What is different about the law of Christ? Some will claim the “law of Christ” means we are able to ignore the instructions of the Father and just accept everything that the fallen world gives us inclusively, never worrying about the words and warnings of scripture, because we all “believe in Jesus”. This theology will eventually lead us to a “Drag me to church” event as the Lutheran church is having in the flyer below, copied from my Twitter feed.
If this is your idea of the law of Christ that Paul is speaking about, I strongly suggest that you reconsider the matter. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can convict your heart though.
We have been deceived and handed over to a strong delusion. It starts with blending the worldly festivals of other gods, such as church sponsored egg hunts for the spring goddess Easter, trunk or treats or putting groves (Christmas trees) in the church at the festival of the winter solstice (Christmas), then eventually, over several years, leads to a “Drag me to church” event.
Is this the “law of Christ” or is this what it looks like to be “unhitched” from the Old Testament as mega-pastor Andy Stanley teaches? No, this is not the “law of Christ” in action, and yes, this is what the doctrine of throwing out the Old Testament, that is God’s instructions how to conduct ourselves to be pleasing to Him, appears when brought to its end. Let’s look at the “law of Christ” and what it means.
Here are the verses from Galatians in context, Galatians 6:1–5 (LEB):
6 Brothers, even if a person is caught in some trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of humility, looking out for yourself, lest you also be tempted. 2 Carry the burdens of one another, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something although he is nothing, he is deceiving himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in someone else. 5 For each one will carry his own burden.
Understanding the law of Christ is understanding this: “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of humility”. This is loving your neighbour as yourself.
Also, Yeshua (Jesus) removed the need for sacrificial law. I am talking about the part where someone who is caught in a trespass of sin requiring stoning under the law. The apostles all still brought their offerings to the temple long after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. There were offerings for uncleanness, unintentional sin and for feast days, but there were no offerings for such things as murder, adultery or idolatry. The collective sin that the high priest made atonement for on the day of atonement, had to be done each year. Even if a person never committed any of these sins and was righteous according to the law, that person would still die and be guilty due to the sin of Adam. Yeshua made one sacrifice, forever, that took care of this sin and conquered death.
Hebrews 7:11–22 (LEB)
11 Thus if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood, for on the basis of it the people received the law, what further need is there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not said to be according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood changes, of necessity there is a change of the law also. 13 For the one about whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord is a descendant of Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses said nothing concerning priests. 15 And it is still more clear, if another priest according to the likeness of Melchizedek arises, 16 who has become a priest not according to a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is testified,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand a preceding commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), but on the other hand there is the introduction of a better hope through which we draw near to God. 20 And by as much as this was not without an oath (for these on the one hand have become priests without an oath, 21 but he with an oath by the one who said to him,
“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever’ ”),
22 by so much more Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
The confusion lies so often with the changing of the Levitical priest system and people teaching that this is the whole of the law of God that “has been nailed to the cross”. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear, and one has to study that letter to understand sacrificial law is temporarily (“set aside”) removed, but the righteous instructions of Yahuah still stand and are our part of the covenant. I say that sacrificial law is temporarily removed because Yeshua is only a priest in the heavenly tabernacle and will not be a priest when he rules as king on earth during the Millennial reign with the future temple Ezekiel describes.
Hebrews 7:14 (LEB)
14 For it is evident that our Lord is a descendant of Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses said nothing concerning priests.
As I mentioned, Yeshua reminded us of the second greatest commandment for a reason. He knew that He was going to give the final offering as an atonement for sins that normally required stoning, by giving His life. Just as Paul stated, if someone is found in a trespass, that is breaking the commandments of God, one who is spiritual, the opposite of carnal or fleshly, should restore that person in humility.
Matthew 22:34–40 (LEB):
34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled at the same place. 35 And one of them, a legal expert, put a question to him to test him: 36 “Teacher, which commandment is greatest in the law?” 37 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.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
The first greatest commandment according to Yeshua was called the Shema, and it is found in Deuteronomy chapter six.
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (LEB)
4 “Hear, Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is unique. 5 And you shall love Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might. 6 And these words that I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. 7 And you shall recite them to your children, and you shall talk about them at the time of your living in your house and at the time of your going on the road and at the time of your lying down and at the time of your rising up. 8 And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as an emblem between your eyes. 9 And you shall write them on the doorframe of your house and on your gates.
The second greatest commandment quoted by Yeshua is found in Leviticus chapter nineteen.
Leviticus 19:15–18 (LEB)
15 “ ‘You shall not do injustice in judgment; you shall not show partiality to the powerless; you shall not give preference to the powerful; you shall judge your fellow citizen with justice. 16 You shall not go about with slander among your people; you shall not endanger your neighbor’s life; I am Yahweh.
17 “ ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your fellow citizen, so that you do not incur sin along with him. 18 You shall not seek vengeance, and you shall not harbor a grudge against your fellow citizens; and you shall love your neighbor like yourself; I am Yahweh.
Yeshua was upholding the words given to the entire church that was at the base of Mount Horeb when Yahuah spoke the Ten Commandments in an audible voice. The people told Moses they could not bare to hear the voice of God and they thought they were going to die. So, Yahuah told them to go back to their tents and he gave Moses the rest of the instructions. This is important to understand.
Deuteronomy 5:22–33 (LEB) 22 “These words Yahweh spoke to your whole assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire and the very thick cloud with a loud voice, and he did not add anything, and then he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And then when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, and as the mountain was burning with fire, and all the heads of your tribes and your elders approached me, 24 you said, ‘Look, Yahweh our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice from the midst of the fire; this day we have seen that God can speak with a human being, yet he remains alive. 25 And so then why shall we die, for this great fire will consume us if we continue to hear the voice of Yahweh our God any longer, and so we shall die? 26 For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire as we have heard it and remained alive? 27 You go near and hear everything that Yahweh our God will say; and then you tell us all that Yahweh our God tells you, and we will listen, and we will do it.’
28 “And Yahweh heard the sound of your words when you spoke to me, and Yahweh said to me, ‘I have heard the sound of the words of this people that they have spoken to you; they are right with respect to all that they have spoken. 29 If only they had such a mind’; that is, to fear me and to keep all my commandments at all times, so that it will go well for them and for their children forever. 30 Go! Say to them, “Return to your tents.” 31 But you stand here with me, and let me tell you all of the commandments and the rules and the regulations that you shall teach them, so that they may do them in the land that I am giving to them to take possession of it.’
32 “So you must be careful to do just as Yahweh your God commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. 33 In exactly the path that Yahweh your God has commanded, you must go, so that you may live and it will go well for you and you may live long in the land that you will take possession of.”
When Yeshua recited the Shema, “Hear, Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is unique. And you shall love Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might”, He was referring to what Yahuah gave to the people at Mount Horeb in an audible voice and through Moses. These were the instructions to live a good life in the presence of Yahuah.
The second commandment involves how we treat people and what to do when they transgress the instructions from the first greatest commandment. Rebuking your brother when they sin is much different than bringing them to be stoned as one of the two to three witnesses. Sin is transgression of the law as explained in the letters of John. Yeshua showed us this with the woman caught in adultery. However, they did not have the man, which is required, or two to three witnesses. This is how they were testing him. He could have said get two or three witnesses and the guilty man, but he didn’t. He shut the whole scene down quite easily by reminding everyone there was no one without sin. He showed us the “law of Christ”.
John 8:3–11 (LEB)
3 Now the scribes and the Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery. And standing her in their midst, 4 they said to him, testing him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery! 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 (Now they were saying this to test him, so that they would have an occasion to bring charges against him.) But Jesus, bending down, began to write with his finger on the ground, taking no notice. 7 And when they persisted in asking him, straightening up he said to them, “The one of you without sin, let him throw the first stone at her!” 8 And bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Now when they* heard it,* being convicted by their conscience, they began to depart,* one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone—and the woman who was in their midst. 10 So Jesus, straightening up and seeing no one except the woman, said to her, “Where are those accusers of yours? Does no one condemn you?” 11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” So Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
The theme of these commandments is “mercy not sacrifice”. Yeshua told us to go learn what that means, and He said this in a couple places. First when the Pharisees accused him of dining with sinners, and second, when the Pharisees accused him of breaking the Sabbath.
Matthew 9:10–13 (LEB)
10 And it happened as he was dining in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners were coming and dining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when they saw it, the Pharisees began to say to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 And when he heard it, he said, “Those who are healthy do not have need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what it means, “I want mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 12:6–8 (LEB)
6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here! 7 And if you had known what it means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Yeshua was quoting the prophet Hosea.
Hosea 6:1–7 (LEB)
6 Come, let us return to Yahweh; because it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck us down and will bind us up. 2 He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us know, let us press on to know Yahweh;
his rising is sure like the dawn.
He will come like the showers to us,
like the spring rain that waters the earth.
4 What will I do with you, O Ephraim?
What will I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes away early in the morning.
5 Therefore, I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth like the light.
6 Because I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam, they transgressed the covenant;
there they dealt faithlessly with me.
The Hebrew word for “steadfast love” means joint obligation, mercy, faithfulness, loyalty, and kindness. Yeshua would likely be quoting using this Hebrew word. Church father Origen tells us the gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. Everyone needs to take time to “go learn what this means”.
Yeshua was referencing the chapter in Hosea referring to raising Him up on the third day so that we can live in the presence of Yahuah! This is the law of Christ! Show steadfast love for the Father, Yahuah, by the knowledge of God and His instructions, which is the Shema, and have mercy, loving your neighbor as yourself. Yahuah does not desire burnt offerings and sacrifices, such as the endless cycle, sin, sacrifice for sin and repeat. He wants us to learn not to sin, and Yeshua came to give us the means to do this. Acts 3:19–20 (LEB), “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and he may send the Christ appointed for you—Jesus”.
Yeshua also reminded us not to sin in our minds either. When we have the Spirit of grace convicting our heart, it makes this easier. This is an old commandment elevated to a place of importance by Yeshua.
Deuteronomy 30:1–3 (LEB)
“And then when all of these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have set before you and you call them to mind among the nations there where Yahweh your God has scattered you, 2 and you return to Yahweh and you listen to his voice according to all that I am commanding you today, both you and your children, with all your heart and with all your inner self, 3 and Yahweh your God will restore your fortunes, and he will have compassion upon you, and he will again gather you together from all the peoples where Yahweh your God scattered you there.
This prophecy is speaking of a time in the future when the scattered tribes would return to Yahuah and things will be restored. It is Millennial kingdom language because all the tribes have clearly not been gathered from all the peoples where they were scattered yet. We have some from the tribe of Judah in the nation state of Israel, but there are many more still scattered from all of the tribes. Yeshua explains what listening to His voice with the inner self means.
Matthew 5:17–23 (LEB)
17 “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one tiny letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all takes place. 19 Therefore whoever abolishes one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps them and teaches them, this person will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness greatly surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people of old, ‘Do not commit murder,’ and ‘whoever commits murder will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry at his brother will be subject to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Stupid fool!’ will be subject to the council, and whoever says, ‘Obstinate fool!’ will be subject to fiery hell.
Clearly “fulfill” does not mean “end” as some try to tell us. Fill up, complete and accomplish are other meanings for the Greek word translated “fulfill”, Strong’s G4444. Murdering someone in our heart carries the same penalty as literal murder. If we were to read further, we would see the same theory applies to adultery. “All your inner self” is serious business.
Concerning the law of Christ, we should also define grace properly. It is through the Spirit of grace that we are able to have our heart influenced by God. It is not a blank check for rebellious sin. Salvation is a free gift, through divine favor, that makes it possible to be in covenant with the God of Israel, creator of the universe, through the offerings of our high priest, Yeshua, in the heavenly tabernacle. Therefore, we don’t want to make the same mistakes of sin, sacrifice and repeat. A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament defines grace as follows:
χάρις (in early Greek literature, gracefulness, graciousness; favour; a favour; gratitude; χάριν as above: in LXX especially of the favour which an inferior finds in the eyes of his superior), (a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, John 1:14-17.
Alexander Souter, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), 281.
John 1:14–17 (LEB)
14 And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about him and cried out, saying, “This one was he about whom I said, ‘The one who comes after me is ahead of me, because he existed before me.’ ” 16 For from his fullness we have all received, and grace after grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.
Therefore, grace is a gift of divine favor through Yeshua. The Spirit of grace is this favor influencing the heart of the believer. We see the same word “fullness” (G4444) used in John 1:16 as in Matthew 5:17. Yeshua’s fullness is like that of someone manning a ship, bringing it to its full potential. As the writer of Hebrews states, we cannot treat this gift as something ordinary, by living in rebellious sin, which insults the Spirit. For example, if someone gave you a beautiful furniture set because they knew your living room was empty, then they came to your house to find the furniture sitting outside in the cardboard boxes, ruined from the weather, we would expect them to be insulted. The expectation was that the furniture would be put to good use. It is not that they were looking for repayment, or anything in return for the furniture. It was a gift; however, it was treated with disdain.
Hebrews 10:26–29 (LEB)
26 For if we keep on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that is about to consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think the person will be considered worthy of who treats with disdain the Son of God and who considers ordinary the blood of the covenant by which he was made holy and who insults the Spirit of grace?
This grace from the Father through Yeshua is the ability for us to be part of a covenant with the Father. It is a gift because there is nothing we can do of our own doing to be part of this covenant. The expectation is that we take the terms of the covenant seriously.
In my many years belonging to evangelical, protestant churches, the formula was to say a prayer then be “saved”, when it should be a lifestyle of commitment to the Father’s wishes, not necessarily to the church’s traditions. We were given this gift, why not bring it to its fullest potential?
Ephesians 2:12–13 (LEB)
12 that you were at that time apart from Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, not having hope, and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you, the ones who once were far away, have become near by the blood of Christ.
The covenants of promise that we are “brought near to” were given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yahuah is allowing outsiders to be part of His big plan to restore the kingdom, and He did it through Yeshua. This is more than being just “saved”, it is being adopted as sons and daughters of the most High.
Revelation 21:5–8 (LEB)
5 And the one seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” And he said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water from the spring of the water of life freely. 7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowards and unbelievers and detestable persons and murderers and sexually immoral people and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their share is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.
Learn the law of Christ, be imitators of God in all righteousness and truth, and how through His spirit, we can learn His righteousness in our lives. Repent, and “go and sin no more”.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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