August 2017           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


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What ARE The Works of The Law?

As I pondered what to put into this article, I had many thoughts. I've heard religious people say something like, "Well, we don't have to keep the Law. It was done away and we are not under 'the works of the law.' " They would imply (and some have even said it) that keeping the law is sin.

Is it? What law? What ARE the "works of the law?" Is it something bad? Or is it just something one has heard preachers, pastors, pulpit-pounders, and bible-thumpers say about it?

I can almost hear it now! The preacher is in the pulpit, pounding upon the lectern, his head shaking from side to side, the spittle spraying from his mouth as he screams --- "Christ did it for us-huh!! We ain't under the law now-huh!!! We're FREEEEEE from that old LAW-huh!!!!" Then as he comes down from his high, he begins to get a little quieter and tells his listeners that "keepin' th' law puts you under th' law, an' you cain't earn salvation by keepin' that ol' burdensom' law-huh."

Well, does he know what he's talking about? Is God's Law a burden? Did Jesus keep it for us and now it doesn't matter what we do?

I think any one with a modicum of common sense realizes that a Christian isn't allowed to do just ANYTHING he wants to do. Are there things a Christian must do? Do you know? Or do you just sit in the back pew and let the preacher tell you what to believe without even doing as the Bereans did? Yes, I mean checking up on him!! Is he telling you the truth? How do you know? Do you even read your bible? And if you do, are there parts that you "just can't understand" so you tend to stay away from THOSE parts of the bible?

Just what are "the works of the law?"

Is it keeping the Ten Commandments? Is it observing God's Holy Days? Is it keeping the Sabbath?

Do you KNOW?

Well, I intend to answer those questions but I'm going to go into some other things before I tell you what are the works of the law.
(All emphasis and inserted explanations are by the editor).

Jesus, Himself, said,

"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15.

Did Jesus know what He was talking about? Was He the Son of God, or wasn't He?

The Apostle John said,

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3.

John KNEW the Commandments weren't a heavy burden, as many today try to portray!

Long after Jesus was killed, the Apostles and disciples preached the keeping of the Ten Commandments. John was still preaching it sixty years after Jesus' death. Didn't he realize the commandments had been "nailed to the cross?"

All these people weren't fooled. They knew the laws had not been abolished, and must be kept.

Abraham, the father of the faithful, kept God's commandments, statutes, and laws and he was called God's friend.
King David kept God's law, and God said David was a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22)

Well, is there anything a Christian MUST DO other than ‘just believe’? Jesus said there was.

In the parable of the sower and the seed:

Lu 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, KEEP IT, and BRING FORTH FRUIT (work) with patience.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will KEEP my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (They will live in us through the Holy Spirit.)

Ac 16:4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees (Decrees delivered by Jesus to the Apostles and Elders for the people) FOR TO KEEP (to work at), that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. .

Ac 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I MUST BY ALL MEANS KEEP THIS FEAST (One of the feast days mentioned in Lev. 23) that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.

1Co 9:27 But I KEEP UNDER my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Mt 3:8 BRING FORTH therefore fruits (works) meet (suitable) for repentance:

Mt 7:16 Ye shall know them BY THEIR FRUITS (works). Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Mt 7:20 Wherefore BY THEIR FRUITS (works) ye shall know them. (Their fruits are the things they DO.)

There is SO MUCH written about what a Christian MUST DO after he becomes a new man!!
There are commandments, statutes, and laws to keep-- all through scripture. I realize, however, that a lot of people won't accept what the Old Testament says because they even believe IT was DONE away also! And yet, the whole New Testament is based upon and founded upon The Old Testament!!

Paul told Timothy that the scriptures were able to make him wise UNTO SALVATION.

2 Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The only scriptures they had at the time was the Old Testament.

If they can make one wise UNTO SALVATION, why throw them away?? Of course, they weren't done away. God didn't do that, but the people did!!

It is just that people want to throw away anything that makes them feel guilty, or that commands them to DO SOMETHING!!!

There are also works that we must NOT DO!!

A few of them follow.

II Tim. 3:1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, scripture is full of WHAT TO DO, and WHAT NOT TO DO!! It is just that people want to hide their eyes from the truth(Mat. 13:11) and go on their merry way, not realizing that JUDGMENT is not too far away now!

We have talked about some of the things we must do, and some of the things we must not do. What about these works of the law? They weren't mentioned in any of the scriptures I printed above, were they?

Let's look at the scriptures that cover this subject. They are all in the New Testament.

Ro 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

Who are we talking about here? Verse 31 shows that it is Israel. In the wilderness, after God brought them out of Egypt, they were reminded of the Law of Righteousness (that's the Ten Commandments for all you who are wondering - Ps. 119:172 "... for ALL thy commandments are righteousness.") and went about breaking it from the start. God began by telling them about the weekly Sabbath and what they must do. The weekly Sabbath is God’s test commandment.

They WOULD not keep the commandments!

God agonized over it by saying,

De 5:29 O that there were such an heart (a mind) in them,that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

Notice the words "keep" and "always" and "commandments" and "for ever."

Matt 13:15 For this people's heart (mind) is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. KJV)

Notice THEY closed their eyes!!! They could have obeyed, but WOULD NOT.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (KJV)

Those two DID obey! They were human, and yet they kept ALL the commandments!

Ga 2:16 Knowing that a man is NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ (in His Words AND His sacrifice), that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

What does "justified" mean anyway? HOW IS one "justified?"

Strong's concordance says: 1344 dikaiow dikaioo dik-ah-yo'-o from 1342; TDNT-2:211,168; v

AV-justify 37, be freed 1, be righteous 1, justifier 1; 40
1) to render righteous or such he ought to be
2) to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered
3) to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

Definition three is the one that fits the context of the verse. A person who has been justified is one whom God has declared and pronounced to be just and righteous.

Yes, a person is justified by faith (the staunch belief that Jesus' sacrifice PAID FOR OUR SINS).

Rom 3:23 For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace (God's unmerited pardon) through the redemption (salvation because of His sacrifice) that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance (long-suffering and patience) of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith (believing in the sacrifice of Jesus).
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Let me throw another scripture in here to make that verse even more clear.

1 Co 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God (IS something - editor).

Now back to Romans 3:

verse 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (the Ten Commandments).

That faith is given to us by God:

Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Yes, the faith to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made by giving His Life upon the 'cross' is a gift from God.

We then must begin to OBEY Him, or we will NOT receive His Holy Spirit!!

Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost (Gr. Pneuma: Spirit), whom God hath given to them that obey him.

We can ONLY receive His Holy Spirit IF we OBEY HIM!!!

Remember also that I mentioned the SACRIFICE of Jesus in the context here.

Ga 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Whoa!! Wait a minute! The scriptures just said God gives His Holy Spirit to them that obey Him! It takes hard WORK TO BE OBEDIENT!!

In verse 2 it is asking if we receive the Holy Spirit by "the works of the law" or by the hearing of "faith."

Contradiction? No. The "works of the law" are NOT the Ten Commandments. The "works of the law" are other laws at which we need to look.

Remember this: IF THERE SEEMS TO YOU TO BE A CONTRADICTION IN SCRIPTURE, it is simply because YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!!!

Ga 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Ga 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse (the curse of the sacrificial law): for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

The Israelites were commanded to obey all the laws which God had given Moses on the mountain, and it was those laws that the Israelites COVENANTED WITH GOD to observe and keep! This included the Ten Commandments and all the civil laws and ordinances which Moses wrote in a book and placed in the side of the Ark of Testimony (Ark of Covenant). This is the book which the Priests read from each weekly Sabbath.

God doesn't give His Holy Spirit to someone because they are doing "the works of the law!" (ie. those animal sacrifices) He gives it to those who, BY FAITH, keep His commandments, statutes, and laws.

Yes!! That's right!! There are different laws mentioned in the bible!

"Gedouttahere," you might say, "I thought there was just the Ten Commandments. That's all my preacher every told me about!"

And THAT is one of the problems! Your preacher said "Just Believe!" He didn't bother to tell you what believing encompassed. He didn't tell you that BELIEF was a staunch hope that God would do as He promised (and had the power to do so) if you obeyed Him! Rather than read, study, pray and meditate about God's Word themselves, people tend to do it the "easy way" and let someone else tell them what to believe.

It is also just possible, THAT way of doing things could cause a person to lose his eternal life!!

What about you?

Do YOU do your bible study by letting someone else "tell you what it says?"
If that is YOUR way, please read and REMEMBER 1Thes. 5:21!!

1 Thes. 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

We are also to DO as those in Berea did. We MUST prove ALL things!

Acts 17:10 ¶ And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Gal 3:10 above talks about a curse. What curse? Why the CURSE of the LAW OF SACRIFICE!!

Well, I won't keep you guessing any longer. I've mentioned it several times in the writing above.

The Works of the Law are the sacrifices that God placed upon the children of Israel because of their disobedience to His Ten Commandments.

These were ADDED to the ordinances that God gave Moses (the Law of Moses) for the governance of the Children of Israel.

Ga 3:19 “Wherefore then serveth the law? (That law of sacrifice)It was added because of transgressions, (the breaking of the 10 Commandments), till the seed should come to whom the promise was made (Jesus Christ); and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”

They could NOT have been added to the 10 commandments because Moses plainly stated that God added NOTHING to the Ten Commandments!

Deut. 5:22 “These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: AND HE ADDED NO MORE. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.”

That ordinance (the Law of Sacrifice) was what was NAILED to the cross with Jesus.

Col. 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
Eph. 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”
Heb. 9:10 “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.”

The sacrifices were placed upon them for an expensive burden to remind them that sin carries a VERY HEAVY price and to point them to the sacrifice of Christ! Of course, the sacrifice of The Creator was a very EXPENSIVE price to pay!

The Israelites had to bring their most perfect, unblemished animal (representing the sinless Jesus) to the priests for a sin sacrifice. Sometimes this happened more than once in a day!! Can you imagine how EXPENSIVE and burdensome and how much of a curse that law was? Can you imagine how those sacrifices of their most expensive animals would put into their minds how much SIN COSTS? And of course, it cost the life of Jesus the Christ!

In relation to this, you need to read our article "The School Master" (in the archives of the web site) for a longer, more complete description of the sacrificial law.

The sacrifices were placed on the children of Israel to continually remind them of the high price of sin. This was long after the Commandments were re-iterated and codified by God at Mt. Sinai and was done because the Israelites just would NOT even try to quit sinning. These "works of the law" were an expensive curse and burden to them.

Those animal sacrifices could NEVER pay for sin nor could they forgive sin. Those WORKS could do nothing but remind them, time after time, that there had to be an ULTIMATE sacrifice paid for sin or they would be LOST!!

God was very plain when He told us:

Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

Yes, only the sacrifice that Jesus made could do that!!

Heb. 10:12 But this man, after he had offered ONE SACRIFICE for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

The ULTIMATE sacrifice that Jesus made must be accepted through faith!! It is NOT possible through any other kind of sacrifice. The "works of the law" were sacrifices that had to be made as a reminder of the penalty that had to be paid for sin but those "works" (sacrificing animals) could never take away or pay for sins.

What is the Bible definition of sin?

I John 3:4 "....for sin IS the transgression of the law."

When a person truly believes God, they will turn away from sin (repent), then accept Jesus' sacrifice as our Savior. They will then be baptized and receive God's Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit is a down payment (called an earnest in scripture).

2 Co 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
2 Co 5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

Never heard of an "earnest?" Why not check it out with some elderly person. Perhaps they will remember back when a down payment was called an earnest.

Yes, it is a down payment by God on that person's eternal life. He then gives them, through His Holy Spirit, faith and power to keep the commandments, statutes, and laws in the full, spiritual intent of the Old Testament. Yes, I know some say the Israelites were unable to keep the law. However, ALL of God's Laws are spiritual concepts. Jesus came to earth to clarify and emphasize the spiritual nature of all God's Laws as they were at the very beginning, and to set an example of how to keep them! (I Pet. 2:21. )

Remember Deut. 5:29 talked about God wishing there were such an HEART (mind) in them? He has always commanded that He is to be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth!!

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

God's Words have always been spirit. They are also Holy, Just and Good!!!

Ro 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

God wasn't experimenting when He established the Law. He KNEW what He was doing. He knew the Law was GOOD for mankind because it is HOLY! A thing is only holy when God is present in it. Those commandments describe the very character of God, and MUST be kept or else those who are worshipping will not be worshipping in Spirit and in Truth!

One must receive God's Holy Spirit which OPENS the spiritual UNDERSTANDING and enables one to worship God as He demands to be worshipped.

If the person who receives God's Spirit still has that Spirit when Jesus returns to earth, they will receive the FULLNESS of His Spirit which is ETERNAL AND IMMORTAL LIFE as it shows in:

Rom. 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (give eternal life to) your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Those MORTAL BODIES will be exchanged for a SPIRIT BODY as it shows in:

I Cor. 15: 44 It is sown a natural (mortal) body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Back to Rom. 8:

17 ¶ And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

And also in:

Gal. 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

A Joint-Heir with Christ will inherit everything Christ inherited!

Those who have done as I have described above are no longer commanded to do the 'works of the law', for their sins have been paid - once for all time - by The Savior... FOR THOSE WHOM God has given faith in that sacrifice!!

If a person doesn't believe and accept that ALMIGHTY sacrifice, they are STILL UNDER THAT CURSE (the sacrificial law) and when a temple and Levitical priesthood are set up, they will be commanded again to make those same sacrifices that the Israelites in Old Testament times were commanded to make.

See Zech. 14 for this proof, and perhaps go and read "The School Master" in our Archives.

You see....the "works of the law" and the Ten Commandments are two totally separate things!

The sacrifices (works of the law) were instituted because the children of Israel were breaking the Ten Commandments and other laws of God. That expensive burden and curse of sacrifices was placed upon them to point them to the ultimate sacrifice -- Jesus the Christ!

Do YOU have God's Holy Spirit? (Remember Acts 5:32 now!) If you do, then you will be obeying God's commandments, statutes, and laws. You will be keeping the weekly Sabbath (the 7th day) and the annual Holy Days. You will be faithful to God in this, and LIVE a righteous (Ps 119:172) life, setting an example for all others to emulate, as a witness against this present, evil generation.

IF you are doing all these things, then I pray God will bless your understanding of His Word, helping and sustaining you in all the trials and troubles of this present evil world.

Remember......KEEP THE FAITH once it is delivered to you!!!

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