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The Law

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“The Law”

Series: A Journey Through the Old Testament [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

June 27, 2021

Introductory Comments:

We are continuing our journey through the Old Testament. So far, we’ve been following the books of Genesis and Exodus. Today, we’ll start covering parts of the Old Testament that span several different books. 

Today, we’ll talk about the Law. Now, I’m not talking about the legal system that we work with today; this does not involve the Supreme Court. No, we’re talking about the Law of God. 

So, let’s pray together as we prepare to talk about the Law of God. 


When we speak of the Law of God, we’re talking about . . .

Law of God: the commands of God, given to His people so that they might know Him and His ways.[on screen]

The Law of God is a good thing! Psalm 119:46-48 says, “I will speak of your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. 47 I delight in your commands, which I love. 48 I will lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and will meditate on your statutes.” [on screen]

Imagine if you were hired at a new job and your supervisor said that you will thrive in this new job and you will do a great job if you only do what you’re supposed to do. However, there’s one major problem: no one showed you how to do the job! That would be frustrating, wouldn’t it! In the same way, the Law of God is a gift to this world. 

So, let’s talk about God’s Law. First, let us discover the . . .

Major Elements: [on screen]

1. The people wandered in the desert for three months before they settled near Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 19:1-2) [on screen]

Remember: the people had just come out of Egypt. They were wandering in the desert and they were getting ready to come into the land that God had promised for them. 

Before the people were to enter the promised land, God needed to prepare them. Among all that they needed, they needed the Law of God. 

These people needed to know God’s ways for them. They needed to know how God wanted them to live in the land and how He wanted them to worship Him. 

It was during this time of wandering that God gave them the largest part of His Law. 

Next, . . .

2. God gives Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) [on screen]

The Ten Commandments are the heart of what God gave to His people through His Law. This is where the Law began. 

Here are the Ten Commandments (you can read them in detail in Exodus 20):

  1. Do not have other gods before God. (no other gods)

  2. Do not make and worship idols. (no idols  )

  3. Do not misuse the name of God. (God’s name)

  4. Remember the Sabbath. (Sabbath)

  5. Honor your father and mother. (parents)

  6. Do not murder. (murder)

  7. Do not commit adultery. (adultery)

  8. Do not steal. (steal)

  9. Do not give false testimony. (false testimony)

10. Do not covet. (covet)

This event was a magnificently beautiful event. There, near the mountain, the presence of God was witnessed by the people. They knew that God was speaking to Moses and by extension to them.  

The people feared God, but Moses encouraged them to trust God. Check out Exodus 20:18-20 (read in Bible)

Exodus 20:18-20 – 18 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the ram’s horn, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear him and will not sin.” 

Then, . . .

3. Following the Ten Commandments, God gives the people of Israel many more laws. (Exodus 20-40; Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) [on screen]

Although the Ten Commandments are kind of the backbone of the Law, there are many, many, other Laws. In fact, the Jewish people have traditionally calculated that there are 613 laws in the Torah, the traditional name for the Old Testament; primarily, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 

So, there are a lot of individual laws. 

We also must understand that . . .

4. There are different types of laws. [on screen]

Ceremonial Laws: These laws related to Israel’s worship. [on screen]

These laws are not applicable today in the way we worship. For instance, we don’t sacrifice animals anymore in our worship. Aren’t you glad? Also, I don’t wear a funny hat and a fancy robe when I preach. I know I’m glad about that!

However, God was serious about these laws at the time He delivered them because, at that time, the people of Israel were to worship God in a very specific way. 

Civil Laws: These laws dictated Israel’s daily living. [on screen]

There were certain laws that applied to how Israelites lived their daily lives. Although they were separate from laws that pertained to worship, they were specific to Israel in particular. These laws would include laws such as circumcision, observing the Sabbath on Saturday, marrying your brother-in-law if you don’t have children with your husband and he passes away, and more. 

These laws helped God’s people live as God’s people at that time. 

Moral Laws: These laws reveal the nature and will of God, and still apply today. [on screen]

Simply put, these laws apply to all people over all time. These would include things such as, do not murder, do not steal, certain laws about sexuality, and more. 

For the people of Israel, these laws helped them know how to live as those born into God’s people. For the church today, these laws help us know how to live as those who have been brought into God’s people. 

All of these laws helped the people of Israel understand how to follow God more faithfully. They were God’s people, so they needed to know Him and His ways. 

So, those are the major elements. Next, let us examine the . . .

Major Truths: [on screen]

1. The Law showed the people of Israel how they could follow and submit to God. [on screen]

The people of God at that time had no comprehensive idea of how they should worship God. The Law of God helped them discover that. 

Listen, church: it’s important the people understand how to worship and follow God properly, particularly the people of God. God’s Law was a gift to God’s people. 

The way that we worship and follow God now is different than in the ancient days of Israel, but it is still important that God’s people then and God’s people now understand how to properly worship and follow God. 

2. The Law had different functions. [on screen]

John Calvin, a theologian and church leader from the 1500s is helpful on this topic. Calvin gave us three functions of the law:

A. The Law serves as a schoolmaster to drive us to Christ. [on screen]

First of all, the Law shows us more of what God is like. If we want to see more of God, we need to see more of Jesus. The Law was like a schoolmaster who taught us what it was like to know and worship God. Through Jesus, we get the real thing! We really worship God and we really know God!

It’s sort of like when you get your first real job. You can learn about it in school, but when you get out in the workforce, all of a sudden it becomes real! So also with Jesus, through Him, we really know and worship God!

B. The Law functions as a restraint against sin. [on screen]

The Law helps us see what is displeasing and detestable to God. In the Law, we see what God doesn’t like. Hopefully, this will drive us to also not like those things. 

The more we love God, the more we should hate sin. The Law helps us know what is sinful. 

C. The Law reveals to us what is pleasing to God. [on screen]

The second function of the Law helps us know what God doesn’t like. The third function of the law helps us know what God does like. 

We should also love the Law because it helps us understand how we can live as God’s people and how we can live the way that He wants us to live. 

So, when we think of the Law, we must remember that it has different functions for us today. 

The final major truth is that . . .

3. The Law still applies today, but in a different way. [on screen]

Again, the moral laws are not only helpful for us today, but they are necessary for us today. Without God’s moral law, the morality of this world would be determined by whoever has the most power and influence at the time. 

Ignoring God’s moral law is what led to Nazi Germany exterminating millions of people. Ignoring God’s moral law is what led to the slave trade in Western civilization and what leads to the continuation of racism today. Ignoring God’s moral law is what continues to lead to the killing of millions of precious children through the horrendous act of abortion. Ignoring God’s moral law is what leads to the acceptance of a sexual ethic that basically says you can come up with anything you want and call it acceptable. Ignoring God’s moral law is what has led to an American Church that is more stuck on thinking they are high and mighty and have totally forgotten about what godly love and compassion look like. 

The Law of God still applies today and we desperately need to rediscover it. By the way, I’m about to tell you the secret of how to do so:

Let us discover how . . .

The Gospel Speaks: [on screen]

The Gospel is speaking to us through the Law of God! We must dig and discover how we can experience more of Jesus through our study of God’s Law! 

First, . . .

1. Jesus paints a greater picture of the ways of God. [on screen]

Remember, the Law showed humanity the ways of God. Listen, church: if we want to know how to worship God, how to follow God, and how to obey God, we can find it in the Law. However, we can find those answers in a greater way in Jesus!

Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-18,17 “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. [on screen]

Jesus did not come to the earth to be against the Law of God. Rather, Jesus came to perfectly fulfill it! He wants us to see how to really know God, how to really follow God, and how to really worship God. 

Jesus even made the Law of God quite simple for us to grasp. Matthew records this moment in . . .

Matthew 22:35-40: 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” [on screen]

If you want to know how to simplify the Law of God and focus on what really matters most, Jesus helped you out with that: Love God and love others (hmm, seemed like I’ve heard of a church that has that as part of their vision statement). 

When Jesus was questioned about spending time with tax collectors and sinners, He clarified to the Pharisees what God has already said in the Old Testament, when He said, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

When Jesus was questioned for allowing His disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath day, He responded, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Over and over, Jesus not only taught the Law of God, but He taught what it really meant. Church, we can better understand God’s Law through a relationship with Jesus. 

Second, . . .

2. Jesus paves a greater pathway to faith in God. [on screen]

The Law gives us an avenue to have faith in God. If we believe Him and want to express our devotion to Him, we can do so through the Law. However, that way is incomplete; it is not perfect. Through Jesus, we can discover a greater and perfect pathway to faith in God!

In Galatians 3:24-26, The Apostle Paul says, “24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” [on screen]

Remember, we discovered earlier that the Law was our schoolmaster, pointing us to Jesus. Paul says here that the Law was our guardian. The Law was taking care of us and teaching us the ways of God until we could have Jesus! Jesus is what we really need!

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [on screen]

Concluding Thoughts:

So, as we study the Old Testament, we must understand that the giving of the Law of God was not only a big deal for the people of Israel, it was a big deal for all those who would follow God. 

Let this bottom line simplify this truth for us:

Bottom Line: The Law was given by God so that the people would follow God.   [on screen]


Understanding the ceremonial law helps us see how God’s people were to worship Him in days past. Understanding the civil law helps us understand how the people of Israel were to live their daily lives. Understanding the moral law helps us understand how we are to be holy, as God is holy. 

Challenge yourself to live out what we’ve learned in this sermon in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Ask yourself what your relationship is to God’sLaw. [on screen]

Paul gives us this hard-hitting reality in Galatians 2:16: 16 and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. [on screen]

Listen, church: you cannot be fully justified by works of the Law. In the Old Testament, they were looking forward to the Messiah, because they recognized that they couldn’t handle things on their own. Now, we need to look to Jesus the Messiah! We need Jesus to not only justify us before God but help us discover how to live before God!

2. Bring clarity of God’s Law to others. [on screen]

So many people are confused when it comes to God’s Law. 

Perhaps they think it’s out of date and don’t need to follow it anymore. They need you to show them the words of 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.”

Perhaps they think they can do enough good on their own to earn God’s approval. They need you to clarify the words of Ephesians 2:8-9: “8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Perhaps they think that after they give themselves to Jesus that they don’t have to worry about living a godly life anymore, because Jesus already took care of that. You need to tell them the words of Paul in Romans 6:1-4: “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.” Or, you may need to tell them the words of James in James 2:26, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

This week, commit to help people understand the Law of God and how it applies to their lives today. 


God’s Law was given to God’s people, through Moses, to show them how to know Him and worship Him. However, an even better picture of how to worship God and know God is found in Jesus. 

Do you know Jesus?

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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