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What is the Law?

Part of the Jewish law included those laws found in the Old Testament.  When Paul says that non-Jews (Gentiles) are no longer bound by these laws, he is not saying that the Old Testament laws do not apply to us today.  He is saying certain types of laws may not apply to us.  In the Old Testament there were three categories of laws:

Ceremonial Law This kind of law relates specifically to Israel's worship (see, for example, Leviticus 1:1-13).  It's primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ.  Therefore, these laws were no longer necessary after Jesus' death and resurrection.  While we are no longer bound by ceremonial laws, the principles behind them--to worship and love the Holy God--still apply.  The Jewish Christians often accused the Gentile Christians of violating the ceremonial law.
Civil Law This type of law dictated Israel's daily living (see Deuteronomy 24:10, 11, for example).  Because modern society and culture are so radically different, some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically.  But the principles behind the commands should guide our conduct.  At times, Paul asked Gentile Christians to follow some of these laws, not because they had to, but in order to promote unity.
Moral Law This sort of law is the direct command of God--for example, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).  It requires strict obedience.  It reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies to us today.  We are to obey this moral law not to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.

 

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