Are “the laws” a mistake?

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Hebrews 7:18-28; Proverbs 11:8

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Hebrews 7:18-19 “On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”

Were the laws / commandments a mistake? Since they were declared as “weak and useless” by the author of Hebrews? Did God gave them by mistake to the people of Israel? No. The author of Hebrews did not say that the laws (“a former commandment” refers to the Levitical system or Old Covenant characterized by the Mosaic legislation) were a mistake but that they were “useless” for salvation. They were useless for salvation because of our sinful nature and the Levitical system only provided a temporal atonement of sins through the blood of animals.

The laws are useful in that they define our sins; without which we will not be aware of how sinful we are in the face of a holy God. Rather the laws are to be “set aside” since now, a “better hope is introduced” in Jesus Christ. Only through Christ can we find salvation as sinners accused by the truth of the law for death. Christ is the permanent solution for salvation. Without Jesus, we are only destined to destruction because of the laws. Yet, Christ came so that even us, can have life in Him.

Without a study and understanding of the laws, we might not be able to appreciate the depth of God’s mercy and grace in His offer of salvation. We might not even come to a realisation of how sinful we are / can be or what Jesus had really saved us from. Yet, there are churches in Singapore and worldwide that teach her disciples that believers do not need to care about the Old Testament. The New Testament is all that we need. This is simply untrue and reminds one of Marcionism.

I used to think that way as a young believer when listening to sermons in an independent church. Then, when the Holy Spirit convicted me of how much of the Old Testament were quoted in the New Testament; am I convinced that believers are to be people of “one Book” and not only half of it. Indeed, the holiness of God as explained in the Old Testament, the laws that were given in grace for His people to live in the midst of Him and the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we can draw near to Him tells the complete story. We need the complete story (and not just half of it!) of God’s love and faithfulness; this is so we can truly live a life of hope, faith and love in His grace. This is also we can share the complete Gospel with others, and not just half of it.

Lord, as we read the Bible, enable us to read in context of the Old and New Testaments. Restrain us from reading into what our hearts desire or be tardy in the studying of Your Word; but allow our hearts to be taught and convicted of what You desire. Amen.


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