What is really to be under the law? It is to be under the authority of the law of Jehovah. It is to fulfill the Ten Commandments, that is, to be a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). It is to be under the precepts of the law, that is, of hundreds of ordinances of behavior. It is to be under the slavery of the law, for the apostle Paul says: “Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don’t you listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the free woman. However, the son by the handmaid was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. These things contain an allegory, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children” (Gal. 4:21-15). To be under the law is to be under the righteousness of the law. About the righteousness of the law, Paul wrote: “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who didn’t follow after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, didn’t arrive at the law of righteousness. Why? Because they didn’t seek it by faith, but as it were by works of the law” (Rom. 9:30-32). Paul had said before: “Now we know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God. Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20). Terrible! The righteousness of the law does not justify anyone, and if it does not justify it is because it does not make perfect. Therefore, the letter to the Hebrews says: “For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Heb. 7:18-19). It is difficult to understand or believe that God gave a useless and weak law that does not make perfect. Thanks to God the Father, though, who sent his only begotten Son to fulfill the law and redeem us from the curses of the law (Gal. 3:13).
There is more under the law that we must know:
1. Those under the law do not have Jesus Christ; therefore, even though they know Christ, they are lost. Paul said: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain those who are under the law” (1 Cor. 9:20).
2. What is grace? It is benevolence, favor, mercy, and forgiveness. Paul said: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). This means that God, loving men, forgives them in Christ (1 John 2:12). In Christ, he makes men his heirs: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16-17). Everyone should know that whoever comes under the law loses everything. Once more it is Paul who speaks by the Holy Spirit, saying: “Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. For we, through the Spirit, by faith wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:1-6). If by placing oneself under the law one loses the grace and loses Jesus Christ, grace does not belong to Jehovah, for he continues to condemn. Plus, if those that place themselves under the law miss the grace, those that were already born under the law were born predestined to disgrace.
3. All those who are of the works of the law are under the curse, for it is written: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them’” (Gal. 3:10). If the power of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56), and if the passions of sins are caused by the law (Rom. 7:5), it is impossible for men not to sin, and therefore they remain under the curses of the law, which are found in Deut. 28:15-68. The only way out is to exit from under the law through the grace there is in Christ.
4. Those under the law are not justified before God (Rom. 3:20). And why is this? Because justification is possible only under Christ: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Justification does not come by the death on the cross, but by the resurrection. The law can only condemn; it never justifies anyone. Therefore Moses said: “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, that it may be there for a witness against you” (Deut. 31:26).
5. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children” (Deut. 4:4-5). In the Old Testament all were under the law and were not children of God, for to be children of God they would have to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, to afterwards be adopted as children. What boggles the minds of Christians is that when they read the Old Testament they find the children of Jehovah there (Gen. 6:2; Deut. 14:1, 32:19-20; Is. 1:2, 30:9, 63:8; etc.). Not being born again, they were all children of Jehovah (John 3:3-6). Without the justification of Christ and the resurrection, they were children of Jehovah. Those were not legitimate children of God the Father, but children of Jehovah, since as true children of God they receive the adoption through Christ (Gal. 4:4-5).
Paul uttered a great truth: “For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira