by Peter Ditzel
The Law of Christ
Now, I know what many of you are asking. Do Christians, then, have no law? Are we to live lawless lives? The answer is that we do have a law, and we are not to live lawless lives. The New Testament tells us we do have a law. But it is not “THE law” that is so often referred to in the Bible. That is, it is not the law of the Old Testament. The law we Christians have is called the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 tells us to “bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Jesus called it a new commandment in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This is further broken down into many other commandments, nine of which are obviously related in some way to nine of the Ten Commandments. The way in which they are related is that the New Covenant commands are the reality that was only shadowed or typified by the Old Testament commands. The Old Covenant commands were external, written on stone. The New Covenant commands are internal, written on our hearts. By the way, the keeping of a Sabbath day is never commanded for Christians. The Old Testament Sabbath command was also a shadow. It was a shadow of God’s true rest that Christians have entered.
There is a big difference between New Testament law and Old Testament law. Under the Old Covenant, the law could only condemn. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:10, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’” Those under the Old Covenant had to obey the law perfectly or die. Under the New Covenant, the law never condemns. It does not bring death. It has no such death penalty associated with it. New Covenant law is simply the way we Christians live, walking in the Spirit.
Hear this wonderful news from Paul: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death. For what was impossible for the law to do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
Does this mean that we now run amok, giving in to fleshly desires? No, just the opposite! Paul continues, “For those who are fleshly set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
What preachers of the law have not realized is that the Bible teaches that it is the law that leads to sin. “But sin,” Paul taught, “taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me every kind of lust. For apart from the law sin was dead. For I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, but I died” (Romans 7:8-9).
But being freed from the law, living by the Spirit, produces the fruit of the Spirit. As Paul says in Galatians 5:16-26,
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall by no means fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these things oppose each other, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are: adultery, fornication, immorality, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envies, murders, drinking bouts, revelries, and the like; which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—against such things there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
This does not mean that we are perfect and will never sin. It means only that sin is no longer a way of life for us. And when we do sin, we abhor it. It also means that when we sin, it does not condemn us. Notice what the apostle John writes in 1 John: “If we claim that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us”
(1 John 1:8). But John also says, “Everyone who abides in Him [in Jesus] does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him nor has he known Him” (1 John 3:6). This is not a contradiction. It simply means that sin is not our way of life, and that when we sin, it is not counted against us to condemn us. John says this again a couple of verses later: “No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).
Stand Fast in Your Freedom
Let no man ever put you back under the Law of Moses, even if he calls it the law of God or uses the fabricated term “moral law.” Do not get dragged under the bondage of the Old Covenant by those who would remind you of your so-called “obligation” to your long deceased husband, the law. This is just what the Pharisees were saying. In Acts 15:5 we read, “But some of those from the sect of the Pharisees rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.’”
Remember, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:1-2). Not only is the law dead, but also you are dead to the law, and you have now been raised to newness of life in Christ Jesus! “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
How do we stand fast in our freedom? By making sure that we have not fallen from complete and faithful reliance on grace to rely in any way on the works of the law. We must remain faithful to Jesus Christ, our Husband who has set us free from the law of sin and death.
Yes, as Jesus Christ said in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (KJV).
Copyright © 2005-2009 Peter Ditzel