Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.
In me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
Thus far we have explored the motivation and purposes behind the commandments. The reasons why God gives them to us and the reason why it is in our best interest to follow them.
But the question still remains: just which commandments still apply? The two passages I have mentioned above make clear that there were certain components of the Law of Moses that served as moral training-wheels, strict observations meant to help a generation that did not yet have the benefit of Christ’s ministry and atonement.
In the time of Moses there had not yet been any sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and so they were required to make animal sacrifices in the interim. After Jesus Christ’s atonement the need for those sacrifices then ended.
But…whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery…already in his heart.
But clearly there are elements of the Law of Moses that were not done away with. Rather than dispel the ten commandments and its injunction that “thou shalt not commit adultery” Jesus actually reinforced and expanded that law. So clearly some elements of that law were not intermediary observations, they were universal truths.
Within Christianity alone there are heated debates as to where those lines should be drawn. Seventh Day Adventists maintain that Saturday is still the proper sabbath and other sects say it is Sunday. There then remains further uncertainty as to what the exact point of restriction is on that day. Jesus clearly showed that one need not worry about walking about and serving others, but what about long-distance travel? Exercising? Doing housework? Rough-housing with your kids?
It’s certainly a confusing dilemma. The Pharisees tried to remove any ambiguity by spelling out their rules to an exhaustive degree. Sometimes that might sound like a welcome relief, at least then we would know exactly what we can and cannot do, even if we don’t understand why. I think this is the reason that most of us subscribe to one particular church or another and then just accept the commandments that they give to us. But the fact is that these approaches will never take away all of the ambiguity either. We’ll look into why that is tomorrow.