Not that God would have it done any other way in which it has been done, but if all men in the OT were as Abraham and others who He used, there would have been no need of the Mosaic Law which came after them. When all of them were brought to, and convinced of their indwelling sin, they chose to remain in belief and in fellowship with God.
“The law is good, if a man use it lawfully”; and its lawful application is expressly not to form, guide and govern the righteous, but to deal with the lawless and disobedient, ungodly and sinful, unholy and profane, and, in short, with whatever is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Tim 8, 9). Sin, we are told in Romans 6, shall not have dominion over Christians, “for you are not under the law, but under grace”; and this is a chapter where the question is the righteousness walk of the saint, not his justification.
Yet in the face of this clear and uniform teaching of the New Testament, the tendency of most Christians habitually is to go back to law, especially where there is feeble separation from the world. But it is easily understood, for the world does not receive or understand the grace of God, whereas it can appreciate in the letter, the righteous law of God. Hence, where the world and the Christians are mixed together, the will of man soon takes the upper hand. Then, as the Christian cannot elevate the world to his standing, he must inevitably sink to that which he holds in common with the world. Thus both meet once more on Jewish ground, as if the Cross of Christ had never been, and the Holy Spirit was not sent down from heaven to gather believers out of the mixed condition into the Body of Christ apart from the world.
Even for the individual Christian, as well as for the Church and most of all for God’s truth, grace and glory, the loss has been incalculable. For the ordinary walk has been reduced to a string of negatives, save in public acts of philanthropy, religious activity, or ritual observances, which the Christian shares with any and everybody that will join him—plain ecumenism. It is not occupation with good according to God’s will, still less is it suffering for the sake of the Lord Jesus and of righteousness from a world which knows them not. This is not Christianity, though it is the state and the system of most Christians.
Did the Lord Jesus ever obey from the fear of judgment (which the Law threatened due to inability to keep perfectly—NC)? Was not His life a surrender of Himself to the holy will and pleasure of His Father? So our souls are to be occupied with the Father’s grace in His Son, if we are to find strength in pleasing Him. The mere avoidance of evil, the not doing this or that, is below our calling. Do we indeed desire to know and to do the Father’s will as His children? Are we zealous in learning to do well, no less than careful to cease from each evil? If not, the day will come when we may begin to do evil again, and with a conscience the less sensitive, because we have learned truth which we do not carry out.
To talk about the Ten Commandments as the rule for the Christian’s walk now, is to go back from the sun which rules the day to the moon which rules the night; it is to eclipse the Lord Jesus by Moses, under the delusive profession of doing God service. In general, what the law exacted from those under the principle of right, the Christian is responsible on the principle of grace to exceed in every possible way (Mat 5:20—NC). The scope of obedience is immensely increased; the inward motives are searched out and laid bare. The tendency to violence, corruption and falsehood is judged in its roots (old man—NC), and suffering wrongfully and withal in love takes the place of earthly righteousness for the disciples. Such is the unquestionable teaching of our Lord and of His disciples; it is darkened, undermined and denied by those who insist on Judaizing the Church by putting the Christian under the law as his rule of life (which, due to misunderstanding is a recurrence of the past unlearned Jews practice—NC). Truly they “understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm” (1 Tim 1:7—NC).