Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Law of Christ

Today I would like to talk about the Law of Christ. which will be a new concept for many people. Please don't miss the video at the end.

Law and Prophets Not Abolished
In order to understand the function of the Law in the New Testament, first of all we need to listen to the words of our Lord Jesus Himself, who said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Mat 5:17). 

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Co 3:11). There is no other foundation beside Jesus Christ.  Since He alone is the foundation of the Church, then He defines life and the way life is in the New Covenant. The words of Jesus are our guide to interpreting everything the apostles teach.

In His Sermon on the Mount, quoted above, Jesus went on to say, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Mat 5:18)

He said, "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Luk 16:17).  In our modern parlance, we might say that it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one little comma or the smallest detail in the Law to be done away with.

Jesus Taught and Fulfilled the Law
Quite contrary to doing away with the Law, Jesus taught us how to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Mat 7:12)

He often cited the Law in His teachings. "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?” (Mat 12:5)

When Jesus was asked, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Mat 22:36), He did not say the Law was bad or tell the man that the Law has no relevance now that He had come.  He answered and said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Mat 22:37-40).  He taught that love is the basis for the Law and the Prophets.

When He was asked by an expert in the Law about the way to inherit eternal life, Jesus immediately pointed him to the Law.  “And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ And He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?’ And he answered, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.’” (Luk 10:25-28).  If we are doers of the Law, we will live. 

For those who think tithing is only a provision of the Law, which no longer applies to followers of Christ, listen to what Jesus taught. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Mat 23:23).  He said of their tithing that they “should have done” so, but that they should not have neglected the weightier provisions of the law.  There are weightier provisions of the Law than tithing, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." (Luk 24:44)

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (Joh 1:45).  In another instance, the crowd then answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever…” (Joh 12:34a) They had heard of the Christ in the Law and the Prophets. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  (Mat 11:13). The Law and the Prophets prophesied about Him until John, but when Jesus came, then that which was written was no longer a futuristic prediction but the fulfillment.  As Jesus said, this did not nullify the Law or the Prophets, it fulfilled them.  They are still in effect.

"Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" (Joh 7:19).  Jesus always taught that men should carry out the Law, not break the commandments.

"If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?”(Joh 7:23).  He showed the spirit of the Law and the truth of it.  The intent of the Law is love and doing good.

Grace and Truth Realized through Jesus Christ
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (Joh 1:17). Jesus realized grace and truth for us. He brought to us the truth found in the Law, the spirit of the Law, which was different from the way men understood it. It went much deeper than they thought.  The standard was much higher than they realized. And He demonstrated by His life that love was at the heart of the Law.  He also realized and fulfilled grace, such as had never been seen before in the Law.  As a result of Jesus realizing grace, through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. (Act 13:39)

They brought to Him a woman caught in the act of adultery and asked Jesus, "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" (Joh 8:5). He did not say that He cancelled the Law or that breaking the Law in this manner was no longer considered a sin.  He simply brought grace to the one who had violated the Law, and in doing so He fulfilled the Law.  Had there been no Law that said it was sin to commit adultery, His act of grace toward the adulteress would not have been necessary, and would certainly not have been so profound. But it was precisely because this was forbidden by God and was such a serious sin deserving death that this act of grace by Him was so significant. He did not condemn the repentant sinner.  But He certainly upheld the Law by saying, “Go. From now on sin no more.” (Jn 8:11).  He did call it sin, and He did command her to “sin no more.”  His grace and forgiveness did not nullify the Law.  He fulfilled it.

The Apostles Did Not Speak Against the Law
They accused Stephen falsely when they put forward false witnesses who said, "This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law.”  (Act 6:13). This was how they viewed him, but he did not speak against the Law, and neither did Jesus or any of His apostles.

Quite contrary to speaking against the Law, Stephen said to them, “You who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it." (Act 7:53).  He affirmed that the Law was ordained by angels, and that they did not keep it as they should have.

After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it." (Act 13:15).  When Paul stood up to speak, he did not speak against the Law.  He showed how Christ fulfilled what was written in it, and how “through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” (Act 13:39)

The Jews also falsely accused Paul saying, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law." (Act 18:13).  The way Paul taught men to worship God was not contrary to the Law, but it fulfilled the Law.   

When Paul visited Jerusalem, he met with James and the elders were present.  He told how the Gentiles were turning to Christ. “And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;’ (Act 21:20)  When they told Paul that thousands of Jews were turning to Christ and were zealous for the Law, Paul did not preach against this.  Instead he went along with the following advice from them.  "Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. "But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." (Act 21:23-25).  They explicitly upheld what they had previously written about the Gentiles, but wanted the Jewish believers to see that Paul walked orderly and kept the Law.  So Paul complied.

When the Jews discovered Paul in the temple, they began crying out, "Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." (Act 21:28)  These were false accusations. 

Paul countered their accusations by saying, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.” (Act 22:3) He didn’t say that they were correct and that he was teaching men against the Jewish people and the Law and the temple.  In fact, he was going into the temple to fulfill purification rights.

Paul also defended himself by telling his testimony and highlighting that the disciple of Christ involved in his conversion was "A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there.” (Act 22:12). That was the same Ananias whom the Lord instructed to lay hands on Paul to receive his sight.

When Paul stood on trial before the high priest, he said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?" (Act 23:3). Paul taught that the man had violated the Law in ordering Paul to be struck in the face.

Paul said, "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets;” (Act 24:14).  He said that he believed everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.

Paul said in his own defense, "I have committed no offense either against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar." (Act 25:8).  He testified that he had committed no offense against the Law or the temple.

In Rome, when they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.” (Act 28:23) He didn’t break the Law or teach against it, but rather tried to persuade men “from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.”

The Matter of Gentile Circumcision and the Law
In the first century Church, there was a problem in which the Christian Pharisees taught that new Gentile believers must be circumcised, which was a ceremonial part of the Law, and they wanted the Gentiles to be taught to observe the Law of Moses. “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.’” (Act 15:5)  The apostles responded by saying that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on Gentiles who were repenting and turning to God. "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Act 15:19-21). 

The apostles did not require Gentiles to be circumcised, because the ceremonial law is nothing and merely foreshadows the circumcision of the heart in Christ.  But notice that they upheld the Law of Moses by saying that in every city there are those who preach the Law, and he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues established in the Gentile world.  It had been this way since ancient generations.  Therefore, they felt that Gentiles would already know what the commandments are and would have access to the commandments of the Law, so there was no need to trouble them, except to require that they “abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.” This was far from contradicting the Law, because everything they required of the Gentiles was found in the Law, and they thought there were already sufficient channels for the Gentiles to hear the Law in their cities each week. 

While they affirmed the equal opportunities among Gentiles to hear the Law in their cities, they trusted more in the Holy Spirit, Who writes the Law in people’s hearts. Paul taught that “when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” (Rom 2:14-15).  Even Gentiles without the Law, such as Gentile believers, can instinctively do the things of the Law, and their conscience will defend them, or else it will accuse them when they break the Law, also known as committing sin.  Paul said this shows the work of the Law written in their hearts.

Keeping God’s commands in what counts!” (1 Co 7:19). Notice that while Paul taught against keeping the Law, he did teach that we should keep God's commands.  Ceremonial law is nothing to us. We are not under it. Whether or not a man is circumcised means nothing. But we are expected to obey God’s commands. That is certain. 

Paul taught that all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law. (Rom 2:12). If a person does not have the Law and sins, they will still perish without the Law. But if they sin under the Law, such as a Jew or a Christian who knows the commandments, they will be judged by the Law.

Doers of the Law
Paul taught that “it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Rom 2:13) He taught that we must be doers of the Law.

James also taught this. “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (Jam 1:25)

James taught that we must be doers of the Law. “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For He who said, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ also said, ‘DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.” (Jam 2:9,11-12)

James also taught that we must be doers of the Law, when he said: “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it”. (Jam 4:11)

In writing to the Jews, Paul said much the same, “You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?” (Rom 2:23).  He taught that by breaking the Law a person dishonors God. He said you do so whenever you steal or rob temples or commit adultery.

Now about the ceremonial right of circumcision, Paul taught, “For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves...” (Gal 6:13) He taught how God sees the circumcised person who does not keep the Law. “For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.” (Rom 2:25). But he went on to say that the person becomes as if he were uncircumcised if he transgresses any part of the Law.

He used this same logic to teach how God regards the Gentile believer as circumcised, even though he is physically uncircumcised.“So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? (Rom 2:26).The key to God regarding the uncircumcised Gentile as circumcised is that he keeps the requirements of the Law.

He once again said that “he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?” (Rom 2:27)  Paul taught that physically uncircumcised believers who keep the Law would judge the circumcised Jews who have the letter of the Law and break it.  The key here again is that Paul taught the importance of the Gentile believer to keep the requirements of the Law.

Lastly, the apostle John said, "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness."
(1Jo 3:4). My friend, Jesus has not called us to be lawless people. He is not a minister of sin.

No Justification by the Works of the Law
Although Paul taught that “the doers of the Law will be justified” (Rom 2:13), he later clarified how a man is justified, which is not by the works of the Law.  “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Rom 3:19-20).  The works of the Law can never be a means of justification in God’s sight.  That is different from being a doer of the Law. 

You need to understand that there is a big difference between doing the works of the Law in order to be justified and being a doer of the Law because Christ has justified you.  Think about that! We must still be doers of the Law, according to Paul.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” (Gal 2:16) 

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." (Gal 2:21)

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Gal 3:11)

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” (Rom 3:21) Paul said that the Law and Prophets witnessed to the fact that the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law.

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” (Rom 3:28)

So did Paul teach against what the Law says?  He answered this himself by asking, “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (Rom 3:31).  Contrary to nullifying the Law, Paul and the other apostles established it.

Then he went on to show that while he established the Law, not only does justification come apart from the Law, but the promises of God are not based on the Law. “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Rom 4:13)

“For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;” (Rom 4:14)

Speaking still of the promise that God made to Abraham, Paul said, “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” (Rom 4:16)  The promise of God is to all Abraham’s descendants – those who are of faith – not just the ones who are of the Law, meaning the Jewish ones.

“For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Rom 5:13).  Paul taught that even before the Law, sin was in the world since the Garden of Eden.  Mankind had been stung by sin and it began to bring death.  There were consequences for sin, such as eviction from the Garden, the destruction of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the world of Noah’s day.  However, when the Law came God began to count men’s sins against them. Man also began to desire to sin even more. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;” (1Co 15:56)

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20)  The Law defines sin, so when the Law came it actually increased transgression.  But this meant that God needed to have more grace.

To those who knew the Law, Paul taught what the Law says with respect to marriage: “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.” (Rom 7:2)  The laws of marriage which make it legal have jurisdiction over a person until death. 

It was on the basis of the Law that Paul could teach, “So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.” (Rom 7:3)

Paul uses this truth from God’s laws of marriage to illustrate a similar reality concerning those who believe in Christ.  “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” (Rom 7:4).  Just as the woman is freed from the law of marriage when her husband dies, so are we freed from the Law when we are united with Christ in His death.  At that point you are no longer under the Law, but Christ begins to fulfill it through you according to His resurrection power, so that you might bear fruit for God.  "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. (Gal 2:19)

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Rom 7:5-6)  Although we were once bound to the Law like a married woman, as long as we remained alive to the flesh, those sinful passions of ours were aroused by the Law and bore bad fruit for death.  But once we are united in Christ’s death, we are released from the letter of the Law, so that we serve in the newness of the Spirit. This is the spirit of the Law written in our hearts.  We don’t come to Christ so that we can break the Law.

As Paul said, God "has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant -- not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  For an example of this, it's helpful to read how Jesus taught the spirit of the law in the sermon on the Mount, which can be found in Matthew 5.

The Law is Good
“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COVET.' But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead." (Rom 7:7-8).  Paul taught the difference between being under the Law and being in Christ. When you are outside of Christ and you have the Law, you are under it.  This produces coveting of every kind and brings death.  But when you are dead to self and united with Christ, you are seated with Him in heavenly realms, far above all rule and power.  From this place of reigning in life, you are finally able to experience true righteousness and holiness.  It is only then that Christ fulfills the Law in and through you.  Then your life actually expresses the true intent of the Law, and you establish it. This is called being under the law of Christ.

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.” (1Co 9:20-21)  This is a key point!  Paul said he was not under the Law, but he was not without the Law either.  Rather he was under the law of Christ.

“I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died…So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Rom 7:9,12) Always remember that the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” (1Ti 1:8)

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin…But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.” (Rom 7:14,16).  Paul taught that the Law is spiritual.  He said, “I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.”

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members…So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (Rom 7:22-23, 25).  Paul spoke of his pre-conversion experience. Even though he concurred with God’s law, he was a prisoner of the law of sin. He contrasted the law of God and the law of sin.

Then he said, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom 8:2) The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ does not contradict the Law of God.

Although the Law of God is good, holy, and righteous, it has an inherent weakness due to the sinful nature of man.  “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.” (Rom 8:3).  Due to the sinful nature, man is unable to keep the requirements of the Law. 

But Christ condemned sin in the flesh, when He bore our sin on the cross.  And when we are united with Him in His death, He makes it possible “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.” (Rom 8:4).  The key is that we do not walk according to the flesh, but walk by the Spirit.  Then the Law is fulfilled in us, because the Holy Spirit loves the Law.

“The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” (Rom 8:7)  This explains why anyone living in the flesh is unable to subject himself to the law of God.

Paul taught that there is a goal God wants to achieve in the law.  This refers to God’s intent in the law.  It is summarized by love.  Paul called that goal or intent the “end of the law.” He taught that Christ is that end, and when you come to Him by faith, you find the one who fulfills the intent of the Law in you. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:4).  The phrase “the end of the law” does not mean that you are no longer a doer of God’s Law!  Quite the opposite! It means that now you have true righteousness, the righteousness of God, and this is the intent or “end goal” of the law.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law…Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:8,10)

Paul taught the Law.  One example was in his letter to the Corinthians, referring to those who preach making a living from the gospel, he said, “I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.’ God is not concerned about oxen, is He?” (1Co 9:8-9)

Another example of Paul teaching the Law was when writing to the Corinthians about the gift of tongues: “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me,’ says the Lord.” (1Co 14:21)

Yet another example was in his teaching from the Law about the role and behavior of women in the churches. “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says....If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.” (1Co 14:34,37, NIV).

A final example was his teaching that children must obey their parents, because it is a commandment of God. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise— 'so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'” (Eph 6:1-3, NIV)

Just as Paul taught that the works of the Law could never justify anyone, he taught that the Spirit of God is not given by the works of the Law but by faith.  “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?…So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal 3:2,5).  So while he taught that the doer of the Law is justified, he also taught that we can never be justified by the works of the Law or receive the Spirit by the works of the Law.  It is by faith in Christ.

This is why he said, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.’" (Gal 3:10)  Don’t try to be justified by doing the works of the Law.  Put your faith in Christ, and He will justify you.  In Him you will become righteous.  But then you will become a doer of the Law.

“However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, ‘HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.’" (Gal 3:12). This is why you cannot rely on the works of the Law to justify you. You must be a doer of the Law without expecting it to justify you, but rather trusting in Christ to justify you.  The reason is that on some point, we all come short of doing the Law perfectly.

That’s why it is so wonderful to know that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"-- (Gal 3:13).  The Law teaches that everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed.  Since Jesus hung on a tree – a cross – he became a curse according to the Law.  If you love God’s Law, you have to love Jesus for doing this, because through it He redeemed us from the curse of the Law.

Paul taught that the promise of God to Abraham came long before the Law. “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” (Gal 3:17)

Why the Law?
Paul explained why the Law was necessary after God made the promise to Abraham. “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” (Gal 3:19).  The Law as given by angels through the agency of Moses as a mediator. The Law was intended to impute transgressions, so that we would be led to the seed of Abraham, Christ our only mediator between God and man.

“Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.” (Gal 3:21)  While the Law is not contrary to the promise of God, it was unable to impart life, and could not bring about the righteousness of God in our lives.

“But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” (Gal 3:23-24)

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:5)  Christ redeems those who are under the Law.

Paul always taught that we are not UNDER the Law. “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?” (Gal 4:21)

Once you come to Christ, you are not under the Law, you are led by the Spirit. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Gal 5:18).  The Spirit of God fulfills the Law in you.

The Holy Spirit will lead you to do the Law, like bearing one another’s burdens. “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).  Although we are led, this is still something we must DO. This is called the law of Christ. Bearing the burden of another brother or sister is a demonstration of godly love, and loving your neighbor as yourself is the fulfillment of the whole law (Gal 5:14)

Paul taught that Christ abolished the enmity between man and God.  He did not contradict Jesus, who said that He did not come to abolish the Law!  If anyone contradicts Jesus, we must always hold fast to what Jesus taught, no matter if they are an apostle or angel. But the enmity that Christ abolished was found in the fact that the sinful nature of man made it impossible for man to fulfill the Law, so man was always at enmity with God.  Man was against God and His Law.  “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” (Eph 2:15).  Now in Christ we have peace with God.

Paul described his life before Christ saying, “As to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Phi 3:6)  This means that as far as the letter of the Law goes, men would consider him blameless on all points. He knew what it was to have a righteousness of his own that came from the works of the Law.

But Paul considered all that like rubbish once he came to know Christ.  He considered it all loss.  He only desired to be found in Christ and have His righteousness.  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phi 3:8-11)

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Tit 3:9) There is no use in disputing about the Law.  All of this hairsplitting about the minor points is unprofitable and worthless.  But there should be no dispute about the Ten Commandments found in the Law.  These are very plain and clear, and Jesus upheld them.

Paul said that the Levitical priests were not perfect and could not make anyone perfect.  “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Heb 7:19).  Jesus our high priest is our better hope through which we draw near to God. “For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.” (Heb 7:28)

“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22).  It is the Law that teaches us that all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  That’s why Jesus fulfilled the Law in shedding His blood for us for the forgiveness of sin.

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Heb 10:1)  The Law foreshadowed Christ, but was not the actual form itself.  That is why it could never make anyone perfect.

God did not desire sacrifices for sin and burnt offerings.  Although the Law required them, He did not take pleasure in them.   “After saying above, ‘SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them’ (which are offered according to the Law),” (Heb 10:8) These things were required to point men to Christ until He should come and fulfill them.

Paul draws a comparison between setting aside the Law and spurning the Lord Jesus. "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb 10:28-29, NIV).  If the penalty for setting aside the Law of Moses was death, Paul said the punishment is much worse for treating the blood of Jesus as an unholy thing once you have been sanctified by it, because this insults the Spirit of grace. 

Here is a video called "The INCORRECT Foundation," by Robert Brownell of Spirit Lessons that will help you understand my point today:

Putting it All Together
The Law has not been deleted, set aside, done away with, or erased.  Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.
  Jesus did not call us to be lawless people or lawbreakersLoving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself are the greatest commandments, and all the Law and Prophets depend on these two. 

We are not supposed to dispute about various extraneous points of the Law.  We are not to concern ourselves with ceremonial or ritual laws like circumcision or animal sacrifices. It doesn’t matter whether or not a man is circumcised. Nor do we observe the dietary laws. We are not endeavoring to keep up the law of Moses in conjunction with the gospel of Christ.  You cannot rely on your obedience to the Law of Moses to save you, because it is only by grace that you are saved through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  But the Ten Commandments are very clearly meant for all generations.  These still represent what pleases God today, and we express our love for Him by keeping His commandments. Keeping God’s commands in what counts!

Jesus and the apostles taught from the Law. But we do not simply keep the letter of the Law, which is what man sees on the outward.  For the letter kills. Rather, we keep the true spirit and intent of the Law, which goes much deeper and gives life. "We serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" (Rom 7:6b, NIV). This is only possible by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

We are not justified by doing the works of the Law.  It is only when we put our faith in Christ that He justifies us. Once you are justified, you will be led by the Spirit to be a doer of the Law. This is the law of Christ.   

Always remember that we can do nothing apart from the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:5), and if you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love (Jn 15:10). He Who lives in us fulfills the Law in us.  When you know Him personally, you have true righteousness, the righteousness of God, and this is the intent or “end goal” of the law.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible, NIV.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the following articles of mine:

Commandments in the New Covenant
The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught 
Law of Love in the New Testament
Is Obedience Optional?
The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith
The New Covenant
Faith Works!
Obedience by the Spirit
The Ways of Life
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully 
What Then Must We Observe?
The Flesh vs. the Spirit

You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Photo credit: Richard Harrison's article called God's Ten Commandments.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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