THE LAW IN NEW TESTAMENT DOCTRINE

When the New Testament teaches that we are no under the law, it is referring to the letter of the Law – the specific commands and instructions given to Israel through Moses.

In this respect, Christ is the fulfillment of the Law as Paul says in Romans 10:4.

Does this mean that the Law no longer has any relevance for us now that Jesus has fulfilled the Law and established the New Covenant? Not at all.

The law is indeed beneficial for us, for the teachings and instructions given to Israel under the Law were preparatory for the doctrines given to us in the New Covenant, in Christ. It is very important that we make the distinction between the letter of the Law and the preparatory nature of the law with regards to New Testament doctrine.

The New Testament writers repeatedly make appeal to the Law for doctrine and instructions. Allow me to give you some examples of what I mean.

In 1 Corinthians 9, the apostle Paul makes appeal to the Law in his letter to the Corinthians that ministers are entitled to be supported.

13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

14 Even so hath the Lord ORDAINED that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:13-14

Notice that Paul’s position that ministers are entitled to support is predicated on the ordination of God established under the law.

Later, in chapter 14, Paul makes appeal to the Law regarding the use of tongues in a public assembly: In THE LAW it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. ~ Corinthians 14:21

In the text above Paul quotes from the book of Isaiah, meaning that Paul’s view of the Law was broader than just the 5 books of Moses. The prophets were the interpreters of the Law in view of the coming Messiah, Jesus.

According to Paul, the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. ~ Ephesians 2:20

The apostles were appointed to lay the foundation of New Testament doctrine and they did so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The prophets, who interpreted the Law, prophesied of the coming of Jesus by the Spirit of Christ that was in them.

A few verses after citing to the book of Isaiah regarding the use of tongues, Paul again, refers to the Law for doctrine in verse 34.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience AS ALSO SAITH THE LAW. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:34

If we were more studious of the preparatory nature of the Law, rather than being conditioned to dismiss the law, we might come away with a better understanding as to what Paul is really saying when he declares that women should keep silence in the churches.

Over and over again, the New Testament writers appeal to the Law to support their teachings. Consider the words of the apostle Peter: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation ~ 1 Peter 1;15.

Peter is quoting God’s words to Israel found in Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2; and 20:7

Let’s consider these three texts from Leviticus.

44 For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore SANCTIFY YOURSELVES, and ye shall BE HOLY;

45 FOR I AM HOLY: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY. ~ Leviticus 11:44-45

Notice in verse 44 God commanded the Israelites: SANCTIFY YOURSELVES. Peter uses this same language in chapter 3 within the context of living godly and holy.

But SANCTIFY the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear… ~ 1 Peter 3:15

Now consider Leviticus 19:2 and 20:7

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. ~ Leviticus 19:2

SANCTIFY yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God. ~ Leviticus 20:7

The same doctrine given to Israel regarding being holy and sanctifying themselves, is given to the church. With Israel it applied to the outward life in the flesh and their approach to God under they types and shadows. Concerning the New Testament Church, it applies to the inward life in the hidden man of our heart, from whence we are called to live a holy life, in and through Christ.

Finally, I would like to share something I recently addressed in my writings. I addressed an error which has spread within the Charismatic movement: “getting drunk in the spirit.” This practice is spiritually in error because it is in conflict with the whole counsel of scripture.

I will not go into all the details here, but would like to show how the teachings and instructions given under the Law would benefit us if we’d follow the lead of the New testament authors in how they interpret the Law for doctrine, correction, and instruction.

In Leviticus 10 we read how the two sons of Aaron (Nadab and Abihu) took it upon themselves to go against the command of the Lord by offering “strange fire” on the altar of the Lord. The consequence for this sin was fatal as they suddenly fell dead in the presence of God.

God is Holy, and these two sons of Aaron offered strange fire before the Lord. They sinned against God by disobeying the command of God in the things which pertained to a foreshadowing of Christ.

This outward service of the Law under which Nadab and Abihu were judged, has been annulled by the death of Christ on the cross. The priesthood to which these sons of Aaron belonged is defunct. Yet the truth in Leviticus 10 for how we should reverence the presence of God is still pertinent for us today.

After the death of Nadab and Abihu, God commanded Aaron regarding how he and his descendants were to serve as priests in the presence of God. Among those instructions, God said the following to Aaron:

Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean… ~ Leviticus 10:9-10

The priests were to minister in the presence of the Lord in soberness, and not in a drunken stupor. They were to minister in the presence of the Lord with a sober mind so that they would have good judgment and be able to rightly divide between that which was holy and unholy, and between that which was unclean and clean.

The same truth applies to us today. We have many directives in the New Testament instructing us not to be drunk, but to be sober minded. Yet within the Charismatic movement, there are those who get worked up into an inebriated or intoxicated frenzy, slurring their words, and so doing they dishonor the holy presence of God. Such behavior is unsound doctrine, and condemned by the whole counsel of scripture, and leads many people into error.

When a minister is unable to preach or teach the Word of God because of drunkenness or intoxication of any kind, it is “scripturally” a sign of judgment and not blessings – and this is what the Law supports in doctrine.

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