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THEONOMY AND NEW COVENANT THEOLOGY
ByWard Fenley


Theonomy has previously had the basic meaning of *implenting God's Old Testament law on society.* Well, is it possible to change one word in the previous sentence and re-create an entirely new system of thought using the same word?

*implenting God's New Testament law on society.*

What is your biblical worldview? Is it to change society by transforming its morality? Or is it to change society by transforming its nature

Can the natural man have his morality transformed to Old Testament law?

Romans 8:7-8  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. {8} So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
We all agree that it is possible to legislate moral behavior. But what is true morality? Is it a perfection of behavior according to Old Testament law? Paul identified his pre-Christian experience this way:
Philippians 3:6  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Yet he identified that righteousness in these terms:
Philippians 3:7-8  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. {8} Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
"Loss," and "dung" are the words used to describe Paul's "blameless" behavior. Did Paul contradict himself within the span of 3 verses? Or was Paul concerned with a far greater issue--an issue that concerns an inward problem? 

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27-28  Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: {28} But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Paul had the behavioral problem solved. What Paul lacked was control of the heart. No amount of moral legislation could cure or change the heart of Paul. He was able to abstain from commiting adultery with a woman, but he was entirely unable to control the lust of his heart for a woman. Practically speaking, his morality was "look but don't touch," or maybe more accurately, "think but don't touch." But what does the ancient proverb say:
Proverbs 23:7  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...
And of course the prophet Jeremiah adequately described the nature of the heart:
Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The words of Jesus, "has committed adultery in his heart" erected an insurmountable barrier to the behavioral moralist--a barrier that not even the blamelessness of Paul could conquer. Paul did not write: "The body is not subject to the law of God." Paul wrote: "The mind... is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Conforming the mind to obey the law of God is an impossibility. Paul wrote:
Galatians 3:21... for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But Paul could obey no law that would have given him righteousness. This is where Paul ultimately found himself in hopeless despair. The piercing words of Christ had cut to his heart. Paul finally realized the significance of these words:
1 Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Now, if, as Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things an desperately wicked," and as Samuel wrote: "the LORD looketh on the heart," then that placed not only Paul in a terrifying predicament, it also places all of us in a terrifying predicament. No amount of behavioral morality can change the way God views us. In our natural state, God views our deeds as dung, and our heart as deceitful and desperately wicked. But how can God view good deeds and behavioral obedience to the law as dung? Because God sees not as man sees. God looks on the heart. In God's analysis of the heart, He concludes through the mind of David:
Psalms 143:2  Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
So what about legislating Old Testament biblical law as a divine mandate upon society? Are those who would affirm that our country's greatest need is behavioral moral transformation correct? It seems that the Bible emphatically answers negatively to those questions, based upon what we have already seen.

At this point we must examine how former Jews under the law viewed the law in light of the New Covenant. First, Paul seemed to have a very narrow perspective on the law for the person seeking to obey it:

Galatians 3:10  For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law."
What is crucial to see in this passage is Paul's use of the word "all": 
"Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law."
Why? James tells us:
James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
None of these writers give any room for disobedience. There are two very important reasons for this:

1) God is holy:

Psalms 5:4  For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
Habakkuk 1:13  Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: 
Therefore, any disobedience to even the most minute detail of the law would be disobedience to all of His law, and therefore sin. And since, as John writes, "Sin is transgression of the law," (1 John 3:4) and since "the law works wrath," Then it follows that one transgression of the law of God works the wrath of God. Now, if we suppose that a person had a track record like Paul (blameless concerning the law), we still have the problem of the heart, which we have already concluded from Scripture is desperately wicked.

2) Man cannot achieve the level of holiness God demands:

Romans 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Leviticus 19:2  Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
Mankind has two enormous obstacles preventing him from reaching God: His own sinfulness and God's holiness. This presents a chasm between God and man:
Isaiah 59:1-15  Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. {3} For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. {4} None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. {5} They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. {6} Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. {7} Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. {8} The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. {9} Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. {10} We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. {11} We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. {12} For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; {13} In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. {14} And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. {15} Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
So then, what hope is there? If we attempt to transform society by implementation of OT law, there is still the problem of the heart, which God sees. Supposing that we somewhat transformed society regarding behavioral morality, we would have something similar to that which Jesus described:
Matthew 23:27-28  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. {28} Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Jesus also said:
Matthew 23:26  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Jesus admonishes those dependent on their obedience to the law (outwardly appearing righteous) to clean the inside. Notice the order: "Clean first that which is inside." Unless we understand the rest of the message of Scripture concerning the heart, we will never be able to glean the message Jesus was conveying: First, that it is impossible for man to clean his inside. It is impossible for man to clean his heart. What can a man do? Attempt to obey the law more completely? This simply compounds the problem, as Scripture teaches:
Isaiah 30:1  Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
People attempt to cover their past and disobedience by outward displays of obedience, but God sees that it is just a covering and that in reality it is adding "sin to sin."

Again, the admoishment of Jesus was to first clean the inside. Here we must now address the issue of how one is able to become righteous according to God's standard. We have had to conclude that those under the law are actually under sin:

Romans 3:9-11  What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; {10} As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Paul here seems to be describing the universality of this natural inclination in man to not seek after God and to be under sin. Even Paul, inspite of his professed blamelessness according to the law identified himself with this group: "What then, are we better than they?" That is, Paul was asking the rhetorical question: "are we Jews who obey the law better than those pagan Gentiles who do not?" On the contrary. Paul describes the inherent rebellious nature of man against God. Man will not seek God. Man does not understand God. Man is not righteous--no, not one. That upon which God looks (namely, the heart) simply cannot cleanse itself. It cannot even seek God. Christ seems to speak on this issue:
John 5:40  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
There are some who would like to think that they are different than these, but remember Paul's words: "What then, are we better than they...there is none that seeketh after God." In our rebellion we will not come to Jesus that we might have life. In fact, let us recall the many Scriptures which speak of Christ as the Light of the world. Jesus elaborates on this problem of man in view of the Light of Christ:
John 3:19-20  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. {20} For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Again, some might think that they are of those who do not fall into this category of people who "loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," and "hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."

But Paul's words contradict this idea: 

Romans 3:9-11  What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; {10} As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: {11} There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
How then does one seek God if this is an impossibility according to Paul? From the words of Jesus and John the Baptist, even receiving Christ and coming to Christ must be a miraculously divine work:
John 3:27  ...a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
John 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
John 6:65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
We have not even touched on how righteousness is accomplished yet. We first must tackle this issue of coming to Christ. After all, Christ admonished:
Matthew 11:28  "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
John writes:
John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Yet both John the Baptist and Jesus were clear: "a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven," and "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." Of course Christ's promise is true, and that is that anyone who does come to Him will be given rest, and all those who receive Him will be called the children of God. But the miracle, even before righteousness is given, is that we would even be willing to receive Christ and come to Christ. According to John, those who come to Christ do so because it has been given them from heaven. According to Jesus:
John 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
That is, we come when the Father draws us. Some question the meaning of the word "draw." Some say it means to implore or to urge. But in vain do we search the Scriptures to find this meaning of the word, "draw" (Gk. helkuo). In fact, here are the ways in which "draw" is used in the New Testament:
John 18:10  Then Simon Peter having a sword drew (Gk. helkuo) it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
John 21:6  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw (Gk. helkuo) it for the multitude of fishes.
John 21:11  So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled (Gk. helkuo) the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
AActs 16:19  But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged (Gk. helkuo) them into the marketplace before the authorities.
Acts 21:30  Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged (Gk. helkuo) him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.
James 2:6  But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag (Gk. helkuo) you into court?
Now, not one of these could be said to be translated as "urge" or "implore." We do not urge or implore fish to come onto our boats. Peter did not implore his sword to strike Malchus. Paul and Silas were not implored by those who seized them to come to the marketplace before the authorities. In each of these instances the word "drag" is appropriate. Even Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines the word this way: "1670. helkuo, hel-koo'-o; or  helko, hel'-ko; prob. akin to G138; to drag (lit. or fig.):--draw. Comp. G1667." It can be used literally or figuratively, but regardless the word seems to clearly mean drag. This would certainly seem to make sense considering the fact that we are dead in sins and hardened in our rebellion against God, so much so that Paul would say, "There is none that seeketh after God." It is fitting that God would need to do a divine work upon our heart in order for us to come to Christ. 

Once that barrier is eliminated, we are able to do what is necessary to obtain righteousness, and that is coming to Christ or receiving Christ or believing on Christ. This "faith" is what is necessary for the  righteousness that God demands:

Habakkuk 2:4  Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.
Now, is this faith united with obedience to the law for righteousness, or is this faith completely separate for righteousness? Nothing in Scripture could be clearer:
Romans 3:19-28  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. {20} Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. {21} But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; {22} Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: {23} For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; {24} Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; {26} To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. {27} Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. {28} Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
If we try to unite faith and works for righteousness, Paul exclaims:
Galatians 5:1-3  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. {2} Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. {3} For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Circumcision was part of the law, and many professing Christians in the time of Paul thought that they must combine circumcision and faith to gain this perfect righteousness. But Paul described that way of thinking as a "yoke of bondage." That is, combining faith and works in attempting to make oneself righteous in the sight of God simply proved them to still be in bondage to their sin. Why, because it is the height of pride and rebellion that believes it can join efforts with the work of God in order obtain the righteousness He demands. Either we are completely placing our faith in Christ to save us from our sins or we are still under the bondage of sin. God does not share His glory:
1 Corinthians 1:27-31  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; {28} God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, {29} so that no one might boast in the presence of God. {30} He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, {31} in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Isaiah 42:7-8  To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. {8} I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
This is essential to understand. God stands alone in the eminence of His glory. He ascribes the gift of salvation entirely to Himself:
Jonah 2:9  But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
Psalms 78:21-22  Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of rage; a fire was kindled against Jacob, his anger mounted against Israel, {22} because they had no faith in God, and did not trust his saving power.
Psalms 3:8  Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
God is explicitly clear that He will not give any glory to man in the salvation of man. Salvation from sins and the wrath of God is entirely based upon God and His grace:
Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In what could Paul glory if it had nothing to do with his works? After all, Paul described himself as "blameless" concerning the law:
Galatians 6:14  But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Paul completely renounced that which seemed to be righteousness, and exchanged what was his glory for the glory of the cross. That is, Paul's trust was now completely in the work of Christ upon the cross to pay the penalty for his sin and accomplish that perfect righteousness God demanded rather than trusting in himself to earn his righteousness:
Philippians 3:8-9  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, {9} And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
In other words, Paul would be justified or declared righteous in the sight of God through faith in the work of Christ upon the cross:
Rom 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Now, compare this passage with one of our first passages concerning the law. Paul said:
Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Also,
Colossians 1:21-22  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
There was enmity between God and man. Man was not reconciled to God. But, as Romans 5:1 says, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." There is no longer enmity but rather peace and reconciliation because we are justified or declared righteous by faith. Colossians simply uses different terms to define this righteousness: "to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." Remember that God does not look upon the outward but he looks upon the heart. Therefore this statement that we are holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight speaks of God's view of not our outward behavioral morality but rather our righteous standing before Him because of His completed work on the cross in which we have believed:
John 17:4  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
John 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
It is evident through these passages that behavioral morality does not eliminate the enmity between God and man. The carnal mind, as Paul says, is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. But that doesn't change the fact that mankind desperately needs the righteousness of God. He needs it completely. This is what the work of God does:
Romans 8:3-4  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {4} That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Notice that it does not say "That the righteousness of God might be completed as we obey the law." Rather, it says "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Walking after the Spirit is believing in the grace of Jesus Christ for the fulfillment of the law and not in our behavioral performance of the law. All the work was performed by Jesus Christ that the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled. Paul uses the most transparent language to express this idea:
2 Corinthians 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Christ became what we are by nature, that we would become what He is by nature. He exchanged His righteousness for our sin that our sin might be exchanged for His righteousness.  Not that Christ sinned anymore than we did righteously. Through faith in His work and not our works Paul writes these words:
Romans 4:5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
As we approach the issue of the Old Testament law and whether it is to be implemented in the Christian life for behavioral morality, it was first necessary to underscore the intent of law. To solidify in our minds what I believe the intent of the law was, I would like to cite these very important passages:
Galatians 3:17-19  My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. {18} For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise. {19} Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator.
Here Paul explicitly declares the purpose of the law, and that is, it was added because of transgressions. In other words, before the law there were various commandments given that men disobeyed. So God added the law as a systematized code to prove to His people their absolute necessity for, and dependency on, God for salvation; that they might never trust in the arm of the flesh for salvation. But instead Israel used the law unlawfully, and that is they interpreted the law as that which could save them if they were obedient enough to it. But again, according to Leviticus, James, and Paul, there would have to be absolutely perfect obedience:
Leviticus 20:22  Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
Galatians 3:10  For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law."
James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
It is clear that attempting salvation by obedience to the law is simply vanity and futility, which is precisely why Paul also says this concerning the purpose of the law:
Galatians 3:24-25  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. {25} But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The purpose of the law was to be a schoolmaster or taskmaster to bring the people of God to Himself. The word "taskmaster" or "schoolmaster" probably carries with it a connotation familiar to the Jews. Exodus makes mention of this first experience of a "taskmaster" of the Jews:
Exodus 3:7  And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
Notice that the cry unto God was because of the harsh taskmasters. They could not endure the slavery and bondage that the taskmasters demanded. So also, the Israelites could not endure the strict demands of the law:
Hebrews 12:18-20  For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, {19} And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: {20} (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
The taskmaster of the law had a definite purpose, much like the taskmasters in Egypt, and that was to show the complete inability of Israel to free itself from bondage to the law. Even Jesus said:
John 8:31-36  Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; {32} and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." {33} They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?" {34} Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. {35} The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. {36} So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
So the law is holy and good as Paul says, because it faithfully drew God's people to the point of desperation in crying unto Him for salvation rather than depending on the law for salvation. That is, the law was made for sinners in need of salvation:
1 Timothy 1:8-10  But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; {9} Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, {10} For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
As we have already learned, righteousness comes through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for sins. But Paul says that the law is not made for the righteous man, or rather the man who has been made righteous by faith in the work of Jesus Christ. The law was made for the unrighteous in order to be their taskmaster to lead them to Christ. What we see in 1 Timothy is not merely a statement of those for whom the law was made (as is clear in Galatians); we see those for whom the law was not made, namely, the righteous.

At this point, then, having established the purpose of the law and those for whom it was made and those for whom it was not made, let us briefly consider the possible objections to this view that we have proven, and that is the view that the Old Testament law is not for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

The first objection is that theonomists claim that we (non-theonomists or believers in New Covenant theology) have no standard of moral absolutes. This is false. We do have a standard. It just does not happen to be their standard. The claim of the theonomist is that if we are not bound to keep the law, then how do we argue morality and ethics for those who do not believe in moral absolutes. 

Those of us who believe in New Covenant theology affirm the moral absolutes prescribed in the New Covenant law, not the Old Covenant law. For example, the theonomist would ask us if we believe that we should not steal. After all, the Mosaic law says “Thou shalt not steal.” Of course we believe we should not steal:

Ephesians 4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Or the theonomist might ask us if we believe we should not lie, after all, the Mosaic law says “Thou shalt not bear false witness...” Of course we should not lie:
Colossians 3:9  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
So then, we prove that we can establish at least nine of the ten commandments many of them claim are the moral commandments for all mankind are in their essence taught in the New Testament. The only one of the "ten commandments" that is not in its essence repeated in the New Testament is the sabbath. But what about an Old Covenant command like:
Leviticus 18:23  Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
Since there is no commandment in the N.T. that is a repetition of this one, how can we who believe in New Covenant theology show people that beastiality is unbiblical? First, we do believe it is unbiblical. Second, just because something was taught in the OC does not mean it is taught today under the NC. However, sexual immorality is condemned in the NT:
1 Thessalonians 4:3  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
Certainly sex with a beast is fornication. We are to flee it. Sex is only permitted within the boundary of marriage:
Hebrews 13:4  Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Another objection they raise is based upon this text:
1 Timothy 1:8  But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
They would say that this verse is in the NT and therefore it means we should apply it. True, we should apply it. But to whom should we apply it? The context answers the question in the very next verse:
1 Timothy 1:9  Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
The law is not made for those who have been cleansed and made righteous through faith in the blood of Christ:
Romans 3:19  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The Mosaic law is to those who are under it. But the Bible describes the Christian:
Romans 6:14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
A third obection is that they ( the theonomists) would say that the NC command of love is the fulfilling of the law. They would cite this passage:
Romans 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
This verse is wonderful, but does it mean what they are saying, namely, that if we love one another, we will be fulfilling the entire Mosaic law in our daily lives? Hardly. First, what part of the law are we to practically obey in our daily lives? There is no place in Scripture either in the NC or the OC that divides up the into so-called ceremonial, civil, and moral laws. This is a man-made distinction to try and approve of obeying some of the Mosaic law but not all of it. In other words, the theonomists want to have their “moral” law, and some even their “civil” law, but they do not want the ceremonial part of the law. Again, God never divided up the law that way. For the Bible says:
Romans 7:12  Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Even more explicitly:
Galatians 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
This verse clearly implies that if one is subjected to using the law as the rule of life, they must obey it all. You cannot divide up that which is holy and good. Therefore, if we affirm that we are to be obedient to the Mosaic law in our practice, then we must be obedient to all of it and not make unholy divisions of the law. 

The theonomist would try to say that we must obey the sabbath. The only problem is that most of these theonomists say the sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday. But nowhere in the Scripture does it say that. In fact Colossians says:

Colossians 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Paul also says in Romans:
Romans 14:5-6  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. {6} He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
That is, under the NT, we have a conscience toward God because of the work of Christ to cleanse us from sin, and we are not bound by any sabbath. Why? Because through the sacrifice of Christ, He has become our rest. The sabbath rest was a shadow or a physical type to show forth the spiritual type until that spiritual type was a reality. And it now is a reality:
Matthew 11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. {30} For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Hebrews 4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

The writer of Hebrews gives the example of God who worked six days in creation and then rested. So also, those who once were under the law, but have now believed in Jesus Christ are no longer under the law but are in the NC rest of Christ through faith in Him. In other words, through faith in Jesus Christ the sabbath is fulfilled. We have entered into His rest. Faith and love are those NT commands by which we prove that the law has already been fulfilled for us. 
Galatians 5:6  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Faith in God is proof of our love for God and vice versa. Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. That is, through faith the law is fulfilled in us:
Romans 8:2-4  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. {3} For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {4} That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Again, walking after the Spirit is walking by faith. In the above passage Paul is clearly declaring that the law has been fulfilled (past tense) for us who have believed:
Romans 3:22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
But perhaps the greatest problem of the theonomists is when we ask them how they are able to pick and choose which OC laws they are under command to obey. They would say all of them. But then they try to say that the ceremonial ones were fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ, but the moral and civil ones must be obeyed in our daily lives. First, didn’t Christ fulfill those too? If so, then why are we under those laws any more than the ceremonial? If not, then we are still condemned, for all of us have transgressed those laws. There is no other way around it. Either we must obey them all, or we are not under any of them, and Christ has indeed fulfilled all of the law for us. Thus we are under a NC law rather than an OC law. Isaiah predicted this would come:
Isaiah 51:4-5  Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. {5} My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.
“My righteousness” God says. That is, through Christ’s sacrifice the New law would go into effect. The old would pass away. Hebrews goes to great lengths to explain the difference:
Hebrews 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Notice that the writer did not say:

“For the ceremonial law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”

Of course not. Why? Because the writer of Hebrews would not dare divide the law like that. Clearly the New Covenant is a better covenant:

Hebrews 7:22  By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.
If we are under a better covenant, why would we want to go back to a weaker covenant?
Hebrews 8:6  But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
In fact, though Paul says the law was holy and good, yet the writer of Hebrews says:
Hebrews 8:7-10  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. {8} For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: {9} Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. {10} For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
That is, through the blood of the New Covenant and faith in that blood, we are perfectly righteous in His sight and as far as He is concerned, we are perfectly obedient to the law in His eyes in contrast to what the law itself could not do in that it was weak through the flesh:
Hebrews 10:14  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Colossians 1:21-22  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled {22} In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Some would use the passage in Hebrews to say that the New Covenant is proof that we would want to obey the Mosaic law in our everyday lives. But again, all theonomists would agree that they do not obey it perfectly. But from where does the writer of Hebrews get his information?
Jeremiah 31:33  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Notice a similar passage in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36:27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
This does not say, “and cause you to walk in my statutes *most of the time*, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them *most of the time*. It is clear: God would *cause* them to do them perfectly and completely. How is this fulfilled? Again:
Romans 8:3-4  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {4} That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The law is weak through the flesh so that no man can obey it consistently, and as James says:
James 2:10  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
So it doesn’t matter how well you obey them. If you have broken one, you have broken them all. We didn’t need the law partially fulfilled. We needed the law completely fulfilled. Again, the law was weak through the flesh but is perfectly fulfilled by the New and better covenant:
Hebrews 7:18-19  There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual {19} (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope, through which we approach God.
So the enormous dilemma for the theonomist is manifest in this regard. They say the benefit of the New Covenant was to give us a new heart to want to obey the law. But the Bible says the benefit of the New Covenant was to completely fulfill it so that we are under a New and better covenant, in which we find all that pertains to life and godliness.

The Mosaic law had its place in the ark of the covenant. I believe all of it was there. But let us say for a moment that only the tables containing the ten commandments were there:

Hebrews 9:4  Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

Deuteronomy 10:2  And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.

What does Jeremiah predict about this ark?
Jeremiah 3:15-17  And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. {16} And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. {17} At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
Jeremiah prophesies that the ark would no longer be remembered. That is, that ark and those tables which showed the people of Israel to be condemned and in need of a New and better covenant would no longer be remembered. But the theonomist would like to keep us in remembrance of them. But Paul wanted to forget them:
Phil 3:9  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith...
Phil 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Hebrews 9:22-23  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. {23} It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

The New Covenant is a better covenant founded upon better promises and better sacrifices: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). 

The theonomist wants to remember the Mosaic law. God wants us to forget it, with the exception of remembering its purpose, and that was as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, the Author of the New and better covenant. 

We have shown not only the inferiority of the OC law to the NC law, and the superiority of the sacrifices of the heavenly covenant, but we also have established the purpose of the law. Romans summarizes the purpose of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and may we understand this as we grow in our walk with Christ:

Romans 3:19-31  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. {20} Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. {21} But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; {22} Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: {23} For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; {24} Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: {25} Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; {26} To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. {27} Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. {28} Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. {29} Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: {30} Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. {31} Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Theonomy has previously been defined as a system of beliefs whereby the Old Testament law would be the rule of life for the Christian. Both the theonomist and the believer in New Covenant theology believe we are under law. But the question is, what law? The believer in NCT believes we are under the law of the New Covenant of God, and therefore we are indeed theonomists, but we are NC theonomists. May the term theonomy eventually take on a new meaning for the Christian.

Ward Fenley


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