From the administration of the sacrifices to the setting up and tearing down of the tabernacle, the precision of the Mosaic Law was really amazing. With 613 commands (365 negative, telling people what not to do, and 248 positive, telling people what to do), the question was never, “What should or shouldn’t we do?” the question was, “How perfect can we be?” and the answer was, “Far from perfect.” Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result, God graciously provided the New Covenant, so we are no longer under law but grace (Rom 6:14). We breathe a deep sigh of relief and it’s like, “Ahhh…grace.”
The problem though – and truthfully I almost feel a little bad saying this – is we lose the exactness of the Law. With the New Covenant comes the responsibility for each man to be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14:5). We have to decide for ourselves what our consciences allow (1 Cor 8:7, 10). There are times I almost wish I didn’t have the liberty afforded under the New Covenant; I wish I had a tutor in the language of Galatians 3:24 telling me what to do and not do. I wish I had the clarity of the Old Covenant helping me navigate certain situations. The Law might have felt like an “unbearable yoke” in the words of Paul in Acts 15:10, but I bet people didn’t walk around saying, “Hmmm…how do we handle this grey area?”
I know the New Covenant actually calls us to a higher standard than even was found under the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly said, “You have heard it was said not to _____ but I tell you not to EVEN _____” (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44). The Law forbids physical murder and physical adultery, but Jesus forbid committing those sins in our hearts…the Law was an eye for an eye, but Jesus said turn the other cheek; He was setting an almost exponentially higher standard. A verse I’ve really been meditating on is: Hebrews 12:14 Without holiness no one will see the Lord. I read this and think: “I can’t see God without holiness? No salvation without holiness? Holiness is pretty serious.” I don’t take the verse to mean our salvation is earned by being holy, as that would conflict with the Gospel; however, I do think it means holiness is a byproduct of salvation; it’s something salvation produces. Saved people strive for holiness. The absence of holiness would seem to be evidence of being unsaved. Jesus called His disciples to a higher level of obedience, but what I’d say He really called us to is a higher level of holiness…higher than even the Law commanded.