You know what I never get tired of? I never get tired of listening to Jesus speak. I consider myself an Old Testament nerd, I LOVE the Old Testament, but I have to say, it is endlessly uplifting and soothing to be in the words of Jesus. Every once in a while I’ll hear a thought in my brain somewhere say “but aren’t they just words on a page?” and it takes but a single glance at the Bible to silence that thought. The word of God is the most powerful item in existence. To experience the ongoing life-changing power of this book really is the great adventure of my life.
So, on to our lengthy and wonderful study of the book of Luke. Today, Jesus speaks some strong words that help put to rest a debate that rages to this day. Let’s take a look.
Luke 16:16-17 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.
With the popularity and love people have for the New Testament writings of Paul, the “law” becomes a subject that can cause confusion, especially given the existence of verses such as the following.
Romans 6:14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
You start to push into a challenging aspect of the faith here. I’ve had people come to me before thinking that Paul’s words meant that the ten commandments no longer held any power. After all, Paul says so, right?
But read again the words of Jesus up above. He references two different laws. The law of Moses was what existed. But as he talks about the law that will never be overturned, how does he describe it? No longer as Moses’ law, but as God’s law.
Let’s dig deeper into this. Here’s a law given to Moses for the governing of the people of God.
Deuteronomy 22:8 “When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof. That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.
That is, without a doubt, a good law. I’m certain that given the culture at the time and the style of architecture, this was a good guiding principle for the people of God to have. Is this law of Moses something that applies to you and I today? Of course not. Our current culture has its own rules and regulations that govern builders, but for me as a man who struggles to even put together a bookshelf and will most definitely never be building a house, even those laws have little bearing on me.
The law of Moses was the establishment of a system that helped govern every aspect of that people’s lives at that moment in history. It was good and so needed and helped them develop and become the people of God. And make no mistake, the law of Moses came from God. He spoke it to Moses, and Moses passed it along. God showed Himself to be a God of order and a God who cared deeply about every aspect of His people’s lives as He crafted a detailed, intricate set of laws for the people.
The ten commandments were different. Why? First, in their presentation. God spoke all the Mosaic laws, but how did He present the ten commandments?
Exodus 31:18 When the LORD finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.
God did not simply speak the ten commandments, he wrote them in stone with his own finger. That alone sets them so far apart from the laws of Moses that I can hardly believe there’s any debate over this. He treated them special, He treated them differently, because He knew that these were the ten laws that would endure for all time.
Luke 16:17 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.
Jesus reminded us that even though the son of God might be standing in the room with us, the law of God is not overturned. Many things changed with Jesus. His death and resurrection made a way for us to be made holy before God. We live in a beautiful age of grace, and the blood of Jesus covers our sins. But the ten commandments forever stand tall, good and valuable for every society and every age.
If you ever find yourself caught up in a discussion with someone who believes Paul meant that all law is void including the ten commandments, try seeing if a common sense activity might help bring clarity to the situation. Put up one of the ten commandments such as “thou shall not murder.” Ask if that is a relevant law that should govern us today, and hopefully they will agree that yes, it very much is. Then put up one of the Mosaic laws such as “You must not wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together.” Ask if that is a relevant law that should govern us today. Clearly, some of these laws of Moses no longer have relevance while the ten commandments do.
Before I close this out today, I will say that I believe there are Mosaic laws that are still relevant. Just because we don’t build flat-roofed houses anymore that have the need for a railing doesn’t mean that the following law isn’t still worth following.
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, 11 or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.
I’ve known people who dabbled with spirits and witchcraft, and dark, horrible things happened to them that would give you nightmares if you dwelled on it too much. This is a good law that worked for Moses’ people and works for us today. It felt important to me to present you with this because I hate when I see believers get split on things we should never be split on. If I’m being honest, I find Paul’s teachings on the law to be very challenging. I had to go through it slowly, prayerfully, and intentionally, because I needed to understand it for a moment just like today, when God directed me to discuss it with others.
Here are some absolutes. God is good. If God feels strongly enough about something to make a rule, the rule is worth following. The ten commandments are an enduring guide that are relevant to all of our lives. There is still wisdom and value to be found in many of the laws of Moses. Some have passed away with the changing of the times and practices, but some remain wise pillars that can and should help guide our lives as believers.
When you study through Paul’s writings on the law, do so prayerfully. Don’t be shy about reaching out to people in your life or church who have deep Bible knowledge, that’s why God brings them into our lives. The Bible is a gift to us, and it will challenge us and stretch us as it leads us down a lifelong path of deepening understanding and growth. It is a most worthwhile journey.
That’s it for this week on the blog. I love you guys and I hope you are all doing great today!
If you have prayer requests or just need someone to talk to, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org