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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Law of Moses

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The law was like a straight edge given by God to make manifest the crookedness of man. "[The] law entered that the offence might abound " (Romans 5:20 ), that is, not to increase sin, but to show its offensiveness, and to bring it home to the soul. "By [the] law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20 . The apostle said that he would not have known lust had not the law said, "Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7 . The object of the law therefore was to evince the heinousness of sin, while it was a test of the obedience of man to God. It was given to Israel only, the one nation which was under God's special dealings, and in which He was trying man in the flesh. The heading of the ten commandments is "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," and this could apply only to the Israelites. Again, God says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Amos 3:2 . The Gentiles are described as not having the law, Romans 2:14 , though they had the work of the law written in their hearts, and a conscience which bore witness when they did wrong. As the Gentiles became associated with Israel, and heard what God required morally of man, they doubtless became more or less responsible according to the light received. But greater light having come in, the Galatian Christians are sharply rebuked for putting themselves under law, where, as Gentiles, they never had been. Some things forbidden in the law were wrong intrinsically, such as theft, murder, etc.; but other things were wrong only because God had forbidden them, such as the command to abstain from eating certain creatures called 'unclean.'

The law in its enactment of sacrifices and feasts was essentially typical and foreshadowed what was to be fulfilled in Christ. In accordance with this, Paul, as a Jew, could say, "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ;" and the Lord said, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." John 5:46 . This is an important point, for the passage that speaks of the law as the schoolmaster goes on to say that it was in order that they "might be justified by faith." After that faith was come believers were no longer under a schoolmaster. Galatians 3:25 . A converted Jew was no longer under the law — how much less a Gentile believer whom God had never put under the law! See SCHOOLMASTER.

This is often construed to mean that while the Christian is not under the law for justification, he is under it for walk, as a rule of life. This theory is however opposed to scripture, which says, "sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 . A Christian has died with Christ and lives unto God, beyond the jurisdiction of law, which applies to man in the flesh, man 'in Adam.' Christianity is not in its true power apart from death and resurrection. See also Galatians 5:18 .

Many contend that the ceremonial law is abrogated, but that the moral law is binding upon all. This distinction between the ceremonial and the moral law can only be true in so far as the law is the embodiment of moral principles, which must ever be the rule of conduct for an intelligent being as such. So the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled now in those who walk after the Spirit — while they are said to have become dead to the law by the body of Christ. Scripture speaks only of 'the law.' The law engraven on stones (the ten commandments) is called "the ministration of death ," not the law of life to a Christian. 2 Corinthians 3:7 . Law gives no power over sin; indeed, no sooner does a law say that a particular thing must not be done, than a desire arises to do it. Scripture does not say a word about the Christian being ruled by law; but it says that grace teaches him how to walk (Titus 2:11,12 ), and because he is under grace sin will not have dominion over him. The law depicted what a righteous man should be for the earth. It was perfect for the purpose for which it was given, but as seen in the question of divorce (Mark 10:4 ) it permitted what God had not intended for man at the beginning, and to this Christ bore witness. In Matthew 5:21-48 the Lord mentions five particulars, which they had heard in old time, in contrast to which He legislates in accordance with the new order of things that He was bringing in. The law did not come up to the responsibilities of Christianity. The Christian has a higher standard, even Christ Himself. He is to walk 'worthy of the Lord' unto all pleasing. Having received Christ Jesus the Lord, he is to walk in Him , Colossians 1:10 ; Colossians 2:6 ; and to walk also 'worthy of God,' 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ; indeed his aim should be to say, with Paul, "To me to live is Christ." Philippians 1:21 .

Man naturally clings to law because it recognises him as alive in the flesh. And though the curse follows the not keeping it in all points, yet he is not willing to give up that ground. Christ glorified is the One whom God now recognises — He only suits God's glory. Hence every one that is not 'in Christ' is a sinner already condemned by the light that has come in.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Law of Moses '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/l/law-of-moses.html. 1897.

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