Wednesday, March 23, 2016

We As Christians Should Live By The Law Or Not?

Did Christ Come To Destroy And Abolish The Law Or To Fulfill And Establish It More Deeply?

Question: Did Christ come to destroy and abolish the Law or to fulfill and establish it more deeply? I know that Bible cannot contradict itself, but how do we explain it? So we as Christians should live by the Law or not?

Answer: Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! First of all we should understand that Christianity is not keeping a set of rules expecting to go to heaven based on it. It is more than that, it is giving our entire life in to the hands of God to get transformed in to His likeness based on God's grace that we receive, and grace of God is something that which also helps us to keep the laws of God out of love for God and not out of compulsion to get qualified for heaven. Going in to heaven is given to all the children of God as a free gift and it cannot be earned even if we continue to keep the law for a thousand years. But when we keep the law out of love for God and with gratefulness for what He has already done for us through Christ Jesus, then whatever we do for God out of that grateful heart, we get rewarded by God for it all now and for eternity. It pleases God when we believe Jesus Christ, and God gets more pleased further and further as we walk by faith in Jesus Christ and continue to fulfill the purpose of God for our lives. Praise the Lord!

When Christ said,
"17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 5:17-20).

From the above verses we come to understand from Jesus Christ's own words that He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it. This means in a greater extend, the Law of Moses and the prophets spoke not about anything in details except that Christ have to suffer for all humanity to redeem it before God and then have to enter in to His glorious abode in heaven, in short, the Old Testament is all about only one person and that person is Christ Jesus
(Luke 24:25-26, 27; Acts 8:35). All Scripture leads to Christ and Christ only in details!

No Scripture will ever stop being fulfilled until everything gets fulfilled and that fulfillment has already come through life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and that is the good news of the Gospel of God to all humanity in which God has revealed how every human who accepts Christ as their personal Lord and Savior can be forgiven of their sins justly by God
(1 Cor 15:3-4; Rom 3:25-26).

Christ has clearly expressed that those whoever breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called as least in the kingdom of heaven, which means God expects all his children to line up to his commandments out of love for Him because His commands are all that which leads us to line up with the holiness of His character which He loves to see in us (1 Peter 1:16; Matt 5:48; Heb 12:9, 10-11). Always a father will rejoice when his little boy or girl follows his foot steps in his good character and actions and desires, that is what our heavenly Father also loves to see in us. If we will do and teach others the commandments of God out of our love for God and others we are already fulfilling the royal law that fulfills automatically all the laws of God because God's mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:8-12, 13; 1:22, 25-26; 3:2, 8-9; Rom 13:8-10), then we will be called great in the Kingdom of God. Christ also have clearly expressed that only if people receive the internal righteousness of faith which comes through faith in Christ and thus exceed the righteousness of Pharisees and Scribes who lived in extreme and strict righteousness that comes through external law keeping, they cannot enter heavenly Kingdom of God at all. To go to heaven or to become a child of God, law keeping cannot qualify anyone. Only believing in Christ and receiving the perfect righteousness of Christ, will qualify all humans for heaven in a moment of time (Php 3:9).    

Now through Christ's righteousness that has been received by faith in His life, death and resurrection which has come freely from God
(Php 3:8-9), we do not do Law keeping to please God but rather we get saved through grace by faith and then keep the law out of love for God, and then through His righteousness that we have received by faith we live moment by moment, and by that same faith we walk in His grace which He provides us freely through Christ Jesus abundantly (Rom 3:27-28; Eph 2:8-9). Then we come to know God intimately through our relationship with Christ that is not started or continued by us to boast about it as though we have done something for God, but only we can give glory to God because it was He who started it, and it is continued and will be continued by God in Christ Jesus who has promised to finish the love story that has been started by Him through Christ Jesus (Php 3:10-11; 1:6; John 10:27-28). In other words, we are not saved by good works, but saved for good works which God has prepared beforehand for us to do it.

The point that many get confused is, they falsely think that faith destroy the Law of Moses and the prophets, but we see that the real understanding of faith is just the opposite, which means, the Law actually establishes our faith in Christ Jesus who fulfilled all of the Law and Prophets which spoke of Him
(Rom 3:31). Here is a direct revelation of how Paul the apostle understood this matter, "19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator...23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." (Gal 3:19, 23, 24-25).

So from the above verses we know that the Old Testament Jews who followed the Law were first kept under guard by the Law which acted as a tutor to restrain them from transgressions because all men do sin and have fallen short of the glory of God
(Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:23), till Jesus would come to fulfill and establish the Law of God on earth through keeping it 100% without breaking even one of them and committing no sin at all his whole life (John 8:46). In other words, the law was given for Jesus to fulfill, but for the Israelite's it was given so that they could understand their inability to keep the law perfectly before God, and so would come to have faith in Jesus to start a relationship with God afresh and be justified to live a righteous life through faith, and then keep the law of God successfully by love and not by fear or compulsion by human tradition (Rom 3:20; Rom 10:4; Gal 3:22, 24; Matt 15:9).

Jesus Christ is the end of all law, and so keeping the law apart from the faith of Jesus Christ has no end purpose at all
(1 Cor 9:21). But those who belong to Christ by faith keep the law of God towards Christ by the grace of Jesus that strengthens them to do it (John 14:15; Php 4:13; John 1:16). Now the law and the commandment's only purpose is to make sin become exceedingly sinful so that we might be desperate enough to run to Christ and experience the victory of serving the Lord through the law of faith by grace which increases in the knowledge of God with a renewed mind to make us operate in a higher and higher level of faith (Prov 18:10; Rom 7:13, 25; Eph 4:23; Rom 12:2; 7:12; 1:17; Eph 2:8-9; 2 Peter 1:2-4).

Now we know that fear comes through carnal knowledge of the law of sin, just as faith and all things that pertain unto life come through godly knowledge of the law of faith. In other words, it is the same law we read, one leads to death without Christ and His righteousness, the other leads to life and abundant living with Christ who has fulfilled the law for us who believe Him
(Rom 8:2). Even if we by trying to keep the law slip in to law of sin by striving by our own strength, Christ has assured us that there is no condemnation for us because we are in Him, and therefore live in the Spirit always at all times which is the safety net we have for practicing righteousness of faith which sometimes may slide through by our fleshly nature and cause us to slip in to keeping the law for righteousness. So whenever we slip out and fall outside the will of God in sin, all we need to do is to confess our sin to Christ and then move on to try to walk in the Spirit again according to His guidance to continue to live in the righteousness of faith that pleases God. Instead of using the map of law by ourselves to pass through the impasse which is impossible, we trust and again surrender to the guide and let Him tell the route for us to travel by coming again to walk by the guidance of the Spirit of God who is our personal guide and trainer for us to keep the law of faith (1 John 1:9; Gal 5:16, 25; John 16:13-14). The amount of faith that we operate in is directly proportional to the revelation knowledge that we have of God through His Word (Rom 10:14), so the Holy Spirit trains us to practice the law of faith until we continue to please God by being consistently in the will of God and doing only what pleases Him always in a greater and greater degree (Heb 11:6; Eph 5:1; Matt 6:10; 2 Thess 5:16-18).

Thus Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience under threat of a “curse” if they fail even once, which no humans who practiced it nearly for 1500 years were able to fulfill it
(see Galatians 3:10, 13; James 2:10). If any man thinks that by keeping the law now he can gain the favor of God in our times, then he is frustrating the grace of God and is making what Christ has done for Him to please God by faith without any effort of his own, go in vain and therefore will not receive the favor of God or the righteousness that leads to life (Gal 2:21).

Then what did Paul mean when he said,
"For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (Eph 2:14–15)?

It means before Christ those groups of Jews and Gentiles could not eat together because of Sabbath keeping, circumcision, restricted foods, required washing's, and ceremonial contamination
(Acts 10:28-29), in Christ they now worshiped together and needed no temple or other sacred place to sanctify it. All ceremonial distinctions and requirements were removed (cf. Acts 10:9–16; 11:17–18; Col. 2:16–17). These verse in Eph 2:14-15, does not speak of obliteration of religious law of 10 commandments or other laws related to it, but only speaks about the traditional, ceremonial, external and physical law for worshiping God as it has all been fulfilled in the substance which is Christ, of which only the shadow of it is recorded in the law which has been fulfilled by Him. In other words, the law was the photo of Christ, since Christ came to fulfill the law, the reality of it was seen physically by all and all of us continue to seek Him personally now and not through the photo of the ceremonial laws which is just a shadow of Christ (Col 2:17; 1 John 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:18-19). Now in Christ, there is no difference between a Jew and a Gentile who has faith in Christ to please God and keep the commandments out of love for Him (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; 1 Cor 9:21). The breaking of the barrier is what Christ's death did to bring together Gentiles and Jews as one in Him.

The apostles decided in the first century apostolic council that the law of the Jewish Fathers which had been a burden which they were not able to bear, should not be imposed on the Gentiles because God who sees the hearts of men and purifies it by faith and saves them and empowers them all with the Holy Spirit just as He empowered any Jew in the first century
(Acts 15:6-11). So the only thing that the apostles and Holy Spirit commanded the largely Gentile Church of the first century is, " abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell." (Acts 15:29). This is the only written commandment that they passed on instead of the ceremonial part of the Jewish law which every Jew has to keep to remain in the covenant. Even the Sabbath which was included for all Jews in the ceremonial binding along with the circumcision were all rejected for the Gentiles (Col 2:16-17), but the religious law of God which Moses commanded and prophets explained except the ceremonial laws of days, festivals, circumcision and Sabbath were binding and were in force upon the Gentiles too who kept the law not to fulfill the requirement to get qualified or to please God through it, but out of love for Him and gratefulness for what God did through Christ to make them all the children of God, and thus helping them inherit all the blessing of God by faith without striving through the fleshly strength of self-imposed religion (Col 2:18-23; 2 Cor 5:19, 21; John 1:12; Eph 2:11-13; Heb 1:2; Rom 8:16-17; Acts 20:32; Gal 3:29; 4:7; Eph 3:6; 1 Peter 1:4). God by sending Jesus in the likeness of the sinful flesh has condemned the sin in our flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit's guidance as the sons of God, thus keeping the law out of love and gratefulness for God (Rom 8:3-4; Gal 3:26).

Another misunderstanding that must be cleared here is when the writer to the Hebrew says,
"7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Heb 8:7-12).

Here in the above verses we see that it says, that the first covenant was with fault so God replaced it with a second and a new covenant. And also we see that at the end the writer also says that the first is out of date now and has been put aside forever. In the first covenant the traditionalistic Jewish people considered that the rabbinic instructions that the Rabbi's gave to be the proper interpretations of the law of Moses, and they concluded that, because Jesus did not scrupulously follow those traditions, He obviously was doing away with the law or relegating it to minor importance. The same happen when we hear the writer to the Hebrew say the above thing in the Bible, but the writer to the Hebrew was saying to all the Jewish conservatives that the Old way of keeping the law through the Rabbanic model is over, where by one's own strength they keep it to please God but failed because the law never gave them the strength to fulfill it as its purpose was to give knowledge of sin
(Rom 7:7-12, 14, 15; 3:19-20; 9:31-32), but in the new agreement of God Jesus will seal the believer with the Holy Spirit and will fill them up with the Holy Spirit that they will not search for any rabbi's to interpret the Scripture for them (John 16:13-14; Eph 1:13-14; 5:18), but rather they will all read the Scripture and the Holy Spirit will not only will interpret and give the right context and understanding (1 John 2:20, 27), but will also write it all in their heart to instruct them to keep it by faith whenever the situations arise to hold the law of God without getting condemned if they fail in any aspect of the law because of God already forgiving their lawless deeds and sins of the past, present and future time once for all in Christ Jesus (Heb 10:11, 14-18; 9:14; Rom 8:1).

Why did then Jesus specifically tell people that He has not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it thus emphasizing it?

Kataluo (abolish) means to utterly overthrow or destroy, and is the same word used of the destruction of the Temple
(Matt. 24:2; 26:61; etc.) and of the death of the physical body (2 Cor. 5:1). The basic idea is to tear down and smash to the ground, to obliterate completely. In several places, as here, the word is used figuratively to indicate bringing to naught, rendering useless, or nullifying (see Acts 5:38–39; Rom. 14:20).

So therefore, when people saw that because Jesus swept away the traditions of washing's, special tithes, extreme Sabbath observance, and such things, the people thought He was thereby overthrowing God’s law, but right from the beginning of his ministry Jesus wanted to make clear the matters about the law and discourage any misconceptions about His high view of Scripture. So hence Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, thus implying clearly that abolishing of God’s law is the antithesis of the work and teaching of Jesus. We too who have in the past have thought that the law of the Old Testament were thrown out and have become useless should correct our wrong belief and thinking to believe rightly about the Scripture which Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matt 24:35), thus implying that the Word of God is eternal in nature and will by no means pass away until all that is written in them is fulfilled even to minute details, even whatever has been written in it for the time to come for eternity ahead (Psa 119:89; 1 Peter 1:25). This teaches us that the law of God and commandments of God will stay for at least until we all humans reach the new heaven and new earth at the end of it all and then eternity takes over in the set timing of God after which there will not be any time to measure.

Much Blessings.....


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