Do you go to church? Do you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you living a life of salvation under grace? Do you consequently think that the Law of the Old Testament and Old Covenant are bad? Does your skin crawl when people try to tell you what to do or how to act?
Sometimes we paint the picture that the Old Testament was bad and the New Testament is good. The Law was bad, but grace is good. That is, after all, where we get legalism, right?
But Jesus is love, He taught love, it’s all warm, fuzzy, feel good, non judgmental mushy gushy stuff.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
– Matt 5.16-22
Jesus unashamedly taught that He did not come to abolish the Law, and that the Law will stand until the end of time – until there is a new Heaven and a new Earth. And not only that, but anyone who annuls the Law will not make it into Heaven. In short, you cannot love Jesus and hate the Law.
There was a very real change that happened when Jesus died and rose from the dead. When the Old Covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant, and the Law was fulfilled in Jesus, the sacrificial system was completed. We do not have to make sacrifices to atone for our sins any longer because Jesus was the final and the perfect sacrifice. The Old Covenant sacrifices were shadows looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make (Heb 10.1-18). Thus, some of the traditions and practices were done away with by the completing work of Jesus on the cross. But the theme of the Old Covenant Law is summed up in this:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
– Deut 6.4
This is the very heart of the Law, and the single command that Jesus said is the greatest. The rest of the Law is how people were instructed to actually live out that love. You cannot obey the Law unless love is your driving force. And through love, the goal of life is to follow this overarching command:
‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
– Lev 19.2
And both of these commands reign true today. Jesus taught us to Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and might (Matt 22.37) and Peter continues the command to be holy (1 Peter 1.15, 16).
“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”
He then says,
AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS
I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”
– Heb 10.16-17
God, when He made the New Covenant with believers, with us, promised to take out our hearts of stone and give us a new heart, and on that heart He would actually write His Law. In the Old Covenant, they were instructed to write the Law “on their foreheads” and on the doorposts of the house:
“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
– Deut 6.8-9
But now, Hebrews says, we have no need of an instructor because the Holy Spirit is teaching us from within (Heb 8.11). That does not mean that we do not need to read the Bible, but it means that the Spirit will convict us when we are tempted to sin or start to make the wrong decision. His Spirit will guide our spirits, when we are willing and listening, in the path of obedience.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law. The Law is now written on our hearts, and we are commanded to be holy – because of and through the love for God.
Without faith, hope and love in and for God, it is all worthless. That is why Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs: They were following the law in their actions but not in their hearts.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
– Matt 23.27-28
The problem was not the Law, the problem was the heart of the Pharisees.
If you try to obey Jesus without knowing and loving Him, you will be just like the Pharisees. But if you want to know and love Jesus, you have to obey, and you will be compelled to obey because God has written the Law on your heart.
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.”
– Heb 10.26-27
So let us focus on the greatest commandment: Love God with everything you have. Trust the Spirit convicting your heart of righteousness, and read the Scriptures to find out what God has to say about sin and righteousness. Obey. But obey out of love, not out of obligation or trying to prove yourself. Prove yourself to be a believer by your actions, not a bag of dry bones.