Freedom or the Law

Freedom or the Law: The major contrast between Christianity and Judaism is the adherence to the law. Before you start thinking that this blog is marking a dividing line against the Law of Moses, or any of the Jewish observances, be still. That isn’t what’s intended here.

Rather, keeping all of the richness of Judaism in mind, all of the laws, all of the holidays, all of the traditions, it points to the amazing sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Law is still essential

Don’t for a moment think the Law doesn’t count. It very much does. Every last word, every last letter, counts as much today as when Moses and the ones that followed wrote them down. Because they count, we are accountable.

Under the Law, the righteous requirements of the Law must be met in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Ever break a commandment, even just a little? Guilty. Ever think about breaking a commandment? Guilty again. Ever break one by accident? Guilty just the same.

Three types of laws

The law means the 10 Commandments, the civil law in the Old Testament, and the ceremonial law. It also is referring to the first five books of the Bible. It also means anything that Jesus commanded for believers. There’s the moral law, the ceremonial law and in general, God’s Word. For this discussion, we’ll focus on the laws of Judaism and how they relate to God’s grace in the New Testament.

Hard to adhere to all of Jewish laws

After God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses and the law began to fully develop in the every day lives of the Israelites, those original 10 laws turned into 613. In order to be in right standing with God, one had to adhere to all of them. It’s a daunting task.

But to understand the purpose of the law, and the need for meeting the righteous requirements of the law, you must understand that God gave His law as a tool for reconciliation.

The human race had turned away from God. The only understanding they had of the things of God came from the oral tradition, passed down from generation-to-generation.

Through the prophet Moses and others, the law became more formalized. It was now a matter of record.

Christians are under grace

Christian believers are separated from the rest of the world, because of their faith in Christ. Those who do not accept God’s gift of salvation through Christ, are living under the law. Christians are under grace.

The unmerited favor of God is given because of our faith, not our works. The law exposes the ugliness of sin, brings everything to view and offers a sharp contrast between sinful man and the magnificence of God. Perfect obedience to the law is required for entry into heaven.

Jesus explains the law

Jesus made His stance on the law perfectly clear during the Sermon on the Mount.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

Jesus fulfilled the law

Jesus came to fulfill the law. Because He accomplished His mission, we are invited to enter the Kingdom of God just by having faith and believing. Jesus did all of the work. God the Father reaches out to us, the Holy Spirit convicts us to confess our sins and turn to God. Jesus paid the price.

It is important that the law is fully understood by those who do not believe. At the same time, the grace of God, the gateway to salvation, needs to be presented. Those who are saved by God’s grace through faith, the law is a guideline for godliness. Grace showcases the power of God over sin. The law is fulfilled through Christ and believers are set free.