The Law and the Preposition ‘Under’

One of the biggest misconceptions within Christianity is that the old testament ‘law’ has been done away with and Christians are no longer ‘under the law’.  Though I cannot be sure from where this doctrine originated, I’m going to guess it developed from quoting only half of this sentence in Romans.

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14-15). 

In this verse, the word translated ‘law’ is the Greek nomos.   This Greek word can mean anything from general principles of law to the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah.  It’s such a general word that Strongs actually says that the meaning of the word nomos must be derived from the context in which it is used.

Within the context of the word nomos is the word ‘because’.  Because is used to introduce a word or phrase that gives an explanation or reason.  To just say “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace” is not giving the reason why.  The reason why in this verse has to do with sin no longer being the master’ of one’s life. 

Law and Justice

According to the dictionary, law is defined as “the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.”  From a Biblical perspective, it would necessary that the Kingdom of God would have a system of rules that regulates the actions of its citizens.   When one of the citizens breaks the law they receive justice for doing so. 

This is what happened in the Garden of Eden, the eternal paradise, our first glimpse at the Kingdom of God.   Adam was given one rule.  He couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If he broke the rule, the penalty was death. 

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:15).

Adam was given the command before the woman, Eve was made.  It was his responsibility to pass the one command on to his wife.  However, because she was deceived by the serpent, she at the fruit and gave some to Adam who committed the sin of disobedience.  They realized their sin in their nakedness and tried to cover it up.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7).

God was not fooled by their fig leaves.  He knew their hearts.  He saw their sin.  He cursed the serpent who deceived Eve.  He gave Eve pain in child bearing and made her desire her husband.  He cursed the ground from which Adam was made so that Adam would toil all the days of his life for food.  He proclaimed His justice on Adam’s sin: death. 

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). 

Because of Adam, everyone sins.  Because of Adam, sin and death entered the world.  Because of Adam, everyone was kicked out of the Kingdom of God.

Going Beyond God’s Boundaries

Some time ago, my son invited a friend to spend the weekend.  This friend was not a Christian, did not even believe in God.  However, he had questions he wanted answered.  Starting with the basics, I asked him to define sin.  He thought deeply for a few minutes and said, ‘doing bad things’.  Of course, my response could only be, ‘Who determines what things are bad, or good for that matter?  He replied, “Good question.”  If someone puts their faith in God, it should be God, not mankind, who makes that determination.  The foundation was laid. 

As Creator of the Universe, God gave one law to Adam.  After the flood, God gave more laws to Noah for mankind.  To Abraham, God gave laws for him and his descendants.  Through Moses, God gave 613 laws outlining how to love Him and worship Him, and how to live in a community and love your neighbor.  All of these laws from Adam to Israel have one thing in common – they are God’s laws.   In Hebrew, the word law is torah and means “teachings or instructions’ of God.  Sin is nothing more and nothing less than breaking God’s torah, His commandments, His teachings and instructions.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

God as the Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven defines sin as breaking His law or torah. Sin is ultimately disobeying His instructions and going beyond the bounds of His established desire for our behavior.  The consequences for sin, as Adam learned, is death (Romans 6:23).

In Hebrew, the word for ‘sin’ is chata.  It means ‘to miss or go wrong.’  In Greek, the word for ‘sin’ is hamartia and means ‘to miss the mark’.  This is exactly what Adam did.  He went beyond the boundaries that God established for him in Paradise, disobeyed God’s one instruction, and missed the mark.  As a result, everyone sins (Romans 3:23).  Everyone.  There is no exception to the ‘law of sin and death.’

God’s Grace and Sin

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15).

We’re under God’s grace is no excuse to continue breaking torah.  What if Adam and Eve’s conversation went something like this, “God loves us.  He created us and this beautiful garden.  We named all these animals.  He won’t kill us, besides what does that mean anyway?”  Oh, yeah, that was the serpent’s words.  Adam and Eve had no understanding of God’s grace, the power of His grace to overcome sin and even the desire to sin. 

However, because of their sin, God’s grace abounded to Adam and Eve.  He removed the leaves and covered them with garments of skin.  In order to make the garments, blood had to be shed.  Animal blood.  This set up the torah of blood for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).   His incredible grace did not stop them or their children from living in sin.  After all, Cain did kill Abel.  The incredible grace of God was probably something they told and retold their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They probably spoke often about  how they sinned against God, how He promised a Redeemer,  and how He shed the blood of an innocent animal to cover their sin.   God’s grace did not remove them from the law of sin and death nor did it change the fact that they had to live out God’s judgements for their lives in a fallen world.   God’s grace kept them alive, kept them walking in the hope of a Redeemer.   God’s grace empowered them to put the past in the past and press on toward the goal, the higher calling of God’s promised Seed that would restore all things to the way they were in the Garden, but better, the power to overcome sin and death  (Philippians 3:14).   

Victory Over Sin and Death

“Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the law of sin and death  (Romans 8:2).

The law of sin and death brought on by Adam’s disobedience to God’s one instruction was destroyed by the Seed of woman, the Messiah Yeshua.  Through his death his blood atoned for sin and brought forgiveness.   Through his resurrection, he destroyed the power of death.  When Yeshua ascended into the heavenly realm, his Father poured out His Spirit in order to begin the restoration process.    Those who were born again of the Spirit of God re-entered the His Kingdom with the power to overcome sin and disobedience to torah – the same power that resurrected Yeshua from the dead.   They would no longer live as slaves to sin and disobedience to God’s laws.   They would no longer be under the condemnation the law because they were set free from the law of sin and death by faith in work of Messiah Yeshua.  They were now free to live out the Torah of the Spirit, the spiritual torah written on their hearts that begins the restoration of all things. 

“In fact, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed (the Spirit)  remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 5:18).

©2013 Tent Stake Ministries

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