Apologies to those who were in my Hebrews class last night, but I wanted to share a point I made about the Old Law and the New, and it’s a point that actually comes, not from Hebrews but from Romans…
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound…
Law was given (entered) so that sin (offense) might be made more obvious (abound). All men have sinned, regardless of their knowledge of the law (Romans 3:23). The function of the law is not to take away your sin but to inform you of it. Notice an illustration given by Paul…
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Paul admits to having committed this sin in the past. He goes on to say that without the Old Law (which explicitly said “thou shall not covet”), Paul, having coveted, would be unaware of his sin. Since sin is, by definition, the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), the law is given in written form so that it might be studied and applied (Psalm 119:11) and future transgression avoided.
Now here’s a modern example:
A person may travel down the road going 55mph, while the speed limit for that area is actually 45mph. The traveler is in violation of the law—whether he is aware of this or not—and is subject to prosecution. Because of this, the city places speed signs along the highway, informing motorists of the law (“Speed Limit: 45mph” the sign reads).
Now the speeding traveler, upon seeing the speed sign, becomes aware of his transgression and slows his vehicle down to be in compliance with the law. Here’s the problem, and it was a “problem” with the Old Law as well (as the writer says in Hebrews 8:7): By the time the driver reads the sign, he has already broken the law, and the law can not undo the crime that has been committed.
When the Old Law was first given, it was given to a people who had already broken it. Think about it: Was it a sin for the people to erect the golden calf idol at Sinai’s foot? YES! But the law that said “thou shalt not make idols” hadn’t been written yet, so how could it be a sin? The answer is because the Law wasn’t given to MAKE sin (the devil, temptation, and your weakness makes sin); the Law was given to IDENTIFY sin. That’s all it could do: It could tell you that you were lost but it couldn’t make you saved.
We’re not saved by laws; we’re saved by blood.
Thus we needed a new Law, one that was built on better promises (namely; salvation through the blood of Jesus).