The Church and God’s Law (5)

The Errors of Judaism

the warfare of Jesus was not against Moses. It was against the scribes and Pharisees who perverted Moses. It is a perversion of Scripture to separate the law and the prophets from Jesus. The Mount of Transfiguration witnessed to their unity. [1]

Jesus made His attitude towards the law abundantly clear, in Mat.5:17-18: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  This means that Christians of any era ought to reject careless and foolish assumptions about the law, which are not found in scripture. “Either God’s revealed law is sovereign in society or else autonomous man’s declared law is sovereign.”[2]

It is important to understand that there was a significant difference between the faith delivered to the Old Testament saints, and the religious beliefs of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees purported to be faithful to the Old Testament revelation, but this was a sham. They held to Judaism, which was a humanistic corruption of Old Testament faith. “The Pharisees, professing to be champions of God’s word, were in fact its enemies and perverters.”[3]

The Pharisees’ commitment was merely to a hypocritical outward observance, rather than inward obedience. This is shown clearly in Jesus’ commentary on the Jews in Jn.5:45-47: “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for He wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Jesus later said, “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law?” (Jn.7:19)

When faced by Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees, who saw themselves as the guardians of the law, found themselves face to face with the law incarnate. Jesus manifested the true law of God, not the pharisaic versions of it, in all His being. In the hands of the religious leaders, the law had become a yoke of bondage (Gal.5:1), not the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12).[4]

The true attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees were illustrated when they brought a woman before Him, caught in adultery (Jn.8:1-11). Clearly, they were not interested in justice; if they were, there would have been a man alongside her, to be tried. “The Mosaic Covenant mandated that God’s law must apply to all men equally, thereby upholding the principle that the rule of law is to be upheld (Ex. 12:49).”[5] The text clearly shows that they were “testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him” (v.6). “This was a staged episode in order to destroy His credibility. [6] Jesus cuts to the heart of the issue, with His challenge to the men present: “he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v.7).

It is a serious mistake to contend that Jesus is saying that because of sin, no one can legitimately condemn another in a court of law. If that was the case, there would be no legitimate court convictions. The witnesses departed. The Mosaic law required two witnesses in any capital crime (Deut.19:15). So, there was no way to convict her. She had to be set free. Jesus sent her away, after asking specifically where her accusers were (v. 10). They were gone, she replied. So He dismissed her (v. 11).[7]

“Judges, witnesses, and executioners had to have clean hands in dealing with an offender and an offense, in this case adultery. All of them were guilty men, adulterers, and their consciences convicted them.”[8] This was why they all filed out of the room.

Jesus in His statements on the day had not denied Old Testament law. He merely refused to be a party to its application through the Pharisees’ moral hypocrisy. They were no less guilty than the woman, yet they were ready to see her condemned. “Their use of the law was evil and obscene.”[9] Furthermore, “nothing is more hateful to God than a perversion of His truth which claims to be a defence of it.”[10]

Jesus was a champion of God’s law, but that law (being God’s eternal purpose of justice), would never be served through hypocrisy, misogyny, or a selective application.

Jesus always respected and kept the Old Covenant law. His purpose in coming into the world was to take the Old Covenant to Himself and, in His own death and resurrection, to transform it into the life-giving New Covenant. [11]

[1]Rousas  Rushdoony, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” p.714.

[2] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.18.

[3] Rushdoony, p.706.

[4] Rousas Rushdoony,  “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.145.

[5] North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” ch.72.

[6] Rousas Rushdoony,  “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.92.

[7] Gary North, “Analysing John 8: The Woman Taken in Adultery,”, Feb.18th, 2012.

[8] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” p.92.

[9] ibid., p.92.

[10] Rousas Rushdoony,  “Thy Kingdom Come,” 2001, p.224.

[11]James Jordan, “The Law of the Covenant,” 1984, p.234.