knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
There is some confusion about the difference between the Covenant God made with Moses and Israel and the Covenant we have today through Jesus. The Covenant that God made with Israel when He gave Moses the 613 Laws (Law of Moses), is a performance based Covenant found in the Old Testament part of the Bible. Under the Law of Moses, people were rewarded or punished by God in accordance with how well they kept the laws. It is this Covenant that was in place between God and Israel up until the death and resurrection of Jesus, which which ushered in the New Covenant. The Old Covenant through Moses, no longer represents the correct way to interact with God, we are under the New Covenant.
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
While the Law of Moses is superseded by the New Covenant, we should not forget that the Law was a good thing. Look at how someone who lived under it viewed it.
Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.
The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
Oh, how I love Your law! my meditation all the day.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.
Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.
The Apostle Paul is also clear that the Law of Moses was holy and spiritual. It’s not God’s Law that’s the problem, it’s fallen human beings who without Jesus are by nature sinners and unable to keep it.
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
Paul goes on to say that the Law was like a school teacher or tutor.
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.
Before the Law of Moses was given, people where comparing themselves among themselves to determine if they where OK. One would look at the other and say I don’t kill, I only steal, so I’m not too bad, I’m OK. When the Law was given, people were given God’d perfect standard and so they could see how far off from God they were.
Under the Law, if someone broke the Law they had to provide an animal to sacrifice. This taught them that the consequence of sin is death and that blood had to be shed to remove sin. They also realised very quickly that they could not keep the Law no matter how they wanted to or tried to. This taught them that they needed help, they needed a savior to keep the Law in their place, they needed Jesus.
Jesus came and took away our sins. He kept the Law on our behalf and traded His righteousness for our unrighteousness on the cross.
So why is the Law of Moses in our Bible today? If we don’t need to keep it, would it not make sense to not include it? No, the Law still has a purpose today. It is not there for us to keep and try to earn our salvation, it is there to be used to expose the lie that without Jesus we are OK. When you take someone who is self-righteous and show them all the Law, they very quickly see that they fall short. They can see that even if they are doing many things right in their own strength, they are not doing everything right The Law clearly states that to break one law is the equivalent of breaking them all! You can’t be partially or mostly righteous, it’s all or nothing.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
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.
Although we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not by obeying the Law, this is not an excuse to sin more. When we receive Jesus, we are born-again, the old sinful man within us dies and a new man is born. This new man is no longer a sinner by nature and does not desire to sin. We must live out this new nature, not forgetting who we now are. We renew our minds to the truth of God (Rom 12:2) and live transformed lives.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.