Moral and Ceremonial Laws part 2

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 3:20

The purpose of God's moral law is to to point out sin. How do you know and act is sinful? The law of God tells you. How do you know lying is wrong? There is a commandment that says you shall not bear false witness. How do you know that sleep with your neighbor's wife is wrong? There is a commandment that says you shall not commit adultery.

Let's turn to 1 John 3:4.

- According to this verse, what is sin?

  • Answer (highlight to read): Lawlessness

What is sin? Sin is the transgression of God's moral law. 

Let's turn to  Romans 6:23.

- According to this verses, what are the wages of sin?

  • Answer: Death

What is the consequence of sin? Death.

Let's turn to Romans 3:10, 26.

- According to this verse, how many of us have sinned?

  • Answer: All of us have sinned.

The sad reality is we are all sinners and deserve death. Must we all die? The answer is no - what the law demands, Jesus has paid with His sinless life. If we receive Jesus as our Savior in repentance and in confession, then His death saves us from the penalty of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). The ceremonial law pointed to this fact.

What is it that saves humans beings from death? It is the life of Jesus and His death on the cross. If this is true, then how were the Old Testament saints saved before Jesus Christ came?

Sinners in the Old Testament came to the sanctuary with a lamb without blemish. They had to confess their sins upon the lamb's head. They had to kill the lamb themselves. The lamb was punished so that the sinner was not punished. Note that this ritual did not legally take care of the problem of sin (Hebrews 10:4). To recap, the moral law pointed out sin and its penalty. The ceremonial law provided a temporary remedy.

What was the purpose of the Old Testament system of sacrifices then? In essence, it was a system of IOUs. The sentence of the sinner was commuted because Jesus Christ promised in the future He was going to come and pay for the sin. The sinner of the Old Testament saw a symbol of Christ and was still saved by the Christ who was to come. That sinner sacrificed in faith looking ahead to the coming Messiah (Hebrews 7:18-19). Sin was not legally taken care of until Jesus died on the cross. 

Let's turn to Colossians 2:13-15. 

- According to these verses, what was nailed to the cross?

  • Answer: The handwriting of requirements

The Old Testament system was a credit system, a system of debt. The sanctuary was filled with debt from all those sacrifices. The handwriting of requirements (or ordinances) referred to a bond of debt. In ancient times, it was a certificate of indebtedness personally signed by the debtor. Jesus did not nail the Ten Commandments to the cross, like many Christians believe today, but rather, He nailed all those IOUs to the cross! Our bond of sinful debt was taken care of legally once and for all! The Old Testament system of IOUs ended once and for all at the cross (Hebrews 8:13).

The ceremonial law was made up of symbols that pointed forward to Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:16-17). Along with the sacrifices, there were food and drink offerings, all of which were symbolic foreshadowing of the coming Messiah (Exodus 29:38-41; Hebrews 10:1-4). With the close of the Old Testament system at the cross, the ceremonial law, food, and drink offerings all came to an end (Hebrews 9:9-12).

Note the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath did not end at the cross. If you turn to Leviticus 23:2, 37-38, you will see that there is a distinction between the seventh-day Sabbath and the ceremonial Sabbaths. The festivals related to the new moons (Numbers 28:11-19), which were connected to seven months of the Hebrew religious year, and the ceremonial Sabbaths were done away with at the cross. The seventh-day Sabbath, on the other hand, did not point forward to the Messiah like the new moons and ceremonial Sabbaths did. The seventh-day Sabbath pointed backward to what God did at creation (Exodus 20:8-11). The seventh-day Sabbath is a memorial that still stand today.

In closing, that which was of expectation to ancient Israel then is a certainty to modern Israwl today. Friend, can you see that people in the Old Testament were actually saved by grace, not by works? Today it is true of us also. We are saved by grace, not by work. Friend, can you see that the ceremonial law ended at the cross, but God's moral law is still in effect today, and will be in effect throughout all of eternity. Will you keep the Ten Commandments, including the fourth commandment about the Sabbath, out of love for Jesus (John 14:15)? Will you keep the Ten Commandments, not to be saved, but because you are saved?

Happy Sabbath!

A Short Prayer