One of the primary confusions that I see within the Christian sphere has to do with attitudes towards law keeping, specifically, God’s law and the ordinances set forth in Scripture. Two attitudes that are prevalent within the church are (1) we are no longer under the law and therefore, we have no guiding law-like system in our lives. Instead, we are to listen to the inward wooing of the Holy Spirit in guiding us. Or, (2) the law was set forth only for Old Testament Israel as a system of works that governed their civil/legal system.
Both of the above stated positions are roundly wrong when the whole of the systems are considered and there is another way of viewing the law of God that is both gracious and effectual in the Christians life. In short, according to Ex 19.5, the law of God is granted to the Israelites as a covenant contract to make the people the “treasured possession” of YHWH. Meaning, the law is transformative in nature and its main intent is to work within an individual from the inside out, to change the heart, appetites and desires of the covenant member. Associated with this reality about the law is the understanding that the law is first and foremost descriptive of the nature of God Himself. Hence the transformative nature of the law. Moreover, the law is given in grace, as noted in thee afore mentioned Ex 19.5 and in the preface to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) itself, where YHWH describes His covenant faithfulness in rescuing His people from the bondage of Egypt.
When looked at in this manner, the law is certainly not something that the Christian should shy away from, but rather, it is something that should be embraced because it is reflective of the very nature of the God who rescued us from our bondage, just like the Israelites of so long ago. Moreover, never was the law intended to serve as a system of works to obtain salvation, as noted in Habk 2.4 which states that “the righteous shall live by faith,” which is the same message of Paul in Rom 1.17 (remember, Abraham was the man of faith, justified by his trust in God and His promises, c.f. Gen 15). Meaning, the OT and NT systems of justification are the same, with the sinner coming before the thrice holy God with the empty hand of faith. In the case of the OT saints, they looked forward to the coming Messiah. In our case, we look back upon the cross and Christ’s finished work, with both of these eras of redemptive history possessing the same covenant head; the Lord Jesus Christ.