Love the Law!

 A false teaching has become popular that Christians should not try to keep the Law, and it includes the following doctrines and beliefs:”Christ fulfilled all the demands of the Law in our behalf.”
“Christ perfectly kept the Law for us so we don’t have to try to keep it.”
“We are totally powerless to obey the Law.”    “Let go and let God.” “Don’t be judgmental.”
“Keeping the Law is legalism.”
“Christians don’t need to do anything at all.”
“All we need is Yah’shua (Jesus).”
“All we need is love.”

Lyrics from a contemporary Christian country tune:

“I have decided
Being good is just a fable
I just can’t ’cause I’m not able
Gonna’ leave it to the Lord”

The false teaching cites Galatians 2:21, 1 Timothy 1:8-10, and Hebrews 4:10. The point, however, of Galatians 2:21 is that righteousness can not come through the Law by itself. 1 Timothy is true because the righteous already have the Law written in their hearts (Romans 1:20, 2:15, Hebrews 10:16). The context of Hebrews 4:10 shows Christians are not yet in the full Sabbath rest (4:9 and 4:11).

Wherever the New Testament (NT) says the Law was abolished (e.g., Romans 10:3-4), the context clearly shows it really means 1. the old covenant, 2. the false notion of achieving justification by works, and/or 3. the false notion of achieving holiness by Levitical rituals. The Pharisees, for example, weren’t truly concerned with good works, they were hypocrites concerned merely with outward appearances and Levitical regulations. Colossians 2:13-17 prohibits anyone from judging or being judged by Levitical regulations about sacrifices, kosher food, circumcision, civil codes, Sabbath-keeping, holidays, etc. According to Romans 14, such decrees are only binding upon Christians who personally find them binding. The NT, however, explicitly says that none of the other Laws has yet been revoked:

Matthew 5:17-19
Romans 2:13, 3:31, 7:12-13, 13:10
1 Corinthians 7:19
2 Timothy 3:16-17
James 2:8
1 John 2:3-7, 3:4, 5:2-3
2 John 1:5-6

The NT rephrases many OT commands for Christians in the form of, “do this, don’t do that.” For example, 1 John 5:21 “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (NASB) We can hardly ignore the avalanche of such Law-based commands, including:

Acts 15:19-21
Romans 12:14,17,19-21 (cf. Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 25:21,22)
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (cf. Deuteronomy 17:7, 19:9, 21:21, 22:21,24, 24:7)
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 9:9-10 (cf. Deuteronomy 25:4)
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (cf. Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, Ezekiel 37:27, Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:34,41)
Ephesians 4:25-28 (cf. Psalms 4:4)
Ephesians 6:1-3 (cf. Deuteronomy 5:16)
1 Thessalonians 5:6
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Hebrews 3:14-15 (cf. Psalms 95:7,8)
Hebrews 12:3-6 (cf. Proverbs 3:11,12)
James 1:16
1 Peter 1:13-16 (cf. Leviticus 11:44,45, 19:2, 20:7)
1 Peter 5:8-9
1 John 5:21

God helps us to keep the Law, but we must work and cooperate with Him. Christ did not fulfill the commands of the Law in our stead nor do away with our struggle to keep them. The Holy Spirit does not take possession of us and do everything for us. We must make our own effort and sometimes need to be corrected and rebuked. We need to obey the commands God gave us, as is fitting, because we’re His slaves and servants:

Luke 9:23
Romans 6:16-19
Galatians 6:4
Colossians 3:23
2 Timothy 2:20-21
1 Peter 1:17, 4:17

Christians need to practice discernment between good and evil:

1 Corinthians 2:15
Philippians 1:9-10
1 Thessalonians 5:21
1 Timothy 4:16
Hebrews 5:14
2 John 1:8
Revelation 2:2

Christians are in a spiritual race and must make effort to perform well:

1 Corinthians 3:14-15, 9:24-27
Galatians 2:2
Ephesians 5:15-17
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Hebrews 12:4-5
James 3:1-2
Jude 1:3

Christians will be rewarded according to how good or bad our performance is:

Matthew 6:1
Luke 6:35
1 Corinthians 3:8
2 John 1:8
Revelation 22:12

Yah’shua (Jesus) did not come to teach us only that he’s our Savior, but also how to follow the Law, which he so often quoted. We know we’re saved when we believe in Yah’shua (Jesus) as Lord and Savior. Yah’shua (Jesus) is our Lord means we’re serving him in submission to his commands (John 12:26, 15:10). As Christians, we still have an independent will which we need to watch carefully and struggle to keep in line with God’s will. We can’t just let our guard down and relax. Even though the Holy Spirit is in us, we are still led by human teaching and example to either good or bad ends:

1 Corinthians 10:6-11
1 Timothy 4:12
Titus 2:7
Hebrews 4:11
1 Peter 5:3

Love means a desire to do God’s will. God’s will includes the Law, therefore, we should love the Law and desire to keep it. Only Yah’shua (Jesus) was totally sinless and kept the Law perfectly, but that shouldn’t discourage us from making the effort to keep it.

Most OT punishments are part of the old covenant, not the Law, but the curse in Exodus 20:5 (part of the Ten Commandments) is one exception. In accordance with Exodus 20:5, Revelation 2:22-24 shows that the Lord brought judgment upon Christians by cursing their children. Another example is found in Acts 5, where God struck Ananias and his wife Sapphira dead for their transgression. 1 Corinthians 11:24-32 shows that Christians are subject to punishment and chastisement for violation of a sacrament. God is more merciful to us under the new covenant, but it’s clear that Christians still face OT Law-type punishments for failing to keep the Law. Obviously we’re also still subject to the curse of death introduced in the Garden of Eden. Death will not completely be abolished until Christ’s return.

The fact that Christians are under the Law does not in any way cancel out the grace of the new covenant. The old covenant, established in Exodus 24 and elaborated in several other OT passages, was imperfect, and therefore the new covenant had to be established (see Hebrews 8 and 9). Under the new covenant, Christians have been redeemed from the curses of the old covenant (see Galatians 3:13), but not from submission to the Law. Since the Law was part of the old covenant, and not the old covenant itself, it hasn’t been revoked. Yah’shua (Jesus) did not change any OT Laws, he just expanded and clarified them.

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