We sometimes forget that the Law is holy and that God’s commandments are just and good. We think of the Law as restrictive, binding, and unreasonable. We think of the Law of God as a negative. But St. Paul never thought of the Law in this way, in spite of his proclamation of justification by grace through faith, apart from works of the Law.
The Law and commandments of God serve a holy and good purpose, in that they show us our sin, help us to know where we have fallen short, and drive us to our Savior. For this reason, the Law is beneficial, helping us to know God’s will for us, and how we are to live once we have been saved. This is the proper, or sacred, use of the Law—it calls us to obedience not in order to be saved, but to help us live godly lives as the saved people we are. Keep this in mind: Jesus did not come to end the Law, except as a means to salvation. We cannot save ourselves by adherence to the Law and commandments of God. But the Law guides us in living lives that are pleasing to God. This is why the Law and commandments of God are so important to us, in that they show us how we are to live as God’s children. Each and every one of the commandments presented in Scripture we are to read, take to heart, and seek to follow, no matter how difficult, how archaic, or how outmoded they may seem. God has a reason and purpose for His commandments, and it is our task to strive to keep them.
Now, we should add here that this is primarily true with regard to God’s ethical and moral Law, not necessarily with regard to ceremonial or ritual laws. Christians are no longer bound to keep the Old Testament commands regarding how to cook, for example, which foods are acceptable, which days are to be regarded as fast days, etc. As St. Paul makes clear in his writings, in Christ we are freed from the ritual laws of Judaism. However, Jesus does not relax one of God’s Laws and commands regarding moral, ethical living. God’s teachings and commands with regard to love, service, life, sexuality, and relationships between man and woman still stand, and we are bound by them—as a gift to show us how to live faithfully, in holiness and purity.
Lord our God, help us to find joy in living your Law and commandments, that we may please you and live in harmony with our neighbor; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.