Examining The Scriptures To Understand The Purpose Of The Mosaic Law

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).

When God made the covenant of law with Israel on Mount Sinai, he didn’t intend for it to be everlasting. This is because the covenant of grace which God made with Abraham some four centuries before was an everlasting covenant that could not be annulled. The Mosaic covenant, which temporarily suspended the covenant of grace God made previously with Abraham, was intended to be only a stopgap measure. The law was to be a regulator of God’s people until such a time when the Seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ) would come to effect the Abrahamic covenant. But the law had its purpose, which it fulfilled during the time that it was in force. What was the purpose of the law? Why was the law given in the first place? Understanding the purpose of the law is extremely important for God’s people, so that we don’t go back to keeping a law that has served its purpose and is no longer relevant! This article intends to deal with the purpose of the Mosaic law and why it had to be abolished after serving its purpose.

The Mosaic covenant of law that God made with Israel on Mount Sinai temporarily suspended the covenant of faith and grace God had earlier made with Abraham, the father of many nations. The covenant of law did not abolish or annul the covenant of grace, but was to serve certain purposes, until the coming of Christ, who was the promised Seed of Abraham that was to fulfil the Abrahamic covenant. One of the purposes of the law was to make sin exceedingly sinful. Sin was already in the world before the law, but sin is not counted when there is no law, as sin is transgression of the law. If there is no law to transgress, then there is no sin. Although God was not pleased with the practices of mankind before the law, he couldn’t input sin upon humanity in the absence of the law. The law thus served to bring out the sinfulness of mankind’s practices, and to make the wrath of God justified and manifest to all, with respect to sin. It was through the law that we had knowledge of sin and became aware of our sinful nature, though humanity had been living in sin before the law came. The law thus came to convict us of sin and shut all mouths before God, as it proved that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

Galatians 3:15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.

Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

Romans 5:21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

Romans 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.

Romans 7:9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.

Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

Romans 7:12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Romans 7:13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

Romans 7:16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.

Romans 7:17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

Romans 7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (AKJV).

Romans 4:14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,

Romans 4:15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.

Secondly, the law was to act as our tutor to bring us to Christ. It was to perform this function the same way guardians and stewards train underage children to bring them to maturity. Guardians and stewards are only appointed for underage children, to help train them to become responsible adults and worthy sons and daughters. During this period of tutelage, the children are subject to servants, who instruct and discipline them. The guardians and stewards, who would themselves be subject to the children when they come to maturity and begin to rule over the house, have the power to chastise and discipline erring underage children, according to the authority given to them by the parents. This power to train, teach and discipline children continues until the children come of age. Then the guardians and stewards cease to have authority over the children, and become subject to them, having served their purpose. The same way, when God’s people were still spiritually immature, the law was appointed to train them in righteousness, and to prepare them for sonship and dominion. Having attained spiritual maturity with the coming of Christ, God’s people are no longer under the tutelage of the law. We’re no longer subject to the law. To continue to subject ourselves to the law even after the grace of God has appeared in Christ Jesus is to refuse to accept our dominion and sonship. It’s tantamount to choosing to remain servants rather than becoming sons and heirs. That’s choosing slavery over liberty and beggarliness over dominion and authority. It simply means we choose to be servants in the house of our Father! How pathetic!

Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

Galatians 3:20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Galatians 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 4:1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,

Galatians 4:2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

Galatians 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Thirdly, the law was to foreshadow the covenant of grace that was to be made manifest later by Christ. It was meant to be a type and shadow of the heavenly blessings, and to give mankind some glimpses of the good things God has in store for his people. Being a shadow and a type, the law could only partially and dimly reflect the anticipated glory of the grace which it foreshadowed. Because it was only a shadow and not an exact image nor the very substance of the heavenly things themselves, the law could not perfect God’s people, nor could it sanctify them completely and make them righteous. Only the substance and the antetype of what the law foreshadowed (Christ) could bring about perfection and complete sanctification of God’s people, because he offered his sinless blood to completely redeem his people, unlike the law that relied only on the blood of sacrificial animals that could only sanctify to the purifying of the flesh. Now that the substance has come, we should not subject ourselves any longer to the beggarly elements of the law! The law has served its typological purpose and is no longer needed, now that the antetype and substance has appeared.

Hebrews 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

Hebrews 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.

Hebrews 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.

Hebrews 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.

Hebrews 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’”

Hebrews 10:8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law),

Hebrews 10:9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

Hebrews 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,

Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

Hebrews 10:17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Colossians 2:11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

Colossians 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

Colossians 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Colossians 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

Colossians 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Colossians 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Colossians 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

Colossians 2:20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—

Colossians 2:21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”

Colossians 2:22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

Colossians 2:23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Galatians 4:8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.

Galatians 4:9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?

Galatians 4:10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Galatians 4:11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

Finally, the law is for the lawless and sinners, to convict them of sins. The purpose of the law is to bring men’s sins to light, and show us how God abhors and detests sin. The law is used to convict sinners, and show them their guilt before God. When sinners come to the knowledge of their sins through the knowledge of the law, their guilt is made manifest to them, and all mouths are therefore shut before God. With the law as a reminder of our sinfulness, no man can boast of righteousness before God, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. By making us feel our guilt and see our unworthiness, the law makes us appreciate the grace of God that came through Jesus Christ. Though we deserve to die by our guilty plea under the judgement of the law, the grace of God in Christ Jesus has provided us with a way of escape. Christ took our guilty position on the cross at Calvary, so that we could live instead of dying the death we deserve for our sins. Christ died for our sins, so that we would escape the second death in the lake of fire! What love! What grace! And what a great exchange that took place at Calvary, that condemned sinners and enemies of God would be spared of the death that they deserve, because a sinless substitute accepted to die in their place! We escaped the wrath of the law only because its full weight fell upon the only begotten son of God instead! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God, who took upon himself the sins of sinful mankind and redeemed them thereby!

1 Timothy 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

1 Timothy 1:4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

1 Timothy 1:6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

1 Timothy 1:7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,

1 Timothy 1:9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

1 Timothy 1:10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,

1 Timothy 1:11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

Romans 3:10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;

Romans 3:11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.

Romans 3:12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Romans 3:13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

Romans 3:14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

Romans 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Romans 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;

Romans 3:17 And the way of peace they have not known.”

Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

Romans 3:22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

Romans 3:26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

In conclusion, the law was introduced about 430 years after God had made a covenant of faith with Abraham, by which all mankind was to be blessed through the Seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ). The introduction of the law was not to annul God’s covenant with Abraham, but was to serve as a regulator of God’s people until the appearance of Abraham’s promised Seed. During this interim period, the law was to fulfil certain purposes, which included making men aware of sin, convicting men of sin, acting as guardian to God’s people until the coming of the promised Seed of Abraham, and foreshadowing and typing God’s blessings and heavenly realities. Now that the promised Seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ) has come, the law is no longer needed, having fulfilled its purpose. The substance of God’s blessings having appeared to mankind, we don’t need the shadow of the law anymore. Having come to spiritual maturity through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not need the guardianship of the law anymore. The promised seed of Abraham has appeared to fulfil the Abrahamic covenant of grace and extend God’s blessings to all mankind. He has delivered us from the bondage of the law and has translated us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. May we then stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has set us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage of the law. To go back to observing any part of the law is to fall from grace, as that makes us a debtor to the whole law.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

Galatians 5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Thanks for visiting the blog. We hope you were blessed by the message. We’d love to have your comments and feedback on this and other articles on the blog. You can also follow us on the blog to have new posts sent directly to your email. God bless you!

Published by Dr. Ndubuisi Emmanuel Ojo

Dr Ojo is a Biblical scholar and teacher who believes firmly in the original Apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian doctrine and conduct.

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