First of all, covenants. God deals with man through covenants. Some are forever, and some are temporary. God made a covenant with Adam that his seed would crush the head of the serpent. God also made a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. Abraham was promised many descendants and the land of Israel. These are all permanent, irrevocable, non-conditional covenants.
When the children of Israel escaped from Egypt, God made a covenant with them at Sinai which required action on their part - a conditional covenant. They were given a large set of laws to obey, including the TEN BIG ONES written on stone tablets.The covenant made at Sinai with Moses was conditional on Israel's obedience to the law (which was impossible). It was needed to demonstrate just how unable each one of us is to keep it. (It was added because of transgression, see Galatians 3:19). But check out Jeremiah 31:31-32:
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
No human being was ever able to perfectly keep the commands of the Torah. Except the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), who came and kept the Sinai law perfectly. In doing so, He became our substitute. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, "God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Great! So we are not under the law, right? Wrong! We are under NEW COVENANT law! This law is summed up in two things: Love God and love people. The externals of the Sinai law were eliminated, but the internals of the heart were magnified! For example, even by looking at a woman with lust, you have commited adultery with her. If you hate your brother, you have committed murder. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth becomes turn your other cheek (Matthew 5:38...) See what I mean? Yeshua was preparing people for the change in covenants.
Just a little side note here. The church, who often says that we are under grace and not law, still likes to hang their hat on the tithing part. What would you say if I said you are not required to tithe anymore? Stop cheering, I heard that! Because if it is true that the internals are magnified, you'd better be prepared to give a lot more than ten percent, according to the leading of the Spirit. The early church members sold EVERYTHING and gave liberally to others who were in need.
Anyway, I digress. When the LETTER of the law was fulfilled by the Messiah, the covenant changed so that we are now under the SPIRIT of the law. What does this mean? It means that when we become a believer, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is our counselor. Keeping the New Covenant law is only possible through an intimate relationship with Yeshua the Messiah, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. He is the one Who will guide you.
If you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to give up bacon or not work on Saturday, then by all means, you'd better obey His leading. BUT, you are not to judge someone who is receiving a different leading on such matters. Colossians 2:16-17 says: "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Messiah".
We have freedom through the Messiah! I love how Galations puts it:
"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar... Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise... Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman."
For part 2, click here