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Are Gentiles exempt from keeping the law?

Submitted: 2/18/2008
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Question: Acts 15 deals with some believers who were teaching others they must follow Moses' law to be saved. Regarding the final verdict of those who met to discuss this issue, are the Gentiles not required to keep the law?

Answer: 'The law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate' (1 Timothy 1:9). 'By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin' (Romans 3:20). 'Sin is the transgression of the law' (1 John 3:4). The purpose of the law is to reveal sin so that we will recognize our need for salvation. Once we are saved through the new birth experience (whether we are Jew or Gentile), we are
'not under law but under grace' (Romans 6:14).

Having said this, we now must ask, 'What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!' (Romans 6:15). When the counsel of Acts 15 decided to write a letter to the Gentile believers, they were not suggesting that it was okay for them to sin while the Jews were still obligated to live by the law. Under the New Testament, there is one standard of behavior for everyone. But contrary to what some were teaching during the days of the early church, there are certain elements of the law that no one is any longer required to observe. Keep in mind how Acts 15 begins: 'And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' The debate of Acts 15 had nothing to do with the moral aspects of the law. It only concerned matters such as circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, observing the holy days, and offering sacrifices. All of these elements of the law of Moses had been fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ and were no longer binding upon anyone, including the Jews. It's just that it took the born again Jews a while to figure this out, and even today some have still not figured it out.