Modern evangelicals often dismiss the Old Testament law as something no longer necessary. Since the death and resurrection of Christ, we are now under grace and not the law, so they set aside the law in favor of grace. But that doesn’t square with what Jesus taught. He said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).
Jesus was the first and last man to keep God’s laws perfectly. Thus, He fulfilled the law. The problem is, neither you, me, nor anyone else can keep the law. We need the blood, mercy, and grace of Jesus to save us from our sins against the holy God. And what is sin but a breaking of the laws of God?
Without the law, we would not need to be saved from anything. No grace would be required because there would be no sin. So, the law is as vital today as ever. Jesus didn’t do away with the law. He showed what a life lived perfectly by the law of His Word would look like. That standard remains, and our failure to obey that standard dooms us all to Hell.
The cross does not negate the law. It does not make the law irrelevant. Indeed, how can we explain to someone their need for Jesus unless we first show them why they need a Savior? We can’t do this unless we first show them how they have sinned against God by breaking His commandments. They won’t understand the penalty if they don’t understand the offense. A salvation won without explaining what sin is and how we are all filthy before God leads to an ineffective and powerless salvation that may be no salvation at all.
People need the law to understand their need for salvation. If you want to understand why Christ had to die, you must understand the law. You must understand sin demands a payment for the crime. Because of His love for us, Jesus paid the price for our sin. Not one of us can live a sinless life. Jesus explained the command to not murder extends to the hateful thoughts we harbor against another (Matthew 5:21-22). We are guilty of breaking the commandment to not commit adultery if we even lust after someone (Matthew 5:27-28). Every one of us has lied. Each of us has desired what someone else has. There are no exceptions. We have all sinned.
Because we have broken the law, we are guilty. The penalty for sin is death because nothing unclean can survive in the presence of the holy God. Our only hope is to have the offense of our sin covered by the blood of God’s Son. God’s holiness precludes any loopholes. Our sin dooms us to Hell. Only by confessing our sin, crying out to Jesus for forgiveness, and accepting Him as the Lord He is will save us. We need the law. Otherwise, we would not understand or recognize why we need Jesus. His blood covers our transgressions (1 John 1:9). The law shows us how short we have fallen from God’s standard. Jesus stands in that gap and makes us holy and righteous before our Father.