Sunday, 2 August 2015
When Paul called the Mosaic Covenant ministry the dispensation of death, it was not because of its inherent nature. It was rather because of what people made of the Torah by their approach to it. Because humans are sinful, they approached Torah as a system of works-righteousness and falsely sought to earn God's favor by their own merits or to bring the Age of Restoration by human means. Although the Law is a guide under the leading of the Spirit of God, when used as a written code to be followed in our own fleshly power, it condemns. For by the Law's high standard, we all stand condemned (see Rom. 3:23). So as to not face this condemnation, a person rationalizes his faults and becomes self-righteous. Yet Scripture says God dwells with those who are of a contrite and humble heart (see Isa. 57:15). Hence, an approach to the Law with this self-righteous attitude served to separate people from God, producing a dispensation of death.
The Mosaic revelation itself was not a dispensation of death; but humanity's approach to it produced this legalistic orientation. Even the foremost sixteenth-century Christian theologian, John Calvin, said of this passage, "There are some rash teachers who hold we should throw out the tablets of the law calling the law a dispensation of death." He responded, "Perish this wicked thought from our minds."
The issue is not whether the Torah is used for guidance, teaching, and correction (see 2 Tim. 3:16-1&) but rather, the attitude of approach. Approached with dependence upon God's mercy, the Law, as Psalm 19 says, gives life to the soul.
Jewish Roots, Chapter Four: Messianic Judaism - Difficult Passages