Thoughts and musings on a ‘big picture’ Biblical response to the issue of the law and relation to Jesus, grace, love.
We can’t ignore the law
We cannot ignore the law, but we, in our own strength cannot achieve it’s high standards, for the law has a purpose to highlight sin (Romans 3:20). So how do we proceed, especially if we are bound up in thinking that we must achieve, in the law alone, the standards that God has set – even if we perhaps know who Jesus is – even what he has achieved in His ministry and life and at the cross? Are we still subject to the bonds of the law? Do we therefore sin freely because we are not subject to the law (the answer is ‘NO’ to this one, of course!).
Should we fear or be ‘threatened’ by the law and allow it to be our ‘master’ – our ‘guide’ effectively? Are we to strive to fulfill it still – if we have failed, maybe just one tiny thing, or several times even since becoming a Christian are we then judged automatically not to be a Christian at all (answer is of course, ‘NO’). How does the law fit with grace? (love, not judgement, is the ‘glue’ that makes these work together).
A health fear of God?
However, in regards to God (not the law), a healthy fear of God is good (2 Corinthians 5:10-12 see* at foot of this post), and a healthy fear, not of man, but of God, I do have, as well as awe and wonder. The real truth does not condemn – it changes, it might well make one uncomfortable (Proverbs 27:5-6), another example of how those often living under law, by what they say, expose the law alone to be at worse a task-master, not a life-giver (Jesus came to bring life – 2 Corinthians 3:6, 1 Peter 1:23, John 3:3). The law without love (Romans 8:39) means nothing at all – the law alone binds up, rather than setting free, and in that context, yes, I suspect it might well be condemning to them – but, ironically, only to those that recognise it rigidly (bound up by it – in that vicious circle – without love – perhaps even without Jesus) as such. Jesus has made a way for all to be set free (Galatians 5:1-6) – all those that believe in Him and accept Him, not that we would continue to live by the law alone (2 Corinthians 3:13-15), but so that we could superceed those ‘standards’ with the new Covenant found in and through Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:30). What breaks the bonds of the law alone? Jesus’ blood was shed for us motivated purely by the love God had for all (John 3:16). In this all else is found – not at all simply in achievement by obeying the law (Galatians 2:15-17) – even if this is seen as ‘good’ (sometimes in some cases). The Bible also tells us that we have all fallen short (Romans 3:22-24) – not one can claim anything more in these terms than another – Christian or not. The law highlights sin – (Romans 3:20) – how obvious it is then, that those living under the law alone, will be so quick and eager to point out sin through breaking of the law alone (See also Bible verses Romans 7:5, Romans 7:25, Galatians 5:4).
The law binds up
The law will bind you up in this way, especially as where it becomes more important than anything else – ultimately including Jesus, it can keep God, and his love, far away – his arms still open wide ready to accept, if only the bottomless pit that separates a person from God can be traversed. The ‘pit’ of law is not a place for a Christian or non-Christian to be (or fall in to)(Galatians 3:10-14). It is only the cross – what happened at Calvery – which enables the bottomless pit to be traversed – it is the only thing which bridges the gap completely and safely -very safely (Romans 8:1, Romans 8:2). Without the cross, no matter how hard – how good we are at keeping the law – we will never be able to cross the bottomless pit – let alone safely in our own endeavours and by upholding principles and laws alone. It is not that we should ignore them (Galatians 3:21-25), but we are no longer bound by them! 🙂 Jesus progressed and superceeded (Hebrews 7:11-28) them in the new Covenant to something much more awesome and powerful, but not that they would continue to bind people up – rather that in Christ, they be completely and utterly fulfilled (Romans 7:4). A life that accepts and follows Christ with love, will fulfill the law, even if it is not always in it’s at times and in it’s own strength ‘perfect’ before God – it is the ‘work’ of Jesus that makes a person ‘perfect’ in the sight of God. It is the cross we return to always. Here, we are set free!! Amen. Amen. Amen.
I wanted to find more passages, as I know they are in the Bible in relation to some of the things I have said, and also to un-pack some of the other verses much more – I could have written pritty much an essay on each verse I have quoted – but I have to stop somewhere!
Be encouraged, the law is still important and significant – there are certain laws we should be keeping today (thought not necessarily exactly like under the Old Covenant – Jesus went beyond that), but we must also remember we are now set free so that the law – whether law (sin) and / or Old Testament laws – cannot not bind up or no longer ‘have hold on us’ – the law is only made right when considered in the context of Jesus – coupled with love and grace, a rightious heart and mind. That means a Christian – genuine follower of Christ – is no longer under condemnation – perhaps Holy Spirit led conviction, but not condemnation.
Just to add regards the ‘laws of the land’ – to not obey the law, in this context, does not mean we are free to do what we like and not under the authority of the laws of the land or of the police – just to make that clear!
* ‘Healthy’ fear of God: Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 19:23, Proverbs 14:27, Proverbs 14:26. There is another type of fear that is not good – ‘the spirit of fear’ – 2 Timothy 1:7. Unlike a healthy fear of God, the ‘spirit of fear’ is counteracted by the fact that we are told not to fear many times in the Bible – 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10 and so on)
Old Covenant Laws continued through the New Covenant ‘as is’ – Jesus’ instruction:
Luke 10:26-28, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30…and example of Jesus superceeding the Old Covenant laws: Matthew 5:27-29 – Jesus fulfilling the Old Covenant laws, and therefore going beyond them: Matthew 5:17, Luke 24:44. Love overtakes and fulfills the law: Romans 13:10.
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