In the light of Romans 1:14-15, which speaks of the work of the law written on the heart, does Hebrews 8:10b teach us that the law is not actually written in our hearts until the New Covenant is put into effect by God?
I agree with the commentator William Hendriksen who says the phrase “work of the law” (Rom. 2:14) means the work required by the law, so that those Gentiles who at times live correctly are aware of what they should do (or not do) in order to perform what is good. They do not have the Law inwardly written in the same way that believers do under the New Covenant. Nevertheless, God has given them a sense of right and wrong.
The Apostle Paul says that Jews who have the Law written down in detail on stone or paper are frequently law-breakers. And Gentiles who only have a sense of right and wrong do in many cases actually keep the inscribed Law without realizing it. But neither Jew nor Gentile was capable keeping the Law perfectly, leaving both under condemnation.
Jeremiah 31:33, which Paul quotes in Hebrews 8:10, is a promise that the establishment of the New Covenant will result in a new kind of inward awareness of the Law of God. Christ established the New Covenant by his death and resurrection: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20 ESV).
Those who enter the New Covenant through faith in Christ receive the Holy Spirit, who indwells each believer. The Holy Spirit controls what goes on inside us. The New Covenant in effect becomes the Law. It includes the Mosaic Law as it has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and it becomes a means of examining ourselves with respect to sanctification. The Holy Spirit writes it on our hearts so that we always look to Christ for the keeping of it and develop a love for it (Ps. 119:97), because it pleases our Heavenly Father when we obey his commands.
Thus, all men have a sense of right and wrong, but it has been spoiled by sin. The Jews were given the Mosaic law to regulate and correct that imperfect sense and to lead them to Christ as the only hope of sinners. Believers in Christ are freed from the condemnation of the Law and declared righteous (justification). The Holy Spirit impresses this truth, this “law,” upon our inner person and urges us on to more and more holiness.
Hope you find this explanation helpful.
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