Did Paul Forbid Believers from Keeping the Law?
Yes! There is a law which Paul warns us about, that if we keep it, the wrath of God will be upon us!
Basic Christian doctrine teaches that a man is saved by grace through faith, just as the Apostle Paul teaches to the Ephesians.
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
This is the foundation for the teaching against works-based-salvation. It's understandable, since Paul makes it clear that our salvation is not earned, but is a gift from the Most High - that a sinful lifestyle can be pardoned and a new life of righteousness can be lived, through the completed work of His Son, Yeshua the Messiah.
The Law of God
Once a person is saved, how do they live a holy life? How does God define holiness? Paul tells us:
The Law is holy and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Romans 7:12
It's natural for believers to delight in this good Law, given by the Most High meant to bring life!
But what about those times when we are tempted to transgress the holy, righteous and good commandments from above? What's going on? Paul also explains this for us:
For in my inner being I delight in God's Law, but I see ANOTHER LAW at work in my body warring against the Law [of God] of my mind and holding me captive, the LAW OF SIN that dwells within me. Romans 7:22-23
The Law of Sin
The Law of Sin is our enemy, our adversary. It is unspiritual and fleshly. It deceives people, causing them to rebel against the commandments of God, even while they desire to keep them.
When the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. So I discovered that the very commandment that was MEANT TO BRING LIFE actually brought death. For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. Romans 7:9-11
Is it the commandment that brought death, or is Paul explaining that TRANSGRESSING the commandment brings death?
I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. Romans 7:18-19
When Paul says that he desires to do what is good, he means he desires to fulfill the holy, righteous and good commandments from God. The commandments which are meant to bring life.
One day an expert in the Law stood up to test [Yeshua]. "Teacher" he asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Yeshua replied "What is written in the Law?" Luke 10:25-26
Why would Yeshua connect the Law of God with eternal life? Because the commandments are meant to bring life.
You search the Scriptures because you have eternal life in them. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life. John 5:39
The scriptures testify of the Spirit of life, that the righteous shall live their their faith and receive the eternal inheritance.
The Faith of Abraham: Righteousness by Faith
Abraham was credited with righteousness by his faith.
If Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. For what does scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Romans 4:1-3
If we also live by the Spirit, we follow the pattern of the faith of Abraham. But if we practice the law of sin in our flesh, this faith is useless.
It was not through the law [of sin] that Abraham and his descendants were promised they would be heirs of the world, but through RIGHTEOUSNESS that comes by faith. For if those who live by the law [of sin] are heirs, faith is useless and the promise worthless, because the law [of sin] brings wrath. And where there is no law [of sin] there is no transgression [of the Law of God]. Romans 4:13-15
If the law of sin is removed from us, then transgression from the Law of God would also be removed from us.
It is not the hearers of the Law [of God] who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law [of God] who will be declared righteous. Romans 2:13
For those who are in Messiah, we are expected to walk as Messiah walked.
Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. 1 John 3:7
The Flesh vs The Spirit
There is a war going on in our flesh, our minds contain both the fleshly, rebellious desires of our hearts and the holy righteous and good commandments. We desire to please God and submit to the Law of God, but our fleshly desires prevent us.
The mind of the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God's Law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8
We have a huge problem here, how can we please our Father in Heaven in the flesh?
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit [desires] what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to one another. Galatians 5:17
So there is a war in our minds over whom we will serve. Will we serve the law of sin in our flesh or will be set free to submit to the Law of God according to the Spirit?
The Law Has Set Us Free From the Law, That We May Keep the Law!
Sounds crazy, but this is what Paul teaches.
For what the Law [of God] was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of a sinful man, as an offering for sin. Thus, He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous standard of the Law [of God] may be fulfilled in us.
We have been set free from the law of sin and death!
In Christ Jesus, the Law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
So through the Messiah, the law (of the Spirit of life) has set us free from the law (of sin and death), that the righteous standard of the Law (of God) may be fulfilled in us.
Paul indeed is a lawyer!
This is GOOD NEWS!
In accepting the free gift of Salvation, sin has been removed from our flesh, we are no longer under the old law of sin, being a new creature in the Messiah.
And [law of] sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law [of sin] but under grace. Romans 6:14
We now have the power and authority over sin, granted to us by the Spirit of God. By accepting the atonement for former sins, we have been forgiven and set free from the bondage of the law of sin.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not be weighted once more by the yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
We were once slaves to sin, wearing the heavy and burdensome yoke of sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness, placing the light yoke of Messiah on our shoulders!
You also died to the law [of sin] through the body of Christ, that you may belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we may bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4
We no longer are married to sin, but now belong to righteousness. Because sin has died, we are free to marry and be faithful to our new marriage in Messiah.
Opening Our Minds to the Scriptures
With the understanding of redemption and casting off the yoke of sin and it's evil desires, we can look to Moses and see the Messiah and live unto God in righteousness!
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24:27
Now we can understand what was meant by the Gospel writer when he said:
"We have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the Law (and the prophets), Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!" John 1:45
"Has not Moses given you the Law [of God]? Yet not one of you are doing the Law [of God]! John 7:17
The Law [of God] was given through Moses, the grace and the truth [of the Law] through Yeshua the Messiah. John 1:17
Amen and Amen!
Thank you to all these fine steemians. I've enjoyed their thoughtful posts and comments.
Bless the Most High!