Doesn’t the Bible say that the law is faulty?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether the Bible says the law is faulty and whether it clarifies that it was not the law but the promises of the people that were at fault is an intricate theological topic. This question involves understanding the nature of the Old Testament Law, its purpose, and how it is portrayed in the New Testament.

Understanding the Old Testament Law

The Old Testament Law, given through Moses, encompasses moral, ceremonial, and civil laws meant to guide the Israelites in their covenant relationship with God. Key references to the Law include the giving of the Ten Commandments and various other regulations in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Old Covenant was an agreement between God and Israel:

Exodus 34:28 (NKJV): “And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”

The Ten Commandments were the basis of the covenant. God promised to bless Israel upon condition of obedience to Him (Exodus 19:5, 6).

Exodus 20:1-17 (NKJV): “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me…'” (Followed by the rest of the Ten Commandments).

These passages highlight that the Ten Commandments were given by God to guide His people as a moral standard of His righteousness.

The Perception of the Ten Commandments in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul and other writers provide extensive commentary on the commandment’s role in relation to the new covenant established through Jesus Christ. One of the key passages that addresses the question of whether the Law is faulty is found in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 8:7-8 (NKJV): “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault 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.'”

This passage suggests that the first covenant had faults, but it is critical to note the context of the “fault.” The fault was not with the Ten Commandments itself but with the people who could not uphold it. This distinction is essential to understanding the overall message.

Clarifying the Nature of the Ten Commandments

Paul emphasizes that the Law itself is holy, just, and good, serving a specific purpose in God’s redemptive plan.

Romans 7:12 (NKJV): “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”

Paul acknowledges that the Ten Commandments are good because they reveal God’s standards of righteousness. However, he also explains they can’t save man.

Romans 8:3 (NKJV): “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”

Here, Paul explains that the Ten Commandments’ weakness lies not in their content but in their ability to save man. The purpose of the law is simply to reveal sin and then leads sinners to Christ for cleansing and salvation.

The Promises of the People

The failure of the Israelites to keep the Law is evident throughout the Old Testament. The people repeatedly broke the covenant, leading to judgment and exile.

Exodus 24:7 (NKJV): “Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.'”

Despite their promises, the Israelites were unable to keep the Law perfectly (Jeremiah 31:22). In the Old Covenant, God wanted to write the Ten Commandments on the hearts but the people said, no, we can do it ourselves! “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” The people relied on their own strength to keep the law instead of letting God do that with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The weakness of the Old Covenant lay in the fact that it was dependent upon the promises of the people. Thus, the faultiness of the Old Covenant did not lie in the commandments over which it was made, nor in God’s part of the agreement, but in the human element.

The New Covenant

Ever since Sinai, God had been trying to lead the people to a higher spiritual experience such as is represented in the new covenant, but they rebelliously refused to progress beyond their restricted concepts of what constituted true religion. They clung to the belief that salvation could be achieved by a strict surface adherence to law, particularly laws regarding ceremonial acts and offerings.

In contrast, the New covenant is based on better promises. God promises to help man to keep His moral law:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NKJV): “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 that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage to emphasize man’s need for God’s grace to keep the law.

Hebrews 8:10-12 (NKJV): “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Conclusion

The biblical narrative reveals that the Ten Commandments were never faulty; rather, it was the people’s faulty promises to keep them that necessitated a new covenant. The Old Testament Ten Commandments served to reveal God’s standards and the sinfulness of humanity, paving the way for the redemptive work of Jesus Christ under the New Covenant.

The New Covenant, as described in the New Testament, fulfills and transcends the Old Covenant by providing the necessary divine power to help man to keep the law. Through Christ, believers receive the Holy Spirit, who empowers them to live in accordance with God’s will, thus internalizing the Law.

Galatians 3:24-25 (NKJV): “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.”

Romans 8:1-4 (NKJV): “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

In summary, while the Law itself is good and reveals God’s righteousness, it is through the promises of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant that believers can truly fulfill the Law’s righteous requirements. This nuanced understanding highlights the transition from the Old to the New Covenant, underscoring the perfection of God’s plan and the centrality of Christ’s redemptive work.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories Law

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