Is it okay to Work on Saturday?

I am continuing to post challenges from some atheists in San Diego.  They say Exodus 35:2 commands us to put others to death for working on the Sabbath.  Their claim is Christians are inconsistent in applying what the Bible clearly teaches.

Do Christians ignore verses we don’t like?  If we ignore them then the charge of inconsistency stands.  Again as in previous posts I have shown these atheists are famous for posting single verses and ignoring the context.  They also show a lack of understanding of the history of the nation of Israel, their relationship with God, and the Mosaic Covenant.

As far as context, it doesn’t take much effort to read verses 1 & 2 to see who this was written for.  Exodus 35:1-2 Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.”  Who was the audience?  Verse 1 says the sons of Israel.  Gentiles living during this time never had to follow religious commands intended for the nation of Israel only.  Those Israelites who violated this commandment, under the theocracy of God, were to be put to death.

We also need to understand the Mosaic Covenant.  The Mosaic code represented the legal statutes of the Jews under the theocracy of God (He served as their king).  No one living today is under the theocracy of God or bound by this covenant.  However, the Mosaic Covenant may still reflect moral norms (no stealing, murder, etc.) that have application for those outside the nation of Israel.  Citing an obligation in the Mosaic Law (even in the Ten Commandments) is not in itself enough to show we are obligated to it. We are not under the jurisdiction of those laws.

However, we can glean wisdom from them when there are similar situations we face in our own lives.  Mosaic Law helps us understand the character of God.  We are also obliged by any transcendent or universal moral obligations reflected in the Law given to the Jews—not because it’s in the Law, but because it’s transcendent and therefore included in the Law.  On my count, that would include nine of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath being excepted.  We are no longer under obligation to keep the Sabbath.  This Old Testament law was not reaffirmed in the New Testament.  The transcendent character of nine of the Ten Commandments, except the fourth (Sabbath), are affirmed in the New Testament.

Are Christians inconsistent for not killing others for working on the Sabbath?  Reading this verse in context and understanding the limitations of the Mosaic Covenant help us to understand this law no longer applies.  We are not under a theocracy.  We are not inconsistent.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Michael September 1, 2018, 1:49 am

    James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.

  • Steve Bruecker September 4, 2018, 6:11 am

    Absolutely! This is why we cannot earn heaven. We are all guilty before a holy God. Only through the cross of Jesus can we experience eternal life. He lived the life we should have lived (kept the law 100%) and died to pay a penalty we couldn’t pay. He is our substitute and by his sacrifice we can be healed.

    Only by trusting Jesus can we be totally forgiven.

    Steve Bruecker

  • David Neely May 8, 2019, 2:20 am

    The Sabbath not affirmed in the New Testament. Really. Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:28 “Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath”. There are a dozen or more verses affirmeding the ten Commandments, not one leaving out the Sabbath. Isaiah 66:23 says we will keep the Sabbath in the new earth.
    The Sabbath was the only day God made holy Gen 2:3.

  • Steve May 9, 2019, 5:49 am

    What do those verses you quoted teach? Are they commanding us to keep the Sabbath? Where is the command to keep the Sabbath in the New Testament? If I grant you the Sabbath will be reestablished on the new heaven and new earth, what about a command for today?

    Steve Bruecker

  • David Neely May 16, 2019, 2:24 pm

    What this teaches is that by denying the Sabbath we deny Jesus, since He is Lord of the Sabbath. The new testament shows both Jesus and His followers keeping the Sabbath when they visited the tomb Matt 28:1, Mark16:1, Luke 23:56. The Commandments are still in effect and we are commanded to keep all of them (see Michael from Sept 1). Also see Matt 5:19 ” Whoever breaks one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…”. We are told to keep all of the Commandments, including the 4th, the Sabbath.

  • David Neely May 17, 2019, 8:38 pm

    I reread your post of Sept 4 and you say it all there. ” We are all guilty before a holy God.” (and how is that guilt determined, by the Commandments. The Commandments point to sin “…I would not have known sin except through the law”…Romans 7:7… “where there is no law there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15
    He”kept the law 100%” (that includes the 4th commandment, the Sabbath. “He led the life we should have lived” (keep the law 100%, including the Sabbath). I would like to make it clear that I don’t believe the law will save us. Only faith through grace can save us, but Paul is clear “do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”
    Let’s say you were pulled over by a cop (you broke the law / sinned). He said ‘I’m not going to give you a ticket this time (grace), go and sin no more’. Does this mean the law is no longer in effect? I don’t think so. It still applies. All of it.

  • Steve May 23, 2019, 4:19 pm

    So you are saying because I don’t worship on Saturdays, I am denying Jesus, therefore I am an unbeliever. What scripture can you show me that says to trust Christ you need to observe the Sabbath? Where is Sabbath keeping a condition for salvation? Please provide a New Testament verse.

    My post quoted Exodus where anyone who doesn’t observe the Sabbath should be put to death. For you to be consistent, if the Mosaic Law is still in effect, then you need to call for the execution of billions of people. When are you going to start executing Sabbath breakers?

    None of the passages you alluded to commanded us to keep the Sabbath. In fact, Matthew, Mark, and Luke were under the Old Covenant and not the new. The James 2:10 passage leads into the issue of faith and works. True faith will show a life the resembles Christ. Universal moral laws are still in effect (even before the Mosaic Covenant) and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to follow those laws. The New Testament helps with identifying what those universal moral laws are. However, you still have not provided a single verse that says those under the new covenant need to observe the Sabbath. Where is that verse?


  • Steve May 23, 2019, 4:52 pm

    Have you read Acts 15 concerning the council at Jerusalem? What you are bringing up is exactly what some of the believing Pharisees were saying. Here are a few quotes from Acts 15. Here we see in the early church, the topic of, do believers have to follow the Mosaic covenant?

    Acts 15:5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” You sure sound like a believing Pharisee. And then Peter stands up to end the controversy…

    Acts 15:6-11 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 “Now, therefore, why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

    David, it is as if Peter is saying to you, “Now, therefore, why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

    As my post pointed out, as followers of Jesus and under the new covenant, we observe the universal moral laws, as prescribed in the New Testament. Worshiping on Saturdays falls under the Mosaic Covenant and is no longer a requirement. It is obsolete.


  • David Neely May 27, 2019, 2:43 pm

    You know Steve, the Sabbath wasn’t an issue back then. Jesus kept it, His followers kept it. Aren’t they our example? I believe it is mentioned being kept over 50 times in the new testament without any controversy. There was no discussion about whether it should be kept. It just was.
    So…to answer your question,’ are you an unbeliever if you don’t keep the Sabbath and where’s the verse?’ Jesus said “…If you want to enter life, keep the Commandments” Matt 19:17 . You may ask ‘which Commandments? “You know the Commandments; ‘ Do not commit adultery,’Do not murder’, Do not steal’…” (in other words, the ten Commandments). Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20. “If you love Me, keep My Commandments” John 14:15. “He who has My Commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me… John 14:21 If you keep My Commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Fathers Commandments and abide in His love” John 15:10. I mentioned earlier that All are to be kept, Matt 5:18, Matt 5:19. All includes the 4th, the Sabbath. I don’t know of anywhere in the new testament that does away with the Sabbath. There is nothing about “trusting Christ” but the quotes above say ” If you love Me, keep my Commandments” (All of them, including the Sabbath) …and “a condition for salvation(?)” “If you want to enter life, keep the Commandments.” Matt 19:17. No, the Commandments don’t save us…so does that mean we can go about doing anything we want knowing we will be forgiven. I don’t think so. Jesus has given us laws we are to live by (including the Sabbath). The Sabbath was established at creation, to commemorate God’s creation. God blessed it and made it Holy. It was “made for man” not just for the Jews. He included it in His moral law (the ten Commandments), its the only Commandment that begins with the word “Remember…”, Jesus is “Lord of the Sabbath”! It will be kept ‘in the new earth’. If after seeing all of this evidence, you still deny the Sabbath, then yes, I would say you are an unbeliever.
    How can you say Matthew, Mark and Luke were under the old covenant? Didn’t they follow Jesus, preach the gospel, and die martyrs to the gospel??
    These “universal” moral laws are what I call the ten Commandments. Where you combine them with the Mosaic law, I hold them separate. They were written by God where as the Mosaic laws were written by Moses. The Commandments were kept inside the ark seperate from the Mosaic laws, Ex 25:16, 21 which were kept outside the ark Deut 31:24-26. I believe the ten Commandments are unchangeable where as the Mosaic laws are changeable. That’s why we don’t stone people anymore.
    To wrap up, I believe the Commandments “are holy, righteous and good”, that Jesus wants us to keep them, all of them including the Sabbath, that they are seperate from the Mosaic laws and are unchangeable. I believe I’ve answered your questions. I don’t know what more I can say. You say the Sabbath is obsolete. As you can tell by my post, I disagree.
    I realize it’s difficult to keep the Sabbath in this day and age but people are doing it.
    I would like to thank you for providing a forum where we can discuss and learn how others believe, to see where we may be in error or perhaps show others where they may be in error. I wish for you God’s blessings.
    Sincerely, David Neely

  • Steve June 1, 2019, 11:07 am

    I too have appreciated the civil discussion. You have been very respectful and your stances are well thought out.

    Just a few points…
    1. The New Covenant was in place until Jesus goes to the cross and then resurrects. We see it officially launched during the preaching of Peter in Acts 2. It is the Old Covenant was in place throughout the life of Jesus. Then at the last supper, he announces the coming of the New Covenant: Luke 22:20 (NASB) And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” No New Covenant until the final sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Hebrews 10:14-18 (NASB) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 16 “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, 17 “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.” Your examples of Sabbath keeping only applied to the Jews during the Old Covenant.
    2. The Mosaic Law was all laws given by God to Moses, including the 10 commandments. Nowhere in the NT do we see a separation between the 10 commandments and all the other laws given by God. These were written under a theocracy and specifically given to the nation of Israel. Only Jews of that time were under these laws. Exodus 19:5-6 (NIV) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” God’s laws were written or spoken to the Nation of Israel – These laws did not apply to the Gentiles! They were held accountable to the laws God wrote on their hearts (Rom. 2).
    3. Murder, lying, stealing (and others) were wrong even before the 10 commandments. Cain was held accountable for the murder of Abel because murder was and is a universal law. He was judged by the law written by God on his heart (Rom. 2). Stealing and the rest of the 10 commandments, except the Sabbath, are universal and repeated in the New Testament. There is no command to obey the Sabbath once the New Covenant is in place.
    4. The Mosaic Covenant has ended: Hebrews 8:7-8: For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…vs.12-13 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
    5. Last point: You said I know of no commandment in the NT that does away with the Sabbath. I could say, “I know of no commandment in the NT that says that children shouldn’t be put to death for failing to honor their father and mother.” Since the Sabbath is part of the Mosaic Covenant it thus is done away with as Hebrews 8:7-8 states (above). Putting children to death for dishonoring parents was under the theocracy and for the nation of Israel only. It has been done away with and is not repeated in the NT after the New Covenant is established.

    Thanks for a lively discussion,

  • David Neely June 10, 2019, 7:43 pm

    Just to be clear, please define the old covenant ( briefly, as described in scripture) and the new covenant ( as described in scripture). Thanks

  • Steve June 17, 2019, 9:57 am

    Sorry for not posting or getting back to you. I was on vacation.

    The Old Covenant was a conditional or bilateral agreement that God made with the Israelites. The Old Covenant was in effect during the dispensation of the Law. It is “old” in comparison to the New Covenant, promised by Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 31:31, 33) and made effective by the death of the Lord Jesus (Luke 22:20). In the Old Covenant, the Israelites were required to obey God and keep the Law, and in return, He protected and blessed them (Deuteronomy 30:15–18; 1 Samuel 12:14–15). In the New Covenant, things change and God becomes the proactive and unconditional source of salvation and blessing. In the New Covenant, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

    The author of Hebrews details some of the differences between the Old Covenant and the New. The Old Covenant required repeated, daily sacrifices of animals as a reminder of the people’s sin. But “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Under the New Covenant, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (verse 10), ending the need for animal sacrifices. “Where [sins and lawless acts] have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (verse 18).

    Under the Old Covenant, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place where God’s presence dwelt—and that only once a year. But under the New Covenant, Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 10:21), “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (verse 19), and we can “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (verse 22).


    Steve Bruecker

  • David Neely June 21, 2019, 2:33 pm

    Hi Steve,
    I hope your vacation was a good one.
    Thank you for your explanation of the covenants.
    You use the term “universal law” often. I can’t find it anywhere in scripture. The “law of Moses” I find in several places. Statutes, commandments, judgements and testimonies are mentioned but no where does it definitively include the ten Commandments. The “Mosaic law” isn’t scriptural either, but we both use it (although we assign different meanings to it). It’s a common practice for denominations to develop interpretations to describe a belief. If you don’t mind, I’d like to stick to scripture to avoid any misunderstanding (I’ll make you a deal; you let me know if I’m dipping into denominational interpretation (d.i.?) and I’ll do the same for you).
    So if all the Mosaic laws of the OT are no longer in effect, exactly what laws are written on our hearts…scripture please? Are they the ones murderers use when they say “God told me to do it”.
    David Neely

  • Steve June 22, 2019, 5:55 am

    I don’t mind defining terms I use. Please provide a scripture that says when making an argument you can only use scriptural terms. Scripture, please?


  • David Neely June 23, 2019, 4:41 pm

    It’s just a suggestion. I find it easier to not have to go off subject, during a discussion, to explain a term one may or may not be familiar with. Please, continue listing the laws that are written on our hearts as described in scripture.

  • Steve June 24, 2019, 9:39 am

    We cannot escape using terms to defend our beliefs. The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible but it is a useful term to describe what the Bible teaches. The word “Bible” is not found in the Bible. Also, the fact that the scriptures are translated into English forces us to use words not found the ancient texts. We have to depend on the skills of translators to make our case. So we cannot escape using words outside the Bible. This includes words like omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent we use as examples that describe God’s attributes.

    Here in Romans, Paul says God’s law is written on the hearts of Gentiles. Romans 2:12-16 (NIV) All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,
    15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.


  • David Neely July 4, 2019, 5:55 pm

    Sorry for taking so long. I’m having trouble with the tablet. I’ll be back asap.

  • Steve July 6, 2019, 6:04 am

    No problem…I am looking forward to your reply.


  • David Neely July 6, 2019, 11:12 pm

    Continually dropping me off. It’s been good. God bless.

  • David Neely July 11, 2019, 11:24 pm

    Please forgive me for taking so long.
    All of the “keep My commandments” scripture I posted May 27 was written after the new covenant was established.
    A few requests; I would still like you to show me the scripture that your “universal moral law” comes from.
    I would also like to see the scripture that says the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses (your “Mosaic” law) were joined together as one. You say ‘show me in the NT where they are separated. I gave you the scripture showing them separate in the OT. I would say, show me scripture in the OT or the NT where they were joined together.
    I know of no scripture anywhere that does away with the Sabbath.
    The Israelites / Jews were to be a light to the nations / gentiles. IS 42:6, 49:6. Their laws were God’s laws. These laws that you are so quick to get rid of were to spread God’s government to the rest of the world. If they had been able to fulfill that covenant we would be speaking Hebrew. Their law would have been our law. We are, after all, Israelites in spirit. Rom 9:6, 7, 8.
    Item 4 (post of June 1) ” The Mosaic covenant has ended”. Heb 8:7, 8 There’s nothing there about the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments ending. The new covenant puts God’s law INTO our hearts and minds. It establishes God’s laws, not end them. I don’t see any new laws appearing, so they must be the old laws He’s putting in our hearts and minds. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial laws. So, if the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses are combined into one, like you say, then the hundreds of laws in the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments are together in our hearts and minds. If it’s as I say and the laws are separate, then it’s the Ten Commandments only.
    In the old covenant God’s laws were written down. in the new covenant God’s laws are put in our hearts and minds. The law doesn’t change. It’s the same law. The way God gives the law is what changes. Old way, written down. New way, it’s put in our hearts. Since it’s not the laws that are affected, then the new covenant itself is just a new way or method of God giving us His law. What is ‘obsolete’ is the old way / method of giving the law, not the law itself.
    You say the Sabbath is a burden but God says it’s a delight;
    “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” IS 58: 13, 14 NKJV
    ” And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” REV 12:17
    “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

  • Steve July 17, 2019, 6:54 pm

    Before I answer your last comment, I went back to something you said on May 27th. You said since I disagree with you I am an unbeliever, a pagan. What is your understanding of the gospel? Support your view with scriptures to justify saying I am an unbeliever.


  • Steve July 18, 2019, 3:52 pm

    As I have gone back over various posts you made, I have found assertions that need to be challenged. You said, “deny the Sabbath we deny Jesus since he is the Lord of the Sabbath.” How did you come to that conclusion? What does Lord of the Sabbath mean?

    From the same post, you quoted Matthew 5:19 “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” How are you doing keeping all the commandments? Have you broken any of the 613 commandments? If you are honest, you would say yes and then be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Unless you say you are perfect. Have you reached the perfection you are touting?


  • David Neely July 22, 2019, 4:12 pm

    I never said you were a pagan and I never said you were an unbeliever if you disagreed with me. I said you were an unbeliever if you denied scripture. Don’t put words in my mouth.
    You deny scripture based on your interpretation of what you call the “Mosaic law”, combining the ‘law of Moses’ with the Ten Commandments and your interpretation of what you call the “universal laws”. I’ve asked you time and again to show me the scriptures that supports these interpretations and you’ve given me nothing. I’ve asked you to give me scripture showing the Sabbath has been done away with and you’ve given me nothing. You base so much of your argument on these interpretations, yet you don’t give scripture to support them. Without scripture your interpretations are just dust in the wind, Steve.
    I’ve answered your questions and given scripture to support them. I’m done asking.
    I’m done with your changing the subject when I ask a question. That’s a cheap tactic by someone who doesn’t have an answer.
    I’m done with you putting words in my mouth.
    I’m done with scripture that contradicts itself or doesn’t apply at all.
    I’m done with your snide personal remarks and challenges.
    I’ve gained nothing by this experience. It’s been a big waste of time.
    Don’t bother with a reply, unless you like the sound of your own voice.
    I’m done.

  • Steve July 22, 2019, 5:12 pm

    I am sorry you seemed to be offended by the fact I disagreed with you. I provided answers but you ignored them. You didn’t call me a pagan but that is what an unbeliever is…and you called me an unbeliever! Two things I understand in our dialogue:
    1. You believe your personal interpretation is what the Bible teaches. If I disagree with you, I am disagreeing with Scripture. I am sorry but you were just presenting your opinion and you need to defend it as I did.
    2. By calling me an unbeliever, I realized you don’t know the gospel. I am sorry my question exposed that.

    I won’t add anything else.


  • Priscila Santos February 8, 2024, 7:10 pm

    Understanding the Differences Between Law and Grace

    Ancient City of Shiloh

    Definition of Grace

    Grace is where God initiates and provides everything necessary for salvation, and where He initiates and provides everything necessary to live as a functioning member of the Body of Christ. Your part is to believe and receive what God has already accomplished through Jesus Christ.

    The Old Testament and the 4 Gospels teach the Mosaic Law that was given to Israel; Jesus lived under this Law and taught the Law. After He fulfilled the Law by living a sinless life under it, Jesus was uniquely qualified to be the Lamb without “spot or blemish.” By His Cross, Jesus defeated sin; by His resurrection, Jesus conquered death. The Law was always intended to be a temporary measure for the Jews until Christ came. After Christ fulfilled the Law, it was no longer needed because it was based on human performance. Under grace, righteousness and righteous living come from Christ living in you, not by your own human efforts. As a member of His Body, Christ lives out His life in you and does His good works through you.

    New Covenant Grace

    Grace is based on what God has done through the finished work of Jesus Christ, not on anything you do.

    In grace, God comes to live in your born again heart. The Bible speaks of this indwelling life as “the Holy Spirit” in you (1 Corinthians 6:19) or “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27, Galatians 2:20); they both mean the same thing.

    Grace is lived out by faith; it is lived out by following what Christ in you is doing. Christ lives out His righteous life through you; you follow what He is doing by being His hands, feet and voice in the world today.

    At the Last Supper, Jesus began to reveal the true meaning of grace to His disciples (John 14-17); later, Jesus completed the revelation to the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles.

    God moved the righteousness of the Law from being an external standard lived out by human effort and performance to being an internal standard lived out by the power of Christ within (Hebrews 10:16).

    Old Covenant Law

    The Law was based on human performance (works); no one was ever able to keep the Law fully except Jesus Christ.

    The righteous standards of the Law did not disappear; rather, they were moved into the hearts of all who believe so that Jesus Christ, Himself, can live out God’s holiness (Jeremiah 31:33).

    The Law was given to Israel as a temporary measure until faith came (until Christ came) (Galatians 3:23). Once Christ accomplished all that the Father had asked of Him, the Jews were no longer under the Law (Galatians 3:25). (Note: Israel, as a nation, rejected Jesus and still live under the Law; but the number of individual Jews who have received Jesus as their Savior is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.)

    The Law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12). The Law is the opposite of faith because it is human works vs. God’s works.

    The Law causes sin to increase, not decrease (Romans 5:20); therefore, those who teach Law are inadvertently causing sin to increase.

    Sin’s power is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56); righteousness comes from the power of Christ within.

    The Law, including the Ten Commandments, ended when God raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Hebrews 8:6,13; Hebrews 10:9). If the Law was still in effect, God would judge you on your ability to live a life of perfect righteousness. With faith, you have already been made righteous by the indwelling life of Christ; your born again heart is perfect and without any sin because Christ is joined as one to you.

    After God ended the Old Covenant Law, although holy, it became the “ministry of death” and the “ministry of condemnation” because no one could keep it perfectly (see 2 Corinthians 3:6-7,8-9).

    The Law ceased to exist before salvation was ever offered to the Gentiles. If the Law was still in effect, the Gentiles would have no hope of salvation. Why? It is because the Mosaic Law was the barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11,12,13-14,15-16, especially Ephesians 2:12,14).

    Difference Between Law and Grace

    The Law focused on the standard of righteousness; it was an external standard that the Jews attempted to live out by their own human effort. Grace looks to the source of righteousness, Jesus Christ. Grace is an internal standard that is lived out by Christ, Himself, as He lives His righteous life in you and does His good works through you; you follow Him in faith.

    Why the Confusion?

    Much of the confusion about Law and grace is due to the fact that, in the four Gospels, Jesus lived under the Law and taught the Law as God meant it to be taught. Because the four Gospels are in the New Testament, people have misunderstood this as our rule of life. We are to live as Jesus did – by faith – not under the rule of law. The Apostles taught grace, not Law, in the rest of the New Testament. The Law ceased to exist after Christ’s resurrection. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged that there would be a period of transition from Law to grace; but, this applied only to the Jews.

    Hebrews 8:13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

    The completed Law allowed grace to be revealed to the whole world; now, because of grace, God is offering salvation to the Gentiles by grafting them into a salvation that is from the Jews (John 4:22). This is an essential point: Jesus came to bring salvation the Jews (Matthew 15:24). But, because the Jews rejected their Messiah (Romans 11:15), God brought the Gentiles into this salvation …

    Romans 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off (the Jews who rejected Jesus), and you, being a wild olive (the Gentiles), were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree (salvation),

    Myths About Grace and Law …

    Myth #1: If there is no law, people will be unrestrained and it will give a license to sin.
    Answer: This is wrong on more than one level. First, this thinking comes from a sin focused perspective; true Biblical faith is focused on righteousness because Jesus Christ defeated sin by His Cross. Second, the Law causes sin to increase, not decrease (Romans 5:20) because sins’ power is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).

    Myth #2: Unbelievers are under the Law while believers are no longer under the Law.
    Answer: The Law was a temporary measure given only to the Jews from the time of Moses to Christ (Galatians 3:25, Romans 10:4). Since the Law is the opposite of faith (Galatians 3:12) due to the fact that it was based on human performance, God completely ended the Law (Hebrews 8:13, 10:9). People have always had a conscience that functions in the same way as the Law did; people in all cultures know that it is wrong to kill or steal.

    Myth #3: All people are under portions of the Law, like the Ten Commandments.
    Answer: The Law was based on a person’s ability to keep the Law; grace is based on the truth that Jesus Christ already kept the Law for the people. Keeping the righteousness expressed in the Ten Commandments comes from the power of Christ within, not from human strength and determination (Galatians 2:20).

    If Grace Had Been Understood …

    “Religion” is man-made; it consists of a little grace and a lot of law. Had religion understood the transition from Law to grace, the activity of the “church” toward the world would be showing the love of Jesus Christ and offering new life in Him. All of the judgment, condemnation, political power-seeking and anti-Semitism that has been part of the history of the Christian church would never have reared its ugly head. Within the Church, there would be no divisions and no separation of clergy and laity. And, religion’s obsession with sin would give way to the truth that Jesus put away sin by His Cross (Hebrews 9:26). The Cross allowed God to forgive and forget the sins of all people for all time (Hebrews 8:12). And, the Body of Christ would express the real Jesus Christ through love and good works.

    Many claim that the Law is still in effect today; the comments on these four verses directly address why this is not true.

    Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Jesus did not abolish the Law; rather He fulfilled and completed the Law for the nation of Israel. Then, God replaced the external Law with grace, which is internal. The Old Covenant Law was a Jewish religion; New Covenant grace included, for the first time, the Gentiles. Now all people have access to God.)

    Matthew 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (All was accomplished by Christ living a sinless life, thereby fulfilling the Law.)

    Matthew 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Love is the fulfillment of the Law – see Romans 13:8,10; James 2:8.)

    Luke 24:44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” (These things were fulfilled by the sinless life, Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are about Jesus Christ.)

  • Steve Bruecker February 27, 2024, 7:17 am

    Thanks for sending this extended explanation of law and grace. Paul said it best in multiple verses in the book of Galatians. One of my favorites, Galatians 2:21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

    Steve Bruecker

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