“Law” – is a term employed around 200 times in the Bible and signifying the revealed will of God with respect to human conduct. It includes all the Divine commands and precepts for regulating man’s moral life without and within. It is used in different senses in Scripture:
- That which is enacted by man (i.e., Gen. 9:6; Matt. 20:15). Law in this aspect embraces that which established government requires of those under its jurisdiction.
- The Law of Moses. This was a divinely instituted rule of life mediated through Moses to govern God’s covenant people, Israel, in Canaan. It regulated their common, everyday conduct and was a covenant of works – Ex. 19:5-6. They were never able to keep this covenant and it will be superseded by the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-13). The Mosaic code of laws included: the commandments (Ex. 20:1-17), the judgments stipulating the social life (Ex. 21:1 – 23:33), and the ordinances, directing Israel’s worship (Ex. 25:1 – 31:18). This Mosaic system, including the Ten Commandments as a way of life, came to an end with the death of Christ – John. 1:17; Rom. 10:4. The Mosaic age was preceded (Ex. 19:4) and followed (Jn. 1:17) by grace. In the gracious dispensation inaugurated as the result of the atonement of Christ, all the Ten Commandments appear in the epistles except that regarding the seventh day and are operative not as stern “thou shalt nots” but as gracious duties and privileges of a redeemed people, possessing the dynamic of the Holy Spirit, willingly and effectively to carry out their injunctions. The Mosaic law was thus a temporary divine administration in effect only until Christ should come. It had the ministry of imparting to sin the character of transgression (Rom. 5:13; Gal. 3:19).
- Frequently it is used in the canonical sense to denote the whole or part of the Old Testament writings. In Romans 3:19a, it clearly refers to the Old Testament in its entirety; Paul has quoted from various parts of the Old Testament in the preceding context. Romans 2:17-27 use of the term Law seems to comprise the whole Old Testament also.
- Frequently the term “law” is used to designate the will of God (i.e., Rom. 3:20;4:15; 7:16, 22).
- Law is sometimes used in the sense of an operating and governing principle(i.e., Rom. 3:27; 7:21, 23; 8:2).
– Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
The following 6 Hebrew and 1 Greek word are all translated “law”:
- “dath” – means law or sentence (i.e., Deut. 33:2; Ezra 7:12)
- “choa” – means statute or decree (i.e., Genesis 47:26; Psa. 105:10)
- “chaqaq” – means to decree or grave (i.e., Prov. 31:5)
- “mitsvah” – means command, precepts, charge (i.e. Jer. 32:11)
- “mishpot” – means judgment (i.e., Psa. 81:4)
- “torah” – means direction or teaching (i.e., Gen. 26:5; Ex. 13:9)
- “nomos” – means a law, ordinance, or custom (i.e., Matt. 5:17; 2:12). It’s used exclusively in the New Testament for “law”.
Gal. 3:21-26 What was the purpose for which God gave the (Mosaic or old testament) law?
Gal. 3:11 What is a person not justified (declared righteous) by?
Rom. 7:4-7 What have the brethren/believers died to (no longer obligated to, Rom. 7:4, 6) and been released from (Rom. 7:6)?
Rom. 6:14 What are Christians not longer under?
Rom. 10:4 Who and for whom is the end of the (Mosaic/old testament) law?
“Works” (Gk. “ergon”) – is a task (e.g., Jn. 4:34), activity, deed, or act (Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 1243; Dr. L. Richards,Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 637).
Rom. 4:2-6 Whose wage is not reckoned as a favor but as what is due (Rom. 4:4)?
What did David speak of (Rom. 4:6)?
Whose faith is reckoned/counted/regarded as righteousness (being right with God), Rom. 4:5?
Gal. 2:16, 21 How is a person not justified (declared righteous), Gal. 2:16?
[“works” – Gk. “ergon”, duties enjoined/commanded – New Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 171.].
Are you trying to be made right with God by keeping the commandments of the Old Testament Law or by faith/believing/trusting in Christ Jesus (as the One whose shed blood paid for all sins so that you’re forgiven completely and will get eternal life in heaven)?
[Justification is a gift from God (Rom. 3:24) and, therefore, can’t be earned/obtained by keeping/doing the works/commands of the Law.].
Christ died needlessly, if righteousness comes through what?
Eph. 2:8-9 How are we not saved, and why?
Are you trying to get saved (be forgiven for all your sins and get eternal life in heaven) by your works (keeping any or all of the commands in the Bible, such as getting baptized?
[Another reason that salvation/eternal life is not by works (performing/doing some act or religious deed) is because it is a free gift of God (Rom. 6:23) and, therefore, can’t be earned by any human merit.].
Heb. 9:13-15 How are people’s works (i.e., duties or command-keeping) described, who seek to obtain an eternal inheritance apart from the blood of Christ?
If God views people’s works for the obtaining of an eternal inheritance as dead (of no value), how should you, and why?
Verses Relating to Faith, Belief, and Works
Isa. 64:6 To what are all the righteous deeds of a sinner compared?
If that’s the case, then why do you think that most non-Christians still try to gain God’s favor through righteous deeds?
How did you used to try to gain God’s favor, before you became a born-again believer, and why?
Jn. 6:47 Who (already) has (at that point) eternal life?
If the person who believes has eternal life, then why do some religious, “churchy” people say that believing in Jesus Christ (that His death paid for the believer’s sins and is, therefore, completely forgiven for all his sins, Col. 2:13-14) is not enough to get eternal life in heaven?
Could it be because they are like the Pharisee in Lk. 18:9-14, who had an inflated view of himself?
Jn. 3:14-16, 18, 36 Who has eternal life and is not judged?
Who has been judged already, and has the wrath of God abiding on him?
From these verses then, what is the only basis for having eternal life?
[To believe in Jesus doesn’t mean to just mentally or intellectually agree that Jesus existed or is God’s Son or historically died on the cross for mankind’s sins; rather, it means to trust in (Gk. “pistis”) the fact that Jesus is the Christ and Savior whose shed blood paid for all the believer’s sins and, thereby, gives him complete forgiveness and eternal life in heaven (Col. 2:13-14; 1:4-5; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).].
Jn. 6:28-29 What is the work/requirement (duty enjoined/commanded – New Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 171) of God that these people were told to work (Gk. “ergazomai”, meaning “do”)?
[Notice that the people asked what “works” (plural) or requirements they had to do/work to get eternal life (Jn. 6:27-28), but Jesus said that there was only one (singular) work/requirement, and that was to believe in Him.].
Jn. 11:25-27 What did Jesus tell Martha that was necessary to do in order for a person to live (eternally) even if that person dies?
[The reason Jesus includes the word “lives” along with “and believes in Me” is because a person only has this one life to believe in Jesus, once he/she dies it’s too late (Heb. 9:27).].
Jn. 20:30-31 Why were the signs (miracles) recorded in the Scriptures?
[“name” – is sometimes used figuratively, as it does here, to refer to the saving and life-giving power in Christ. A name signified the attributes, essence/nature, or characteristics of the person named – Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 776. The name “Jesus” means “Savior”, and the name “Christ” means “Messiah” or “anointed”. The Old Testament concept of the coming Messiah was that He would be God (Isa. 9:6), God’s Son (Psa. 2:7), and Redeemer (Isa. 53:1-12).].
How did you come to faith in Christ (and did hearing or reading about the miracles of Christ encourage you to believe that Jesus truly was the Son of God)?
Why would knowing of Christ’s miracles aid in someone’s belief in Jesus as the Christ?
Acts 10:38-43 What do all the prophets bear witness of concerning Jesus (Acts 10:43)?
What does it say a person simply needs to do to have forgiveness of sins?
Do you know that you have forgiveness for all of your sins?
If so, how?
What couldn’t free us from the penalty and guilt of sin (Acts 13:38-39)?
Then why do you think people still try to be forgiven through the keeping of religious laws and commandments?
Rom. 3:19-30 By what, will no person (flesh) be justified (declared righteous or right with God) in His sight (Rom. 3:20)?
How does a person obtain the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:22)?
Or how is a person justified (Rom. 3:28)?
Were you justified (brought into a right relationship with God; sins forgiven) by faith in Jesus Christ or by keeping the commands in the Old Testament Law?
Acts 15:9-11 How does this passage relate to faith and works?
[“grace” – Gk. “charis” means favor that’s unmerited – Dr. L. Richards’Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 320.].
Rom. 9:30-32 Why didn’t Israel arrive at a law (a command or group of commands, i.e., the Mosaic law) of (a function word to indicate a quality, here meaning, “that could gain a person the quality of”) righteousness, even though they pursued it?
How did the Gentiles (i.e., non-Jews) attain being righteous (right with God)?
Do you see by now that having a right relationship with God is obtained by faith and not by performing some religious, good works?
1 Jn. 5:11-13 What does a person need to do to be able to know that he/she has eternal life?
Do you know for sure that you have eternal life? Why?
Rom. 10:4 What is Christ the end of, to everyone who believes (in Jesus Christ as their Savior)?
[So Christ ended (when He was crucified for the believer’s sins) the law as a means of mankind acquiring (ceremonial) righteousness.].
Gal. 3:10-12 What is (reliance upon) the law (for salvation) not of, Gal. 3:12?
Therefore, why won’t a person be justified by the Law, Gal. 3:10?
[Unless a person kept the entire Law perfectly, he was cursed, and no one (except for Jesus) ever kept the Mosaic Law perfectly. So merely trying to mechanically comply with the Law wouldn’t justify anyone.].
Gal. 3:21-26 If a law had been given which was able to impart life, on what would righteousness have been based?
What has the Law become to us (Gal. 3:24)?
To do what (or for what purpose)?
[The time period of the law was a time of discipline, giving the Jews and any proselytes moral training until the age of grace with Christ.].
Since faith (in Christ’s death payment for the forgiveness of our sins) has come, what are people no longer under?
How does a person become a son of God (Gal. 3:26; Jn. 1:12)?
[Notice that it doesn’t say faith plus baptism or faith plus keeping any commands of the Bible, but just faith in Christ.].
Phil. 3:4-10 From where and on what basis did Paul want his righteousness to come (Phil. 3:9)?
What did Paul think about all his religious accomplishments of his past life in view of knowing Christ?
What kind of righteousness didn’t he want to have?
2 Tim. 3:15 (Rom. 10:17) What were the sacred writings (Old Testament, Jn. 5:46-47) able to give Timothy the wisdom to lead him into?
2 Tim. 1:9 How is a person not saved and called by God?
Do you think that people are saved according to their good or religious works? Why?
How is a person saved (forgiven and given eternal life in heaven)?
Titus 3:4-5 (2 Tim. 1:8-9) Again, on what basis didn’t God and did He save us?
[By now it should be extremely clear that salvation (eternal life in heaven) is obtained by trusting/believing in Jesus Christ as the Savior (the One who died to pay for all of the believer’s sins and give him/her the free gift of eternal life in heaven – 1 Cor. 1:17, 21, 23; 2:2; 15:1-4; 1 Thes. 4:14, 16; Col. 1:4-5).].
1 Pet. 1:3-9 How does a person get an inheritance in heaven (the salvation of his soul), 1 Pet. 1:3, 9?
Heb. 10:8-14 How are believers sanctified (Gk. “hagiasmos” – separated to God to be one of His children), Heb. 10:10?
And what did Jesus’ one death sacrifice/offering accomplish for the believer/those sanctified, Heb. 10:14?
Have you been perfected/made complete/fully acceptable to God for all time because of your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (Col. 1:28)?
Jas. 2:10-11 How many of God’s laws do you have to break in order to be guilty of all?
Then why would anyone ever try to become holy or not guilty through keeping all the commandments since it’s impossible to perfectly keep God’s law (Rom. 3:12), and a person does not qualify merely by trying his best or keeping most of God’s commands/law (Gal. 3:10)?
Jas. 2:14-26 There’s a big difference between a person saying/claiming to have faith and actually having faith. Just because a person says he has faith doesn’t mean that he actually/really believes. So a faith that a person merely claims/says he has, but doesn’t actually have obviously won’t save him.
Genuine faith will show/demonstrate itself by (action) good works somewhere/some time along the way of a true believer’s life. However, the degree and duration of good works will vary from believer to believer. When a believer is carnal (out of fellowship with God; living in unconfessed sin), he probably won’t be evidencing his faith by many or any good works since he will be living by his flesh or sin nature (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 7:14-27), yet this person is saved (e.g., “brethren”, 1 Cor. 3:1; 1:2).
The faith in James 2:17, 24, and 26 is the same faith as in James 2:14, a faith that a person merely claims to have, but doesn’t actually have.
As for “works” justifying someone (Jas. 2:21, 24-25), it’s only true if a person has genuine faith first. But that same person was already justified or declared righteous just by his genuine faith alone. For example, in James 2:21, it says that Abraham was justified (i.e., declared righteous) by works when he offered up Isaac, Gen. 22:9, on the altar. But Abraham was already justified/declared righteous some 30 years earlier by faith alone (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-12; Gal. 3:6). Works merely perfect (bring to a natural end or fulfillment of) one’s genuine faith.
So, it’s not faith plus works that saves/justifies, but genuine faith alone (Rom.3:28; 4:5) in Jesus Christ as his/her Savior. Works are merely the proof/evidence of one’s genuine faith.
Eph. 2:8-10 Once a person is saved by faith alone in Christ alone, what should he/she do (Eph. 2:10)?
If you’re a true believer, are you living a life of good works? Why?
Titus 3:4-8 Once we are saved by God’s mercy, justified by His grace, having believed in God/Christ as our Savior, what should we be careful to engage in (Titus 3:8)?
Are you doing this as a way of life, if you’re a true believer?