Jesus spoke quite mysteriously in the Sermon on the Mount (SOM) concerning the Law and the Prophets (OT). ~ Matt.5:17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.18“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. 19“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.
20“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus had not come to abolish/destroy/overthrow but to fulfill the OT! This does not mean that he is coming in the future to fulfill it; it means that when he came (3 B.C. – 30 A.D.) He had come to fulfill the Law. When Jesus spoke of the Law and the Prophets, He always meant the OT Scriptures. Paul narrowed the idea down even further to “The Law” but, in recent church history some have taught that Jesus and Paul differentiated between “The Moral Law”, “The Civil Law” and “The Ceremonial Law”. However, Scripture has never made that distinction. Mankind has introduced a lot of ideas that sound like truth but are not Gospel. There is only one true Gospel and I intend to discover it. I just happen to believe the the Spirit of Truth will guide us into all truth as we depend on him…
Jesus said he had come to fulfill the OT. Scriptures. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, I am choosing to refer to the OT from hear on as “The Law”, just like Paul. Fulfill means to complete. He did not merely complete the Law by adding something that was missing, he completed it by “fulfilling it to it’s individual capacity…to the appropriate extent” (according to HELPS Word Studies definition of the Greek word)
The Law had a purpose. Jesus had a purpose. One lasts forever and one found fulfillment. Let’s consider the Law’s purpose and compare it too Jesus’ Message of Good News. Before we get there, I want to mention some of the conflict that the Apostles had among themselves regarding this profound purpose.
MIXING IT UP ~
Paul wrote very passionately to the Galatians because he was heavily invested in their growth in the freedom of the Gospel! He described to them in Chapter 2 (which I will return too) how misguided religious people had tried to coerce them back to OT Laws because they were jealous of Paul and his companies freedom! (Gal.2:1-5)
It’s very compelling to me that this is after “The First Apostolic Council” as recorded in Acts 15. James and Paul seemed to be in disagreement even at that time (over a decade after the Ascension) because James proposed that they instruct the Gentile believers in Antioch
|29that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well….” Acts 15|
But, Paul wrote too the immature church at Corinth that only the weak in conscience and faith were concerned about such food. He essentially told them to avoid such things for the sake of weaker brethren but not for God’s sake. Isn’t that interesting? (1 Cor.8)
Also, out of all the 613 OT instructions; these were the only things that the brethren sent to the Gentiles. No mention of tithe, Sabbath worship or any other potentially controversial topics contained within the Law. However, the reason they met and discussed was specifically concerning what things from the Law they should apply! (Acts 15:5,6)
Paul made it very clear in Gal.2 that he was called to declare the Gospel to the Gentiles. Is it possible that James was not and did not have the same revelation of liberty from the LAW that Paul had? History records that James eventually died as the “Bishop” of the Church in Jerusalem and was called among them “James the Righteous” because of his perceived piety. Even James letter was written to the Jews of the Dispersion and not directed towards the Gentile believers. That doesn’t mean that his writing did not have value to them and us but, there is a reality of “Historical Context” that needs to be considered.
Paul also did not hold back by rebuking Peter concerning his hypocrisy before the Jews! The very same Apostle who had the amazing vision about “all things being clean before God” 3 times (did it really take 3 times for him to get it?) was the same Apostle, who later reverted back to a mixed form of Law and grace because of the fear of man. At least, that’s who it seems in Gal.2:12.
All of this controversy among the brethren and lovers of the Lord Jesus. The very same people who were called to spread the Good News of the Gospel to the entire land! What ever happened to “pursuing peace with the brethren?”
Maybe peace at the expense of TRUTH is not peace at all….Maybe they just had not all arrived at the same conclusion as to the purpose of the Law yet.
WHY THE LAW?
1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (any works of the law ~ a realistic interpretation) Gal.3:1-3 with my added parantheses
Paul called his brethren foolish because, although they were born-again, Spirit-filled believers; they were resorting back to works of the Law to attempt to please God! We do not become perfected/completed in maturity by adding any of the 613 instructions of the Law to the Gospel because the Law was no longer for them!
19Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. ~ Gal.3
The Law was given because of transgressions! The Law was not a part of God’s plan, it was plan B. Yes, that is what Paul said because we know that sin and transgression were never a part of God’s plan either. God added the Law as a response to us, He didn’t create us to sin so that he could introduce the Law. The Law is unable to impart life!
God created us for life and not death; Satan is the author of death!
23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The Law had a purpose and that purpose was too direct them to Christ, “The Faith!”
There are not many faiths in the world. There is only One Faith. The Gospel is very concrete in it’s permanent foundation of One truth that is the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have the luxury of believing what we want to believe Scripture or man says; we have One Truth and our Truth is Jesus.
Jesus was born under the Law but, he is no longer under the Law because he fulfilled it and put the completely fulfilled righteousness of the Law inside us, who believe! Since Jesus has completed it, if we try to add to it; Christ died for nothing! Let’s leap back to the previous chapter where Paul apparently revealed this reality to Peter!
DEAD AND BURIED ~
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17“But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”
“Peter, you know Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we are free from it! You don’t even keep the Law in your own life, even though you were born a Jew under the Law. It’s hypocrisy to suddenly try to appear to keep the Law in front of the Jews and therefore lead Gentiles to keep aspects of the Law! Even we Jews are no longer bound to any of the Law because we are forever righteous in Christ; if we try to go back to the Law we prove ourselves to be living unrighteously!
Not only did we receive Holy Spirit by faith but we live by faith and that’s how we know we are righteous!
We are forever righteous in our spirit man because of what these next few verses declare! These are some of my favorite passages in Scripture because they so clearly declare the victory of Jesus Christ accomplished in our spirit man at the cross!
19For through the Law I died to the Law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with the Messiah. 20I no longer live, but the Messiah lives in me, and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.21I do not misapply God’s grace, for if righteousness comes about by doing what the Law requires, then the Messiah died for nothing.”Gal.2
My spirit man was crucified, buried with Christ and even risen to the Throne of God with him forever because of Jesus! It’s no longer Chris Kauffman living but the Spirit of Almighty God living through me because of His love and faithfulness! I will not neglect God’s gracious power and gift to me because Jesus has made me forever approved by God and the Law is finished to me! If I neglect Jesus victorious work over the Law, death, sin and the grave; it’s like saying that Jesus death was in vain.
If we try to resurrect or even dissect that dead law; it’s like going into the graveyard, opening up our “spirit man’s coffin” and trying to resuscitate it with CPR. The only thing that we are going to accomplish is making a mess…
The Old man and the Law died in Christ so that they could stay in the grave but, Jesus arose in victory and took us with him!
ALIVE TO GOD ~
The former things have passed away. Your spirit-man is the New Creation in Christ and the Law has found fulfillment in you because He is in you. This is God’s work and not our own! You are now righteous, even the very righteousness of God because you are joined to the Lord in spirit and Jesus is your righteousness. Everything that Jesus is; He is in your spirit man.
This is why the Law cannot be touched by us because the Law is cursed and separate from Christ. We can stay attached to the Vine in our heart and soul by abiding in His love and His finished work of His Ascension or we can disconnect ourselves from him by returning to the graveyard where that smelly, rotted corpse is joined in death to the Law.
We are a New Creation with a New Covenant and a New Commandment to “Love one another as Jesus loved us!” (John 13:34) and “Abide in His love” (John 15:9) because that is how we bear much fruit! We only abide in the Vine by faith working through love (Gal.5:6) because we must first believe and “whoever abides in love abides in God.” (1 John 4) “Whoever does not love does not know God and has not perceived God because God is love!
We live to God by obeying the only 2 Commandments clearly laid out in 1 John. 1) Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and God himself. 2) Love God. Love people.
This is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets anyway (according to Jesus and Paul) so, why would we expect the New Covenant to be anything else? God’s Commandments are not a burdensome yoke like the Law. His Yoke is easy and light.
Love is rest for our souls. You are loved to the same extent that God loved Jesus. Receive it and Be it. The Lord has “spoken” this to my heart ~ “Beloved, be loved and Be love!”
Simply “Abide in love.”