This is the fourth in a series of posts on why Christians are no longer under the Jewish laws as found in the Old Testament. See my earlier posts for more information.
IV. Role of The Law
Lastly, I want to take a quick look at how The Law impacts Christians today. In this case, I’m referring only to the moral and ethical law.
1. Reveals What Is Sinful
One major aspect of the moral and ethical law is that it reveals to us what is wrong and what is right. We want to avoid what is wrong because such wrongdoing hurts us, damages our relationships, displeases God, separates us from God, and doesn’t glorify God. The Apostle Paul explained this in Romans 7:7b:
In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” NLT
To illustrate the benefit of such knowledge, there was a report that came out a few years ago about fast food. This report revealed that such fast foods as Big Macs were loaded with fat, sodium, and calories. Although I used to like Big Macs, I haven’t had one in many years – that knowledge resulted in my avoiding such unhealthy treats.
2. Results in Struggle with Sin
Another result of the moral and ethical law is that its provisions usually go against the desires of our sin nature. Therefore we have a constant struggle between doing what we know is right, and the pull of the flesh wanting us to do what is wrong. If you are having such struggles, that’s a good sign – it means you care. Others don’t struggle because they either don’t know or they don’t care that what they are doing is wrong. The Apostle Paul recognized his weaknesses and struggled with them, as we read in Romans 7:14:
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. NLT
To summarize, Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirements God put forth in the Old Testament Law. Therefore, Christians don’t have to make animal sacrifices because Jesus fulfilled that part of the Law by dying on the cross. We also don’t have to observe the Ceremonial Law, because we are already right with God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We see God eliminating the requirement for keeping Kosher in Peter’s vision, when God said to him in Acts 10:15b: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” NIV
So Christians don’t have to observe the Ceremonial Law to be righteous, because in Christ we should have a different kind of righteousness. Our actions should be based on our love for God, not just mere legal compliance or a more intense version of the Pharisees’ obedience. Our righteousness under Christ:
(1) must come from what God does in us, not what we can do by ourselves,
(2) must be God-centered, not self-centered, and Spirit-led,
(3) must be based on reverence for God, not approval from people, and
(4) must go beyond keeping the law to living by the principles behind the law.
Although we are under grace, not under the law, we are expected to live by the guidelines given in the moral and ethical law. We see these moral and ethical provisions reinforced in the New Testament in many places as the best way to live a life pleasing to God. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us and enable us to do the things God wants us to do and to resist temptations. So I encourage you to stay tuned into the leading of the Holy Spirit so that you can grow in holiness and righteousness, living by the principles of the law, not by the letter of it.