The law has gotten a bad rap from many Bible teachers. Many who teach that Jesus abolished the law when Jesus very clearly said, “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.” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to fullfil (pleroo) the law.
Now, if we are to take Jesus’ words at face value, that He fulfilled the Law, but definitely did not abolish it, is it possible that there has been a gross misunderstanding of what Jesus did concerning the Law and how we are suppose to understand it for our lives today?
I mean we can’t have it both ways, can we? Otherwise, it seems we have Jesus contradicting Himself. Surely, Jesus fulfilled the law in that He perfectly executed the law and “fully” obeyed it. He showed us how it was to be done. All the law is fulfilled in the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. The instructions of the commandments and the prophets all are geared towards helping us to love our neighbor and God: That is loving God the way God wants to be loved. Would you agree that God is the One who gets to define how He wants to be loved and worshiped?
After all, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 23:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do.
Whoa, wait a minute…What!!! Did Jesus really say that? To sit in Moses’ seat was to read and instruct the Jews on the Mosaic Law. In saying this, Our Lord Jesus instructed us to follow the Mosaic Law. And why should this surprise us? After all John the apostle wrote, “The Word (Torah) became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” John 1:14. His entire ministry was spent showing His disciples what it looked like to execute the Torah in word and deed. In fact, if Jesus is the Word, is He not also the same Word of the Hebrew Scriptures? Is He not the Torah given by YHWH on mount Sinai?
Consider some other things that the apostles of Jesus said about the commandments of God (referring to the Torah):
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3
Wait a minute, I thought the Law was a burden? The apostle John says they are not burdensome. There is no doubt that the oral law that the Pharisees heaped upon the people of God were burdensome and Jesus said so much…but here we have John (who learned from Jesus Himself) teaching that God’s commandments ARE NOT burdensome. John’s words are very consistent with what the Torah teaches about the commands of God. Here are just a few examples:
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Whoa! “What I am commanding you is not too difficult.” Did YHWH really say that? We should be in shock and awe at this point. Are we to think that The LORD Almighty lied to us when He said, “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Again emphasizing the key phrase here where He says, “it is not too difficult.”? I mean is this God’s idea of a sadistical joke?
Many have taught that God’s law is a burden and it is unattainable. Don’t miss read me here, I am not saying that we can perfectly obey the commandments of God anymore than we can perfectly love our neighbor or love God. But we all do our best to love one another (at least I hope so). I’m talking about the very way YHWH Himself described His commandments. His own words tell us He did not put a yoke of burden on His people by giving us the Law. However, Pharisees did put a burden on God’s people (Christian teachers are certainly not exempt from doing the same thing), by adding to the word of God, another commandment that was explicit in the Torah:
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. Deuteronomy 4:2
Nobody except Jesus could “fulfill the law” that is executing it perfectly. Our righteousness is in God: because God called us, not because of anything we had done but simply because he mysteriously placed His affection on us and called us to be His very own.
This is the name by which he will be called:
YHWH Our Righteous Savior. Jeremiah 23:6
The law of YHWH is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of YHWH are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of YHWH are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of YHWH are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of YHWH is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of YHWH are firm, and all of them are righteous. Psalm 19
I ask you, can the Law of God be perfect and be a burden? Can the Law of God refresh the soul and be a yoke of bondage? Can the Law of God give joy to the heart and also crush the spirit under the weight of it?
I walk about in liberty for I have sought your precepts.
Can the precepts of God be freeing and enslaving? King David did not think so.
These are but a few of the verses contained in God’s word that point us to how wonderful, beautiful, and life giving the Law of God is. So it seems a gross contradiction to suggest that the Law of God brings death and enslavement. Of course the Law brings death to sinners who will not obey it. After all, in that sense Paul writes to Timothy, “The Law is good…it is not made for the righteous…but for law breakers.” (1 Timothy 1:8-11). Why? Because the righteous, like King David love the Law of God.
Now I understand that there are many passages in the New Testament that seem to conflict with these “positive” scriptures about the Law. But scripture must interpret scripture, so we have been taught. The point is how will you reconcile the Word of God for yourself without sweeping half of it under the proverbial rug or just taking your favorite Bible teachers word for it? Understanding that in no way could Jesus contradict the Word of God which “endures forever” . “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Now if that last scripture has you wondering about the possibility of whether heaven and earth has metaphorically passed away or whether all things have been accomplished you might want to check out this article on what the New Testament Scriptures have to say about the end times.
“Test everything, hold to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21