Understanding what laws of God were nailed to the cross is critical to understanding much of what Paul had to say about the Law. It is also critical to understanding how to live by every word of God under the new covenant. The laws of the Lord are in the 10 Commandments, the book of the covenant, and the book of the law. Unless clearly indicated otherwise, live in the bible refers to eternal life.
The bible says that God gave laws, by which, if a person observes them, they will live. (Ezekiel 20:11, 13) It goes on to say that, God gave laws that were not good and laws by which we cannot live. (Ezekiel 20:25) It is clear that Paul writes both positive and negative things about the laws of God, which is very confusing to most people. In general, this is because the positive things are about the laws of the Lord we can live by and the negative things are about the laws of God we cannot live by.
The laws of the Lord that were nailed to the cross are in the book of the law. The book of the law is distinct from the 10 Commandments and the book of the covenant. It has blessings and curses written in it. (Deuteronomy 29:21, Joshua 8:34) It is a witness against Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:26) It even contains a version of the 10 Commandments of God written by Moses. The book of the law as a whole is not abolished because it contains laws we can live by. Many things in the bible make sense when a person understands that God instituted good (permanent) laws and not good (temporary) laws.
Not Good (Temporary) Laws of the Lord
Most people believe that all or most of the laws of God were nailed to the cross under the new covenant. However, the Bible shows that this is not true. Two scriptures prove that God gave some laws that would end.
- Galatians 3:19 says that these not good laws were added until the seed would come to whom God had made the promise.
- Hebrews 9:10 says that these not good laws were imposed until a time of reformation.
The following scriptures show that Ezekiel 20:25 is simply saying that God instituted some temporary laws. These scriptures also show that it is only these temporary, not good laws that ended with the Old Covenant.
- These not good laws became our tutor to lead us to Christ. We are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25)
- Christ ended the certificate of debt consisting of laws against us, which were hostile to us; and He removed it from the way, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
- By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances. (Ephesians 2:15)
- When the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. (Hebrews 7:11-12)
- There is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness. (Hebrews 7:18)
When we study the scriptures above, we see the characteristics of the laws abolished are, (1) it was a tutor, (2) a certificate of debt, (3) commandments contained in ordinances, (4) weak and useless, (5) related only to food and drink and various washings, and (6) related to regulations for the body. In other words, the laws of the Lord abolished under the New Covenant were the not good laws.
Good (Permanent) Laws of the Lord
When it comes to what was nailed to the cross, most people do not have a biblical mindset. However, it should be just the opposite when it comes to the laws of God. It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one letter of the laws of the lord to fail. (Luke 16:17) Therefore, a servant of God should have a biblical mindset when it comes to His laws. God wants us to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness. (Genesis 18:19)
He wants the righteous requirements of the law of God to be fulfilled by His servants. (Romans 8:4) God gave statutes and ordinances, by which, if a person observes them, they will live. They did not walk in His statutes, and they rejected His ordinances, by which, if a person observes them, they will live. (Ezekiel 20:11, 13) Ezekiel 20:11, 13 are similar to Christ saying that God’s commandment is eternal life; so, the things He spoke, He spoke as God had told Him. (John 12:50)
The Way of Eternal Life
It is shown above that, the laws of God nailed to the cross do not lead to eternal life. These laws were added to the 10 Commandments and the book of the covenant because of sins committed under these laws. In other words, these laws were penal; they were against the Israelites. (Colossians 2:14) However, the following scriptures show that God instituted some laws that lead to eternal life.
- Keep My laws by which a man may live if he does them. (Leviticus 18:5, Nehemiah 9:29, Ezekiel 20:11-21)
- I have set before you life. So choose life so that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30: 19)
- Keep My commandments and live. (Proverbs 4:4, Proverbs 7:1-3)
- If a person does not sin, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 3:21)
- If a person walks in My statutes and My ordinances they are righteous and will surely live,” declares the Lord GOD. If a person observes all My laws and practices righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Again, when a person practices righteousness, they will save their life. Because they turned away from all their transgressions, they shall surely live; they shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:9-28)
- If a person walks by the statutes that ensure life without committing iniquity, they shall surely live; they shall not die. (Ezekiel 33:15-19)
The Eternal Nature of Laws of Righteousness
The laws of God nailed to the cross lacked an eternal nature since they were physical or carnal laws. At least twice, Christ said that if you want to inherit eternal life, keep the commandments of God. (Luke 10:28, Luke 18:20) Christ also said that God’s commandment is life. (John 12:50) Furthermore, He said that it is the righteous that inherit eternal life. (Matthew 25:46) Even Paul said that the commandment was to result in life. (Romans 7:10) So, God gave laws that are tied to eternal life. However, does that mean that such laws are eternal? Once a servant of God inherits eternal life, will these laws still be valid? These are indeed two very good questions.
The bible never says that sin will be done away with or abolished. It does say that death will be done away with or abolished. (1 Corinthians 15:26) But it does not say anywhere that such a thing will happen to sin. This is because God has only created beings with freedom of choice. As long as His created beings have freedom of choice, the possibility of sin exists. This includes those who have attained eternal. Moreover, as long as the possibility of sin exists, laws of righteousness must exist. Any immortal person who sins will simply join Satan in the lake of fire.