Christians And The Law

(Romans 3:27-31)

One of the most difficult aspects of Christianity for people to come to grips with is how they stand in relation to the laws given by Moses. Part of the reason for this confusion is contained in this scripture which says in verse 31:

Christians are free from law, but they cannot then break the law
Christians are free from law, but they cannot then break the law

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

We are set free from the law of sin and death by the death of Jesus Christ. But this verse tells us we must uphold the law. So the challenge for all Christians is to understand how we now relate to the law and that is what I will look at in this post.

The Law Is Good

We all know that the law is holy, just and good. It was given to man for a number of purposes, most of all to help man for his own good. It teaches man the difference between what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, and most importantly, what a person needs to do to please God.

The law established a standard by which God showed man what would be the minimum standard to live well with Him and with each other.

But in the law God also established the standard by which He would judge the world. In the law we have the knowledge of sin and it is by the law that a persons transgressions are made even more sinful because they are condemned under the law.

But in Christianity we have been set free from the law, not to do whatever we like, but to be obedient to God. So what does the law mean to a Christian and where do we stand in relation to the law.

Where Is The Law Now?

Those who come to Christ and have been baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have died with Him. This death is important for God sees us taking Jesus death as if it were our own.

Now the penalty for sinning is death. We build up a debt of sin throughout this life which is not paid until we die. Death is the payment for the debt of sin.

But when we take Jesus' death as our own by faith and through baptism, God accepts the sacrifice of Jesus in our place and so the debt is paid by Christ on our behalf.

But there is another aspect to this death for not only is the debt of sin paid, but we are also released from the law. In Romans 7:1 we see that the law is binding on a person, “only while they are alive.” So when a person dies they are set free from the law and no longer under the law.

This is a fantastic thing because when we are removed from the law we no longer break it and are no longer condemned by it. Logic says that you cannot break a law that you are not under. For example, a person living in the UK cannot be condemned under the law in the USA that says you must not drive on the left hand side of the road because the law does not apply to them.

Likewise when we have died by accepting the death of Jesus as our own, we are no longer citizens of this life on the earth, subject to the laws of the earth but we are citizens of the kingdom of God and the laws of the earth do not apply there.

We see also in Colossians 2:11-14 how all of this holds together as well as where the law now stands for a Christian.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

We see from these verses that the law, which is what the point about “legal demands” in verse 14 refers to, was nailed up when Jesus was nailed up to die. But although Jesus was taken down and subsequently resurrected, the law remained nailed up where Jesus died because the law cannot pass through death. When you die, the law does not carry through into the next life because the law relates to this life only.

Where Do Christians Stand Now?

We need to go back and consider that last verse in Romans 3 which says,

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

We uphold the law. Even though we are no longer under the law we do not disregard it. There is tremendous wisdom in the law for they are the words of God.

But you do not have to be under the law to keep the requirement so the law. You do not have to have a law that says, “Thou shalt not kill,” to know that it is wrong to kill another person. And just because we have been now separated from the law through the death of Jesus and the grace of God, we do not now have the right to go about killing people! Heaven forbid!

No. We keep the just requirements of the law because they are the right things to do.

Our aim is righteousness, which at its simplest level means to do what is right. And what is contained in the law is the definition of what is right and wrong. Thus as Paul says, just because we are no longer under the law we do not overthrow it, instead we uphold it because to do the works of righteousness means also to do what is right under the law.

Just keeping the law will not give us righteousness for the true righteousness come from God and is received by faith. Man cannot make himself righteous by keeping the law because in the law comes the knowledge of sin. But we are given the free gift of righteousness by God because we have faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done in obedience to the Father and given us this opportunity.

In the end our aim is love and to walk in love because then we walk like God for God is love. And that is why when asked which was the greatest of the laws Jesus responded saying that the greatest of the laws was to love The Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself.

Love is the fulfilling of the law as Paul wrote in Romans 13:10. Thus we seek to walk in Christ and to walk in love for that is the fulfilling of the law. However until we get to that place of walking in love, we can learn from the law even though we are not under it, not condemned by it nor held accountable to it. Let us all learn ALL the wisdom that comes from God and understanding the goodness contained in the law is a good place to start.

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