What Is A Christian’s Relationship To The Law?
The law of the Old Testament is a holy set of rules given to Israel to regulate their entire way of life as the people of God until the fulfillment of time came in Jesus Christ. Once Jesus fulfilled the law, the people of God were set free from it and called to live righteous lives being motivated, not by fear of consequence, but of love for God and others.
Understanding The Law Of The Old Testament
- The law of the Old Testament, known as the Mosaic Law, is a system of rules specifically given to the people of Israel to regulate their actions. It was not given for all people for all the time.
Leviticus 26:46; Romans 9:4; The Law for Gentiles: Romans 2:12–16
- The law of the Old Testament was given to show that God was holy and the people of Israel, who were the chosen people of God, should also be holy, making them distinct from the other people of the world. It outlined an entire way of life to show they were God’s chosen people.
Exodus 19:5–6; Leviticus 19:1–2; 20:7–8
- The law of the Old Testament is one unit made up of over 600 laws, commands, ordinances, statutes and judgements. Each law had a special purpose: some made clear what was right and wrong; some gave instruction on what to do to provide forgiveness for sinning against God; some regulated how they were to dress and eat; some commanded certain feasts and festivals to be celebrated; others were like judicial and civil law that governed the people living at that time and culture.
Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; James 2:10
- The law of the Old Testament provided a way for Israel to temporarily atone for their sins. The law required the death of the sinner as the punishment for sin, but it allowed the death of animals and certain sacrifices to temporarily atone for their sins. It could never make a person perfect; therefore, the law was just a shadow of the good things to come.
Leviticus 1–7; Hebrews 10:1–4
- Sin and death entered the world when Adam sinned against God. Sin and death reigned from Adam to Moses even though the law wasn’t given yet. The law then was given so that there would be a greater knowledge of sin. It provided standard to understand sin and that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
Romans 3:20; 5:12–14; 7:7–13; Galatians 3:24
Jesus Fulfills The Law
- Delivered From The Law: The law is powerful because of its consequence for sin—death. But when that consequence has been fulfilled, then it has lost all its power. Therefore, according to the will of God, Jesus offered His own body as the sacrifice for sin once for all. It is through this perfect single sacrifice for sins that we, through faith, can be made perfect forever. The law can no longer condemn us for doing wrong because the price has been paid in full.
Hebrews 10:5–14; Romans 7:1–6
- Righteousness By Faith: The law is good and holy, and if one could keep the whole law he would be declared righteous, but the law ultimately shows us that no one could attain righteousness through it. Jesus put an end to our efforts of trying to achieve righteousness through keeping the law and tells us that He will freely give us His righteousness through faith.
Romans 8:3–4; 10:4–13; Galatians 2:16; 3:13–14; 23–26
- Abolishing The Separation: The law of the Old Testament was given to the Jews and it made them distinct from everyone else (Gentiles). But Jesus, through His death, abolished the law thus breaking down the middle wall of partition between us. The law is no longer a barrier between us but anyone who has faith in Jesus can draw near to God.
Not Under The Law, But Under Grace
- Fulfilling The Law: Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfill all the things concerning Him that were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms. He accomplished this through His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, even though the law should always be respected as the Word of God and is profitable for us today, it is no longer binding over the people of God.
Matthew 5:17–18; Luke 24:44; Galatians 3:10, 13
- Free From The Law: Believers are free from the law, which means that the strength of the law, its consequence, no longer exist. We are freed to live without fear of consequence for breaking the law. We will never come under condemnation again. God allows His people to live in the realm of His free and unmerited favor, to live in His grace.
Romans 6:14; 8:1; Hebrews 10:15–18
- Servants Of Righteousness: Freedom from sin and allows us to become the servants of righteousness. Even though the consequence for sin was taken away it doesn’t make sin no longer sin. Before the law was fulfilled, the majority of it contained temporary commands for Israel. Once it was fulfilled those parts of the law are no longer necessary or binding because they have been established. Other parts of the law contained permanent commands, meaning those sins were sins before the law and are sins after the law. It is these commands or sins that are always wrong and believers are not to commit them because they are against God. The New Testament gives us light into which parts of the law are permanent (these actions are wrong in every generation) and which parts were temporary (these actions are wrong only during a certain period of time).
Romans 3:26; 6:1; 15, 18; 8:4; Colossians 2:16–17; Galatians 5:19–25
- Love Is The Greatest Command: Today, believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are to obey the two great love commands: (1) love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; (2) love your neighbor as yourself. Our lives should be governed by these two commands, and if they are, then we don’t have to worry about sinning. We don’t want to sin because we are trying to love God and love others.
Matthew 22:36–40; Mark 12:28–31; Galatians 5:13–14; 6:2; 1 John 4:7–8; 5:3; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18
- To whom was the law given?
- What was the purpose of the law?
- Who fulfilled the law? How?
- Are believers under the law? Why?
- What are the commands for believers?