Why Did God Give the Law?
God Gave Us the Law
A) That we might know what He is like.
Why did God give 10 commandments? Why these specific ones? Was it just an obedience test? No, the law is a picture of what God is like. It is a transcript of His very own nature – what He essentially is and does. E.g. Thou shalt not steal. God is not a thief; He does not take, but gives. Thou shalt not commit adultery. God is faithful in all His relationships. Thou shalt not bear false witness. God is not a liar, He always tells the truth, etc. The foundation of God’s law is God Himself. What He requires is only the expression of what He is.
B) That we might know what we are like.
The law is a plumbline that shows us how perfectly straight and upright God is. When that plumbline is placed alongside us it shows how crooked we are. Sin is not a measurement of how bad you and I are, but of how good we are not. We do not have the goodness and holiness of God. In Rom.5:20 we read that the law entered or, was added (NIV). The meaning of this term is to come alongside of. Something was already in existence and the law came alongside of that in order to help us to understand it. That “something” was sin. (See Rom.7:7.) The law is not something that was basic, essential or fundamental to life. It was given to increase our knowledge of sin. Those who are made aware of their sin are ready for a Saviour. The Law, bringing conviction of sin, is an indispensable requisite in the process of evangelism.
So the law was given to a specific people, for a specific period of time and for specific purpose. If we were living in Old Testament times and wanted to be in relationship with God we would have to come under the Law. God placed His Law between Him and His people as the basis of the relationship between them.
But we are not living in that era, so it would be totally wrong to relate to God on the basis of law-keeping. Jesus spoke of the Law passing away. He said that it would not pass away until all was fulfilled. (Matt.5:17&18). In His life He fulfilled its every command and in His death He endured the wrath of God for every command that has ever been broken by every single human being. The Old Testament sacrifices could only cover the sins of the Israelite. But Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29). When He cried, It is finished! on the cross, the Old Covenant had passed away and the New Covenant was brought in to replace it.