“Abraham didn’t exist before the Law. The Law was in existence from the Garden of Eden, though at that time there was only ONE Law: Don’t eat from the forbidden tree. Other Laws were added as needed and passed down orally. For instance: Yudah was born and died well before the Law was written down by Moses. Yet Yudah knew the Law that said he was to give his other sons to Tamar to raise up a son for his first son when that first one died. Abraham knew the Law about tithing. Noah knew the Laws about clean animals to eat. Abel knew the Law about sacrificing animals. Joseph knew about adultery. Job knew about giving to the poor. Everyone, including all of Sodom, knew the Law against homosexuality. Reuben knew the Law about not having sex with his father’s ‘wife’. Etc, etc, etc. YHWH had Moses write the Law down merely because obviously no one was ‘getting it’!”
Now is this statement true?
Well for us to appreciate this let us look at:
King James Version (KJV)
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Paul clearly shows that what Adam had done was not a breach of law but sin. Paul thus clearly in this verse states that the law did not exist from Adam to Moses. The eating of the forbidden tree as such was NOT a breach of Law.
Did Abraham follow the Law?
People argue that Abraham followed the Law and say “Genesis 26:5 …..’Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.’ ….. What did Abraham do (before Sinai)? He KEPT GOD’s COMMANDMENTS!! So how can anyone say the law of God didn’t exist before Sinai, when Abraham KEPT God’s law?”
Let’s look at this passage very carefully. Look at verse 3 onwards:
“3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Look at the context of the statement. Abraham’s so called obedience to commandments, statues and laws is base on one event. Let’s look at the event.
15 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Many years later Paul speaks about this in Romans 4
King James Version (KJV)
4 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Paul is saying that Abraham was reckoned to be righteous because he believed God and God credited his righteousness to him.
Hence how did Abraham “obey my voice, and keep my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”?
By his belief. Abraham thus was deemed to have obeyed all these by his belief. He did not keep any Law. He was righteous by faith.
Paul argues further that Abraham was never under the Law in the following verses:
“13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”
Notice here Paul state chronologically the Law had yet to exist.
If Abraham obeyed the law of Moses, he would have been unfaithful, because he would have refused to sacrifice his son. And on the other hand, if Moses had tried to obey the command given to Abraham, then he would have also been unfaithful. The specific forms of obedience change, but the thing that remains constant is that God requires a heart of faith and a willingness to obey.
What about Joseph?
How did Joseph know what he did was wrong?
Let’s look at the chapter and verses again:
New International Version (NIV)
6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Many use to argue that the law against adultery existed even to show Joseph that it is against the law. However, a careful reading shows you that Joseph refuse because of 3 reasons:
a) That it was an ungrateful thing to do against his master as the master had been so kind to him.
b) Potiphar had held her against Joseph. So it was his direct command that Joseph cannot touch his wife.
c) That it was a wicked thing to do against God. Note in Genesis 41:37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a]?” So did Joseph know because he knew the big 10? No it was because he knows the Spirit of God!
What about Sodom?
It must be noted that homosexuality became a law in:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
The people in Sodom was judged not for their homosexuality but because they were wicked and sin greatly against God. It is pertinent to note that man had taken the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Hence they would know what is good and evil.
New International Version (NIV)
13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
Ezekiel tells us that this sin was not homosexuality but:
New International Version (NIV)
49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
Homosexuality was merely one of the sins in Sodom.
Also when we read Jude, we read that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s grace and not God’s law.
“They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord..….. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”
What about Job?
Why did Job give? Look at chapter 1
“4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.”
He did not give because there is a law for giving but that he thought that God would kill his children. Job while a godly man was a theological inaccurate man. Note that God did not kill his children. Satan did. God did not give and take away. God gave. Satan took away.
It was Job’s idea to give, it was his custom.
What about Reuben?
In Leviticus 20:11 if you sleep with your father’s wife, the Law says you must be put to death. Both your father’s wife and the violator.
Did Reuben die?
He did not. He lost his birthright.
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
So if the Law had existed then, he would be stoned to death with Jacob’ concubine.
Now how did they know what is right and wrong? Because of 2 things, they knew it from eating the tree of Good and Evil. God taught them. They listened to his voice. He taught them. The codification of the law into stones was never God’s idea.
Why then did God give us the Law?
“20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
So that sin increases!
But what happens when sin increases? Grace super increases.
How does sin receive its power?
7 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.”[a]
8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.
You see the problem is not with the law. It is you. Sin in you. So the law is design to bring sin out from you. So that you know you are a sinner.
The commandment gives sin its strength over you.
10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
So the law is to show you up. It is to expose you. It is to bring sin out from you. Hence to bring out the acts of the sinful nature from you. So the Law appeals to your flesh.
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[b] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[c] a slave to the law of sin.
So what then is the flesh? It is this “trying to impress God by human effort under the law of Moses”. Paul writes about that.
Galatians 2:15-16 The Message (MSG)
15-16We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know?
We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
Paul thank God for him tells us to move away from the Law to be a God man. He speaks from his experience having spend his whole life to try to impress God. How then does a person sow in the Spirit rather than the flesh?
Paul tells us:
Galatians 2:19-21 The Message (MSG)
19-21What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.
My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.
The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Spirit vs Flesh
3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?[a] 4 Have you experienced[b] so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
See how Paul describes the relationship between the law and the flesh. The works of the law and the means of the flesh is the same thing! In fact the following verse, Paul describes how by sowing into the law, you reap destruction.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f]
As such, it is logical and Biblical, when you introduce the law you introduce sin. If that is the case, to remove the flesh, you remove the law. This is what God did. Dear friends, may I humbly shock you, you do not have a sinful nature anymore if you are a believer. Paul says that our sinful nature has already been cut off. It happened when God nailed the law to the cross. When He did that, he also cut off the flesh from you.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alivewith Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[e]