I closed the last series on grace asking why then did God give the law? If grace empowers, if it has purpose and is holy, teaches and establishes our heart, why would we have ever needed 10 Commandments?
Here is the answer: Ignorant but guilty
Sin came upon all mankind, but man didn't know what it was when they sinned, so couldn't be held accountable:
"By one man sin entered into the world, and death came through that sin, so death has passed to all mankind. For before the law (of Moses) was given, sin was in the world, but there is no account of sin kept when there is no law. Yet death still ruled from Adam to Moses (when God gave the law), even in the lives of those who didn't sin in the same way as Adam." Romans 5: 12-14:
That was God's problem - man had sinned yet had no idea what sin was, so He could not hold anyone accountable.
Earlier in 4:15 Paul had made the same statement: "...where there is no law, there is no transgression."
Mankind did not have any standard in the earth that told them about right and wrong, sin and life - they were sinning and dying and not knowing why. What was God to do?
Think about it. From Adam to Noah's no one had ever said there was any absolute right and wrong. The same with Abraham - he walked with God, but God never gave him a list of absolutes that were right, and absolutes that were wrong. The same in the time of Joseph and Pharaoh. We take it for granted that stealing is wrong, but that wasn't known back in the day. Who said stealing my neighbor's cow is wrong? You and what army?
Who says it is wrong to murder my neighbor and take his property? You and what higher authority? There was none.
Paul spoke of those times in Acts 14: 16-17: "God made the heavens and earth and sea and everything in them. In times past He let all nations go their own way. But He did not leave Himself without a witness in that He did good, giving you rain and crops and seasons and filling your hearts with joy with good harvests..."
And in Acts 17: 29-30 he said this: "...we should not think God is made of gold, silver, or stone, an image made by man. In the past God overlooked such ignorance..."
So He had a problem - man was sinning, man was in idolatry, man was ignorant of sin and righteousness, but He could not hold them accountable. What was He to do?
Introducing Moses and the Law
Paul provides the solution in Romans 3: 10-19: "...as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks after God...and whatever the law says, it is (given) for those who are under its authority so that the whole world may be silenced from excuses and the whole world may be accountable before God.
Paul said in Romans 7:7 the law brought the knowledge of sin. The law defined sin for mankind. Because sin was running unrestrained in the lives of ignorant mankind from Adam to Moses, God gave the law to define for mankind what was sin and what was righteousness. He had to define for them what was good and what was evil. This made the whole world guilty for they suddenly saw their sinfulness. *
It was like blinders being taken off, for before the law they did not know there was a standard of right and wrong. No one had definitively said there were absolutes: It is wrong to lie, to steal, to murder, to lust after someone else's spouse or possessions, and so on.
God gave the Law to Moses in 3 parts: Worship law which told how sinful man might approach God, dietary/sanitary law which told them how to eat and behave wisely so they may stay free from sickness and disease, and moral law, which told how they should treat one another.
These 3 categories took 613 commands (the most commonly agreed to number), which are summed up by 10 Commandments, which are themselves divided into 2 sections: God and man. They are summed up by 2: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12: 30-31)
Paul would later tell the Galatians in 3: 19 and 21 that the law was added because of sin, and if a law could have been given that would have given life, God would have given it.
We saw in Romans his statements that the law was given because of sin, but his statement that if it were possible for eternal life to be given by a law, a rule, a formula, God would have given it. His point was that the law does nothing but show a person they are guilty. It does not impart life. That's why Paul wrote in I Timothy 1:9:
"The law is not made for a righteous man..." and the reason is that the law was given to educate mankind what sin is and that they are guilty of sin. That's it. Paul's point is that grace has now come, so we know what sin is, we have the Answer, and in Him we are at peace with God.
Next week; Why living by legalism at its root, tries to manipulate God by formula, declarations, and performance based faith, all while not actually knowing Him and His heart.
Until then, blessings,
www.cwow.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org