As a believer in Jesus I read the whole Bible. Most of the Bible is what we call the “Old Testament.” Throughout the centuries after Jesus came, Christians have struggled and debated questions such as: “Do I need to obey the Old Testament?” and “What do I apply to myself and what do I simply overlook in the Old Testament?” The answers to these questions are found in the teachings of the New Testament. Jesus declared that He came to fulfill the Law (the teachings given by God to Moses for the Israelites) and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, many of the Old Testament ceremonial and temple rituals are fulfilled in Christ. The laws given to Israel teach us good things about God, and they also reveal the wonderful ministry of Jesus the Messiah. For example, we don’t need to sacrifice bulls and sheep as the Israelites did because Jesus gave himself as the perfect and final sacrifice! In the Book of Galatians, Paul wrote to believers who, after receiving Christ, were trying to “add” to their salvation the practice of the Law. Paul called them on this. In strong, unmistakable terms Paul proclaimed that the believer in Jesus is free from having to live under the Law found in the Old Covenant. Being declared righteous before God, He taught, was not a matter of proclaiming ourselves “worthy” because of our efforts to keep a bunch of laws. Righteousness comes through faith in Jesus! This “freedom” from the Law, however, does not mean we abandon morals or godly behavior. Paul wrote, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:13-14). So, the way we live out our Christian life is by faith in Jesus and love for one another. This is not a “law of works,” but it is the “law of love.” Paul again wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). Catch Paul’s vision here: Living for Christ is not a “burden” of having to perform duties and keep laws; it is, rather, a freedom to live above the sinful nature and to express our faith through loving God and others. You can’t beat that!
Pastor Mark Boucher