By Chris Lee
Copyright 2007 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Glendale, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised May 21, 2007. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Law of Christ
I have spent a great deal of time thinking and praying about the topic discussed in the last part of our study. In the past, I have been unsure as to the best way to approach the discussion of the Law of Christ. I believe that the Holy Spirit, working through God’s Word, has blessed me with a personal “ah-ha” moment in regards to this topic. As I was thinking and praying over this, a particular Biblical passage came to mind as well as a mental picture of a diagram to help illustrate the point.
We all agree that there is a “law” written on the hearts of New Covenant Christians. However, there seems to be abundant confusion as to what “law” is actually written on our heart. The word “law” is used in many different ways in scripture. Even on the Former Adventist Fellowship Forum we tend to use the word in multiple ways without defining exactly what “law” we are talking about. It would be most helpful to observe the way the word is used in scripture and how it is applied to different groups.
As I have been considering the various ways the word “law” is used, a passage found in I Corinthians has come to mind repeatedly. Paul is describing how he in some cases restrains and in other cases exercises his Christian liberty. He does all this to win others to the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NASB)
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
To briefly summarize Paul’s points:
So we see Paul using the word “law” in three different ways:
I. The Mosaic Law
II. The Law of God
III. The Law of Christ
We can represent this information using a simple diagram:
At the very top is a line representing “The Law of God”. The arrows point to infinity in both directions to illustrate that “The Law of God” is eternal and transcendent. This law transcends time and creation because it is defined by the eternal being of God. All creatures at all times have always been under this eternal law and always will be.
The very bottom line represents the progression of world history, from creation to the end of time as we know it. We see that from the time of Adam to Moses (Sinai) the Mosaic Law was not yet in effect. None the less sinners were still condemned by God’s eternal transcendent law (Rom. 5:12-14).
From Sinai to the cross the Law of Moses was in effect, but post cross it is no longer in effect (Gal. 3:15-25, Heb. 8:13). The Mosaic Law was holy just and good in that it was a shadow of God’s eternal transcendent Law. The Mosaic Law pointed to God’s ultimate law, but it was not in and of itself the ultimate law, merely a representation of it.
New Covenant Christians who live post cross do not live under the Mosaic Law. Christian believers live under a better covenant with a better mediator, better promises, and a better law. Moses was a mediator between God and Israel, but Christ is the ultimate mediator between God and man. Moses was used to reveal aspects of God, but Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God to man. Moses was given a law that came with glory, but Jesus Christ is the ultimate law giver. The Law of Christ comes with glory that far surpasses the Mosaic Law. Just as Jesus is the greatest revelation of God, so the Law of Christ is the greatest revelation of God’s eternal transcendent law.
While New Covenant Christians are not under the Decalogue, they are under the commandments of The Law of Christ. We are told in scripture that those who have faith in Christ will keep His commandments:
Revelation 14:12 (NASB)
12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments (entole) of God and their faith in Jesus.
Although John does not define these commandments (entole) in Revelation, he does so in his other books.
1 John 3:23 (NASB)
23 This is His commandment (entole), that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
John 13:34 (NASB)
34 "A new commandment (entole) I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
We also see several other places in scripture were the commandments contained in the Law of Christ are given. We also see that these commandments are the ultimate fulfillment of the law. Not only do they fulfill the Mosaic Law, but they transcend the Mosaic Law fulfilling the Law of Christ as well. These commandments are the greatest revelation of the eternal transcendent law of God.
Matthew 7:12 (NASB)
12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NASB)
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 great and foremost commandment.
39 "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
Romans 13:8-10 (NASB)
8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
9 For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 5:14 (NASB)
14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
Galatians 6:2 (NASB)
2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
But how are the Law of Christ and the lofty commandments that accompany it written upon the hearts of New Covenant believers? The only way this could happen is if God Himself were to indwell us, then and only then could the eternal transcendent Law of God be within us. It is an awe inspiring truth to realize that this is exactly what God has done through the person of the Holy Spirit. Not only are we sealed eternally for salvation by the Spirit, but we are given new birth, a regenerate spirit that can commune with God’s Spirit. By this sovereign gracious act of God we are given the very mind of Christ through the indwelling presence of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NASB)
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit it can truly be said that the Law of Christ is written upon our hearts. No one needs to tell us to know the Lord because we know Him in the most intimate of ways. We begin to see sin as He sees it. We begin to be transformed into the very likeness of Christ. Though the presence of the Sprit in the hearts of New Covenant believers, the prophecy has been fulfilled:
Hebrews 8:7-13 (NASB)
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8 For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
10 "FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
11 "AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
12 "FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE."
13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
Truly we have been given a New Covenant that is better in every way. It has a better Mediator, better promises, better signs, and a better law. The Old Covenant with its old law is obsolete. We are so blessed to live on this side of the cross. Let us never turn back to the shadows now that we have the substance, Jesus Christ.
This concludes our study of the covenants. I hope that it has been helpful and that you will spend time prayerfully studying through the passages and books we have touched upon. May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and understanding. May the Holy Spirit protect you from falsehood, and illuminate Truth. May the Father bless you and keep you in the joy of the Lord as you study and apply these things.