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“There is One Law”
God gave the children of Israel 613 distinct laws by his servant Moses, 613 specific commandments, 613 detailed, meticulous regulations of life and worship. Men divide those commandments into sections, trying to fit God into their own little box. Men speak of “the moral law,” “the ten commandments,” “the Levitical law,” “the ceremonial law,” “the dietary laws,” and “the civil law.” But God says, with regard to all the sacrifices and all the laws given to Israel, “there is one law.”
The whole law of God given in the Old Testament Scriptures has one purpose. That purpose is to make known to us our need of Christ as our only, sin-atoning sacrifice, by whom alone sinners can approach the holy Lord God and be accepted (Romans 3:19-26). The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, to shut us up to Christ. It has no other lawful purpose, no other lawful function, and no other lawful usefulness.
The law is an unbearable yoke of bondage. Religious people have a foolish and deadly enchantment with the law of God. In many houses of worship the ten commandments are written out in large, bold letters and hung upon a wall in some conspicuous place for all to read. There are some churches where every Sunday the congregation mournfully chants, “Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep thy law.” Some are even so foolish as to enter into a covenant for their children and vow before God that “They shall keep God’s holy commandments and walk in them all the days of their lives.” The pulpit, which should proclaim freedom and liberty in Christ, lays a heavy yoke of bondage upon people which they cannot bear. Men and women are taught from their youth up to groan under the yoke of the law and to labor after righteousness where it can never be found.
The law of God, including the ten commandments, was never intended by God to produce righteousness of any kind, to justify sinners, or to be a rule of life for God’s people in this world. The law was given to convince us of our sin, to condemn us for sin, and to show us our need of a substitute. But it was never intended to be a means of attaining righteousness. Just the opposite is true. The law was given to convince us of the impossibility of attaining righteousness by our own works (Galatians 3:10). Preachers make a mixture of the law and the gospel and serve out the deadly poison with such regularity that the people are so stupefied that they do not know the difference. In most places, for every ounce of gospel preached, there is a pound of law! That will never do. If the message of the pulpit is not all gospel, all mercy, all grace, there is no soundness in it.
“There is one law!” The whole revelation of God in the law is designed to teach us one law. — “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 3:23).