the Spirit, and all the inclinations of
the new nature which the Spirit imparts to those whom He quickens. It is
a life of freedom - not freedom to sin, but freedom not to sin. He who
practices sin is the slave of sin; only the free man can refuse
obedience to the demands of sin, and yield himself to God as one who is
alive from the dead. The Word of God abounds in directions addressed to
the children of God, by which their walk, while yet in the body, is to
be guided and controlled. These directions are found in the commandments
of Christ, and in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, whom the risen Lord
empowered to be the channel for the revelation of His special
communications to and concerning the Church. And these directions are
illustrated by all the holy Scriptures, the things which happened to the
Israelites having been written, not for our imitation, but for our
admonition (1 Cor. 10:11).
The believer has been called into
liberty; and he is exhorted to stand fast in the liberty wherewith
Christ has made him free (Gal. 5:1). Yet he is not to use his liberty so
as to furnish occasions for gratifying the desires of his old nature
(Gal. 5:13). Having been brought, through the resurrection of Christ,
into the sphere of the Spirit, the believer is commanded to remain
there; that is, to be occupied with and interested in the things of the
Spirit. While so engaged he cannot at the same time be fulfilling the
desires of the flesh. "This I say then, walk in [or by] the Spirit,
and you shall not fulfill the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).
"If you be led of the Spirit you are not under the Law" (Gal.
Ephesians, which especially
reveals the position of believers as quickened together with Christ,
raised up (i.e. ascended) together with Him, and seated together in the
heavenlies in Christ, abounds in practical directions for the believer's
guidance in all his earthly relations. We...call attention to them in
order to guard against the supposition that, because the believer of
this dispensation is not under the Law of Moses, he is therefore in a
state of lawlessness.
The main points, then, of the
teaching we have been examining are these:
1. That the sufferings of Christ
were incurred for the sins of His people, that is to say, the sins of
those whom God justifies upon the principle of faith.
2. That the death of Christ
delivers the believing sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, from the
servitude of sin.
3. That the death of Christ also
brought the economy of the Law to an end, and delivered all converted
Israelites from the yoke of the Law.
4. That the resurrection of
Christ brings all believers into the sphere of a new humanity, where
there is a new life, whose Source is the risen Christ, which life is
imparted by the Spirit of God to the believer while the later is yet
in the mortal body.
5. That believers, though not
under the Law of Moses, are governed by the Law of the Spirit of life
in Christ Jesus, and are required to "fulfill the law of