30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

April 2, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Rightly Dividing the Old Law and the New Law"

Good morning and welcome once again to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" Hello, I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ letting you know that we appreciate you turning your radios to WAVG 1450 AM this morning and giving us the privilege of coming into your home as we further study the word of God. The time we spend in the study of God's Word will prove to be very valuable as we search and find those things that our heavenly Father wants us to do in order to gain eternal salvation. Your religion and my religion will mean absolutely nothing unless we truly desire to be pleasing to God, doing His will, not the will of man. Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 15, verses 8-9: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." If that was true of the teachers then, it certainly is true of teachers today. The apostles in Acts 5:29 told those that had thrown them in prison and then asked them to no longer teach Christ "We ought to obey God rather than man." Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" I hope that all of you in the listening audience this morning can see that unless we believe in Christ and DO His will, then our religion is worthless. Yet, there are many, far too many, that continue through life, thinking that they will go to heaven, while practicing the doctrines of men. Friends, the Bible, over and over again tells us this will not be the case. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he said: "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (2 Thes 1:8-9). So the point is this: we must be ready and willing to open our Bible and earnestly search for those things to put into practice in our life that are pleasing to God and God only. I also urge you this morning to test the things that I say on this program. Open up your Bible and do as the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that they were"more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11). Won't you also do that this morning as we study the Word of God together?

As a young boy I remember spending many hours putting together picture puzzles. In fact, I still enjoy doing this, when time can be found, which is seldom. One of the first lessons we learn in putting together a picture puzzle is to put the border together first. Then, one can follow with the other pieces that make up the completed picture. Also, in puzzles, each piece fits together with all the other pieces and each piece has its own place. You cannot force one piece to fit into the place of another. And when each piece is finally put into its rightful place, the picture comes out complete.

These thoughts suggest some spiritual lessons for your consideration this morning. Many people today have bits and pieces of the Bible in their knowledge, but lack the ability to attain a complete picture or scheme from it. For this reason, many do not have a proper understanding of the differences between the Old Law that was given through the prophet Moses and the New Law that came through Jesus Christ. Unless we put the pieces in their proper place, a jumbled mess will result and we will be thoroughly confused as to the overall scheme that our God has given to all of mankind. Often in our day and time I hear people mixing the Old Law with the New Law and drawing some conclusions that are not in keeping with the desires of our Father. In our lesson today I wish to note the difference between that Old System of the Law of Moses and the New System of the Law of Christ Jesus.

As a starting point in our discussion this morning, I want to read a lengthy passage of scripture from Paul's letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verses 16-29. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Jehovah made promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. God has never made promises he could not keep. Notice that Abraham is promised a land, a nation, and spiritual blessings through his seed. Thus the promises unto Abraham were three fold. The first promise involved a land promise. In Genesis 13:14-17, we find more description of this land promise: "And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are-- northward, southward, eastward, and westward; "for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. "And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. "Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you." In Joshua 24:13, we read, "I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant."

The second part of the promise to Abraham was that of becoming a great Nation. God was faithful in his vows to Abraham and blessed him with a son in his elder years. Isaac then had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Through Jacob, the promise to Abraham was fulfilled. Jacob had twelve sons, who became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve tribes became a great nation, as Jehovah had promised Abraham. This great Nation of the Old Testament enjoyed the land of Canaan, as God had promised Abraham. There are no unfilled promises made by God concerning Israel.

The term "law" as used in Galatians 3:16-29, the beginning passage that we read, refers to the "Law of Moses," or, more accurately, the Law given through Moses. That law was based upon what we refer to as the Ten Commandments as listed in Exodus, chapter 20. The first four of these ten laws deal with man's relationship to God. The last six of these ten laws deal with man's relationship to his fellow man.

The Law of Moses was exclusive to the house of Israel. No other nation was obligated to keep that law. In Exodus 31:16, 17, we read, "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever." In Exodus 19:3, we read, "And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel." Also, in Deuteronomy 5:3 it says, "Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive this day." The Law of Moses was never given to the Gentile nations; nor have the Gentiles ever been commanded to keep the law of Moses. After Joshua had led the Children of Israel into Canaan, taking the land as Jehovah had promised, he states, "Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass." (Joshua 21:45). The law served its purpose as Jehovah had promised. As Paul said in the verses we began with, the law was a "tutor' or "schoolmaster" to bring mankind unto the Messiah. The Law of Moses was temporary. It was not intended to be an eternal law for man, but was to last "until" the seed (Christ Jesus) was to come. Listen again to what Paul said in Galatians 3:24-25: "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." The "faith" that Paul is referring to here is the doctrine of faith, through Christ, given for us. Jude 3 says: "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

I realize that I am reading a lot of Bible verses this morning, but I feel it is very important that everyone in our listening audience fully understands the importance of knowing the difference between the old law of Moses and the new law of Christ. Our salvation depends upon it. Now listen to what the Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 10:9-10: "then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." The coming, and eventual death of Christ upon the cross, ended all of the obligations of the Old Law of Moses. No longer is there a distinction made between Jew and Gentile as to God`s promises and blessings. There is nothing awaiting the Jews concerning the promises made to Abraham. All have been fulfilled. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 2:13-16, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity." Now, both Jew and Gentile find access unto Heaven through the same source, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This now brings us to the third part of the blessing made unto Abraham -- that through his seed all nations would be blessed. In the verses we began our study with, Galatians 3:16 states: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ." Christ was a descendant from Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob. Christ came as the fulfillment of that promise made to Abraham, a promise that was to bless all mankind. It is now through the blood of Christ Jesus in His ultimate sacrifice for us, that we have access unto the Father. It is through our obedience to His commands that we can be made free from sins and walk in the light in order to have fellowship with the Heavenly Father. Obedience is a necessary ingredient in order to have this fellowship with our Father. Jesus states in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Christ has come and He has given us a New Law. The Hebrew writer states, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding faults with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--"not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord" (Hebrews 8:7-9). Then in verse 13 of the same context, he says, "In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." In the book of Colossians chapter 2, verse 14 we read, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Again in Hebrews 10:9-10 we read, "then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Friends, the reason I have cited all of those verses, from the New Testament of our Bible are to show us that we are no longer under the Law of Moses. We are no longer under the Ten Commandments, which was the foundation of the Law of Moses. We now live under the Law of Jesus Christ. It is now faith in Christ that brings about friendship of God. We are reconciled or made right with Jehovah by our faith and our obedience to the commands of Christ, the Son of God. Paul said that he "was not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation"(Romans 1:16). That gospel is the "good news" of and about Christ.

The gospel of Christ demands of you and me that we believe in Christ as the Son of God. We need to exhibit faith today as the children of God did long ago. The Hebrew writer states: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6). That faith that we have in Jesus will then respond to the commands of Jesus and the apostles as they were guided in what to teach by the Holy Spirit sent to them by Jesus. Peter tells us: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...." (Acts 2:38). Cleansing then comes from the throne of God, as He has promised.

As we look at an overall prospective of what we have said this morning, it becomes evident that the cross of Christ divides the Old Law of Moses from the New Law of Christ. We now live under that New Law. We no longer are to keep the Old Law. Obedience to that Old Law of Moses will profit nothing. Was that Old Law of any value? Yes. Did that Old Law accomplish what God intended for it to accomplish? Yes. Is that Old Law still binding upon man today? No. The inspired apostle Paul made that very clear when he said: "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law" (Gal 5:3). James wrote:"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11). The points that are being made by both Paul and James are if we strive to keep one part of the old law (the law of Moses), then we must keep all of it. In the days when man was under the law of Moses, they could not pick and choose which commands they wanted to keep and which ones to discard. Yet today, many people are operating under what I call a smorgasbord religion. They line up the Old Testament and the New Testament on the buffet table and then go through the line helping themselves to whatever practices of either testament that they like. The Old Testament had tithing, animal sacrifices, instrumental music, keeping the Sabbath day holy, etc. But all of those practices have been done away with when Christ died for us. We are now governed by the New Testament law. The New Testament law does not have tithing, animal sacrifices, instrumental music, keeping the Sabbath day holy, etc. Yet you will find in many, many denominations today people practicing bits and pieces of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Bible clearly says that if one is keeping one part of the "law," then he is to keep the whole law. Where is the animal sacrifices in the denomination buildings today? There are none. Yet there is instrumental music, tithing, burning of incense, etc. You see my friends, if one is going to stray in one point, one practice, then they will stray in many others. Most people today are looking for a convenient, easy religion where they can pick and choose what they want to practice!

Can we learn from the Old Testament today? Indeed we can. Romans 15:4, reads, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope." There are many lessons and many examples that we can study from the Old Testament and learn from them. But, we are not to go back to that Old Law the Law of Moses to determine what man should do today in our worship or our obedience unto the Heavenly Father. Paul told Timothy to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). We, too, must do the same.

When we put all the pieces of a puzzle in its proper place, fitting each piece exactly where it goes, then we will have a complete picture. So likewise, when we put all of God's Word in its proper place, it will all fit together as one complete picture, showing a beauty that cannot be found elsewhere. My friends in this audience this morning, I plead with you to study your Bibles. Find out what God would have you do today. Then have the courage to do it.

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"