Our first Advent service of the year was taken by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Romans 8 in which he focused on two themes: God as Law Giver and God as Son Giver.
God as Law Giver:
God is a God who has given law. From Genesis chapter 1 we read God gave laws, After creating the world He commanded Adam and Eve not to partake of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil. God has given laws and it is important for us to understand this. He is a God of righteousness. As creator, He can command, He can ask requirements and give consequences for breaking His commandments. The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Apart from Genesis, they are filled with law. We first read of the Mosaic Law in Exodus 20. Immediately we think of the 10 commandments of law but there are 613 laws God gave to Moses and the children of Israel. It is important to realise, to have a vivid picture of the law then we will have a more vivid picture of Christ.
The law was given to Moses at Mount Sinai. The first problem we have, Exodus 19, is the people thought they could keep the law, the perfect righteous law. The people were told not to touch Mount Sinai or they would die. When God came down upon the mountain there was darkness and terror. Darkness conceals, it concealed God. We cannot approach God in all His splendour. The law does not reveal the glory of God, it conceals it. God began to give a covenant – an unchangeable, divinely imposed agreement. God was sharing His righteousness in this law. He also gave the law to show His righteousness and man’s unrighteousness. God set up the law of sacrifice so man could come nearer to God by the shedding of blood. The way to God is through blood. God established a priesthood but even the priests had to cleanse themselves. The sacrifice had to be continually kept.
In Isaiah we read even the sacrifices themselves were insufficient, ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of goats.’ (Isaiah 1:11)
In Hebrews we also read that the blood of bulls and goats is not sufficient to cleanse us from our sin. The law shows us our unrighteousness. The law is weak because it can only teach men and women their transgressions, ‘Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.’ (Galations 3:19)
‘Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ (Romans 3:20). The law came to give the knowledge of sin.
By the law death came, for the wage of the law is death, ‘But the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away.’ (2 Corinthains 3:7).
By the law came cursing. “For as many as are of the works 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 books of the law to do them.’” (Galations 3:10)
‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’ (Romans 3:19)
‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Romans 7:7)
‘Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ (Romans 7:12). God is perfectly righteous, His law is perfectly good. The problem is us. The law leaves us totally unrighteous, without hope. You can’t get to heaven by good works, church attendance, how much you pray or keeping the laws.
So why was the law given? To always and forever point people to their need of a Saviour, to see their sin and hopelessness and their need for a Saviour.
God the Son Giver:
‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ (John 1:17). The law was given ultimately for us to see Christ. The law cannot change a person’s heart, but God giving His Son. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.’ (Matthew 5:17).
At Mount Sinai there was trembling, fear and separation, if anyone touched Mount Sinai there was death. Yet Jesus’ very first sermon was given on a mountain and His first words were, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for there is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3). Christ gives blessings to all who look to Him in faith. Man, in sin, could now come to the Son of God because of grace. He reconciled people to Christ. Under Christ there is a new law written on the heart by the Holy Spirit. Christ is the perfect sacrifice. His death has covered all our sins – past, present and future. He is perfect, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
There is a disagreement of believes today of the relationship of the law to born again believers. I am convinced that through Christ we are totally free from the law. Some scholars divide the law into three parts: moral, ceremonial and judicial. But the Bible only refers to the law as a whole: 2 Corinthains 3:6, Romans 7:6.
The Spirit will teach us something the law could never do, it teaches us to look to Jesus. We are no longer to look within and condemn ourselves, we are to look to Christ. ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Grace is free to us but it cost the death of Christ. In Christ we are no longer under condemnation: 1 Timothy 1:9-19, Romans 3:21, Romans 7:6, Romans 10:4, 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:13, Hebrews 8, Colossians 2:14.
The law was good but grace in Christ is better. We do not have a licence to sin. ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.’ (Romans 6). The law is written within our hearts, the Spirit of God teaches us to be more like Christ. Under Christ there is a new relationship. When we sin, we sin against the knowledge of this love. We are grieving the one who gave His life for us. When the adulterous woman was brought before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus did not condemn (John 8). We are no longer under condemnation.
God was us not to look back to Mount Sinai anymore, we are to look to Calvary. He doesn’t want to us look back to Mount Sinai, to the fear and trembling, but to look to the cross. In Galations chapter 5 we read of the fruits of the Spirit. These are manifested perfectly in Jesus Christ. We strive to be like Jesus. We still need to confess our sins and repent but we are no longer under law, we are under grace. God gave His Son and His Son saved man. The Old Testament shows us Jesus; when you read of the sacrifices you see Jesus. When you read the laws you see His perfect righteousness. Christ wants us to look to Him. It is not easy but you will find liberty. The commandments have gone, Salvation has come. God wants you looking at the perfect life and sacrifice of the Saviour. Paul says, ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2). Feel the liberty in your hearts. There is grace, truth and victory when we look unto Jesus. We follow the commands of the New Testament. There is a new law for us, the law of Christ. The law of the Spirit of life in Jesus has set us free from the law of death.