This article is set up as a list of common questions and answers. It is arranged by order of book and verse for quick reference. However, because you are reading this online, you may find it easier to search the page for the section you are looking for. Hit Control+F (Apple: Command+F) to find what you're looking for faster, by searching the name of a book, or perhaps part of a verse, or a keyword.
The verses listed below are in the NKJV.
It should also be noted that this article has been written, researched, prayed over, analyzed, and reviewed to the best of our ability. As with everything, we ask you to test everything and hold on to what is good"
(1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Please see Matthew 12:1-8
17 For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Some translations include a “but” between the two statements, which does not appear in the
Greek. However, that doesn't entirely answer the question.
The Law was indeed given through Moses, yet, as we know, the source of the Law was God
Himself. When Jesus came, he came to bestow “grace and truth.” In other words, he came to
pour out the Spirit of “grace” (Zechariah 12:10) and “truth” (John 14:17, John 15:26). The
“spirit of grace and truth” is none other than the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Jesus says “But when the
Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds
from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26; Also see Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-8, Acts
2:4). A few verses earlier in John 1:12-13 says “But as many as received Him, to them He
gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born,
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
How does one become a child of God? Paul explains in Romans 8:14 that “For as many as are
led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Ezekiel prophecies that God would send His
Spirit to lead us to follow His Law (see Ezekiel 36:26-27). Evidence that the Spirit is in us is
found in the fact that we, as children of God, would obey His Law (see Romans 8:4-8).
Thus, what came through Moses and what came through Jesus should not be seen as opposing
each other but rather as complimenting each other. Because the people lacked faith (Hebrews
4:2) they didn't permanently receive the Spirit although a select few did (Numbers 11:25-30).
Thus, the Law alone came through Moses but both the Spirit and commandments came through
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to her husband as long as he lives.
But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her
husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her
husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Some have said that the whole Law is just to love one another. This is true, however it is not up to us to define what love is or what it looks like. God gave us guidelines, the details within the Law. These are how God defines loving Himself, one another, and ourselves. Similar to the explanation given in Matthew 22:37-40:
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Due to the amount of verses used from this chapter to "prove" the abolition of the Law, we will cover the chapter as a whole. The purpose of this section however is still only to explain the questionable verses regarding the Law. For a further study on the entire context of Galatians 3, see our commentary on Galatians 3.
Galatians 3:1-4 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
Paul condemns the Galatians for their foolishness because they believed the false gospel account of certain Messianic Pharisees who claimed that to be saved, men had to be circumcised. Paul explains that although it’s important to keep the commandments, the most important thing is faithfulness to God, trust in God, and love of God – cumulatively simply called “faith.” We are saved by faith alone, yet faith without works is dead faith. Are we thus saved by dead faith? No. We are saved by a living faith – we are saved when we trust and love God, doing the work which He has commanded out of love and not out of a feeling of obligation, out of sonship and not out of slavery/servanthood. He also stresses that just because a person keeps the commandments, his works do not force God to give him the Spirit, thus making God a debtor (Romans 4:4). Rather, faith comes first and is followed by works. We have an example in Abraham himself: first came faith (Genesis 15:6) and as a result works came second (Genesis 26:5).
Galatians 3:5 “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”
God, Who sends the Spirit to the saints, works miracles among you. Therefore does He do these miracles because of your Law-obedience or does He do the miracles because of that spark of trust in your hearts? Does He do miracles among you because you have robotically obeyed the commandments, or has He done miracles because of your love, pursuance, devotion, trust, and faith in Him? Of course it’s true that if we love God then we will obey His Law (John 14:15, John 14:21-23, John 15:10, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:4, 1 John 5:3), but faith and love come before works – not the other way around. First comes faith, then comes works. First Gentiles learn the basics (i.e. the Gospel) and then they are to move on to deeper things (Hebrews 6:1-3, Acts 15:19-21).
Galatians 3:6-9 “just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness: Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham."
Abraham trusted and obeyed everything God said, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:5-6, Genesis 26:4-5). In Genesis 15:5-6 it says “Then He [God] brought him [Abraham] outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Then, in Genesis 26:4-5 “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.” Biblically speaking, quite literally, faith without works is dead – or in other words, there is no such thing as faith without works. However, there are works without faith and these “dead works” are useless because they are not out of love for God and they are not done out of a hope of things to come. They are, so to speak, intended to make God a debtor, owing the doers of the works eternal life. However, the Bible is clear that we are not saved by dead works, and we know that God owes us nothing (Romans 4:4-5, Romans 11:35). If anything, we owe God a life of continual service done in love and faith (Romans 6:12-23, Romans 12:1) (also, see our commentary on Romans chapter 6).
Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness: Therefore be aware that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (and thus heirs to the covenants of promise) (Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 2:11-13). God preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” It was foretold in scripture that God would justify the Gentiles by faith; therefore those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Galatians 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Law, to do them.”
Those who are joined in covenant with God must understand that within this covenant there is what is called the curse of the Law, (Deuteronomy 28). When any part of the Law is broken, there is a respective “curse” given. This is also mentioned in such passages as Galatians 3:13. If everyone has broken at least one point in the Law, then we have all broken the Law. If we have all broken the Law, then we are all under the curse of the Law according to James (James 2:10-11) and thus need a redeemer.
It is written, 26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God
Deuteronomy 11:26-28a (see also: Deuteronomy 27:15-26, 30:1, 30:15, 30:19)
So according to the Law, the curse of the Law, is not obeying the Law! Paul never said that the Law is a curse, he said that there is a curse in the Law!
Galatians 3:11-12 “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the Law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
It is clear that people are not justified by the Law. We are not justified by the Law because Habakkuk 2:4 says that the just shall live by their faith. Yet the Law doesn’t necessarily need to be done out of faith. People can do it robotically and for the wrong reasons. The only acceptable reason for Law-obedience is for love of God (1 Corinthians 13:1, 13:13). Every other reason is illegitimate. It says in Leviticus 18:5 and Ezekiel 20:11 that “the person who does the commandments shall live by them”, or worded another way, “shall find life by them”.
It’s obvious that nobody is justified by the Law itself, which is why the Bible says “the just shall live by faith” and “the man who does the commandments shall live by them.”
Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Christ has saved us from having to receive the curse that is mentioned in the Torah – that is, the death penalty one would deserve for breaking the Law (Deuteronomy 28). Christ has saved us from having to receive that death penalty, instead taking it on himself and thus paying our debt (because we owed God our lives when we sinned, though Christ offered his life to God so that we would not have to pay via our death). This was done so that the blessing of Abraham might expand to even the ethnically Gentile believers so that we might receive the promise of the Holy Spirit if we have faith.
Galatians 3:15-16 “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. "
He speaks in the manner of men, like an average guy speaking frankly. If a human contract is agreed upon by both parties involved (whether that be in business, marriage, etc.) then no one can add more words to the contract and no one can take away words from it. Now God made a promise to both Abraham and his seed. God made this promise to Abraham’s “seed” (singular), not “seeds” (plural). God made a promise to Abraham and one seed, and that “seed” is Jesus himself.
Galatians 3:17-18 “And this I say, that the Law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the Law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
The Law, which came 430 years later, can’t annul the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, or else it would have made the Abrahamic Covenant useless, null and void, and of no effect. For if the inheritance came by the covenant at Sinai, then it’s no longer the same kind of promise God made to Abraham when He made an agreement (covenant) with Abraham (that if he trusted God, God would make his descendants more numerous than all the stars he could see in the sky).
The Sinai Covenant neither ruined nor destroyed the Abrahamic Covenant because the two covenants, though complimenting each other, were not dependent on one another. When a new covenant was made in the bible it did not annul the former, but rather existed beside it. In Ephesians 2:12 Paul talks about the covenants of promise (plural). God’s covenant with Noah to not flood the world again was not annulled when He made a covenant with Abraham, right?
Galatians 3:19-20 “What purpose then does the Law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through messengers* by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one."
So then why did God even give the Law to us? He gave it because of our sin (“sin” is defined as “transgression” in 1 John 3:4). Because we kept sinning, God had to point out our error and correct us. If it wasn’t for the Law, people would never have learned what “sin” is (Romans 7:7) and thus we would have kept on sinning. So in this sense, the Law was a blessing because it teaches us what sin is, and with this knowledge we can learn what is good and what is bad. However, although we then learned what to do and what not to do, what is righteousness and what is sin, we did not yet have a good example of how to implement those things.
For example, how are we to love our neighbor when the Law says “you shall love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18)? How are we to act justly when the Bible says “act justly” (Micah 6:8)? How are we to observe the Sabbath when the Bible says to keep it holy and do no work (Exodus 20:8-11)? The Law was all we had to teach us about what is right and what is wrong. We were left to figure out how to implement it – and we often got it wrong. This is why we were stuck with only the Law until Christ came to show us how to properly do it (Matthew 5:17).
So simply put: the Law was given by God until the “seed” (Christ) would arrive. This does not mean that the Law was authoritative only until Jesus arrived; it simply means that the Law was all we had to teach us about right and wrong until Jesus came. Now, the commandments were given by means of messengers. The prime messenger (Moses) was also a mediator between the one God and the Israelites at Sinai.
* “messengers” here is the Greek word “aggeloi.” The Hebrew word is “malakh.” These words have two meanings: “messenger” and “angel.” In other words, they can refer to both a human messenger and an angelic one. This is why many translations say “appointed through angels.” However, we believe that Young’s Literal Translation is correct in translating this word as simply “messenger” rather than specifically “angel” (which in modern English has the connotation of a divine being).
So in short, why did God give us the Law? Because we kept sinning and we need the Law to show us how we were sinning because the Law itself defines what sin is (1 John 3:4). The Law was appointed by messengers and through a mediator (Moses) who mediated between God and man.
Galatians 3:21 “Is the Law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law.”
Therefore, is the Law against God’s promises (including the promise of the New Covenant)? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life instead of the death-penalty-curse, then surely righteousness would have been by that law. Does this mean that the Law does not give life? On the contrary, God says “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers" (Deuteronomy 8:1). As the Law says, we shall surely live if we obey God’s commandments. However, no one has kept the Law perfectly except Jesus (Romans 3:23, Hebrews 4:14-15), therefore, we deserve to die (Deuteronomy 28, Hebrews 10:28). Although this Law was designed to give us life, sin took advantage of the Law and instead the Law was forced to give us death (Romans 7:10-15). So if we had obeyed, thus avoiding the incurring of the death-penalty-curse (i.e. the curse of the Law), the Law would have provided us with a righteousness which could save us (Exodus 32:31-33, Psalm 119:160, Luke 1:6) – yet no one has done this but Christ! If we were able to redeem ourselves through the Law, we would have something to brag about (Romans 4:2). It is because of Christ’s perfection that God could raise him from the dead (Acts 13:30, Romans 8:11) and make him the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:14-18) – the perfect Law-keeper died for the imperfect Law-breakers! We must inherit the righteousness of the perfect one, Jesus.
Galatians 3:22 “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
But the scripture, particularly the Torah (Law), have acted as a judge and have determined that everyone is a transgressor. It convicts us of wrong doing and preordains our punishment – the cursed death penalty. Therefore, by faith in Jesus Christ the promise made to Abraham might be extended to all those who believe (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:5-6, Genesis 26:5-6, Romans 11, Galatians 3:28-29). Christ came and did what he did so that those who are faithful to him might be grafted in to the Abrahamic Covenant.
Galatians 3:23-25 “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the Law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the Law was our tutor* to bring us** to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
* Paidagogos (pron. “pay-dah-gah-gowss”) is usually translated as “tutor” or “schoolmaster” – two poor translations. However, no better alternatives are available since there is no exact English equivalent. Paidagogos (Strong’s G3807) literally means "child conductor" a teacher of children, also used for slaves, those who are not mature. Strong’s Lexicon defines it this way: “A tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.” We were under the tutor (paidagogos) until Christ, because we were spiritually young children (paidion).
This word is used only one other time (1 Corinthians 4:15-21): For though you might have ten thousand child conductors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” Paul says there are many who will conduct you, as if you were children or slaves. But few who will father you with love. He then says "shall I come to you with the rod or in love?" Paul compares the Law to a rod, a type of disciplinarian, designed to keep us in line. We are no longer under this disciplinarian, we are under the love of the Father. Has the instruction changed? No, but the means of delivering it has.
Before God sent His son to lead us to faith (Romans 12:3, Hebrews 12:2) a paidagogos had kept watch over us; that paidagogos which guarded us and kept watch over us was the Law. The Law kept watch over us until the time when the faith which would be revealed by Christ would come. Therefore, the Law was our paidagogos to Christ. The meaning of this can be found in Proverbs 22:6 which says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This was the job of the Law: to train us up in the way we should go so that when we arrived at the appointed age of maturity, we could be delivered from the punishment-power of the Law and delivered into the love of the Father (Romans 3:21-26).
It’s kind of like the picture of the stereotypical (or imagined) British nanny. She raises the children, teaches them right from wrong, punishes them when they disobey, and takes care of their needs. However, her ultimate goal is to guide the children to the point where, one day, they will be able to provide for themselves and correct themselves and make themselves to do right and avoid wrong. Although she will no longer be needed when the children reach maturity, the rules, guidance, wisdom, etc. she gave them will not be done away with. Similarly, the curse of the Law (i.e. the punishment of the nanny) is now fulfilled, completed, and no longer in effect because Christ paid our debt (which we acquired by sinning). Just as the nanny leaves the children and the children live their lives based on the guidance, wisdom, and rules of the nanny, we likewise must mature beyond the former covenant (the one which punished us with a death-penalty-curse) and grow into the new covenant (one where we can now worship in spirit and truth, doing the Law, led by the Spirit, and being forgiven by Christ when we occasionally transgress. Just as it ought to be our ambition to live by the way our nanny taught us, we likewise should live by the way the Law taught us.
Now that we have received the “faith of Abraham” through Jesus (Romans 4:16-25), we are no longer under the disciplinarian* who guides us (i.e. Law (Romans 8:1)). Has the instruction changed? No, since the intention was that we would be trained in the Law since our youth and thus be prepared for when the Messiah would come, since only those who were learned in the scriptures could identify him as such and faithfully follow him (Luke 24:27, Acts 3:22-26, Acts 17:11, Romans 3:21b). Even Paul says in Romans 7:1 “I speak to those who know the Law.” In Romans 3:28 and 3:31 Paul says “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law… [but] do we then abolish the Law because of faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law” (or more literally, “make a stand on/for the Law.)
Summary: The Law was our “paidagogos” and it was designed to direct us toward Christ. It can no longer punish (Romans 8:1, Galatians 3:13) because we are no longer children. We are supposed to be spiritual adults, living by the Spirit, with the Law written on our hearts, in our innermost being. (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:33). Therefore walk and live spiritually mature. (Hebrews 5:12-14, 6:1-3)
(Note: “paidagogos” is loosely explained as Paul continues to preach in Galatians 4:1-7)
Galatians 3:26-29 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
If you have Abraham-like faith in Christ Jesus, then you are all sons of God. For as many of you as were baptized into the Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:15-16, Numbers 15:29) in terms of salvation. Both are saved by the same means – faith (Romans 3:28-31). Likewise, there is no difference in terms of salvation between men and women, or freedmen and those in slavery. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, one can only be saved if they have faith in God and Jesus. However, as we have also seen, there shall be one Law for the native-born (ethnic Israelite) and foreigner (ethnic Gentile) and we do not abolish this Law through faith but rather we establish it, put it in place, and make it to stand. Regardless of one’s race, gender, or social status, if a person has Abraham-like faith, then the person will be numbered among Abraham’s descendants and thus heirs according to the promise.
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the Law, do you not hear the Law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
The “promise” was the promise which God gave to Abraham – that his descendants should be more numerous than the sand of the seashore, and more numerous than all the countable stars in the sky. To fulfill this promise, Jesus came and made a way for us to be adopted to God via the “faith of Abraham.” Many Jews believed that because they genetically/physically descended from Abraham they were thus the sons of God. However, Jesus preaches contrary to this by saying that one can only be a son of Abraham, and thus a son of God, if a person does the
works of Abraham, as seen here:
39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
However, a greater faith and a greater righteousness are required to become sons of God. The Law was never designed to make us sons. It was designed to make us mere servants. However, if we have faith like Abraham (which included doing all the commandments of God (Genesis 26:5)), then we will become sons of God (Galatians 3:8). Therefore, the old mentality of gaining sonship (robotic obedience) is cast out and the new mentality of attaining sonship (loving and faithful obedience with true affection) is ushered in. Cast out the legalism and bring in the faithfulness!
18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Context is always key...
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-23)
If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The lusts of the flesh, as listed after, are literally all defined in the Law as sin. To be “under the Law” is to be under the bondage of sin (breaking this Law; see 1 John 3:4). According to Deuteronomy 28, to be under the Law is to be under the curse of the Law. On the other hand, to have the fruit of the Spirit is the exact opposite of the curse (fruit of disobedience) thus it is not against any law!
To fully understand the confusing verses throughout the Book of Hebrews we highly recommend our article entitled "A Better Covenant". Without reading that article, the following explanations may be confusing to many.
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
The context here is priesthood, therefore the "commandment" mentioned is also in reference to the priesthood. The text says that the former commandment regarding priesthood was annulled (rejected), but how so? Jesus was rejected from being a Levitical priest because he was not a Levite, obviously. Therefore, if he has become a priest, then by necessity he has become a priest of a different order. He was made a priest with an oath (Hebrews 7:20-21) after the order of Melchizedek, and not according to the order of Aaron, for Aaron’s descendants are all mortal (Hebrews 7:23-34). The priesthood of the genealogical requirement was profitable for cleansing the outer (physical) man but was unprofitable for cleansing the inner man because it was not designed to do such a thing – yet we still needed to have our inner man cleansed. For the genealogical requirement could not make a person complete; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope (Jesus), through which we draw near to God.
For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.
This does not say that the law is useless or nullified. What it does say is that the law appointed men to be priests, but men are mortal and flawed. The Levitical priests, being merely human, needed to make atonement for themselves before they could atone for the people (see Leviticus 16:11, in reference to the Day of Atonement. Then see Hebrews 9:12, 10:4). Because Jesus is immortal and sinless, his priesthood is greater than the Levitical system, in that he has no sins of his own to atone for. The "word of the oath" appoints the son of God, who does not have these problems. In this way, the latter is superior. Simply put, the problem lies with man, not with the Law of God.
9It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
The Levitical priesthood was symbolic of the priesthood in heaven. Everything that was done in it was a representation of that which is in heaven, a copy and shadow, performed by mortal man. It was only profitable to the flesh (the body). The bodily nature of it cannot bring a spiritual cleansing. It did it's job well, but it was limited to physical life. This does not inherently make this bad but rather limited.
“This was symbolic for the present time”: This proves that the Temple and the services are a picture of Jesus’ work. The earthly Temple is not merely an impotent shadowy hologram. Rather, the earthly Temple system is being used to metaphorically describe some very mystical truths about what Jesus did.
Regarding Hebrews 9:10, these are all things which pertain to the body and affect physical behavior but cannot affect the heart. They existed and functioned independently of the person’s heart until the coming of the new covenant: when halakha would kiss agadah – when action unites with the heart (perfect faith, the New Covenant).
16For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.
It has been said that the ("Old") testament died with the death of the the testator (Jesus). This all stems from poor translation. Young's Literal Translation (YLT) does a better job of explaining this verse:
“for where a covenant [is], the death of the covenant-victim to come in is necessary, for a covenant over dead victims [is] stedfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth,”
Hebrews 9:16-17 YLT98
Covenants were often made with a sacrifice, a "covenant-victim" (Genesis 15:9-11, Exodus 24:5-8, Psalm 50:5, Jeremiah 34:18-19, Zechariah 9:11). Until the sacrifice was made the covenant was not in force. Thus when Jesus died as the sacrifice, his covenant (at least in part) has been put into effect. Recall when Jesus said "This is my blood of the new covenant..." The evening before his death. Now, with this understanding, consider the context of the rest of this section in Hebrews:
“For where there is a covenant, there must also of necessity be the death of the covenant-victim. For a covenant is in force after dead victims, since it has no power at all while the covenant victim lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.”
Hebrews 9:16-21 (see also: Exodus 24:3-8)
For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
Some say that if you sin at any point in the Law, you’re guilty of all sins - thus concluding that there's no reason too even try. Let’s put this passage back in context:
If you really fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the Law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:8-13)
James teaches that to stumble in even one point of the Law makes you guilty; In the same way that breaking one link of a chain renders the chain ineffective. Once a person intentionally transgresses a single point, all he has done right, his righteousness, becomes irrelevant and he depends on the mercy of the Judge (see also Ezekiel 18:24-28). Therefore, because of this, he teaches that we should act like those who are about to be judged. He says "judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” This is comparable to when Jesus says, "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:2) and even clearer in his parable about the unforgiving servant:
Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35).
In summation, James teaches in this section that we aught to be merciful so that our Heavenly Father may be merciful to us.