The Law in the Life of the Believer

     “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people…”
     – YHWH, Jeremiah 31:31-33 // Hebrews 8:8-10

     “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
     – Jesus, Matthew 5:17-20

     “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law…God will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
     – Paul, Romans 3:27-31

The Greatest Commandment // A New Commandment // Fulfilling the Law
     “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
     – Jesus, Matthew 22:36-40

     And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
     – Jesus, Mark 12:28-31

     And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
     – Jesus, Luke 10:25-28

     “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
     – Jesus, John 13:34-35

     “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
          – Jesus, John 15:12

     “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””
          – Paul, Galatians 5:14

     “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
     – Paul, Romans 13:8-10

     “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
     – James (half-brother of Jesus), James 2:8-13

Not Under the Law, but Under Grace
     “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian…”
     – Paul, Galatians 3:23-25

     “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
          – Paul, Galatians 5:18

     “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”
     – Paul, Romans 6:14-15

     “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”
     – Paul, Romans 7:6

     “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
          – Paul, Romans 10:4

     “To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law)…”
          – Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:20

     “For Christ himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances…”
     – Paul, Ephesians 2:14-15

Law of Christ // Law of Faith // Perfect Law // Royal Law // Law of Liberty
     “…fulfill the law of Christ.”
          – Paul, Galatians 6:2

     “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”
     – Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

     “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law…God will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
     – Paul, Romans 3:27-31

     “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
     – James (half-brother of Jesus), James 1:25

     “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
     – James (half-brother of Jesus), James 2:8-13

The Law is Holy and Good
     “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”
          – Paul, Romans 7:12

     “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
     – Paul, 1 Timothy 1:8-11

     “Covenant Theology (CT) holds to the tripartite division of the law, namely, that the Mosaic Law can be divided into three groups of laws—those regulating the government of Israel (civil laws), ceremonial laws, and moral laws. The ceremonial law and civil law are no longer in force because the former was fulfilled in Christ and the latter only applied to Israel’s theocracy, which is now defunct. But the moral law continues.
     New Covenant Theology (NCT) argues that one cannot divide the law up in that way, as though part of the Mosaic Law can be abrogated while the rest remains in force. The Mosaic Law is a unity, they say, and so if part of it is canceled, all of it must be canceled. On top of this, they say that the New Testament clearly teaches that the Mosaic Law as a whole is superseded in Christ. It is, in other words, no longer our direct and immediate source of guidance. The Mosaic Law, as a law, is no longer binding on the believer.
     Does this mean that believers are not bound by any divine law? No, because the Mosaic Law has been replaced by the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). NCT makes a distinction between the eternal moral law of God and the code in which God expresses that law to us. The Mosaic Law is an expression of God’s eternal moral law as a particular code which also contains positive regulations pertinent to the code’s particular temporal purpose, and therefore the cancellation of the Mosaic Law does not mean that the eternal moral law is itself canceled. Rather, upon canceling the Mosaic Law, God gave us a different expression of his eternal moral law—namely, the Law of Christ, consisting in the moral instructions of Christ’s teaching and the New Testament. The key issue that NCT seeks to raise is: Where do we look to see the expression of God’s eternal moral law today—do we look to Moses, or to Christ? NCT says we look to Christ.
     There are many similarities between the Law of Christ and Mosaic Law, but that does not change the fact that the Mosaic Law has been canceled and that, therefore, we are not to look to it for direct guidance but rather to the New Testament. For example, England and the US have many similar laws (for example, murder is illegal in both countries). Nonetheless, the English are not under the laws of America, but of England. If an English citizen murders in England, he is held accountable for breaking England’s law against murder, not America’s law against murder.
     The benefit of NCT, its advocates argue, is that it solves the difficulty of trying to figure out which of the Mosaic laws apply to us today. On their understanding, since the Mosaic Law is no longer a direct and immediate source of guidance, we look to the Law of Christ for our direct guidance. Although the Mosaic Law is no longer a binding law code in the NT era, it still has the authority, not of law, but of prophetic witness. As such, it fills out and explains certain concepts in both the old and new covenant law.”

     “The key to understanding this issue is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4Galatians 3:23–25Ephesians 2:15).
     In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies.
    The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.”

     “The Bible nowhere specifically defines what precisely is “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21). However, most Bible teachers understand the law of Christ to be what Christ stated were the greatest commandments in Mark 12:28–31, “‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” The law of Christ, then, is to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
     Various New Testament scriptures state that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law, bringing it to completion and conclusion (Romans 10:4Galatians 3:23–25Ephesians 2:15). In place of the Old Testament Law, Christians are to obey the law of Christ. Rather than trying to remember the over 600 individual commandments in the Old Testament Law, Christians are simply to focus on loving God and loving others. If Christians would truly and wholeheartedly obey those two commands, we would be fulfilling everything that God requires of us.
     – GotQuestions, What is the “law of Christ”?

     Justin Taylor: In what sense did Paul see the Mosaic covenant as “old”?
     I argue that Paul conceived of the Mosaic covenant as “old” in the sense that it is fundamentally non-eschatological in contrast to the eschatological nature of the new covenant. In other words, Paul declares that the Mosaic covenant is now old because it belongs to the old age, while the new covenant is new because it belongs to the new eschatological age. The fact that the “old” covenant belongs to the “old” age has enormous implications for determining its character. The old age is transitory and impotent and therefore the Mosaic covenant is both temporary and ineffectual. It called for the right things like internalizing the law (“These things that I am commanding you today shall be upon your hearts” [Deut 6:6]; “circumcise the foreskin of your hearts” [Deut 10:16]), but it lacked the power to create that for which it called. Therefore, Paul can say that “the letter kills” (2 Cor 3:6).
     Justin Taylor: In what sense did Paul see the “new covenant” as “new”?
     In contrast to the temporary and ineffectual nature of the old covenant, the new covenant is both eternal and effectual because it belongs to the new age and partakes of the power of the new age, the Holy Spirit. We are not looking for a “newer” new covenant to come along in order to fix the problems with the present “new” covenant. This consideration takes us back to methodology. When I began my research on this topic, I was surprised that the available studies on the contrast between the old and new covenants in Paul did not take the time to examine the other “old” versus “new” contrasts in Paul in order to see if they shared a common approach or perspective. In each of these contrasts, I would argue that Paul’s eschatology created the contrasts between what he labels as old and new. I found a great quote from Geerhardus Vos in this respect. He says that “the comprehensive antithesis of the First Adam and the Last Adam, sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit, law and faith” are “precisely the historic reflections of the one great transcendental antithesis between this world and the world-to-come.” Paul contrasts the old and the new because the new age has come. This invasion of the age to come into the present evil age creates eschatological contrasts.
     Another way to state the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant is as follows. As the eschatological covenant, the new covenant consists of what one could call “eschatological intervention,” while the old covenant does not. God intervenes through His Spirit in the new eschatological age in order to create that for which he calls in the new covenant. The Mosaic covenant lacked this power to produce what it demanded. One could illustrate this point in the following poem attributed to John Berridge:
     To run and work the law commands,
     Yet gives me neither feet nor hands;
     But better news the gospel brings:
     It bids me fly and gives me wings.

     “Paul conceives of the Mosaic (old) covenant as fundamentally non-eschatological in contrast to the eschatological nature of the new covenant. He declares that the Mosaic covenant is now “old” because it belongs to the old age, whereas the new covenant is “new” because it belongs to the new eschatological age. This distinction has determinative effects. The old is transitory and impotent, and therefore the Mosaic covenant is both transitory and ineffectual. The new covenant is both eternal and effectual because it belongs to the new age and partakes of the power of the new age, the Holy Spirit.
     …..
     As the eschatological covenant, the new covenant, unlike the old, consists of eschatological intervention. God intervenes through His Spirit in the new eschatological age in order to create that for which He calls in the new covenant. The Mosaic covenant lacked this power to produce what it demanded.”

     “In this way you fulfill the law of Christ (6:2). That’s an odd phrase in a book that says (5:18): “If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” And (3:13): “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.” Have we been freed from the curse and burden of the Mosaic law just to be burdened down with a more radical law of Christ? No. The difference is that Moses gave us a law but could not change our hearts so that we would freely obey. Our pride and rebellion was not conquered by Moses. But when Christ summons us to obey his law of love, he offers us himself to slay the dragon of our pride, change our hearts, empower us by his Spirit, and fulfill his law.
     That is why, even though Christ’s law is more radical than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, he can say, “Come to me, all 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” (Matthew 11:28–30). The law of Christ is not easy because it’s greasy, or permissive. It is easy because when we are weak, he is strong. It’s easy because he produces the fruit of love: “I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (2:20). Christ never commands us to do anything that he wants us to do on our own. Therefore, every command in the law of Christ is a call to faith. Through faith God supplies the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 3:5); through the Spirit we produce the fruit of love (5:22); through love we fulfill the law of Christ (6:2). Therefore, if you trust him, you will fulfill his law of love. You will devote yourself to lifting the burdens of others.”
     – John Piper, The Law of Christ – Galatians 6:1-5

     – R.C. Sproul, The Law of Liberty
     – Justin Taylor, On the Tripartite Division of the Law
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