Saturday, February 06, 2016

Islam - A religion of works - Keep the Law

This is part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran teaches that there are three parts to every believers life: the Law of Moses, the Gospel of Jesus, and the Koran. Only by keeping all three is one to be considered righteous and acceptable before God. It is the infidels that neglect the three pillars of religion and those who reject any one of them will not be accepted into Paradise but find for themselves severe chastisement in the age to come.
"Had they performed the Torah [law] and the Gospel [Evangel], and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have eaten [have their fill of good things] both what was above them, and what was beneath their feet. Some of them are a just nation [among them who act right]; but many of them -- evil are the things they do... Say: 'People of the Book, you do not stand on anything [have no ground to stand upon], until you perform the Torah [Law] and the Gospel [Evangel], and what was sent down to you from your Lord.' And what has been sent down [the Book] to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence [rebellion] and unbelief; so grieve not [be thou not troubled] for the people of the unbelievers." (Koran 5:70, 72)
The Koran correctly understand that there were two laws previously enacted by God: the Law of Moses, given to the Israelites as both their governmental and moral laws by which, as a nation, they were to abide by, and the Law of Christ given through Jesus to all who would believe upon His name. However, Muhammad incorrectly viewed them as not serial, one replacing the other, but rather compounding, one building upon the other. He also incorrectly saw the Koran as another compounding of the Law and the Gospel that came before. To him, Muhammad believed that all must be observed for righteousness, but is this truly the case?

Paul, speaking of the difference between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ, speaks thus of the law: he calls it a Law of "works" (Romans 3:27) and a "law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:2) It's not that the Law was sin or sinful, but that it's effect upon us was to awaken sin, to give it vent and opportunity, and by it to bring forth death in our lives.
"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died." (Romans 7:8-9)
However, of the Gospel, Paul calls it "a law of faith" (Romans 3:27) and "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:2) James refers to it as simply "the law of liberty." (James 1:25) What's important to note is that the Apostolic writers did not see the one following upon the other but the one supplanting the other. The writer of Hebrews clearly teaches that, long before the coming of Christ, God spoke of a new covenant that would replace the old covenant; one not supplying to the old but replacing the old.
"For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, 'Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah'... When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." (Hebrews 8:7-8, 13)
Paul writes that the law is incapable of making us righteous; not because of any deficiency in the law itself but because of the weakness of our flesh and our inability to keep the law. The Law is good and right but we are unable to keep it that we might gain its benefits. God's solution to this problem was not to refine the law or add more to the law, but to replace it with a different kind of law.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:2-4)
This new law is not a law of works but a law of faith, faith in Jesus Christ, His love for us, and His substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Romans 3:27-28) Everything changed with the coming of Christ. Through Moses we received the law but through Jesus, "grace and truth were realized." (John 1:17) Those who have received and believed upon Jesus have been freed from the Law. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4)

Having been freed from the Law and given a new law, a law of faith, what further need have we for another law or to bind ourselves to an old law that has already been made obsolete? What need have we for the Koran and its law and its requirement that we hold to the old Law of Moses? For those who have yet to find faith in Christ, such laws may be helpful, but for those who have new life in Christ, they have no further need for law, be it the Law of Moses or the Law of Muhammad. Instead we should seek to remember and practice the words of Paul when he said,
"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) — in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Colossians 2:20-23)
We have been freed from the law, therefore let us not find ourselves again enslaved to law, whether it be the Law of Moses of the Law of Muhammad. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

More to come...
David Robison

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