The Relativity of the Law For Christians

The debate over the proper relativity of the Mosaic Law (Jewish Torah) to Biblical Christianity has persisted virtually unresolved for over two millennia. Certainly, no single article will remedy the disagreements between religious factions and associated schools of theology. Regardless, the intent of this composition is to bring to light some issues that many modern commentators have either naively overlooked, or stubbornly and purposely ignored. In the process, they have delivered faulty doctrines to their students and followers.

Hopefully, in order to present these ideas in the most amicable approach, there needs to be starting point of mutual agreement. The Law contains a total of 613 commandments (248 positive – what man “shall do” , and 365 negative – what man “shall not do”). It must be further understood that centuries AFTER the original Law was given to them, the Jews added to it the traditions of various religious teachers, in their Talmud.

Ironically (but left to the reader to establish any relevancy), the 248 positive laws equal the total number of bones in the human body, while the 365 negative laws equal the number of days in the solar year. The Jews used this fact to teach that the Law must be observed in every bone (the very fiber of one’s being) and every day in one’s life.

To gain the greatest benefit from reading the remainder of this article, please prayerfully seek and expect the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who has promised to lead true believers into all truth .

“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come”
– Jo.. 16:13.

A primary  consideration the Mosaic Law, must be comprehended with same mindset of the recently freed Hebrews to whom it was orignally given. History has given substantial evidence to show that their world-view was singular, in that they saw no distinction between the spiritual and physical realms in terms of personal reality.

Consequently, to them, the all-pervasive scope of the commandments indicated that there is no dividing line between the sacred and the profane in the life of a true child of God. To them, the world was not compartmentalized into the realms of the spiritual and the material.

The WHOLE earth is filled with the glory of God,” – Ps. 72:19

This was the basis for the ancient Hebrew mindset and they believed that it is only because of spiritual blindness that man does not discern that truth. Simply put, they were taught that all the various commandments found in Scripture were given because the spiritual realm is intended to permeate every aspect of human life.

The Scriptures are filled with commandments intended to alert man to the reality of God’s Omnipresence. The corresponding statutes were intended to point to His constant presence and bring man to understand, accept, and appreciate His benevolent will. That was the general purpose; it is properly interpreting the specifics that causes so much confusion.

The subject of the divine commandments quite naturally raises the question of whether a follower of Christ should adhere to the Law of Moses. While many consider such a topic moot because Jesus Himself kept the Law perfectly, and is considered by converted Jewish believers to be the Voice of the Living God speaking from the midst of the fire at Sinai.

“Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you and we will hear and do it”
– Dt. 5:24 – 27.

It should be understood that prior to that event at Sinai, the Jews had many personal, physical encounters with God. The physical manifestations of God were a common reality among them. But instead of responding to such encounters with a deeper faith and assurance, they became fearful and obstinate.

So they petitioned to have a religious experience similar to those of the pagan cultures that surrounded them. They wanted instant gratification through ritual. It was at THEIR request that God gave Moses the Law.  They essentially traded personal encounter for religious observance. They rejected a personal encounter with God and requested a mediator be appointed between them.

“When the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”– Ex. 20:18.

It was in response to THAT petition, that God delivered the Law to Moses. But should Christians also follow Christ’s observance of the Law by becoming obedient to the Law?

Reason dictates that, of course we should love and study scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Every true Christian should certainly be piously aware that scripture contains the Law. So, one side of the debate offers this: Christ was the “Angel of the LORD”, who spoke at Sinai when the Law was given to Israel (Ex. 3:2, Dt. 4:12). He is the same; yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8). During His earthly ministry, He studied the Law, read the Law in synagogues, and clearly taught the Jews to keep the ways of the LORD (Lk. 4:16, Matt. 7:12). He repeatedly affirmed the central teaching of the Law – putting the duty to love God above all else (Mk. 12:29). Indeed, these passages promise that Law would be written upon our hearts – just as Christ  Himself clearly taught.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did
not come to destroy but to fulfill”
– Mt. 5:17.

“Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them
in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself”
– Lk. 24:27.

While it should be quite obvious that he Law was the foundation for the ministry of Christ, the other side of this topic is this. It is  vital to remember that Jesus came to die for man’s sins and to set us free from the Law’s judgment against us.

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law – Gal. 3:13.

He came to initiate a New Covenant with God that is based on His merit and His Righteousness – NOT ours. In other words, it is important to make the distinction between the general idea of the Law, with the more specific idea of covenant since these are significantly different (although intrinsically related) ideas.

The Hebrew word “Torah” is a term that means “instruction” or “teaching”; whereas the word “covenant” refers to a specific agreement  made between God and a unique people within mankind.  In order to avoid confusion between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, it must be understood that Torah is always a function of the underlying Old Covenant.

This implies that if the covenant were to change, so would man’s responsibility. Too many exegetical errors and invalid doctrines have resulted from a failure to make this distinction. Christians are admonished to

rightly divide the word of truth” – 2 Tim. 2:15.

The author of the Book of Hebrews makes this point:

“In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom
He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He
created the world”
Heb. 1:2.

The Greek construction for the phrase translated, “by His Son” literally means “he spoke to us IN His Son” that is, in the language or voice of the Son of God Himself; God NOW speaks in the language “of His Son” from the midst of the fire revealed at Sinai, but no longer through Moses.

Those who continue to advocate legalism (but have yet to seriously think through its implications) are obviously unaware of the deeper function of Sinai and its provisions. Two things should be immediately realized regarding this:

  1. The term “everlasting” doesn’t necessarily mean “unchanging” or “eternal”. Moses, David, and Ezra all changed the Torah, and most of the later Jewish scholars acknowledged that the Torah would be changed in the days of the Messiah.
  2. The New Covenant is an entirely new covenant, not some renewed version of the old covenant that was sprinkled with the blood of bulls at Mt. Sinai. Paul points back to the universal unconditional Abrahamic covenant issued from the mountains of Gerizim and Eval as the foundation underlying the deeper covenantal message of God, NOT to the blessings and curses in the Law.

Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now
being made perfect by the flesh?
Have you suffered so many
things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
Therefore He who
supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does
He do it by the works of the L
aw, or by the hearing of faith?—
just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him
for righteousness.”
Therefore know that ONLY those who are
of FAITH are sons of Abraham.
And the Scripture, foreseeing
that God would justify the Gentiles by FAITH, preached the
gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations
shall be blessed.”
So then those who are of FAITH are blessed
with believing Abraham”
– Gal. 3:3-9.

Of course, many have attempted to justify submission to the Law citing the terms given at Sinai as eternally binding, but then they must also be constrained by ALL the conditions of THAT agreement, and they are thereby implicitly denigrating the need for a radically New Covenant. Be forewarned: persisting in such a mindset ultimately grieves the Spirit of Grace that broods over the sacrifice of Christ.

“…one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the
Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified
Him, and insulted the Spirit of grace”
– Heb. 10:29.

  “They themselves are crucifying the Son of God all over again
and subjecting Him to open shame”
– Heb. 6: 6.

Scripture has cautioned that hardening one’s heart on these matters can lead to eternal loss. God is not mocked. He did not sacrifice Himself on the cross for the sake of merely creating more disciples of Moses. We are called to follow Christ and submit to His authority alone. Anything else is a betrayal of Jesus, and like Judas, it is a gross misunderstanding of Christ’s true mission and who He really is!

The Apostle Paul wrote that the Law also reveals our sinful condition:

“From the Law comes the knowledge of sin”. “But now the
righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested, being
witnessed by the law and the prophets”
Rom. 3:20-21.

The phrase “apart from the law” means very literally from an entirely different sphere from that which says, “do this,” It is the “righteousness” that comes from God, NOT from man. Jesus Christ is the LORD our Righteousness.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will
make
a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the
house of Judah,
NOT like the covenant which I made with
their fathers in the day I took
them by the hand to bring them
out of the land of Egypt, My covenant
which they broke,
although I was a husband to them,” declares the
LORD. But
this is the covenant which I will make with the house of

Israel AFTER those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My
law within
them and on their heart I will write it; and I will
be their God, and they
shall be My people”
– Jer. 31: 31-33.

Regarding the statement that the LORD would write HIS law upon their hearts, it is vital to understand that the law referred to there is the law of the New Covenant, NOT the old Mosaic Law. Otherwise, there would be no distinction given between the Law which had been broken (BEFORE) and the new law to come AFTER! In other words, God would write “Christ’s Law” on our hearts, NOT the Law of the Old Covenant .

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to
keep
the Israelites from gazing at the end of what was fading
away. Their
minds were closed. For to this day, the same veil
remains at the
reading of the old covenant. It has not been lifted, because only in Christ can it be removed. Even to this day when
Moses is read, a veil
covers their hearts
.…” – 2Cor. 3:13-15.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim that anything
comes
from us, but our competence comes from God. He has
qualified us as
ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but
of the Spirit; for the
letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came
with such glory that the Israelites could
not gaze at the face of
Moses because of its fleeting glory. Is not the ministry
of the Spirit
even more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry of righteousness! Indeed, 
what was once glorious has no glory now in comparison to the glory that surpasses it
– 2Cor. 3: 5-10.

Surely the “ministry of death”, carved in letters on stone, which was brought to an END was NOT to be written on our hearts! Because the letter kills, only the Spirit gives life.

The “ministry of condemnation” is contrasted with the “ministry of righteousness” and far exceeds it in glory and value. Notice the words highlighted in BOLD; they emphasize that the old must be contrasted with the NEW. What ONCE was, NO longer is!

Now we know that the Law is good , IF one uses it legitimately.
We realize
that law is NOT enacted for the righteous, but for
the lawless and rebellious,
for the ungodly and sinful, for the
unholy and profane, for killers of father or mother, for murderers,
for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave traders and
liars and perjurers, and for
anyone else who is averse to sound doctrine
– 1 Tim. 1:8-10.

It is imperative that one fully understands that the Law addresses those who are lawbreakers. It was given to the rebellious Hebrews to warn them of their ungodly and sinful ways. But it was NEVER intended to lead them to their own righteousness, merely to their absolute need for the only RIGHTEOUS ONE – God the Savior!

In other words, the Law functions as a sort of “prison” intended to restrain the evil impulses of the human heart.  The problem is not with the Law, but rather with the underlying condition of the human heart. What mankind needs is NOT a revised Law, but a total change of heart – and that is precisely what the New Covenant is: spiritual rebirth, a new “heart of flesh,” and God-given power to walk while in it, in love and thereby transcend the Law and its requirements!

It was the ONLY Jews who were repeatedly commanded to keep the Law and follow it.

“It was added because of transgressions until the Messiah
would come”
– Gal. 3:19).

The moral conscience in man was not enough for the human heart to understand the extent of human sinfulness, so the Law was added to expose the impulses of man’s lower nature. Man’s natural instincts are violations of the will of God Himself. The Law is not contrary to the promises of God, although it was powerless to impart eternal righteousness and life. Scripture reveals that everyone is “imprisoned” to sin so that the promise of faith could be given to all.

Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the Law: for sin
is the transgression of the Law
– 1Jo.3: 4.

Is the Law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if
there had been a law given which could have given life, verily
righteousness should have been by the law.
Scripture has
concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ
might be given to them that believe.. ”
–  Gal. 3:21, 22.

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who
are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the
world may become guilty before God
. But NOW God has shown
us his saving power without the help of the Law and the Law and
the Prophets tell us about this”
– Ro. 3: 19 – 21.

Any statements that the Law was eternal and binding and that we should observe it “forever” must be comprehended in light of these facts. The system itself is self-contained therefore the terms of the covenant are indeed eternal. But, if a person attempts to please God on the basis of the old covenant, they are free to try to do so, but such activity implies that ALL covenantal blessings and curses would also fall upon them. They are liable to completely fulfill the righteousness of the WHOLE Law to its smallest point.

“Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in
one point, he is guilty of all
”   
– James 2:10.

The New Covenant, on the other hand, imparts the righteousness of God apart from the Law. Faith in God’s righteousness transcends the weakness of the Law by imparting a new principle (or law) called the Law of the Spirit of Life:

 “For the Law of the Spirit of Life in the Christ has set you free
 from the law of sin and death”
– Rom. 8:2.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the
Law
through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful
passions which
were aroused by the Law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.  But NOW we have been
delivered from the Law,
having died to what we were held by,
so that we should serve
in the newness of the Spirit and NOT
in the oldness of the letter
– Ro. 7:4-10.

Those who attempt to mix the two covenants are called adulterers. The goal or aim of the Law was the New Covenant — not the other way around.  The law is called a “tutor” meant to lead men to the Savior and His teachings.

The Greek word translated as “tutor” refers specifically to a trusted servant who would supervise the life and morals of boys belonging to the Jewish upper class.  Before arriving at the age of manhood, Jewish boys were not allowed to leave their house without being escorted by their “tutor”. Followers of the Messiah are admonished not to revert to childish thinking but to understand matters maturely.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child,
I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away
childish things
– 1Cor. 13:11.

“Everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those
who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their
senses exercised to discern both good and evil”
– Heb.5: 13, 14.

The glory of the Law of Moses was destined to fade away, just as its ritual center (the Temple) was a shadow to be replaced by the greater priesthood of Melchizedek in Jesus Christ.

 “The Law, which was 430 years LATER, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed BEFORE by God in Christ, that
it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance
is of the Law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to
Abraham by promise. What purpose then does the Law serve?
It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made; …
If there had
been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law.  But Scripture has confined all
under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be
given to those who believe. BEFORE faith came, we were kept
under guard by the Law, kept for the faith which would AFTERWARD be revealed. Therefore, the Law was our
TUTOR to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by
faith. But AFTER faith has come, we are no longer
under a tutor
– Gal. 3:17-26.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the
Law through
the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful
passions which were aroused by the Law
were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.  But NOW we have been
delivered from the Law, having died to what we were held by,
so
that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and NOT
in the oldness of the letter
– Ro. 7:4-10.

“For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and NOT the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect” – Heb. 10:1.

Jesus Christ is the Goal and the Redeemer from the curse of the Law. For the Law made nothing perfect, but on the other hand, a better hope was introduced, and that is how man now draws near to God.

“For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through
the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful
flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk
not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
Rom. 8:3-4.

“The Law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is
the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near
to God“
– Heb. 7:19.

In the agrarian culture of His time, the beasts of burden were controlled and guided by the wooden “yoke” placed across their necks. To claim to be a sincere follower or true student of Christ one is obligated to receive, study, and accept His yoke, the new “Law of God”.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and
learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and
you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light”
– Mt. 11:28-30.

A deeper prayerful contemplation should be given to this passage. Notice that the purpose of Christ’s spiritual yoke is to steer and lead, just as its actual physical counterpart. But His ulterior motive is the direct opposite. Instead of being used to involve heavy labor, He intends it to provide REST. It is not a hard and burdensome weighty restriction, but rather, EASY and LIGHT.

In other words, one should submit to His authority as their Lord and Master by walking in His redemptive love. The Law of Moses was always intended to hopefully intoduce man to a realization that he cannot save himself, nor attain righteousness through even his best efforts. The intent was solely to point man to his need for a savior, and then deliver him to Christ the Savior, and thereby receive His better instruction.

These passages further demonstrate the differences between the written Law of Moses and the new Law of Christ:

“…which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said,
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with
all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang ALL
the Law and the Prophets
– Mt. 22:39-41.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as
I have loved you
– Jo.15:12.

This is His commandment: that we should believe on the
name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He
gave us commandment
– 1Jo.3:23.

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of
Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of
Christ has both the Father and the Son
-2Jo. 9.

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to
whole
some words, even the words of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and to
the doctrine which accords with godliness,
he is proud, knowing nothing, but is
obsessed with
disputes and arguments over words, from which come
envy, strife,
reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings
of men of
corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who
suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such
withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is

great gain
– 1Tim. 6: 3-6.

Peter testified  that even the most zealous among the Jews could not bear the strain of the yoke of the Law of Moses.

Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of
the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able
to bear?”
–  Ac. 15:10.

True born again believers are NOW led by the Spirit of God as God’s sons and are therefore no longer subject to the yoke of religious regulations that commanded men to “touch not, taste not, handle not”. Instead, they are NOW called to seek those things that are above, where Christ reigns from on high.

“Therefore, since you died with Christ from the basic principles
of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations: “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things that perish with use, according
to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of NO value against the indulgence of the flesh. Since you were also raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God”
– Col. 2:20 – 3:1.

The two “great commandments” Christ spoke of center on loving God and loving others, but both of these presuppose faith that God exists, and that He is loving and good.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who
comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a
rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”
Heb. 11:6.

A person can attempt to obey all the Law every day for the rest of their lives, but if they do not believe in their heart that God is a real SUPERNATURAL BEING who wants to have a vital and personal relationship with them as their Heavenly Father, they shall NEVER come to truly know HIM.

Believing that God is one’s Heavenly Father is surely not enough, since God’s salvation has been made known as demonstrated in the sacrificial love of His Son. Only those who sincely and absolutely trust in Christ as God their Savior can therefore truly know God the Father’s love.

“All should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He
who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who
sent Him”
– Jo. 5:22-23.

Too many people think that they honor the Son by performing good works and being obedient to the commandments delivered by Moses to the Jews. But such belief actually dishonors Christ because the immediate implication is that HIs sacrifice was not enough. There would have never been a NEW testament if there was any justification to still be found by following the OLD.

Therefore, the most important commandment – the one on which all the others ultimately hang – is to personally trust  ABSOLUTELY and EXCLUSIVELY in the unique work of God for salvation given through God the Son,  APART from ANY and ALL other works, ordinances, or rituals.

 “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have
the Son of God does not have life”
– 1 John 5:12.

Having the Son is therefore the goal of God’s Law. Scripture never adds any references to the Law or good works when it declares the doctrine of salvation through the finished work of Christ. One must prayerfully ask, why then do some church dogmas?

“Christ is the END of the Law for righteousness to
everyone who believes”
– Ro. 10:4.

According to Jewish scholars, the Talmud says, “Moses gave Israel 613 commandments David reduced them to eleven (Psa. 15), Isaiah further reduced them to six (Isa. 33:15-16), Micah cut them to three (Mic. 6:8), Isaiah reduced them again down to two (Isa. 56:1); but it was Habakkuk who gave the one essential commandment: “the righteous, by his trust, shall live” (Hab. 2:4). [ref.: Makkot 23, 24],

The New Testament writers likewise distilled the various commandments of the Law to this first principle of faith.

“That no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is
evident, for the just shall live by FAITH”
Gal. 3:11

“Now the just shall live by Faith; But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
– Heb. 10:38.

It is the Holy Spirit that gives life and who breathes the real meaning of the Law into the hearts of true believers. Notice the emphasis on the modifier “true” throughout this article.

Remember that Jesus warned that not everyone who calls Him Lord is truly His. Being obedient to an expired covenant (the Law) is NOT truly following the Law of Christ.

“If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under
the Law”
– Gal. 5:18.

“Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among
you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing
of faith?”
– Gal. 3:1, 2.

Truly born again believers are no longer to be constrained by either legalism or the Law, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is power to please Him. The Spirit sets believers free from the seduction of both legalism and debauchery. When led by the Holy Spirit, believers rely upon God’s provision to walk in a way that pleases Him.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord
is, there is liberty”
– 2Cor. 3:17.

Conversely, when a person relies on himself, he is operating under the principle of his own ability to please God, which invariably leads to pride (legalism) or anarchy (anti-legalism) – and sometimes to both.

Therefore, it must be understood that the role of the Law is often connected with the flesh and death, but the role of the Spirit is always connected with life and power. Walking in the Spirit, thus truly and solely trusting in God’s salvation, does NOT lead to lawlessness, but rather fulfills the righteousness of the Law in us through faith. True Christians live under the “law of liberty”, which has replaced the Law of Moses. This obviously does not mean what has been too frequently supposed as freedom to become enslaved to sin again.

 “Brethren, you have been called to liberty; only do not use
liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve
one another”
– Gal. 5:13.

On the contrary, the law of liberty implies that we are made free from the law of sin and death (which is a futile principle of self-justification) in order to serve God in newness of life. As the Apostle James uses this term, it is the power to act on the truth that has been given to born again believers. Such are to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, since faith without works is dead and leads to self-deception and reasoning around the truth. True belief is never a passive reality. Only those who actually follow through and live their faith will be blessed in their actions.

“He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues
in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this
one will be blessed in what he does”
– Jas. 1:25.

This is a reminder of Christ’s statement:

If you know these things, blessed are you if
you do them
(Jo. 13:17).

Hopefully, it is becoming more clearly apparent that although faith without works is dead, there is an important distinction between the works of the Law and the works that are the real fruit of the Spirit. The works of the Law are produced entirely by the will of man hoping to gain approval of God. The works that result from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in truly born again believers are produced by God’s empowering presence, NOT man’s ability.

“For it is God working IN you, both to will and to do
according to HIS good pleasure
”.
– Phil. 2:13.

This is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ. True believers are no longer enslaved by the power of sin but have a new life and a new principle of life that leads them to real spiritual freedom.

“If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” – Jo. 8:36.

But such freedom never means doing whatever one wants, but rather it is the power to choose contrary to the demands of one’s lower nature. Becoming born again, one puts off the old self-centered nature, and having died to it, becomes a new creature in Christ.

“Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man
which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and
be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new
man which was created according to God, in true
righteousness and holiness”
– Ep. 4:22-24.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” – Gal. 5:25.

It is the divinely imparted new nature that gives true believers the power to “put to death” the old self by reckoning it “crucified with Christ”. Much of the confusion and resulting debate about the real relevance of the Law for Christians stems from teaching that lacks godly discernment. The teachings of the New Testament writers considered their audiences to already be truly born again. They assumed that the term ‘Christian’ imlied that.

Too many religious teachers today allow their students to suppose that the admonitions of scripture are to be followed with the same ‘white-knuckle’ approach to obedience that the failed Hebrews attempted in observing the Law. Worse yet, few even show how the Law was only for the Hebrews. Obedience to the Law was always intended by God to expose man’s total inability to do so, in hopes that such desperation would expose the need for the Savior.

Jesus Christ is only the “Author of Eternal Salvation” for those who ABSOLUTELY accept Him as He truly is – to really KNOW Him!

“Christ became the author of eternal salvation to
all who obey HIM
– Heb. 5:9.

The preceding verse not only declares to whom Christ is legitimately the author of eternal salvation, but it also sets an important qualification. Notice that the object of obedience is NOT to the Law or ANY set of ordinances, but to a person –Jesus Christ. Real Christians are to “obey” Christ, NOT the Law!

Because of Christ, true believers are no longer slaves to several areas of former sinful actions that resulted in separation from God. It is important to view these things individually, rather than merely in the more common “umbrella” term of “sin”.

Of course, collectively, they are all sin in and of themselves, but rarely are they distinguished separately in a way that highlights each individual problem. Therefore, the following have been organized to facilitate such illumination in hopes that a better realization that being saved to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25) encompasses ALL. Although this is not intended to be an absolutely unabridged list, truly born again believers have been
set free from the following:

  1. Uncontrollable lust and the power of our human nature (Ro. 6:12-14; Ep. 4:22-23; Gal. 2:20)
  2. Untrue thoughts (Jo. 8:32; 1Cor. 2:16; Col. 2:8)
  3. Fear, and the fear of death itself (1Jo. 4:18; Heb. 2:15)
  4. The vanity of the world system and its godless pressures (1Jo. 2:16-17; Col. 2:20; Ro. 12:1-2)
  5. Various forms of pride and cultural identity (Phil. 3:1-11; Gal. 3:28)
  6. Spiritual power of forces opposed to God (1Jo. 3:8; Lk. 10:19)
  7. The curse of the law and the penalty for our sins (Gal. 3:13; 1Pt. 2:24)

Having been set free from ALL the sin that formerly weighed them down, born again believers are filled with a ‘joy unspeakable, and full of glory’!They have received the Holy Spirit and a ‘blessed assurance’ that they are eternally secured in Christ.

But being set free by Christ does not mean that one will be forever sinless.  In this present physical realm, temptations continue to hinder a perfect relationship with God.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
– 1Jo. 1:8, 9.

“Height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be
able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord” – Ro. 8:39

Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not
see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable
and full of glory”
1Pt. 1: 8.

“Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour” – 1Pt. 5:

The root connection one once had to sin has been irreparably severed. Where once man had no choice, but was intrinsically prone to sin, true believers have now been ‘disconnected’ from that proclivity. The more one matures in Christ, the greater the realization that such bad habits have fully been broken.

Spiritual maturity actually means ‘catching up’ with what God has ALREADY done for man through the Holy Spirit. In order to fully grasp the proper concept of a ‘new covenan’, the phrase needs to be further qualified. If one supposes it to mean that man should continue to follow the Law of Moses, understand instead that system has been replaced by a new and better covenant based on the glorious salvation of God. On the other hand, if one understands it to mean accepting the gospel by receiving the Law of Christ, then of course one should keep that law.

 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God;
and if it begins within, what will be the outcome for those who
do not accept the gospel of God?”
1 Pet. 4:17; 2

“Vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who
do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Thes. 1:8.

The Law of Moses has 613 commandments, but in Christ’s famous Sermon on the Mount address, He demanded that the inner intent of the Law be fulfilled, not merely an outward conformity to it. The righteousness that Christ called for was to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who were held in highest esteem among the Jews of His day. Jesus then went on to contrast the inner intention of the Law with various outer forms of religious expression.

“Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of
the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the
kingdom of heaven”-
Mt. 5:20.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall
not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say toyou that whoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger
of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in
danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there remember that your brother has something against
you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.
First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer
your gift”
– Mt. 5:21-4.

Most people fall short of whole-heartedly observing even the 1st commandment to love the LORD, let alone actually living the sort of life based upon the attitude of heart that Christ requires. Few people properly realize that becoming truly born again (as Christ said is a MUST – Jo. 3:7) requires a sincere dying to self.

This is not a cessation of the physical heart, but the end of self-centeredness. Such “death” has NO future resurrection. Legitimate dying to self is a one-time sincere surrender of one’s desire to operate by their own free-will in direct exchange for the full appreciation, acceptance, and absolute, perpetual allegiance to the will of God as He reveals Himself in a personal encounter through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.

Such an act has too frequently been attempted with merely momentary intellectual agreement, but lacking heartfelt sincerity or complete surrender of ALL. But again it must be emphasized that God NEVER intended man to accomplish such requirements under or through his own power. The gift of the Holy Spirit was always the provision of GRACE that God knew man needed to accomplish any good. After all, only God is good!

“No one is good but One, that is, God” – Mt. 19:17.

“It is God who works in you both to will and to do for
His good pleasure” – Phil. 2:13.

Life is very complicated, and the longer one lives the more so it can become. The Apostle John spoke of God’s working IN true believers and wrote what Jesus declares,

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My
voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with
him, and he with Me”
Rev. 3:20.

Obviously, this is NOT to be comprehended as a literal physical scenario; it was written years after Christ’s ascension into heaven. A figurative and allegorical interpretation of this passage is therefore required. The “door” upon which Jesus “knocks” is the spiritual entrance to one’s heart (center of being, conscience, etc.).

To expand upon this analogy further, consider one’s life as a house – not too much of a stretch of imagination since scripture refers to the body as a tent, a common physical home to some 1st century apostles:

“…shortly I must put off my tent” – 2Pt. 1:14.

Many people eager to respond to such an invitation gladly open the “door” and allow Christ into the “living-rooms” of their spiritual house, but NEVER give Him permission to enter EVERY  other “room”. Consequently, many ‘closets’ containing ‘secret sins’ never get properly surrendered, and therefore, the full requirements for becoming truly born again are not met (ALL their ‘heart’ not being fully opened).

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with ALL your heart” – Jer.29:13.

Many have enquired as to how the proper determination can be made. To note: God is not mocked, and surely He knows a true conversion from the counterfeit. He never recants on an action. He never indwells a person who has not truly and volitionally surrendered their will to Him. He is a ‘gentleman’; He patiently waits at the “door”. He never busts it down and forces His way in. But if the conversion is truly sincere (and God knows all hearts), then the Holy Spirit comes in to take up permanent residency.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word
and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life,
and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from
death into life.” – Jo. 5:24.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who
are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh,
but according to the Spirit” – Ro. 8:1.

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” – Ro. 11:29.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” Heb.13:15.

“Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed
unto
the day of redemption”
– Ep. 4:30.

Such is the ‘blessed assurance’ of every truly born again believer. Filled with the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit, they have already passed from death to eternal life. There is therefore no condemnation awaiting them. What God has given them, is permanent and irrevocable. The Holy Spirit will never leave them; He serves as a constant  evidence of salvation.

Referred to as a “seal”, these things should be understood.  In the 1st century Roman Empire,the signant ring of the Emporer imposed his seal upon declarations -making them officially binding. Also, being “sealed” meant that what was sealed inside would not get out, and outside contaminents could not get in.

When Jesus taught about the demonic realm, not only was He prophesying about the future of Judaism but it was also to declare the need to be filled with the Spirit. It was precisely due to the fact that the delivered demonic in the story did not become filled with God’s presence that allowed the demon to re-possess him. That this was prophetic of the Jews impending END is established by the last sentence – “So shall it also be with this wicked generation”.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” – Mt.12:43-45.

Since counterfeit conversions occur on a strictly emotional and intellectual level, rather than the necessary spiritual melding of hearts, they can never be perpetuated because the actual spiritual-birth does NOT actually happen.

Without the enabling of the Holy Spirit (solely by whom one is truly born again), such persons are merely attempting to act righteous by trying to duplicate the fruit of the Spirit through acts of good works performed under their own power and ability – instead of really being produced through the Holy Spirit. But looking and acting like a born again believer does NOT make one a truly born again any more than merely going to church makes one areal Christian.

Mere moral reformation is never enough to please God. A genuine miracle is required for someone to actually die to self and be reborn in the Spirit. You cannot “fake” the qualities of heart that God demands. Some people may be fooled, but God is NOT.

For the truly born again believer, the law must be in relation to the message of salvation delivered in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ.  That is the intent of this declarationby Paul:

For Messiah is the END OF THE LAW for righteousness to
everyone who believes”
– Ro. 10:4.

The Greek word translated END is “telos”, which literally means “termination,” “goal,” or “limit at which a thing ceases to be.” Christ – THE RIGHTEOUS ONE – having already completed His earthly mission, means the Law as a hope of attaining righteousness has ceased.

The moment one accepts Christ and rightly understands who He is and what He has done, legal religion is a thing of the past, the way to righteousness is NOT the observance of statutes, it is FAITH – the abandonment of the soul to the redeeming judgment and mercy of God in His Son”.

Further examination of “counterfeit” conversions should be prayerfully considered by every sincere seeker of TRUTH.

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is
in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified”
– 2Cor. 13:5.

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not
so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God,
be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down
to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who
exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself
will be exalted.”
– LK. 18:11-13

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the
kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ Then will I declare to them, ‘I NEVER knew you; depart from me, you
workers of lawlessness”
Mt. 7:21-23

Notice that there is NO rehearsal of the Ten Commandments or mention about any observance of various aspects of the Law of Moses, but instead these passages focus on the expectations of  benefits derived from the deeds of those who claimed to be His followers. Perhaps THEY really thought they were, but we are to be judged according to His word, Christ’s Law.

The Greek word translated “lawlessness” refers to the condition of freely and consciously rejecting God’s will.  It is a warning to those who merely give lip service to obeying Christ but who are in reality merely spiritual impostors.

It is a huge mistake to think that Christ was referring to those who disregarded the Law of Moses. Surely those who “do the will of the Father are those who put their absolute trust in the vicarious deeds of Christ on their behalf.

 “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My
brother and sister and mother
– Mt. 12:50.

“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who
sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;
and I will raise him up at the last day”-
Jo. 6:40.

“Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us
from this present evil age, according to the will of our God
and Father
– Gal. 1:4.

Attempting to refer to “lawlessness” as violating the Law of Moses is therefore absurd and fallacious. God’s will is for people to be changed by believing the message of His salvation given through His Son. Any interpretation regarding the Law that denies this great truth is therefore a false doctrine.

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have
the Son does not have life”
– 1Jo. 5:12.

 “Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins”
– Jo. 8:24.

Scripture declares that the covenant made at Sinai was “passing away” and the Levitical priesthood has transformed based on a higher priesthood. The priesthood reverted back to the original priesthood of Sinai and therefore required a corresponding transfer of authority to the original kingship as well. Christ alone is both High Priest and King.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity
a
change also of the Law” – Heb. 7:12.

“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones,
was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance,
which glory was passing away”
– 2Cor. 3:7.

Regarding obedience to the Law, it must be understood that those who choose to obey it can believe, but only those who truly believe can properly obey. Faith and works are two sides of the same spiritual “coin”: the heart of the law is the gospel. Indeed, “taking up the cross” and truly following Christ sets a much higher standard than what observance of the Mosaic Law demands, or can ever produce.

The inner is not the outer. It is the love of God the Son that fulfills the Law and its demands. All the various civil, moral, and religious rules of the Law were intended to help man to arrive at a godly destination – to be in a loving, right-relationship with God and others – but it takes the Holy Spirit to transform the human heart.

“The purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart,
from a good conscience, and from sincere faith
– 1Tim.1:5.

ALL the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall
love your neighbor as yourself”
– Gal. 5:14.

“He who loves another has fulfilled the Law” – Ro. 13:8.

“The kingdom of heaven is WITHIN you” Lk. 17:21.

It is therefore a serious mistake to revert back to the Law of Moses since it was NEVER intended to become an end unto itself. As has been stated throughout this article, the goal of the Law was to bring a person into an authentic personal right-relationship with the LORD through the miracle of spiritual rebirth. The real believer’s destiny is to live as “priests and kings” before the Him forever (Rev. 1:6; 5:10).

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ
hath made us free, and be not entangled again with
the yoke of bondage”
Gal. 5:1

God doesn’t need man’s help – man needs His. A person is saved by trusting in God’s grace ALONE. Man can add nothing to the finished work of Christ. God paid the highest possible price for our salvation (the sacrificial death of Christ). Therefore, it is a profound error and insult to God to think that any acts of obedience or observance of the Law can assist God in the work of redemption. Salvation belongs to the LORD.

While no one is justified by works of their own righteousness, our lives should reveal the evidence of our faith.  Indeed, a life devoid of good works is certainly indicative of a ‘false conversion’. Consider again the verses noted earlier.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom
of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is
in heaven”
– Mt. 7:21.

Both the children of light and the children of darkness are known by their fruits (actions):

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” – Mt. 7:16-17.

Those who obey the gospel (the Law of Christ) will have evidence of their salvation by producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Just as the fruit of the virgin’s womb was the Son of God, the Holy Spirit truly indwelling a believer produces evident fruit. This is NOT to prove to others that one is really saved, but to assure one-self.

Jesus taught a similar concept using another spiritual analogy. He said::

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and
I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can
do nothing”
Jo.15:5.

The Apostle Paul calls the Sinai covenant “the ministry of death carved in letters on stone” that came through the meditation of Moses.

“If the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious,
so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses
because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”
– 2 Cor. 3:7-8.

Although the Sinai covenant was indeed glorious, evidenced by the Shekinah glow upon the face of Moses, compared with the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, it was a glory that was covered with a veil because it was fading away and being brought to an end. It takes the gift of the Holy Spirit to breathe these words into our hearts.

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” – 1Cor. 2:10.

God’s abiding provision for man’s need is revealed in the face of Jesus, not in the fading glory of the older covenant (2 Cor. 3:4-18; Matt. 17:8).  Unlike Moses, who veiled his face to hide the fact that the glory of the former covenant of Sinai was indeed fading away, truly born again believers with unveiled faces, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:12-4:1). Every real Christian, like Moses, must ascend the mountain of spiritual Sinai to behold the Glory of God:

 “When they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” – Matt. 17:8

True Christian faith in God is intended to reflect back the shining glory of the cross of Jesus Christ, NOT Moses and the Law.

For further insight into the relevance of the Law for Christians please read my other Articles:
Has the Entire Law Been Replaced?
Salvation: Obedience / Works vs. Faith / Grace
The 10 Commandments

Advertisements