The Covenant(s) of Works – Romans 3:27 The Laws of Works and Faith
(2) Different Types of Law?
(3) The Purpose of the Conscience?
(4) The Conscience of Adam and Eve?
(5) Sin and Death Enter the World?
(6) Israel Chosen and Given the Mosaic Law?
(7) The Spiritual Purpose of the Law of Works?
(8) The Law of Faith?
(9) Opinions on the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law?
(10) Reconciling the Laws of Works and Faith?
(11) Opinions on the Covenant(s) of Works?
(12) The Covenant(s) of Works?
“(27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded (1576 to shut out). By what law? of works (2041 toil, deed, labour)? Nay: but by the law of faith (4102 conviction of the truthfulness of God, assurance, belief). (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:27-28) Although the bible states there is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), that faith presently consist of thousands of divisions (denominations) within Christianity, as a result of the various interpretations of the relationship between works, faith, and salvation. These divisions had begun to occur even before the New Testament was completed, “(11) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood (436 oppose, resist) him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Galatians 2:11-16, Acts 15)
Most agree faith is a requirement for salvation, but many if not most state that works is also a requirement, if not to receive salvation, then to maintain salvation. Christ said, “(44) For every tree is known by his own fruit (Luke 6:43-45), Peter stated “(38) Repent, and be baptized…and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:36-38), and Apostle Paul states, “(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” (Ephesians 2:8-10). So why the contention between Paul and Peter, and hundreds of denominations still today? Are works and obedience necessary to receive or keep salvation, or are they a result of salvation? Most agree some type of change in lifestyle should result from true salvation, but also recognize those types of changes could occur, at least on a temporary basis, in someone that is not saved. (Hebrews 6:4-6, Mat. 7:21-23) For those that believe works are required to receive and/or maintain salvation, there is no certainty of the amount and kinds of works that guarantee salvation, salvation can never be assured.
“(1) Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1,5), “(19) Circumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:18-19), “(16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, John 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21). Some say the Old Testament required circumcision and faith for salvation, and they say the New Testament requires baptism, in place of circumcision, and faith for salvation. “(24) Ye see then how that by works (2041) a man is justified (1344 innocent, be righteous, be freed), and not by faith only.” (James 2:24, 14, 17) “(4) Now to him that worketh (2038 from 2041 to toil, do wrought) is the reward (3408 hire, wages) not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth (1344) the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (1343 equity of character or act, justification).” (Romans 4:4-5) “(21) Was not Abraham our father justified (1344) by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Seeth thou how faith wrought (4903 work with, help) with his works (2041), and by works was faith made perfect (5048 to complete, finish, fulfill)?” (James 2:21-24) “(2) For if Abraham were justified (1344) by works (2041), he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (1343).” (Romans 4:2-3, Genesis 15:6). Many say these scriptures written by Paul and James agree. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary states under the heading James on pg. 481 “The apparent contrast between James and Paul on the question of faith and works (James 2:24; cf. Romans 3:28) has suggested to some that James was written in opposition to Paul.” All scripture is given by the inspiration of God,” (2 Timothy 3:16), these scriptures were not a result of human disagreement, and still the complexity of the relationship between works, faith, and salvation persist.
For a better understanding of this relationship we must look back to the law, and to the definition of law. This leads back to the first transgression by Adam (Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12-14), and a comparison of that experience and the results, to Israel’s experience under the Mosaic Law. This is best accomplished by examining scriptures and concepts gathered from two competing doctrines, Covenant Theology, and Dispensationalism. We will consider: What are the laws of works and faith? What is their purpose? How do they relate to the covenants? Was Adam under a covenant of works similar to Israel? What is the relationship of works and faith in attaining and maintaining salvation? Are the laws of works and faith laws for all mankind for all times? Is salvation a result of obedience, or is obedience a result of salvation?
The Types of Law?
“Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge (4931 watch, sentry, duty), my commandments (4687 command, precept, statue), my statues (2708 regulation, prescription, custom, appointed), and my laws (8451 teaching, instruction, God’s will).” (Genesis 26:5) Here Isaac is told that Abraham had obeyed God’s commandments and laws hundreds of years before the law was given to Israel by Moses (Exodus 19-40), that is the Mosaic law. When Christ is asked “Master, which is the great (3173 big, size, loud) commandment (1785 injuction, authorization prescription, precept) of the law (3551 parcel out, regulation, principle)?”, He answered “(37) love the Lord thy God”, and “(39) love thy neighbor”(Mat. 22:36-40), neither which is one of the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). In the Old and New Testament the word commandment can refer to any command or precept given by God, and the word law can refer to any instruction, regulation, or principle of God. The words commandment and law may or may not refer to the 10 commandments or the Mosaic law.
Examples of the various laws listed in the New Testament include the law of: God (Romans 7:22, 25, 8:7), mind (Rom. 7:23), sin (Rom. 7:23, 25, 8:2), Spirit (Rom. 8:2), death (Rom. 8:2), righteousness (Rom. 9:31), of Moses (1 Corinthians 9:9, Luke 2:22, 24:44, John 7:23, Acts 13:39), Christ (Galatians 6:2), liberty (James 1:25, 2:12), the Lord (Luke 2:23, 24, 39), the Jews (Acts 25:8), Royal (James 2:8). The law can also refer to the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses (Luke 24:44, Acts 24:14, 28:23, Romans 3:21), or the entire Old Testament (John 10:34).
“(14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law (3551), do by nature the things the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: (15) Which show the work (2041) of the law written in their hearts, their conscience (4893 moral knowledge, con-with, science-knowledge) also bearing witness (4828 testify jointly, evidence), and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” (Romans 2:14-15) Adam having eaten from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9, 3:6), all mankind began “to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22), “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked;” (Gen. 3:7), from that point on mankind would be self-conscience, that is knowing good and evil, the law of conscience.
“(24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:24-25) Scripture states the Gentiles did not have the Mosaic law (Romans 2:14, 1 Corinthians 9:21, Ephesians 3:11-12, Psalm 47:19-20), so how could the law be “our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”? William MacDonald comments on Gal. 3:25 in his book Believers Bible Commentary on pg. 1885 “3:25 The law is the tutor, but once the Christian faith has been received, believing Jews are no longer under the law. How much less Gentiles, such as the Galatians, who were never under the tutor!” George Williams comments on this in his book The Complete Bible Commentary on pg. 915 “The tutorship of law in the case of Israel, and of Conscience in that of the Gentiles, was designed with its rudimentary lessons to lead them to Christ as shadows lead to the substance.” Lewis Sperry Chafer comments in his book Major Bible Themes on pgs. 134-135 “Although many applications of the law may be made, a strict interpretation relates the Mosaic law to Israel only.”, “The dispensation of grace was directed to the church alone, as the world as a whole continues under conscience and human government.”, “By contrast the law of Israel was for Israel only, human government was for the entire world, and conscience extends to all people.” Sperry states the law “was for Israel only”, the law was only given to Israel, but they were supposed to take it to the whole world at some point, and they will during the Millennium (Isaiah 61, 66:18-24).
When apostle Paul speaks of the law we must consider that the Gentiles never had the Mosaic law, they had and still have “(14) a law unto themselves:”, that is the “(15) law written in their hearts”, “their conscience” (Romans 3:14-15), the law of conscience. “For I speak to you Gentiles inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13). “Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,” (Romans 2:17). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23). We see that in the Paul’s epistles in some cases he speaks directly to Gentiles (Romans 11:13, 1:13), in some cases he speaks directly to Jews (Rom. 2:17-29), and in some cases to both (Rom. 3:23-31). So we must consider that when Paul refers to the law, when speaking to Jews and Gentiles, he is often referring to the law in general, that is both the law of conscience, and the Mosaic law. “(14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law (Gentiles and Jews (John 8:9) – the law of conscience; Jews – the Mosaic law), but under grace.” (Romans 6:14-15) That is of course Gentiles and Jews that are saved by the gospel of salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Ephesians 1:12-14, 2:8-9), that is the gospel of salvation for all.
The Purpose of the Conscience?
The word conscience(s) occurs 32 times in the bible, only in the New Testament. Once in the gospel of John, three times in 1 Peter, five times in Hebrews, twice in Acts spoken by Paul, and twenty one times in Paul’s epistles. The Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary defines conscience (4893) as “from a prolonged form of (4894 consider, know); co-perception, i.e. moral consciousness; literally means a knowing; co-knowledge with ones self; the witness borne to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the will of God, con-with, science-knowledge. That process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad.” A person can be “convicted by their own conscience” (John 8:9), and can have a “good conscience“ (1 Timothy 1:5, 3:9, 2 Tim. 1:3, Hebrews 10:22, 1 Peter 3:16, 21) associated with faith and love, or the “conscience is defiled (3392 contaminate, stain)” (Titus 1:5), and “seared (2743 render unsensitive) with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2), of those that are defiled and unbelieving.
In Romans 2:14-15 Paul indicates that for all mankind the conscience acts as a “(15) law written in their hearts”, testifying with evidence against those that are guilty of crimes against the moral laws of God. “(12) For as many as have sinned without law (Gentiles) shall perish (622 destroy fully) without law: and as many as have sinned in the law (Jews) shall be judged by the law (Mosaic law);” (Romans 2:12) Unbelieving Gentiles without the Mosaic law are convicted by their conscience, unbelieving Jews with the Mosaic law are convicted by that law (Romans 2:17-29), and by their conscience (John 8:9), and all the unbelieving will perish (John 3:16-18). “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Habakkuk 2:4). Unbelievers can defile (3392) and sear(ed) (2743) their conscience, but they will still perish (622). A believer can have a good and pure conscience through faith and love. Although a conscience can be affected in a good or bad way, it still serves a purpose similar to the Mosaic law for those without that law, it is the natural ability of all mankind to know the difference between good and evil, the law of conscience, the will of God.
The Conscience of Adam and Eve
Dispensationalist typically identify the initial period from the creation of mankind (Genesis 1:27) through the first act of disobedience (Gen. 3:6), sin (Romans 5:12-14), as a period called the Dispensation of Innocence. They identify the next period (Gen 4:1-8:14), as the Dispensation of Conscience. Convent Theologians also recognize a change occurring at that time, referring to the first period as the Covenant of Works, and all time after Genesis 3:15 as the Covenant of Grace. Despite their differences they both recognize something changed during this period from Genesis 3:6 through 3:15.
Were Adam and Eve innocent before eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Although the word innocent (5355) is not used in Genesis 1-5, the definition in the Old Testament is: innocent (5355 guiltless, blameless, clean, exempted, free). Charles Ryrie comments in his book Dispensationalism on pg. 59 “This first dispensation is usually called Innocency. Although this term is not a good description of Adam’s condition before the Fall, it may be the best single word. Yet the word innocent seems too neutral. Adam was not created merely innocent but with a positive holiness that enabled him to have face-to-face communication with God.” “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:22-24) after the fall, pleasing God with faith so that he was “translated (3346 put in another place).” (Hebrews 11:5), and “(9) Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Did Adam and Eve have some kind of special faith? What is “positive holiness”? Did Adam and Eve possess some attribute beyond that of mankind in general?
“(25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen.2:25), “(6) she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (7) And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked;…(9) And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid (3372 fear, terrible), because I was naked, and I hid (2244 do secretly) myself.” (Gen.3:6-10) After eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they realized they were naked, they became modest, an attribute of self-consciousness. They now had an active conscience, the knowledge of good and evil. Charles Baker comments in his book A Dispensational Theology on pg. 253 “The Dispensation of Conscience. Dispensationalists usually designate the second dispensation by this name, even though the word conscience is not even mentioned in Genesis. It would seem that conscience was dormant in man until he committed the first act of sin. The law had been given by God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but while man remained in a state of innocence he had no experiential knowledge of evil. When he sinned, his conscience condemned his action and he hid himself from God.”
Even though Adam and Eve were adults, they experienced a change from innocence, to self-consciousness, you might say they entered the age of accountability. “(39) More over your little ones, which ye said be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge of good and evil,” (Deuteronomy 1:39). Before the fall of Adam and Eve had the conscience of a child. “(2) And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. (3) And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whosoever therefore shall humble (5013 depress, make low, humiliate in heart) himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 18:2-4) “(15) Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:13-16) “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), childred are born as sinners, and so children commit sins, but scripture indicates they have “no knowledge of good and evil”, that is no active conscience, and are “humble”. Paul indicated that once a law is given it causes “concupiscence (1939 lust, longing for the forbidden)” (Romans 7:8, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:5), and so once the conscience becomes active the lust for sin takes on a new nature, sin becomes “vain (3154 wicked, idolatrous)” (Romans 1:21).
“(45) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, and the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural (5591 sensual, bestial nature); and afterward that which is spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-46) “(27) So God created man in his own image (6754 to shade, a phantom i.e. illusion, resemblance)” (Genesis 1:26-27), but God can not sin (James 1:13, Mat. 5:48), and Adam was created with the ability to sin. Adam and Eve were created “natural (5591)” with a sensual and bestial nature, there is no indication they had some special characteristic or faith, or some “positive holiness”. Possibly the reason they could have access to the tree of life, and walk with God face-to-face, was that they were created innocent like children, without an active conscience. In a state of innocence sin may not have been committed with concupiscence (1939), and with a vain (3154) intent, but after their disobedience and the conscience became active they entered the age of accountability, and their relationship with God could only be restored by faith in God as their redeemer (Gen. 3:15, 21).
Sin and Death Enter the World
“Wherefore, as by one man sin (266 missing the mark) entered into the world (2889 orderly arrangement, mankind) and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned:” (Romans 5:12). Lewis Sperry Chafer comments in his book Major Bible Themes on pg. 172 “Satan sinned (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:15), and the angels who joined Satan in sinning are described as those who; kept not their first estate (Jude 6). Because of the fact that Satan and the fallen angels sinned first, man did not originate sin, but became a sinner due to satanic influence (Gen. 3:4-7).” Satan and the angels sinned first, then Eve, and after Adam sinned (Gen. 3:6). So in what sense did sin enter the world through Adam? Eve was “deceived (538 cheat, delude), but Adam was not deceived” (1 Timothy 2:14). Even though Eve sinned first, scripture repeatedly states sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12, 14, 17,19). William MacDonald comments on Roman 2:15 in his book Believers Bible Commentary on pg. 1678 “someone might object that it was Eve and not Adam who committed the first sin on earth. That is true, but since Adam was the first to be created, headship was given to him. So he is seen as acting for all his descendants.” (Romans 5:18-19)
How did sin actually pass from Adam to all mankind? There are at least 3 ways that sin could have passed from Adam to all mankind: (1) “(9) And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. (10) For he was yet in the loins, of his Father, when Melchisedec met him.” (Hebrews 7:1-11) This scripture shows that a descendant (Levi), can commit an act such as paying tithes, through a father (3962 ancestor), before being born. This is one possible way all descendants of Adam could have sinned in him. (2) “(2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life,…(3) And there shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:1-3). Although Genesis does not state that death passed to all men as the result of a curse, Revelation indicates when believers again receive access to the tree of life this will be the result of the removal of a curse. This indicates that death passed to all men as the result of a curse, and considering sin is the cause of death, sin may have passed to all man as a result of that curse. We see a similar situation when king David sinned and he was told “(10) Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house;… (11) Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house,” (2 Samuel 12:10-14). (3) As a result of Adam eating from the tree, he now had the knowledge of good and evil, an active conscience, and this conscience was passed to all mankind. It could be that by all mankind coming under the law of the conscience, that now all mankind were not only created with the ability to sin, but would now have the uncontrollable desire to sin, concupiscence (1939). In this sense the law of conscience would be a curse, in the same way the Mosaic law became a curse (Galatians 3:13). “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
"(17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it : for in the day that thou eatest there of thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) George Williams comments on this verse in his book The Complete Bible Commentary on pg. 10 “Thou shalt be sentenced to death, expressed the doom of verse 17.” “(24) So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Gen. 3:22-24) Some believe sin physically corrupted the body, but scripture indicates that after Adam and Eve sinned, they had to be removed from Eden, and the presence of the tree of life, or they would “(22) live for ever” (Gen. 3:22). The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary states under the heading, Death, on pg. 232 “Death and the Divine Plan : Mortality, with the divine plan, is outlined in Gen. 2-3. The first humans rebelled against their Creator and were denied further access to the Tree of Life. Their status as creatures thus proceeded to its natural conclusion.” Revelation 22:1-3 indicates when the curse is removed, believers will again have access to the tree of life, and so will “live for ever”
Israel Chosen and Given the Mosaic Law?
Mankind as led by the conscience, had turned against God (Romans 1:21-32), they were “without God in the world:” (Ephesians 3:12). The LORD chose Abram (Abraham), who was himself an idolater (Joshua 24:2) ready to perish (Deuteronomy 26:5), and God made a covenant with him “I will make of thee a great nation” (Genesis 12:2, Deut. 7:6-7, 14:12), the circumcision (Gen. 17), Israel (Gen. 32:28). God chose Israel for a specific purpose, “(6) And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), a nation that would be God’s representatives in the world, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Mat. 28:19, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, Isaiah 66:19). In the process of fulfilling this mission they would be a witness of God and His blessings among the nations (Isaiah 43:10, 12, 61:9-11, 62:2), they maintained the scriptures (Deut. 4:5-8, Romans 3:1-2), and Christ would be born through the Jews (Romans 1:3, 9:5, Isaiah 7:13-14, 9:6-7). God would serve as King of the nation (1 Samuel 8:7, 10:19), “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8). God made a covenant with Israel which gave them the law by which the nation and its citizens would be judged (Exodus 24:7, 12, Deut. 4:13, 9:9, 11). This law included the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the judgments (Exodus 21:1-24:11), and the religious ordinances (Exodus 24:12-31:18). God promised blessings for obedience to the law (Deut. 28:1-13), and curses for disobedience (Deut. 27:15-26, 28:14-68). The blessings offered to Israel were health, prosperity, and national dominance, and the opposite in curses for disobedience, all physical in nature.
The LORD told Israel “(20) And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?... (24) And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear (3372 to be afraid, stand in awe) the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. (25) And it shall be our righteousness (6666 justice, right, virtue), if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” (Deut. 6:20-25) Note the LORD told Israel he would physically “preserve us alive” if they “observe to do all these commandments”. How did the Mosaic law serve to make Israel righteous (6666)? The ten commandments and the judgments served as a system of moral government. “(12) And the man that will do presumptuously (2087 arrogance, pride), and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away evil from Israel. (13) And all the people shall hear, and fear (3372), and do no more presumptuously.” (Deut. 17:12-13) The ten commandments required judgments up to and including death: 1st and 2nd ( Deut. 13:7-9, 17:2-5, Leviticus 20:2, 24:6), 3rd (Lev. 24:10-16), 4th (Numbers 15:32-36), 5th (Deut. 21:18-33, Exodus 21:15,17), 6th (Lev. 27:17, Exodus 21:12), 7th (Deut. 22:13-30), 8th (Exodus 21:16, 22:1-17, Deut. 24:7), 9th (Deut. 19:16-21). The 10th commandment states “Thou shalt not covet (2530 lust, desire) thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet (2530) thy neighbor’s wife,…” (Exodus 20:17), and covetousness “is idolatry” (Colossian 3:5, Ephesians 5:5), the 1st and 2nd commandments. The commandments and judgments were intended to physically “put away evil from Israel.”
At the crossing of the red sea, “(13) And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation (3444 deliverance, aid, victory, prosperity) of the LORD,” (Exodus 14:1-14). The Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary states about salvation (3444): “Salvation in the Old Testament is not understood as a salvation from sin, since the word denotes broadly anything from which deliverance must be sought: distress, war, servitude, or enemies.” To the nation of Israel in general, the Mosaic law was a physical system of judgment, under which God offered physical blessings and curses.
“(25) And the priest shall make an atonement (3722 cover over, ransom, purge, reconcile) for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven (5545 pardon, spare) them; for it is ignorance (7684 mistake, inadventent transgression): and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance:…(29) Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. (30) But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously (3027 open hand, indicating power therefore rebellion), whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth (1442 blaspheme) the LORD, and that soul shall be cut off (3772 cut down, destroy) from among his people.” (Numbers 15:25-30) Sacrifice could not be offered for sins such as intentionally breaking the Sabbath, that was punished by death (Numbers 15:32-35). Sacrifices were not accepted by the LORD for intentional sins of disobedience, or when they were offered without the right intention (Isaiah 1:13-17, Jeremiah 6:19-20). If someone failed to offer the required sacrifice they were to be “cut off” (Numbers 9:13). Transpass offerings could be sacrificed for theft and deception in some cases (Leviticus 6:1-7), with repayment and penalty (Exodus 22). In general sacrifices of atonement were to be offered for sins committed in ignorance (7684) (Lev. 4:2,13,5:15,18), not for intentional violations of the law. If they were not accepted, or failed to be offered, the individual, or the whole congregation of Israel, were to be cut off, remaining under the physical curse of God. Sacrifices could not atone for the spiritual condemnation of the law (Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:4-10), only faith can do that (Acts 13:37-39, Romans 9:30-33, Habakkuk 2:4).
The Spiritual Purpose of the Law of Works?
“(19) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made;…(21) Is the law against the promise of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. (22) But the scripture hath concluded (4788 to shut together, inclose) all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up (4788) unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:19-24) The Mosaic law, the law of conscience, the command given to Adam, any law, is given so that “all the world may become guilty before God.” (Romans 3:19), to “bring us unto Christ”, to lead unbelievers to God.
How does the law of works lead unbelievers to Christ? “(3) Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-6) But you can not be born again unless you die. Paul explains “(7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust (1939 desire, long for what is forbidden), except the law had said, thou shalt not covet (1937 desire, lust, long for). (8) But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (1939). For without the law sin was dead. (9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:7-9) The law causes unbelievers to long more for what is forbidden, as the command (Genesis 2:16-17) did for Adam and Eve, “desired (2530 covet, lust):” (Gen. 3:6), the law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15) does for all mankind, “lust (1939)” (Romans 1:24), and the Mosaic law (Exodus 20:3-17) did for the Jews, “covet (2530)” (Exodus 20:17, Romans 7:7-9). “(4) Wherefore my brethren ye also are become dead to the law…(6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:4-6) “(6) the letter killeth (615 put to death, destroy), but the spirit giveth life.”, the law is a “(7) ministration (1248 servant, administer) of death, written and engraved on stones”, “(9) the ministration (1248) of condemnation (2633 judgement against, sentence adversely.)” (2 Corinthians 3:6-9) The purpose of the laws of works in not to be the guide for obedience leading to righteousness, it is to spiritually convict unbelievers to death (Romans 5:23), “to bring us unto Christ”, “that we should serve in the newness of spirit, and not the oldness of the letter.”
How does the law of works killeth? “(28) But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust (1937 desire, covet) after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat. 5:28) As Christ pointed out adultery committed in the mind is equal to violation of that commandment, which is also a violation of the 10th commandment “Thou shalt not covet (2530 desire, lust)” (Exodus 20:17). “(10) For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10), “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23), all are proven guilty by law (Galatians 2:21, 3:21), and so the law is a curse. “(10) For as many as are of the works (2041 deed, doing, act) of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (11) But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (12) And the law is not of faith but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (Galatians 3:10-13). “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12) The law itself is “holy”, but becomes a curse to an unbeliever, because they have no power to obey it (Romans 8:3-8), and it condemns an unbeliever to death.
How does spiritual death by the law of works lead to salvation? Only Christ could fulfill the law (Mat. 5:17-18), and to those that believe (John 3:16-18, Ephesians 2:8-9), the righteousness of Christ is imputed (3049 reckon, count) to them, “(5) faith is counted (3049) for righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-8, 11, 22, 23) Believers are counted as “dead with Christ” (Colossians 2:20, 3:3), therefore dead to the curse of the law (Romans 7:6, 6:14), raised with Christ (Col. 3:1), and “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This blessing of imputed righteousness through faith (Romans 3:21-22, 5:15-21), applies to the circumcision under the curse of the Mosaic law (Exodus 19:8, Romans 2:17-23), and the Gentiles who have never been under the Mosaic law (Ephesians 2:12, Romans 9:11), but are under the curse of the law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15), through sin which was “(12) passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12-21).
The Law of Faith?
What is the law of faith? The law of faith applies in two ways: (1) Those saved by the law of faith “(3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6); (2) Believers living under the law of faith “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (NIV The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love)” (Galatians 5:6). The law of faith applies throughout all times, as shown by Paul that it applies to Abraham before the Mosaic law (Romans 4:1-5), King David under the Mosaic law (Romans 4:6-8), and to all that are of the “(16) faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16, Galatians 3:6-7). The law of faith requires no boasting (Romans 3:27, 4:2, Ephesians 2:8-9), for those saved by it, and believers living under it (2 Corinthians 10:17).
How are believers saved by the law of faith? Christ describes salvation according to the law of faith before his death on the cross “(16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (17) God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18) Paul describes salvation according to the law of faith after Christ’ death on the cross “(8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith has always been in the revealed word of God at any point in time (Hebrews 11, Romans 3:25), which is now after the cross is “the gospel of your salvation:” (Eph. 1:13), being the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), not fully revealed before Christ’ death on the cross (Luke 18:31-34, 24:44-46). The law of faith states salvation is “not of yourselves”, “(44) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw (1670 drag) him:” (John 6:44), “(11) none seeketh after God.” (Roman 3:11) It is the Lord that opens the “(45) understanding” (Luke 24:44-46) and the “heart” (Act 16:14), “And I will give them an heart to know me,” (Jeremiah 24:7). George Williams comments in his book The Complete Bible Commentary on Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 3:11 on page 922 “All is of grace. Even the faith that saves is a gift of God (v.8)… God takes up a sinner in whom is not one moral movement towards himself for He says that (there is none that seeketh after God.) and make him the subject of a new creation;”, and he comments on Jeremiah 24:7 on pg. 546 “Christian people can take no credit to themselves in the matter of their conversion and salvation, for God disposes them to seek his face, and is the sole operator in their redemption (vs. 6 and 7).” “(27) Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:27-28)
How do believers serve under the law of faith? Believers having been saved “(6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held: that we should serve (1398 serve as a slave) in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6), “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6) How do believers serve in the spirit? “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in who also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Eph. 1:13). “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad (1632 to pour out, bestow) in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5, 1 Samuel 10:6, 9) A believer “sealed with that holy Spirit”, receives the “love of God”, in order to be able to “serve (1398) in newness of spirit,”. “(26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause (6213 to do or make) you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, 11:19-20, 39:29, 44:24, Zechariah 12:10) “For the love of Christ constraineth (4912 to hold together, compress, compel) us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), “For as many as are led (71 to lead along, bring, drive, induce) by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) “But if ye be led (71) of the Spirit ye are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18) The love of God causes, compels, leads, drives, and induces, the believer to serve God in love. Paul indicates, even as a believer, that he has no power in his flesh to do good, “(15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…(18) For I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:15-25) “(3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4, 6:13) Even as a believer we have no power “to perform that which is good”, this can only be accomplished by the power of the Spirit working through us. “(20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” (Galatians 2:16-21), “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) “(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23) These are fruits of the Spirit working through us, not the fruits of our human fleshly effort, and so there is no boasting. A new spirit given by grace through faith (Zechariah 12:10, Eph. 1:13-14, 2:8-9), faith working through love given by the spirit (Deuteronomy 30:6, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Romans 5:5, Gal. 5:6, Phil 3:13). “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” (Roman 8:6). How do believers serve under the law of faith? What can we do to allow the Spirit to work through us? “(1) I beseeth you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove (1381 test, discern, allow, approve) what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2)
Opinions on the Ten Commandments and Mosaic Law?
Dispensationalist Lewis Sperry Chafer states in his book Grace on pg. 256 “It should be observed first that the law, as a rule of conduct, is not once applied to the Christian, and that these Scriptures by overwhelming revelation, assert that the law has passed through the death of Christ. They assert that the law has ceased both as a means of justification, and as a rule of life for the one who is justified (John 1:16, 17; Rom. 6:14, 7:1-6, 2 Cor. 3:1-18; Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14; Gal. 3:19-25). If it is claimed that the Decalogue, in which the Sabbath is embedded, was not of the law, and therefore was not terminated with the death of Christ, this contention is disposed of completely by the reference in Rom. 7:7-14 to the last of the commandments, in which Scripture this commandment is explicitly mentioned as (the law). So, also, according to 2 Cor. 3:7-14, that which was “written and engraved in stones” – the Decalogue, including the Sabbath day – is (done away) and (abolished).”
Dispensationalist John MacArthur comments on Romans 8:4 in his book The MacArthur Bible Commentary on pg. 1530 “8:4 righteous requirement of the law. The thoughts, words, and deeds which the moral Law of God demands. The ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic Law has been set aside (Col. 2:14-17), and the basic responsibility for the civil aspect, which shows the application of the moral law in a community, has been transferred to human government (13:1-7). The moral law finds its basis in the character of God and is presented in outline form in the Ten Commandments; its most condensed form is in Jesus’ commands to love God and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. Its substance has never been abrogated, but finds its authority in the new covenant. Every unbeliever is still under its requirement of perfection and its condemnation, until coming to Christ (Gal. 3:23-25) and every believer still finds in it the standard for behavior.”, and MacArthur comments on Ephesians 2:15 on pg. 1687 “Through His death, Christ abolished OT ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices which separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Rom. 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects His own holy nature (Matt. 5:17-19).”
Covenant Theologian Micheal D. Williams states in his book Far As The Curse Is Found on pg. 161 “The heart of the law is the Ten Commandments that God wrote with his own finger on the height of Sinai (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 5:22). These Ten Commandments, or ten words (Ex. 20:3-17, Deut. 5:7-21), are the primary stipulations of the covenant relationship. They provide the basic contours of the love of God and neighbor that flow from covenant membership. Based upon the unchanging character of God and the covenant calling to image him, these ten instructions are eternally binding.”, on pg. 151 “In fact, we can speak of the law as a further act of grace, a gift to God’s people that serves his covenantal and gracious purposes. Thus the call of the law is to translate God’s grace into action.”, on pg. 160 “What we have in the law is not merely a legal code, a stipulated duty that we must perform in order to be legal or to escape penalty. It also constitutes God’s fatherly instruction to his children.”, on pg. 157 “Thus it is that we Christians may identify with Old Testament saints in the understanding of and delight in the law. For all the saints, the law serves to maintain and nurture his people’s relationship with God.”, on pgs. 166-167 “It must always be remembered that the individual laws stand upon the precedent of the Ten Commandments, which themselves are informed by the law of love.”
Covenant theologian R. C. Sproul comments in his book What is Reformed Theology? on pg. 102 “In the Old Testament, stipulations are the laws God gives to his people. The Decalogue, for example, contains the stipulations of the covenant made at Sinai. It is important for the Christian to understand that the context of God’s law is that of covenant. The law of God is not an abstract list of moral rules. His law comes to us in the context of a gracious covenant entered into by a gracious God. His people are to obey his law because it defines a personal relationship between them and God. It anticipates Jesus’ words to his disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). God’s covenant with us is rooted in his love. We show our love in return by obeying the stipulations or laws of his covenant. When we look at the law, we should see him as its author and obey it because of our personal commitment to him.”
Reconciling the Laws of Works and Faith?
In order to determine the correct application of the laws of works and faith, we begin by summarizing previous sections about the law: (1) The Mosaic national law is the physical administration of the Mosaic law that God gave to Israel to govern the nation, and physically maintain a national and personal relationship with Him, resulting in physical blessings or curses; (2) The laws of works include the command given to Adam, the law of conscience for all mankind, and the spiritual convicting aspect of the Mosaic law, all of which have the purpose of spiritually convicting individuals to death; (3) The law of faith is the promise that God will impute righteousness to a believer based on faith alone, by grace without any works (2041 deed, act) on the part of the believer, so that there can never be any boasting. Mixing and confusing the application of the laws results in numerous variations in doctrine regarding the relationship of works and faith, especially in the failure to recognize and understand the difference in the national and spiritual aspects of the Mosaic law. We will now examine several scriptures important in clarifying the purpose and usage of these laws.
(1) Matthew 5:17-18 – The Mosaic Law is Not Abolished
“(17) Think not that I am come to destroy (2647 disintegrate, demolish) the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy (2647), but to fulfill. (18) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass (3928 pass away, perish) from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Mat. 5:17-18) Christ states that He has not come to destroy or abolish the Mosaic national law, or any of the prophecies contained in the law (the books of law), or “the prophets” (the books of the prophets), “but to fulfill” the prophecies concerning His first and second coming, “Till heaven and earth pass away”. “(26) Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26, 1 Peter 1:9-11, Acts 3:12-16) It is evident that Christ did not destroy the Mosaic national law, in the fact that almost all the characteristics of that law appear in the prophecies concerning the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-5), as explained in detail in the article on this site: Did Christ Abolish the Law? Christ will return to earth (Mat. 24:30, Acts 1:11, 3:19-23, Rev. 1:7, Zechariah 8:20-23, 14:4-5, 9, Isaiah 9:1-7, 59:20-21, Ezekiel 37:26-27), reestablish Israel as a nation (Acts 1:6, Romans 11:26, Zech. 8:1-8, Isa. 11:10-16, 66:7-21, Jeremiah 31:23, 32:36-41, Ezek. 11:17, 36:24, 43:6-9), establish a new covenant with Israel (and Judea) (Jer. 31:31-34, Isa. 59:21, 61:8, Ezek. 37:26, Mat. 26:28, Luke 22:20), “(3) out of Zion shall go forth the law” (Isa. 2:2-3, 51:4, Micah 4:1-2), Israel will obey the law (Ezek. 11:18-20, 36:26-27, 43:10-12, 44:24), Israel will observe the Sabbaths (Isa. 58:13, 66:23, Ezek. 44:24, 45:17, 46:1-3), a new temple will be built (Ezek. 40-44), the priesthood will be restored (Isa. 61:6, Ezek. 44:15-16), sacrifices will be offered (Zech. 14:20-21, Jer. 33:17-18, Ezek. 20:40, 37:24, 43:19-27, 44:15-16, 45, 46), Israel will keep the feast (Ezek. 44:24, 45:17-25), Israel will be the lead nation (Isa. 14:1-2, 49:22-26, 60:10-12), Gentiles will offer sacrifices and observe the Sabbath (Isa. 56:6-7), and “(18) the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:18-19)
However the Mosaic law was given to Israel alone (Psalm 147:19-20, Romans 2:17-29, 9:3-5, Ephesians 2:11-15), and God has suspended His dealing with Israel from the time of their destruction in 70 A.D (Hosea 2:11, 3:4, Jeremiah 13:24, 18:17, 49:32-36), until the beginning of the 7 year tribulation, therefore the spiritual and national application of the Mosaic law has been suspended with them, but not abolished. A clear indication of when the Mosaic law is in effect is the Sabbath. The Sabbath is an everlasting covenant with the nation of Israel (Exodus 31:13-18), one of the Ten Commandments of the law (Exodus 20:8-11, 24:12), and it will be observed again during the tribulation (Mat. 20:24), and the Millennium. To those that believe God has ceased dealing with Israel forever scripture states: “(35) Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of host is his name: (36) If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. (37) Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:35-37, 33:20-21, Romans 11:26). Note: Due to some changes to the Mosaic law during the Millennial Kingdom, some refer to it as Kingdom law during that period.
(2) Ephesians 2:13-15 – The Law of Works is Abolished for Believers
“(13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…(15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;” (Eph. 2:13-15) Christ abolish the law “in his flesh”, to make “one new man”, “in himself”, and so the believer “dead with Christ” (Colossians 2:20), declared righteous “(15) through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:19-28), is “in Christ Jesus”, and therefore dead to the law of works (Romans 7:6, Galatians 2:19). Christ did not destroy the Mosaic national law and its commandments, He abolish the spiritual conviction of the commandments of the Mosaic law, and all the laws of works, for the believer that is in Christ Jesus. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1). “(8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:7-8) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 10:4) Christ is “the end of the law for righteousness”, not the end of the law.
(3) Colossian 2 – The Sabbath is Not Abolished for Israel?
“(13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision (203 physically or metaphorically uncircumcised) of your flesh, hath he quickened together (4806 able to respond immediately to spiritual stimuli) with him, having forgiven you all transpasses;” (Colossians 2:13) Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary comments on uncircumcision (203) “in a metaphorical or transferred sense, of the moral condition in which the corrupt desires of the flesh still operate (Col. 2:13).” In Colossians 2:13 the word uncircumcision does not refer to Gentiles, it refers to all unbelievers that are living in the flesh before they become believers, when “(11) in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through faith of the operation of God,” (Col. 2:11-12). In Colossians 2 Paul is writing to Jewish and Gentile believers that are “(20) dead with Christ” (Col. 2:20).
“(14) Blotting (1813 smear out, wipe away) out the handwriting (5498 manuscript, legal document, bond) of ordinances (1378 a law, decree) that was against us which was contrary (5227 opponent, adversaries) to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14) “(15) Having abolished (2673 destroy, do away) in his flesh the enmity (2190 hateful, enemy, foe), even the law (3551) of commandments (1785 injunction, precept) contained in ordinances (1378); for to make in himself of twain (1417 two, into) one new man, so making peace;” (Ephesians 2:15). The specific word ordinances (1378) only appears in these two scriptures, and is just one of several indications that both are stating that the spiritual conviction of the Mosaic law is abolished for Jewish believers “(20) dead with Christ” (Col. 2:20). The “(14) handwriting of ordinances (1378)” (Col. 2:14), is equivalent to the “(15) the law of commandments contained in ordinances (1378)” (Eph. 2:15), the Mosaic law, which was “against us (unbelieving Jews)” (Col. 2:14), the Gentiles being “(21) without law.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21, Romans 2:14, Eph. 2:12)
“(16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (17) Which are (2076 is) a shadow (4639 darkness of error) of the things to come (3195 shall, should, will); but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17) “(16) Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual (5769 eternity) covenant. (17) It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever (5769):” (Exodus 31:16-17). “(6) Also the sons of the stranger (5236 foreigner, alien), that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant:” (Isaiah 56:6-8). The Old Testament stated the Sabbath would be a covenant with Israel for ever, and prophecy stated it would also be observed by the Gentile foreigners in the future. So how could Paul tell Gentile believers, much less Jewish believers they were not required to keep the Sabbath? Was the eternal covenant with Israel abolished? “(11) I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” (Hosea 2:11) “(4) For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice,” (Hosea 3:4). The Old Testament also told there would be a time when Israel would be set aside, “(15) casting away (580 rejection)”, “(20) because of unbelief they were broken off” (Romans 11:15, 20), and there would be a time when God would restore them, “(23) I will say to them which were not my people, Thou are my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” (Hosea 2:23), “(26) And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). “(11) salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy” (Romans 11:11), during this time Israel, with their covenants, feasts, new moons, Sabbaths, and sacrifices would be set aside (Romans 10:19-21, Deut. 32:21). While Peter was preaching if Israel would repent that God “(20) shall send Jesus Christ” (Acts 3:19-20, Hosea 5:15), the gospel of the circumcision (Galatians 2:7-9), Paul was preaching that the time that Israel would be set aside had come, the gospel of the uncircumcision, and with them the Mosaic law had been suspended. Jews and Gentiles who would understand and believe this gospel during this period of time, “(25) until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25), would be saved without the involvement of Israel, and so without any commitment to obey the physical Mosaic national law. The Sabbath covenant with Israel and the Mosaic law have been suspended, not abolished.
“(8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:… (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under (5259 beneath, of, with, in) the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:8-15) Paul here speaks of believers being under grace, because they are no longer under the spiritual conviction of any law of works. This period of time that God has suspended dealing with Israel, could be referred to as a period of grace, in the sense that believers and unbelievers, Jews and Gentiles, are not under the Mosaic law. Believers will be under grace during the Millennium in the sense that they will not be under the spiritual conviction of the Mosaic law, or any law of works, but believers and unbelievers, Jew and Gentiles, will be required to obey the Mosaic or Kingdom law.
(4) Galatians 3:19 – Till the Seed Should Come and After
“(19) Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added (4369 place additionally, lay beside) because of transgressions, till (891) the seed should come to whom the promise was made;” (Galatians 3:19). In his book A Critical Lexicon and Concordance E.W Bullinger defines till (891) “2. of time, continually, marking duration, continually until, during, (see No. 3) (a) with ou (with a noun) until the time when; (with a verb in the present) so long as, while, (without implying the cessation of the duration.)”, and number 2 states (see No. 3) “3. until, referring solely to the limit, implying that the action there terminates, while No. 2 fixes the attention upon the whole duration up to the limit, but leaving the further continuance undetermined.” In Galatians 3:19 till (891) with the noun “the seed”, is defined as “until the time when”, “without implying the cessation of the duration.” Till (891) is used in the same way with a noun in: “(17) But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, (18) Till (891) another king arose, which knew not Joseph.” (Acts 7:17-18) “the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, “(18) Till (891 until the time when) another king arose”, but the people did not stop growing and multiplying forever when the king arose. Note 891 + 3739 are used in Galatians 3:19 and Acts 7:18. Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary states about 3360 (unto, until, till) “as far as, i.e. up to a certain point (as a preposition of extent) (denoting the terminus, whereas 891 refers especially to the space of time or place intervening) or a conjection.”. Strong’s 3360 is No. 3 referred to by Bullinger above. For other scriptures that show 891 (until, unto, till) leaves “further continuance undetermined” see Acts 23:1, Romans 5:13, 8:22, 2 Corinthians 3:14, and Philippians 1:5. Also note 2193 (till, unto, until, to) could have been used if a definite statement of the law ending forever was intended.
In Galatians 3:19 “It (the Mosaic law) was added (4369) because of transgression, till (until the time when) the seed (Christ) should come”, but it did not cease forever when He came. So when does the law cease? “(24) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (the law)” (Gal. 3:24-25) Believers are no longer under the spiritual conviction of the law when “faith is come”, “ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ;” (Romans 7:4). The law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15) for all mankind, and the Mosaic law for those under it, does not change and continues to convict unbelievers, it is the believer that changes in relation to the law, by becoming “dead to the law”.
(5) 2 Corinthians 3:9-11 – Done Away in Christ?
“(7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones (the spiritual conviction of the Ten Commandments), was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stead fastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countance; which was to be done away:…(11) For if that which is done away was glorious much more that which remaineth is glorious.” (2 Corinthians 3:9-11) How is the “ministration of death” to be “done away”? “(14) But their (Israel) minds were blinded (4456 to harden, thick skin) for until this day remaineth the same vail (2571 a covering) untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament (the Mosaic law); which vail is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses (the Mosaic law) is read, the vail is upon their heart. (16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” (2 Cor. 3:14-16) The ministration of death”, the spiritual conviction of the Mosaic law (Romans 7) is “done away” in Christ, for believers living under the Mosaic law.
(6) 1 Corinthians 9:19-21 – Paul was Not Spiritually or Physically Under the Mosaic Law After Being Saved
“(19) For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain (2770 win) the more. (20) And unto the Jews (circumcision Jews) I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law (the Mosaic law), as under the law (NIV though I myself am not under the law), that I might gain them that are under the law; (21) To them that are without law (Gentiles Romans 2:14-15, Eph. 2:12), as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.” (1 Cor. 9:19-21) Here Paul contrast those Jews “under the law”, to Gentiles “without law”, not comparing believers and unbelievers, but comparing the Jews who were given the Mosaic law, to the Gentiles that were not. When Paul states he “became as a Jew”, he may be referring to his action in Israel among “(20) many thousand of Jews (Circumcision Jews) there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:” (Acts 21:20). There Paul took part in a Nazarite vow to convince these Jews “which believe” that he was not teaching Jews “(21) to forsake Moses (the law)”, and “(21) not to circumcise” (Acts 21:21), even though his epistles indicate that was what he was teaching (Galatians 5:6, 11, 6:15). Why was Paul not under the Mosaic law? A circumcision Jew under the Mosaic law could die to the spiritual conviction of the law, and be born again as Christ indicated to Nicodemus (John 3:1-8), while still remaining under the Mosaic national law at that time before the cross. So it was for the circumcision Jews after the cross (Acts 21:21), and so it will be in the Millennium. Paul had died to the spiritual conviction of the law or works, the Mosaic law (Romans 7), and the law of conscience (2 Timothy 1:3), so then Paul was born again and under “the law of Christ”, the law of faith (Romans 3:27). But Paul was also not under the Mosaic national law, “(8) as of one born out of due time (1626 untimely birth)” (1 Corinthians 15:8), having been given the revelation (Galatians 1:11-12) that Israel was being set aside (Romans 11), “(17) a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me (Paul)” (1 Cor. 9:17), the “(7) gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7). Paul became the “first (4413 foremost in time or order, before)” (1 Timothy 1:15) uncircumcision believer, as all Jews and Gentiles saved during this period while Israel is set aside will be, “there is neither Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28), and everyone saved through the gospel of the uncircumcision will not be under the covenants of Israel.
(7) 1 Timothy 1:9-10 – The Law is Not Made for the Righteous Man
“(8) But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; (9) Know this, that the law is not made for a righteous (1342 innocent, holy) man, but the lawless (459 wicked, without law) and disobedient (506 insubordinate), for the ungodly (765 irreverent, impious) and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (10) For whoremanagers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other things that is contrary to sound doctrine;” (1 Timothy 1:8-10) George Williams comments on these verses in his book The Complete Bible Commentary on pgs. 952-953 “Lawfully (v.8), i.e., to use the Law as Divinely intended as a sword to pierce man’s conscience and convict him of his need of a Savior. To use it unlawfully is to propose its observance as a ground of personal righteousness before God. This is impossible to broken humanity. The Law (v.9) – better read: law, i.e., the application of the law is to the unrighteous and not to the righteous (vs. 9 and 10).” William MacDonald comments on 1 Timothy 1:9 in his book Believer’s Bible commentary on pg. 2077 “1.9 The law is not made for the righteous person. If a man is righteous, he does not need a law. That is true of the Christian. When he is saved by the grace of God, he does not need to be placed under the Ten Commandments in order for him to live a holy life. It is not fear of punishment that makes a Christian live in a godly manner, but rather love for the Savior who died at Calvary.” John MacArthur comments on 1 Timothy 1:9 in his book The MacArthur Bible Commentary on pg. 1777 “1.9 not for a righteous person. Those who think they are righteous, will never be saved (Luke 5:32) because they do not understand the true purpose of the Law. The false teachers, with their works system of personally achieved self-righteous (in their own minds), had shown clearly that they misunderstood the law completely. It was not a means to self-righteousness, but a means to self-condemnation, sin, conviction, repentance, and pleading to God for mercy (v.15).”
John MacArthur typically teaches dispensational doctrine, but he also teaches what he calls Lordship Salvation, which agrees more with the doctrine of Covenant Theology, that the Ten Commandments “substance has never been abrogated” for believers or unbelievers. This may explain why MacArthur’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 1:9 differs considerably from the other dispensationalist, he states the law is not for the self-righteous, with his interpretation allowing him to still apply the Commandments which are part of the law (Exodus 24:12) to believers, in a manner similar to Covenant Theology.
Apostle Paul states he was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:4-7), before he was saved he “(9) having mine own righteousness, which is of the law.” (Philippians 3:9). Paul states he was self-righteous, “having mine own righteousness”, then he states he “was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Timothy 1:13). Apostle Paul like other self-righteous Pharisees, had tried to create his “own righteousness”, “(32) not by faith, but as it were by works of the law” (Romans 9:30-32). When he understood the purpose of law, he died to the laws spiritually (Romans 7:9-11), and he was born again. The law is made for the self-righteous man. Christ told the self-righteous Pharisees that their father is the devil, who is a murderer, and liar (John 8:42-44), and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 states the law is for the lawless, disobedient, ungodly, murderers, and liars. How could the law not be for the self-righteous as MacArthur states? Just because someone refuses to acknowledge their conviction by the law of works, does not mean it is not intended to convict them (Romans 2:12, 3:19, 23). “(21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:21-22). Believers are righteous “by faith of Jesus Christ”, they are “dead to the law by the body of Christ;” (Romans 7:4), and the laws of works (Mosaic law with its Ten Commandments, and the law of conscience) “is not made for a righteous man”, the believer. But of course “(16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16), the believer is responsible to understand and teach the true purpose of the law.
(8) Romans 11:5-6 Mixing the Laws?
We have stated and defined 3 types of laws: (1) Mosaic national law; (2) The laws of works; (3) The law of faith. There are certain ways in which these laws are combined, and certain ways they can not be combined. For example a circumcision Jew can be under the requirements of the Mosaic national law in regard to personal and national blessings and curses (Deut. 28, 30:15-19), while at the same time being under the spiritual conviction of the laws of works as a unbeliever, the Mosaic law (Romans 7), and the law of conscience (John 8:9), or under the law of faith (John 3:3, 16-18, 6:29) as a believer. Gentiles and uncircumcision Jews are either under the spiritual conviction of the law of works, the law of conscience (Romans 2:15-16) as unbelievers, or under the law of faith as believers. Under no circumstances can anyone be under the spiritual conviction of a law of works (2 Corinthians 3:6-9), and at the same time be “(4) dead to the law” (Romans 7:4) of works (under the law of faith). “(27) Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith:” (Romans 3:27), the law of faith is defined by the fact that it excludes boasting (Romans 4:5, Eph. 2:7-8), and the law of works is defined by the fact that it allows boasting (Romans 4:2). “(5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:5-6)
“(20) Therefore by the deeds of the law (of works) there shall no flesh be justified in his (God’s) sight:” (Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:11) Most agree that an unbeliever can not be justified by works, but what is the relationship of a believer under the law of faith, to the law of works. Paul writes to those professing to be believers “(1) Christ has made us free”, “(4) whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:1-6) Paul also writes: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31), “(10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10) A believer establishes the law through faith, and fulfills the law through love, and yet “the law is not made for a righteous man,” (1 Timothy 1:9). How can all three be true? It is a question of how justification is achieved, does the professing believer understand justification is completely a free gift of God or do they believe they contribute anything whatsoever to their justification before or after being saved. “(8) Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) The purpose of the law is “(24) to bring us unto Christ“ Galatians 3:19-26), therefore a believer establishes and confirms that purpose through faith. “(8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), and fulfills the law by love “(5) because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5) A believer establishes the law by faith given by God (Romans 3:11, 9:16, Jeremiah 24:7), and fulfills the law by the love “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”, each of which is an act of God and not the one justified, and so there is no boasting. Could a true believer lose their salvation by attempting to by justified by the law, the Ten Commandments? Paul’s point is that if someone that professes to be a believer, feels the need to continue to be justified by obedience to the law, which includes the Ten Commandments, they do not understand the laws of works and faith (Romans 4:1-8), they do not understand salvation by grace. Can a person that does not understand grace by truly saved? Only God knows the heart, but scripture warns “(4) whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-6), “(18) For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” (Galatians 2:18-21)
Covenant Theologians and those that teach Lordship salvation, teach that all believers after the cross are under the New Covenant (1242 Testament) (Mat. 26:28, Hebrews 8:8). They conclude that believers as members of the New Covenant, are responsible to obey nine of the Ten Commandments of the law, excluding the 4th commandment to keep the Sabbath. The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) is a renewal of the Mosaic national covenant (Exodus 19:5-8) with Israel. The LORD will reveal Himself to Israel at His second coming (Zechariah 12:10), He will open the hearts of the elect (Jeremiah 24:7, Romans 11:26-29, 9:6), the new nation of Israel will “(8) be born at once” (Isaiah 66:8), and the LORD will “(27) cause” (Ezekiel 36:27) this new nation of believers to “(24) keep my laws and statues” (Ezek. 44:24). Christ will “(6) restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) at His second coming, and the New Covenant will reestablish the Mosaic national law (or kingdom law) for Israel. Gentiles that “(6) taketh hold of my covenant” (the New Covenant), will be required to “(6) keepth the Sabbath”, and “(7) their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted” (Isaiah 56:6-7), and required (Zechariah 14:16-21). Anyone that “taketh hold of” the New Covenant is under the Mosaic national law. Uncircumcision gospel believers, are those saved by Paul’s gospel of the uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7-9), the gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13, 1 Cor. 15:1-4) without the covenants, during this period while Israel has been “(20) broken off” (Romans 11:20, 25). We are dead to any law of works (Romans 7:6), not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14), to whom being righteous no law of works applies (1 Timothy 1:9), and who always have been and still are without the Mosaic law (1 Cor. 9:21, Romans 2:14), of which all of the Ten Commandments are an inseperatable part. The fact that all believers, Israel under the covenants, and believers presently not under the covenants, establish the law by faith, and fulfill the law by love, in no way indicates the Uncircumcision Gospel believers are under the New Covenant and the Mosaic law, a law that nationally has been set aside with Israel until the tribulation (Daniel 9:27, Mat. 24:15) and the Millennium, and spiritually could only convict believers to death again when they inevitably failed to keep every aspect of it (James 2:10, Galatians 3:10).
(9) Matthew 22:36-40 – Confusion About Commandments of the Law?
“(36) Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like to it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mat. 22:36-40) Christ states these two commandments from the law of Moses (Deut. 6:5, Leviticus 19:18), He states “On these two commandments hang all the law”, they are part of the Mosaic law. Like the Ten Commandments, “(7) the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones,” (2 Cor. 3:6-9), these two great commandments were intended to spiritually convict circumcision Jews under the Mosaic law. The two great commandments were used to spiritually convict Jews on many occasions such as the parable of the good Samaritan convicting the lawyer of his lack of love for his neighbor (Luke 10:25-37), and convicting rich man of his lack of love for God and his neighbor (Mat. 19:16-26) , and convicting the Pharisees of their lack of love for God (John 8:42, Luke 11:42), and their neighbor (Mat. 23:23). “(12) And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” (Exodus 24:12), the Ten Commandments are part of the Mosaic law. “(9) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man,” (1 Timothy 1:9). If the great commandments are Mosaic law, and the Ten Commandments are Mosaic law, how can a righteous man be obligated in any way to obey commandments of the law that are not for him?
“(15) If you love me, keep my commandments…(21) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:15-21) “(10) If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) “(42) Jesus said unto him, If God were your Father, ye would love me:” (John 8:42). From these scriptures we could conclude that if you do not keep God’s commandments, ye do not love Him, and if you do not love Him, you do not know Him, "(3) But if any man love God, the same in known of him" (1 Cor. 8:3). This leads to a further conclusion that although “(11) The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Habakkuk 2:4), and “(20) by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified “ (Romans 3:20), that (1) you are not justified by obeying the commandments; (2) you do not love the Lord and therefore are not justified unless you obey the commandments: (3) you must obey the commandments to be justified. This naturally leads to the conclusion that faith and obedience to the commandments are both necessary for justification to salvation. There are two problems with this conclusion: (1) Paul states “(4) whosoever of you are justified by the law (obedience to the commandments); ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-6) Paul is not referring to being justified by obedience to the commandments as a sole means of justification, he is speaking to those that profess to be believers already, “(1) Christ hath made us free”, and their attempt to be justified by obeying the commandments as a requirement in addition to having faith. (2) No one can perfectly obey the commandments except for Christ (2 Cor. 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, 1 John 3:5), as Paul states (Romans 7:14-25), and as indicated by the fact that Christians need an “advocate (3875 intercessor, comforter)” (1 John 2:1), and Christians must be chastised (1 Cor. 11:32, Heb. 12) when they are disobedient “(8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8), unbelievers are not chastised, they are judged (1 Cor. 11:31-32).
Obedience of the commandments can not be required for justification according to the law of faith, and no one is capable of completely obeying the commandments, yet scripture indicates you do not love or know the Lord unless you keep His commandments. How can anyone fulfill God’s requirements? “(21) But now the righteousness of God without the law (obedience to the commandments for justification) is manifested,… (22) Even the righteousness of God which by faith of Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:21-22). Christ fulfilled the law (Mat. 5:17-18) which includes the commandments, “(3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), and God sees believers as having fulfilled the commandments (the law of works) in Christ. This is the only way anyone other than Christ could “keep my (God’s) commandments.” So what is a believer supposed to do? A believer should understand through faith “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13), because “(20) I am crucified with Christ: neverless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” (Gal. 2:16-21), and the believer should “(1) present your bodies a living sacrifice,” (Romans 12:1-2), “(26) sanctify and cleanse it with washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:26) “(31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. (32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:31-32) The measures of how well a believer is fulfilling the will of God include: the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthian 13, among others.
Opinions on the Covenant(s) of Works?
Was Adam under a covenant of works? Within the various opinions, what defines a covenant of works may be somewhat unclear. The Westminister Confession of Faith vii, 5, 6, states “Having created man in His image as a free creature with knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, God entered into a covenant of works where by the mandate was, do this and live (Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12).” Charles Ryrie in his book Dispensationalism on pg. 220 quotes Covenant Theologian O.T. Allis (The Covenant of Works pg. 97) “The relationship established in Eden has been properly called the covenant of works. That it promised life as the reward for obedience is not immediately stated. But it is made abundantly clear elsewhere, notably in Deuteronomy. The First Psalm is a poetical expounding of this covenant, and it has its counterpart in Romans 2:7-9”. Ryrie comments “The passages from Deuteronomy that he cites in a footnote are 6:5, 10-12 ff; 30:15-20. They have to do with life in the Promised Land, not in heaven.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer comments in his book Major Bible Themes on pg. 140 “1. A covenant of works is said to have been made with Adam. The provision of the covenant was that if Adam obeyed God, he would be rendered secure in his spiritual state and would receive eternal life… This covenant is based almost entirely on interference and is not called a covenant in the Bible, and for this reason is rejected by many students of Scripture as having an insufficient ground.” Charles Baker comments in his book A Dispensational Theology on pg. 91 “The Covenant of Works: This is the supposed covenant that God made with Adam before he fell, promising him eternal life in exchange for his good works. While obedience was no doubt required for Adam to maintain his standing with God, there is no hint in scripture that Adam was created in a lost condition or in one in which he needed to earn eternal life.”
Covenant Theologian Charles Hodge makes three points in his Commentary on Second Corinthians: (1) The Law of Moses was in first place a reenactment of the covenant of works; viewed this way, it is the ministration of condemnation and death. (2) It was also a national covenant, giving national blessing based on national obedience; in this way it was purely legal. (3) In the sacrificial system, it points to the Gospel of salvation through a mediator.” (reference-en.wikipedia.org/wiki/covenant.theology) Lewis Berkhof comments in his book Systemic Theology on pg. 296-297 “The Sinaitic covenant is an interlude, covering a period in which the real character of the covenant of grace, that is, its free and gracious character is somewhat eclipsed by all kinds of external ceremonies and forms which, in connection with the theocratic life of Israel, placed the demands of the law prominently in the foreground (cf. Gal. 3). In the covenant with Abraham, on the other hand, the promise and faith that responds to the promise are made emphatic”. Lewis Sperry Chafer comments in his book Grace on pg. 102 “In seeking an understanding of the teaching of grace, it is necessary to give due consideration to the teaching of the law; for, according to the Scriptures, the latter, with its covenant of works, is the one principle which is opposed to the teaching of grace.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer comments in his book Major Bible Themes on pg. 142 “1. The Edenic covenant was the first covenant that God made with man (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:16-17), and it was a conditional covenant with Adam in which life and blessing or death and cursing were made to depend on the faithfulness of Adam. The Edenic covenant included giving Adam the responsibility of being father of the human race, subduing the earth, having dominion over the animals, caring for the garden, and not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because Adam and Eve failed and disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit, the penalty of death for disobedience was imposed. Adam and Eve died spiritually immediately and needed to be born again in order to be saved. Later they also died physically. Their sin plunged the whole human race into its pattern of sin and death”. Chafer states that the Edenic covenant “was a conditional covenant with Adam”, but feels there is “insufficient ground” for a covenant of works. Charles Hodge states “(1) The Law of Moses was in first place a reenactment of the covenant of works”, although the Mosaic Law is seen as a part of the covenant of Grace within covenant theology.
The Covenant(s) of Works?
“(16) And the LORD (3068) God (430 supreme God) commanded (6680 charge, order, appoint) the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (4191 slay, kill, physical death).” (Genesis 2:16-17) “(19) I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:15-19). This section examines similarities in the command given to Adam, the law given to Israel, and the results, to answer: Are these two covenants of works?
(1) Adam is called “the son of God” (Luke 3:38), Israel is called God’s “son” (Exodus 4:22, Hosea 11:1); (2) Christ is “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), Christ is “(3) O Israel” (Isaiah 49); (3) Adam disobeyed God’s command “(17) Thou shalt not eat” (Genesis 2:17, 3:17), Israel “(32) my covenant they brake” (Jeremiah 31:32); (4) “(18) righteousness came by the second Adam” (Romans 5:18), Christ “fulfill” (Mat. 5:17) the law (of works), “Christ is the end of the law (of works) for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Romans 10:4). “(16) And the LORD (3068) God (430) commanded the man (120 Adam)” (Genesis 2:16). Strong’s Concordance with Vines Dictionary states about LORD (3068) “self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God; Its precise meaning is much debated. God chose it as His personal name by which He related specifically to His chosen or covenant people. Its first appearance in the biblical record is Genesis 2:4, Apparently Adam knew Him by this personal or covenant name from the beginning.”
Although before Adam’s sin Genesis does not record God stating that Adam would experience curses for disobedience, only death, there is a very interesting similarity in the results of Adam’s and Israel’s disobedience: (1) “(17) cursed (779 judgment, often for breaking a covenant) is the ground (127 earth, land) for thy sake” (Genesis 3:17-18), “(18) Cursed (779) shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land (127)” (Deuteronomy 28:18, 24, 38, 42, 29:22-24); (2) “(23) Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,…. (24) So he drove (1044 to drive out from possession) out the man;” (Gen. 3:23-24), “(63) ye shall be plucked (5255 tear away) from off the land wither thou goest to possess it. (64) And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people,… and there thou shalt serve other gods,” (Deut. 28:63-64, 29:28); (3) “(12) Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation (2631 adverse sentence);” (Romans 5:12, 18), “(18) Cursed (779) shall be the fruit of thy body” (Deut. 28:18); (4) “(14) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnel, sold (4097 dispose of into slavery) under sin.” (Romans 7:14, 6:16, John 8:32-36, 2 Timothy 2:26), (41) Thou shall beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity (7628 exile, booty).” (Deut. 28:41, 68); (5) “(26) And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion (7287 rule, reign)…, and over all the earth (776),” (Gen. 1:26), “(6) And the devil said unto him (Christ), All this power (1849 authority, jurisdiction) will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered (3860 surrender to another to keep) unto me; and to whom so ever I will give it.” (Luke 4:6), “(49) The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far,… (52) he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land (776);” (Deut. 28:49-52, Luke 21:24). The curses pronounced on Adam and Israel for disobedience include: death, ground cursed, driven off land, descendants cursed, descendants sold as slaves, ruling authority of earth and nation given to another.
“(7) But they like men (120 mankind, Adam) have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.” (Hosea 6:7) This Hebrew word 120 adam, is interpreted Adam 13 times in Genesis 2 through 5, and once in Deuteronomy 32:8. It is translated as men 121 times, and the NIV translation uses the word Adam instead of men in Hosea 6:7. George Williams comments on this verse in his book The Complete Bible Commentary on pg. 636 “Men (v. 7), in Hebrew, Adam. The Covenant i.e., the prohibition respecting the forbidden fruit. His children, like their father, perpetually transgress, and deal treacherously.” There remains no consensus on the interpretation of this word 120 as man or Adam, and therefore this verse can only offer a possibility for consideration.
We may now consider: What caused Adam and Israel to turn away from God? “(16) In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his way, and to keep his commandments and his statues and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. (17) But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; (18) I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish,” (Deut. 30:16-18). Idolatry, the worship of other gods, “They sacrificed unto devils (7700 demons)” (Deut. 32:17). It is the heart that turns away that “wilt not hear”, “(19) For as by one man’s disobedience (3876 inattention, para (aside), akouo (to hear), hence a refusal to hear) many were made sinners,” (Romans 5:19). “(4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:…(6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant (8378 a longing, desire, lust) to the eye, and a tree to be desired (2530 covet, delight, lust) to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Gen. 3:4-6) “Thou shalt not covet (2530)” (Exodus 20:17), the word used of Eve’s desire (2530) is the same word used in the 10th commandment, and “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:5). “(26) For they went and served (5647 till, enslave) other gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: (27) And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: (28) And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deut. 29:26-28) “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14), “(4) For it came to pass, when Solomen was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods:” (1 Kings 11:1-11), as the Moab women did with Israel (Numbers 25:1-3).
Finally God will remove the curses caused by Adam’s disobedience: “(1) And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and of either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:” (Revelation 22:1-3) Finally God will remove the curses caused by Israel’s disobedience: “(3) For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. (4) Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.” (Isaiah 51:3-4)
“(15) And I will put enmity between thee and the women, between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) “(26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:26, Isaiah 59:20-21). The coming of a Redeemer was revealed to Adam and Israel. “(20) Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21) There is no scripture that states Adam and Eve were saved, their names are not included in Hebrews 11. Many believe in Genesis 3:21, the LORD shed the blood of animals as the first sacrifice, and clothed Adam and Eve with “(10) the garments of salvation,” (Isaiah 61:10). If this is true this was one of only two instances in which the LORD Himself made the sacrifice, “(28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mat. 26:28), the other is when the Lord sacrificed himself (Mat. 20:28, John 10:17-18), when He shed His own blood, and made a new covenant for Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Dispensationalist typically use eight major covenants in their explanation of scripture, and Covenant Theology uses two or three. They both use these covenants to explain God’s evolving revelation over time, and how God deals with mankind in different and similar ways during different periods of time. But the laws of works and faith are consistant over time, as demonstrated by their application before the Mosaic law in Abraham (Romans 4:1-5), during the Mosaic law in king David (Romans 4:6-8), and in all that are of the “(16) faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16, Gal. 3:6-7), also after the cross. Therefore applying the covenants to the explanation of God’s consistent plan of redemption involves doctrines that may or may not be correct or relevant, and can actually cause more confusion. Individuals are given a law of works, through our own effort we will always fail to achieve its requirements (Romans 3:10, 20), spiritually dying to the law of works (Romans 7), God opens the heart of the elect (Jer. 24:7), and they are born again (John 3:3).
The other primary problem in understanding God’s plan of redemption, is confusing the general or national purpose and effect of the law of works, with its individual purpose and effect. For example: How did the curses that God pronounced on Adam, relate to his own personal salvation? The story of Adam’s fall serves as a mirror image of the Mosaic covenant in concept. The result of an individual Jews response to the Mosaic law of works, had both a personal and national effect. The laws of works given to Adam and Israel, could both spiritually convict individuals, and physically convict mankind or a nation through curses. But the purpose and effect of these two aspects of the law of works are absolutely different. To mix them is to mix the personal convicting aspect of the law of works, with its physical blessing and cursing aspect. This mixing left individual Jews under the Mosaic law believing they could work for redemption (Roman 9:31-33), when in reality they could only work for physical blessings instead of curses.
Adam was given a commandment (Gen. 2:16-17), mankind given the law of conscience (Romans 2:14-15), Israel was given the Mosaic law, all laws of works, all convicting unbelievers. Adam believed in God’s existence, and may have believed what God said, but even the devils (demons) “believest that there is one God” (James 2:19). Before Adam sinned he did not believe in his need for redemption, which he could only do after dying to the commandment, the law of works. Only then could Adam and Eve be saved, as it is for mankind under the law of conscience, and individual Jews under the Mosaic law. The covenants do not change these basic facts. There is no indication Adam had some special attribute that the rest of mankind does not have, he was a man (1 Cor. 15:46). Mankind was created in innocence, but our destiny was inevitable, like that of Israel, given a choice and left ourselves we will fail. After becoming a child of God by the realization of our absolute helplessness, death by the law of works, and God’s grace, we will still fail in any endeavor that is pursued by our own fleshly effort, rather than complete dependence on God’s Spirit working in us. But God will not let one of His children fail completely, “(6) Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:5-7).
The majority of mankind throughout time has been determined to control their own destiny, either by denying that God exist (Romans 1:28), or trying to subjugate Him through false logic to a man made religion (Mark 7:7-9). A man made religion leads someone to believe they can determine their own destiny by works, “(6) all our righteousness are as a filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:4-7). “(16) So then it is not of him that willeth (2309 desire, wish), or of him that runneth (5143 human effort), but of God that showeth mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16) But God has His own plan, and it defines mans destiny according to His mercy. (Romans 11:32) According to God’s plan there is no boasting, and any connection between works and salvation allows boasting (Romans 4:1-8). After all pride was the cause of the fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:11-15), of mankind “(5) ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5), and of Israel (Romans 9:31-33), and so boasting is excluded. Salvation is forever and completely an act of God, “(6) To the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:4-7). God’s plan of redemption is consistently repeated in the laws of works and faith. The law of faith offers a redeemer, but redemption is offered according to God’s conditions, boasting is excluded (Romans 3:27, Eph.2:8-9), “(4) whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-6)