As we continue our study of the child of God and grace, we must understand the concept of law as taught in the New Testament. Again, this is a source of much confusion in the religious world today. Some turn to Romans 6:14 ("For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.") and justify their position that we are not under any religious law today. But Paul also states "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:25) So within a matter of a few verses Paul states that we are not under law but under grace, but that he served the law of God with his mind. So, are we under no law whatsoever today, or are we under a different law than the one the nation of Israel received? Let's look to the scriptures and determine the answer.
Nomos: A noun; translated "law" 197 times in the New Testament.
Agoraios: An adjective; translated "law" once in the NT.
Douleuo: A verb; translated "serve", "be in bondage", "do service"
Doulos: A noun; translated "servant", "bond", "bondman"
Latreuo: A verb; translated "serve", "worship", "do the service", "worshipper"
Diakoneo: A verb; translated "minister unto", "serve", "minister", and 5 other miscellaneous terms.
Hupereteo: A verb; translated "serve", "minister unto", "minister"
Parabasis: A noun; translated "transgression", "breaking"
Parabaino: A verb; translated "transgression", "fall by transgression"
Parabates: A noun; translated "transgressor", "breaker", "transgress"
Anomia: A noun; translated "iniquity", "unrighteousness", "transgression of the law"
Anomos: An adjective; translated "without law", "transgressor", "wicked", "lawless", "unlawful"
One can see that the concept of "law" and obedience to law is complex. Before we proceed I'd like to list the definition given for nomos and the usages behind it:
Anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command
of any law whatsoever
a law or rule producing a state approved of God 1a
by the observance of which is approved of God
a precept or injunction
the rule of action prescribed by reason
of the Mosaic law, and referring, acc. to the context. either to the volume of the law or to its contents
the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love
the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the OT
So what must be true for us to be under no religious law of any kind today?
God must have established nothing for us to obey, and
We must have received no example, custom, or law to obey, and
God must have given us no commandment with an actual or implied requirement for obedience.
If we can show each of these to be true, then the statement that we are under no religious law of any kind today will be proven true. However, if we can find a commandment, custom, law, or example with an implied or actual requirement for obedience, then we are (by definition) under religious law today.
Everyone is familiar with the law of Moses. We've studied the group of people to whom this law was given, and understand this group to be the nation of Israel. We also understand that this law ceased being a valid covenant between God and man at the death of Jesus. Should you wish to review this topic please link to my study on the Old and New Covenants. However, is the law of Moses the only law we find recorded in the scriptures? Let's see if there are any other scriptures that record a "law of..." someone/something other than Moses.
Since we understand the purpose of the OT today is for our learning and not for religious authority I'm going to limit this discussion to the NT. However, there are several scriptures recording a "law of..." in the OT. For example, Leviticus 7:37 records 6 laws: "This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings;". These were all part of the law given to Moses on Sinai, and therefore were a part of the law of Moses. Each of them was a commandment unto itself, and would have to have been obeyed before an Israelite could be considered faithful to the entire law of Moses. James tells us of the need to keep each part of the law of Moses to be considered faithful in chapter 2, verses 10 and 11 of his letter: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law."
Now lets turn to the New Testament. In the covenant under which we live today we read of the following laws:
The law of Moses (Luke 2:22 among others)
The law of the Lord (Luke 2:23, among others)
The law of the fathers (Acts 22:3)
The law of the Jews (Acts 25:8)
The law of works (Romans 3:27)
The law of faith (Romans 3:27)
The law of a woman's husband (Romans 7:2)
The law of God (Romans 7:22)
The law of the mind (Romans 7:23)
The law of sin (Romans 7:23)
The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2)
The law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)
The law of righteousness (Romans 9:31)
The law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)
The law of a carnal commandment (Hebrews 7:16)
The perfect law of liberty (James 1:25)
The royal law (James 2:8)
Wow! 17 different laws spoken of in the NT! Recall how Leviticus 7:37 recorded 6 different laws, each of which was a part of the law of Moses? Our next task is to determine whether each of these 17 represent a part of the law of Moses, or are they something different. If they are part of the law of Moses, they don't apply to us today. If they are not, then we must determine their applicability to us today.
I have listed each of the above laws in the table below. In the second column you will find a "Y" or "N". The passages that refer to the law of Moses will have a "Y" in the second column. If a passage does not refer to this covenant, there will be an "N". Some laws may have been part of the law of Moses and have been brought forward to us today by Christ or one of the apostles or prophets who recorded the words of God through the Holy Spirit. If we find such a law, it will have a "Y" and "N" listed after it. Rather than re-type the name of each law, I'll refer to it by its number in the above list: