Was the law given by Moses? Yes indeed and it could not save anyone. Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
Can one obtain life or righteousness by the law? Many misconstrue that if they order someone to do something repeatedly, somehow they will eventually become disciplined people. However, rules do not change a person. They can only point out what is wrong. Therefore, righteousness will never come by the law, nor has it ever come by the law.
On Moses in saving and giving grace
Moses did give the children of Israel the rules of God, but only Jesus Christ gave them life, and the only way life could be attained is through God’s grace alone. Furthermore, the only way a man can be made righteous is by faith alone.
Ephesians 2:7-10 says, “That in the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The law is righteous and Paul concluded that God had ordained for us to walk in those he had appointed us to walk in. We read in Galatians that “If there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:21, 22). David said, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7). And Paul also said, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7). Therefore, the law made him aware of his unrighteousness and need of a saviour.
One might wonder if the law is so good, just, righteous, and holy, why then is it against me? Why is Paul telling us that righteousness does not come by the law? Well, the truth of the matter is, because the law has no power to do anything, but to condemn, imprison, and hold in bondage one who has broken it. It can only point out that we are filthy, unrighteous, carnal, lost, and in need of salvation.
We need to be saved from its penalty, which is against us. Not salvation in sin, but salvation from sin. We need the power of God to keep us from sin, which is transgression of the law.
Matthew 1:21 then states, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” The law only condemned people and instilled in them the need of a saviour, the need to be free from their bondage to sin. It emphasized that people were lost without Christ. Therefore though Moses gave the law, it did not save them. It only condemned them.
Was this only pointed out until Jesus was made flesh? Or has the law been forever the same?
Grace and Truth From the Beginning
Many, upon reading the following text that “…grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:18), have concluded that “grace and truth” came at the time of the cross and that before the cross, everyone only had laws. They thought that after the cross, they are no longer under a system of law, and therefore need not know, study, learn or keep the law. This couldn’t be further from the truth or from the gospel.
Let’s read the context.
John 1:14 writes, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
We are told that the word is full of “grace and truth,” and that when the word dwelt among us, we saw and beheld that “grace and truth” made flesh. But before the word was made flesh, he existed in the form of God and was equal with God. Was he not “grace and truth” before he “was made flesh?” How long has that “grace and truth” existed? The answer is found, but a few verses earlier.
According to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Consequently, we can certainly conclude that “grace and truth” have existed since “the beginning.” As to when that beginning is, humanity cannot comprehend it, thus it is best left as it is.
The word is full of grace and truth. God spoke his word at Mount Sinai, therefore what was spoken at Mount Sinai was full of grace and truth. However, without seeing Jesus Christ in it, they could not see the grace and truth present in that word as 2 Corinthians 3:14-15 points out: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.”
This form of blindness exists until today. They can’t see Jesus Christ in Moses’ writings. The scripture further tells us where this is stemmed from:
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
Grace and Truth Given to Israel
Though the law was given to Israel to specify their sins, the belief that they were left to attain righteousness by the law until the cross, holds no bearing. If righteousness came by the law, even back then, Christ must have then died in vain. Therefore, grace must have been given before the cross and indeed, it was given.
After the Israelites had promised to keep the law of God, Moses went up to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone. Upon his return, they had made a graven image and went whoring from their God. After this, God spoke with Moses, saying that he would reveal his glory to Moses. This glory is a revelation of his grace (see Exodus 33:13-19, 34:6, 7, 14, 15).
Exodus 34:6-7 reads, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:9 also supports this claim: “Moses had found grace in the sight of the LORD.” We further read in John 1:17 that “Grace… came by Jesus Christ.”
The law did not save Moses. When Grace came for Moses, he was no longer under the condemnation of the law.
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:15).
Moses was not “under the law,” but “under grace.” Many would say that “under the law” refers to a dispensation of time where God put his people under a system of law, and they were not “under grace.” This is not true. It is a misapplication and misunderstanding of the term “under the law.” God has not left his children without grace even when he gave the law at Sinai. Grace and truth were given then, as much as they are given today to anyone who will receive it.
If we are preaching that somehow God had a system of law before the cross without grace, we are teaching “righteousness by the law,” and if this was ever possible, then “Christ died in vain”(for nothing). Why did Christ die on the cross if it were possible to attain righteousness through the law before the cross?
If the law before the 31AD had righteousness, and we could have just tried our best and overcame without the power of grace, the gospel, and the cross, then Christ did not need to die.
Grace and truth most certainly did come by Jesus Christ, even to the patriarchs and prophets. And if we are teaching that God ordained a different system, whereby righteousness was to be attained before the cross, then why not say that there was also no “truth” before the cross?
How then do we relate to the law today? Does the law condemn those who are violating it? Absolutely. Is the law good? Absolutely. Is it the truth? Absolutely. And if we look carefully, we will see that the demand for breaking the law is death, and that this demand was satisfied by our Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon himself our penalty for violating that law. Now that we are no longer under the condemnation of the law, are we going to break the law? God forbid. Absolutely not (see Romans 6:14, 15, 23).
One might be quick to judge that I am only stirring things up, but I tell the truth of the gospel; the same gospel yesterday, today, and forever – that our God is good and that He does not change. We can even behold His glory just as Moses did when he said in Exodus 33:17, “Shew me thy glory.” The truth must be told and I believe I am only following the steps of my Redeemer who was shut out of the synagogues Himself.
Luke 11:13 says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
Men like Moses were justified by faith and before faith came, he was kept under the condemnation of the law – a slave to sin, guilty and condemned by it. But after its advent, Moses refused to be called a child of a pharaoh’s daughter, and was thus redeemed from under the law. He then became a child of the most high, born again of the spirit of his Son, whereby he was a child of His Father and Abba, God (Galatians 3:23-25, 4:1-6, 5:18, John 3:3-12, Hebrews 11:24-25). He then had come to accept the grace and truth, which was given since the world began.
According to 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
Indeed the word is truth. The word is full of grace and truth. The word is from the beginning; therefore the dispensation of grace is from the beginning.