Longer Under A Schoolmaster
Did you know that the Apostle Paul
described the Old Covenant as a ministry that condemns? In
comparing the Old Testament to the New, he says: "Now
if the ministry that brought death (the Old Covenant), which
was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory…will not
the ministry of the Spirit (the New Covenant) be even more
glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how
much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!"
2 Corinthians 3:7-10 NIV.
Many believers read the Old Testament
and do not realize that its sole purpose is to condemn and
bring individuals to a saving knowledge of the grace of Jesus
Christ. Well meaning Christians, saved and living under grace,
have often used it to condemn their fellow brethren
(and themselves) - but grace and law cannot be mixed.
It reminds me of the time I was making
some fried dough. I had boiled the oil in a pan, fried the
dough, and was now going to wash the pan full of hot oil.
I put the pan under the faucet, turned on the water and bang
- the oil burst up onto the ceiling. Why? Because oil (especially
hot oil) and water do not mix. They are mutually exclusive.
This is what grace and law are like.
Often, however, our Christianity is
a mixture of both. The result of this is like the new wine
and old wineskins that Jesus spoke of: "Neither
do men put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins
will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be
ruined. No, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both
are preserved" Matthew 9:16 NIV. The old wineskins
burst because the new wine of the Holy Spirit is not maintained
within the old wineskin of law, but within the new wineskin
of grace. For grace (God's unmerited favor) and law (man's
efforts for God) are in opposition to each other.
The book of Romans tell us that the
"law brings wrath" Romans
4:15 NIV. Why? Because we inevitably break the law
because of our sinful nature. In fact, the whole purpose of
the Law is to condemn us in order for us to see our need for
Jesus our Saviour. Once we see our true sinfulness and call
on Jesus, we are no longer under the law, for:
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,
that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith
is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."
Galatians 3:24-25. Again it says: "Christ has redeemed
us from the curse of the law" Galatians 3:13." How did
he redeem us from the law? By being punished in our place
on the cross...to put it another way, He paid the bills
of the law for us. Now we can confidently say: "There
is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus" Romans 8:1.
Now it is this very grace that actually
causes us to walk in God's righteousness. This righteousness,
however, is not like the law. It is the righteousness of Christ
within the heart. It works its way from the inside out, and
not the outside in. It is the life of God at work in us. God
has taken possession of the believer's heart through the Holy
Spirit and He has re-created it "in
righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians
But even though we have this new nature,
we still do not have the power to walk in it. We find ourselves
in a struggle of our old nature, which is still present with
us, and this new inner nature. Indeed we are powerless to
overcome the influences of the old nature without the grace
of God. For Jesus Himself causes us to walk in our new nature
by His power. As Paul exclaimed "Oh
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body
of death (the old nature)?" He gives the answer
in the next verse: "I thank God
through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 7:24-25.
They are forever linked, this new nature and God's grace.
For He has re-created us in Christ Jesus. Our old nature
is corrupt and beyond repair - it never can nor will be good.
He causes us, like a butterfly from the caterpillar, to fly
in the wind of His Spirit. How? Because of grace.
Sound too easy? How else can you interpret
the words of the Holy Spirit when He says: "The
days are coming when I will make a new covenant...not like
the former covenant…I will put my laws in their heart and
cause them to walk in my ways." Ezekiel 36:27. Again it says:
"It is because of Him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righeousness,
holiness and redemption" 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV.
And again "For it is God who
is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure"
Phillipians 2:3. Also: "...
and be found in Him (Christ), not having a righteousness of
my own that comes from the law, but that which is through
the faith of Christ - the righteousness that comes from God
and is by faith" Philippians
Truly, we have received a new covenant
of boundless grace. Therefore, when we read the Old Testament,
as believers, we must remember its purpose: to condemn. Doing
so will help us glean all the truths within its pages, that
are so full of instruction and the faith of the saints, without
the condemnation. We can ever draw near to our God because
"The punishment of our peace was upon
Him (Jesus)" Isaiah 53:5. In His love and mercy, the Lord
will still instruct us and discipline us to
walk in His ways of life, and mature us into His image.
But He will never condemn us. We are now His sheep
and in His care, purchased by His precious blood. He will
watch over us to keep us in the flock.
We must remember that after Jesus' sacrifice
on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two. Therefore,
as believers in Christ Jesus, we may now enter boldly unto
the throne of grace.
Paul spoke of it so well when he
said: "…the New Testament; not of the
letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit
gives life" 2 Corinthians 3:6.