The Lawgiver and Promise Giver

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19

Over the last 20 plus years of my Bible Worker ministry, I have occasionally heard people try to rationalize away Matthew 5:17-19 and the whole law by saying that Jesus did away with the law once it was fulfilled. This is where we need to exercise Isaiah 28:10 and compare other verses. In Matthew 3 Jesus goes to be baptized. In Matt 3:15 Jesus says it is necessary to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

After Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism, did He then do away with baptism? No. In Matthew 28:19-20 He tells the disciples to baptize. So Jesus did not do away with baptism when He fulfilled it, and neither did Jesus do away with any of the law after fulfilling the law. Paul also demonstrates what it means to “fulfill” God’s law:

“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.”  Romans 13:9-10

I have also had explained to me that we no longer need the commandments because now we have love. Fact is we have always had love. It is because we have love that we do not steal, kill or lie about our neighbor. When we have love we fulfill the law by putting God and our family and neighbors before ourselves. Love is putting others first. The first four commandments show us how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put our family and neighbors first.

The beautiful thing is how it is all brought about. When the Lawgiver gave the commandments, He began with the reminder, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2 Here the Lawgiver is reminding His people that they did not free themselves from the Egyptians, but that He freed them while they were totally helpless. He then goes on to explain in Exodus 20 that He will free them from other gods. He will free them from adultery and murder and other sins.

So how is this brought about? The Lawgiver tells us in Exodus 19:3-5:

And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;  ‘Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.’

Just as the Israelites did not save themselves from the Egyptians, but He did;   so we will not save ourselves from the power of sin, but He will. He goes on and tells us to obey His voice. My Strong’s Concordance tells me that word “obey” (shama) means to listen and be attentive. God is not demanding a legalistic obedience of works.

Many have the idea that the Old Testament is about being saved by law while the New Testament is about being saved by grace. But grace is just as real in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. God wants us to listen to His voice of promises! The Lawgiver goes on and says “keep my covenant.” Again, according to my Strong’s concordance, that word “keep” (shamar) means to guard or protect. Shamar is the same word used in Genesis 2:15 when Adam was told to keep the garden. Did God mean for him to obey the garden? No, He meant for him to cherish the garden. Care for it. Protect it. The word “covenant” is also a promise. So in Exodus 19:3-5 the Lawgiver is telling us that just as He delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, He will also deliver us from spiritual bondage, if we will only cherish His promises!

Thus we find in the Old Testament the same grace we see in the New Testament. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 peter 1:4

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. –Desire of Ages, page 311.



The Lawgiver and Promise Giver — 14 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for not going down the legalism road. People think they are saved by keeping the Ten commandments. That's so untrue. We should keep the Ten Commandments, but if we are keeping them out of fear and not love I really believe we've missed the mark. If I'm making you love me then that's not true love. Love is something that can never be bought. It's free, it's God, it's Jesus, it's the Holy Spirit. The first commandment is love the Lord your God. The last commandment is love your neighbor as yourself. BY these two you are fulfilling the law and the prophets. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. That's why Jesus said without Me you can do nothing.

  2. Sometimes I think I do understand what the law and commandment is, but at the same time am confused that I don't understand. Romans 7:12 says the law is holy, the commandment is holy and just and good. I need some proper explaination with examples on the difference between the law and commandment. May God guide you as you search scripture to help, and may the same God help me to understand. Thank you.

    • Hi Orpah, The difference between the law and commandments may be a matter of opinion. Some may say the law would be what is recorded in Exodus 20, but those are commandments also. Commandments and the law may be one and the same, or a commandment may be anything that Jesus said. I don't know if these answer your question or not, here are a couple studies on the Law of God and the Two laws.
      The Law of God
      Romans 3:20 ------------------------ What is the purpose of God’s law?
      1 John 3:4 ------------------------------------------------------- What is sin?
      Romans 4:15 ------------------------- Can there be sin without the law?
      Genesis 4:7-11 ------------------------------- What sin did Cain commit?
      Genesis 13:13 ------------------ What were the people of Sodom called?
      Genesis 26:5 ------------------ Did Abraham keep the commandments?
      Genesis 39:9 ------- What commandment would Joseph have broken?
      Exodus 16:4 --------------------- What did God test Israel to discover?
      Exodus 16:23-28 --------- Did they sin or obey God’s commandment?
      Note: This experience took place two weeks before God wrote the ten
      commandments in Exodus Chapter 20.
      Exodus 31:18 ------------------ How were the commandments written?
      Matthew 5:17-19 ----------------------------- Did Jesus change the law?
      Romans 3:31 ----------------------------- Does faith abolish God’s law?
      Revelation 14:12 ------------- Who are the faithful when Jesus comes?
      Psalm 111:7, 8 ------------- How long will His commandments stand?
      John 14:15, 21, 23 ----------------- How do we show our love for God?

      The Two Laws
      Exodus 31:18 ------------------ How were the commandments written?
      Exodus 25:16 ----------------------------------- Where were they placed?
      2 Chronicles 5:10 -------------------------- What else was placed there?
      Psalm 111:7, 8 ----------- How long are these commandments to last?
      Deuteronomy 31:24-26 ------- Where was the ceremonial law placed?
      Hebrews 9:10 ---------------------------------- How long was it to stand?
      Ephesians 2:15 -------- What did the law that was abolished contain?
      Colossians 2:14 ------------------------------------- What was blotted out?
      Deuteronomy 31:24-26 ------------------------------ Who wrote this law?
      Hebrews 7:26, 27; 9:11, 12 ----- To what did these ordinances point?
      Daniel 9:27 ------------------------- What was to cease when Jesus died?
      Matthew 27:50, 51 ------------------ What happened when Jesus died?
      John 15:9, 10 ---------------------- How are we to continue in His love?
      1 John 2:3, 4 ------------ What if we do not keep His commandments?
      Revelation 21:8 -------------------------------- What happens to all liars?
      Revelation 22:14 ---------- Where will the commandment keepers be?

      • I thank God that I came across this website, and I believe I will learn and understand his will through the discussions here.
        Thanks William for the references, I am still reading so I can understand, so far the verses are answering my question.
        Thank you.

  3. Observance of the Law is one principle that other people have a hard time grasping. I have had several people tell me that the Law is now obsolete. I think you did a good job explaining the word "fulfill" in context with Matt 28:19-20. In the past, I have always relied on the verse John 14:15, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Through the commandments the Lord is telling us exactly how to demonstrate our love for Him.

    I cannot understand why so many people oppose God's commandments because if we abide by them we will save ourself a lot of grief, pain, and heartache. Ultimately, I think that many of these people just want to justify their own sins. Often those I have spoke with claim that the Law is so impossible to keep that we don't need it anymore. In essence they are saying, God made a mistake in giving it to the "Jews" and then He sent Jesus to the earth to fulfill it because He came up with a better way. That reasoning is so faulty and is not our God. Yes, as fallen humans we are going to struggle with and fail sometimes at keeping the commandments, but we have an inherent need to be striving towards something and we need a compass to lead us. Jesus is our compass and He kept the Law; thus, we should strive to be like Jesus daily putting our weaknesses into His hands.

  4. Exactly Elle! Being like Jesus is what it is all about. God did not give us His law because He is a control freak or tyrant. When I bought my car it came with an owners manuel, telling me to put unleaded gas in the tank. If I decide to put orange juice in the tank instead, and it ruins my car, it is not because the people who made the owners manuel are tyrants or control freaks. They gave the manuel because they made the car and they know what it takes to run it properly. God have us His law because He made us and knows what it takes for us to be happy.

  5. Amen to the above document. Thank God for His great love upon us sinners and for dying on the cross for our sake. We shouldn't do things because we fear but out of love and honesty from deep inside our hearts. We should also be good examples to others so that they may see God in us. Let us walk our talk, be blessed!!! 🙂

  6. You have said it well Rose. We want to be like Jesus, not so much to get to heaven. Heaven is ours because of grace not works. But yes, we want people to see God in us so that they too will know about His love and accept Him as their Savior.

  7. Oprah, there are certain contexts that the 10 commandments are refered as the law. However, we also have the laws of Moses which were given to the Israelites and put 'in the side of the ark'. This is somewhere in Leviticus and in Daniel's prayer as he mentioned of the two laws to God. So, according to me, it depends on the context. If you remember in the previous lesson for Galatians, we talked of laws that ended at the cross and the ones that continue to date(10 commandments) which are also in heaven now.

  8. Hi, thanks a lot for the insights. It dawned on me that there is no problem with the law of God, the problem is with us. We want to keep the law with our own strength while God is offering strength through Jesus to aid us in our daily walk with Him.

  9. You said it well Henry. In legalism and the gospel, obedience is the goal. The difference is how it is brought about. In legalism it is by my own strength for my own glory. In the gospel it is by God's strength for God's glory."Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:11


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