Category Archives: Covenant and Law

Lessons from the Adulteress

by Peter Ditzel

A detail from the painting, Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas, by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov (1844-1927)
The scribes and Pharisees brought the adulteress to Jesus to entrap Him, but Jesus used the occasion to teach important lessons. (Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov [1844-1927] Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas [detail])

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, John tells us about the incident of the woman the scribes and Pharisees caught in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus. Most people who have read John 8 likely remember that Jesus ended His encounter with the woman by telling her that He didn’t condemn her, and, “Go your way. From now on, sin no more.” We see forgiveness, but we also see a command to stop sinning. This leaves a question: Was Jesus’ forgiveness dependent on the woman’s obedience? The answer to this question teaches us much about the relationship between grace and works.

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What Is the Law of Christ?

by Peter Ditzel

A picture of a horse in deep water with a wet dog standing on its back. Overlaid words: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
In love, Jesus bore our burdens of sin. We are to bear one another’s burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Although it is alluded to in other Scriptures, this is the only place in all the Bible that uses the phrase “law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? As Christians, we should have more than vague ideas about something so connected to Jesus Christ as His law. Is the law of Christ a set of commandments like the Ten Commandments? Is it one command, love, that can be expressed in slightly more detail as “bear one another’s burdens”? Is it the law that Jeremiah prophesied God would put in our inward parts and write on our hearts? (Jeremiah 31:33). Let’s find out.

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Our Better Covenant

A quote from luke 22:20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
If the the cup of wine pictures the New Covenant and the wine pictures Jesus’ blood and the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), what is the New Covenant?

The writer of Hebrews, after quoting from Jeremiah’s announcement of the New Covenant that appears in Jeremiah 31, states, “In that he says, ‘A new covenant,’ he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away” (Hebrews 8:13). Despite this, most Dispensationalists assert that the New Covenant has not yet come into effect and is not for Gentile believers anyway. Covenant Theologians hold that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the Old Covenant and, thus, the Old Covenant has never really ended. Others, who don’t fall into either of these two camps, concede that believers are under the New Covenant, but maintain that what they call “the moral laws” of the Old Covenant still have authority over Christians. Who’s right? Does it matter? Can a wrong understanding of the covenants actually be harmful?

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Comments on Luther’s “How Christians Should Regard Moses”

by Peter Ditzel

Either before or after you read these comments, you will want to read "'How Christians Should Regard Moses," a sermon by Martin Luther.

This article is an attachment to Martin Luther’s “How Christians Should Regard Moses.” I trust you have read that sermon or will soon read it. I have several points I want to make about Luther’s sermon.

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If We Are Not under the Law, How Do We Avoid Sin?–Part 2

by Peter Ditzel

For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3
If the law was unable to do what God has already accomplished in the flesh of His Son, why turn back to the law?

Law Mongers

Of the Galatians, who were beginning to believe that they needed to perfect themselves through the law, Paul wrote, “I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3). The legalist Judaizers who were tempting them might well be called law mongers. They were purveying a method of salvation that said, Sure Jesus took care of our past sins, but now we must keep the law to remain moral. Too many people assert that the only issue among the Galatians was that they were being falsely taught to be circumcised. But this wasn’t the only issue.

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If We Are Not under the Law, How Do We Avoid Sin?–Part 1

by Peter Ditzel

The painting, Moses with the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt.
“For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realised through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). But don’t we need the law to avoid sin? (Moses with the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt.)

“For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be!” (Romans 6:14-15). Many people read this, and then they tag on this assumption: Paul is saying that just because you are under grace doesn’t mean that you should not strive to keep the law to avoid sin. But nothing could be further from the truth! If Paul were saying this, he would be contradicting himself. He would be saying, you are not under the law, but you must keep the law to avoid sin. This would be putting us back under the law. It would give us freedom from the law with one hand while taking it away with the other. It would be saying, you are not under the law, but you are under the law. This would be nonsense.

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What the Bible Says About Tithing and Christian Giving

At a time when giving is reaching all-time lows in the church, ignorance about what is real Christian giving is reaching all-time highs. Surely, this is no coincidence. Not only does this article expose the misinformation we are fed in this area that can actually warp our thinking, but it sheds light on the true, biblical teaching about giving. I sincerely hope that all readers will give prayerful consideration to all this article has to say.

Has anyone ever told you to tithe by giving one-tenth of your income to the church? Or perhaps someone has told you to give to a particular ministry so that God will prosper you. Maybe you were even made to feel that you needed to make up for your sins by giving.

But have you ever stopped to wonder which, if any, of these approaches to giving is the right one for Christians? In this article, we will examine each of these ways of looking at giving to determine whether it is biblical. We will also see whether there is another approach to giving—one that is less popularly promoted. Because it is so commonly taught, we will devote the first section of this article to tithing.

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Old Covenant Law and New Covenant Law—Are They the Same?

by Peter Ditzel

Do you know that apples and oranges are not the same thing? Sure you do. I’m sure you also know that elephants and crocodiles are not the same. What about light and dark? That’s right, they’re not the same. These are pretty simple concepts. It is amazing, then, that so many preachers have such a gigantic problem with understanding that the law of the Old Covenant and the law of the New Covenant are not the same. The Bible clearly distinguishes the two.

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Q. In what way did Jesus fulfill the law?

A. Jesus’ last words on the Cross were, “It is finished” (see John 19:30). He had done everything His Father had sent Him to do (see John 17:4). One of things He had come to do is found in Matthew: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). So, one of the things Jesus had come to do was to fulfill—not destroy, but fulfill—the law. Obviously, then, by the time He said, “It is finished,” He had done this. But the question is, in what way did He “fulfill” the law? What did He mean by “fulfill”?

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What Is the Christian Sabbath?

by Peter Ditzel

Have you ever wondered what day Christians are to keep? Saturday? Sunday? Are we to keep the day as a Sabbath or as a Lord’s Day? Or maybe there is no day for Christians to keep. This might sound like a relatively minor issue. But this question, simple as it sounds, has divided Christianity into four camps, each supporting its own view.

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