Doesn’t the Bible teach that we must keep the law of Moses?


I grew up in the church and Christianity, and all the while I was taught that we don't have to keep the Law that was told to Moses or what the Jewish call the Torah. However, I came across multiple scriptures that made me question whether the law really was done away with. Here are the scriptures I came across. Maybe you can help me out.

First Scripture says that we must worship in Spirit and in truth. "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). So what is truth? "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (Psalms 119:142). Here's another verse that struck me, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19).

When I asked my family and friends about these scriptures all they could give me is that all we need to believe, is to have faith but I remembered reading the following: "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law" (Romans 3:31).

If God hates sinners, and sinners cannot make it into the kingdom how do we refrain from sin? Many people who I asked said to just refrain from sexual immorality and do not murder or steal but for some reason that didn't add up to me.

  • "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).
  • "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. 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" (Romans 2:12-13).
  • "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).
  • "What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." " (Romans 7:7).

So John says that sin is the transgression of the law, and Paul says that if it was not for the law we would not have known what sin is.


The mistake you are making is assuming that any reference to "law" refers to the Law of Moses. There is the Law of Moses (Acts 15:5), but there is also the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). There is also the law of the husband (Romans 7:2-3) because law and covenant are synonymous terms. "They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law" (Psalms 78:10). Thus, when reading a passage that deals with "law," you first must determine which law is being discussed or whether this is a statement about law in general.

Yes, all law from God is truth. The law given by God through Moses and the prophets is truth (Psalms 119:142). The law that came through Christ and the apostles is also truth (I Peter 1:22). One of the truths of the law of Moses was that it had a limited lifespan. "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). This particular prophecy becomes the foundation for an extensive discussion on why God changed the law in Hebrews 7:11-10:25.

Matthew 5:17-19 is explained in The Sermon on the Mount: The Law.

Romans 3:31 is making a point that faith does not make the law useless. (See: Is Paul saying that only if we don't work then God will make us righteous?) It is the same point Paul said in, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). But usefulness in some things does not bring us to the conclusion that the law is able to save. That is the point of Romans 3:20 which you also cited.

I John 3:4 gives us a definition of sin. Sin is the breaking, or more specifically going beyond the boundaries of, law. This definition is true whether you are talking about the Jews living under the Law of Moses or Christians living under the Law of Christ.

Romans 2:12-13 is dealing with the question of whether Gentiles could be saved when they did not have the Law of Moses as the Jews did. Paul's point is that righteousness is defined by the law but the law does not make righteousness exist. Righteousness still exists whether the law is there or not.

After proving that the Old Law had to "die" so that the Jews could be brought under the law of Christ, "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another -- to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God ... But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:4,6), Paul tackles the objection that he is arguing that the Law of Moses was sinful. "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet" " (Romans 7:7). In other words, the law was not sinful (Romans 7:12), but it did define what was sinful and in doing so condemned all the followers of the law because the Law of Moses could not save. "Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. ... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:13, 24). The answer is not found in the law of Moses but in Christ. "I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25).

Paul's arguments against the Law of Moses do not lead to the conclusion that Christians are not under any law. Paul points out that he is "not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ" (I Corinthians 9:27). We are not under the old law of bondage, but we are under the law of liberty that is found in Christ.

"Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:21-25).

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