Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
The Law of Christ

The Law of Christ: The Law Christians Are Under

As Christians, we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, but we are under the Law of Christ. Consider these verses:

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

1 Corinthians 9:20-21

Paul’s talking about the lengths he’d go to win people to Christ. “Those under the law” are Jews who hadn’t embraced Christ. If you haven’t repented of your sins and put your faith in Christ, then you’re still under the law. You must keep it perfectly to be saved, which is something nobody can do.

Since Paul said he put himself back under the law, it reveals he hadn’t been under the law since coming to Christ.

“Those outside the law are Gentiles,” because they weren’t part of the Old Covenant. When Paul tried to win them to Christ he made sure he wasn’t under the Mosaic Law, so he’d be better received by them.

Since Paul said he “became as one outside the law,” he was afraid his readers would think he lived very sinfully and immorally. So he made sure to tell them that he was still under a law, and that’s the law of Christ.

An honest reading of the verses recognizes there’s a clear distinction between two different laws:

  • The Mosaic Law, which is associated with the Old Covenant, and its mediator, Moses.
  • The Law of Christ, which is associated with the New Covenant, and its Mediator, Jesus.

Independence From the Mosaic Law, but not the Law of Christ

The Book of Galatians is our Declaration of Independence from the Mosaic Law. If there’s one book that helps us recognize we’re not under the law, it’s this one, but Paul still said:

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Even in the premier book about not being under the Mosaic Law, Paul still commanded his readers to fulfill the law of Christ.

The Moral Commands Are Carried Forward

The Mosaic Law was divided into two categories of commands…

  1. The moral commands, or what we think of as “common sense commands.” You shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness.
  2. The ceremonial commands are amoral (not moral or immoral) and are the “not common sense commands.” These are commands you wouldn’t intuitively come up with, because they’re not moral. These are commands regarding:

The Law of Christ drops the ceremonial commands found in the Mosaic Law. For example, the commands associated with sacrifices and offerings, feasts and festivals, abstaining from certain foods (such as pork and rabbit), farming certain ways, and avoiding mixing certain fabrics:

You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.
“You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
“You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.
“You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.

Deuteronomy 22:9-12

The moral commands are based on God’s nature. Since God’s nature defines morality for us and doesn’t change, these commands remain and are brought forward into the New Covenant. They’re part of the Law of Christ, and are still binding for us today.

You Don’t Get to Pick-and-Choose

I’m always surprised when I meet people who are convinced Christians should observe the Mosaic Law, but they don’t have tassels on their clothes or they mix various fabrics together. They talk about obeying parts of the Law, which shows a flawed understanding. The Law was never meant to be kept that way. The New Testament states the Mosaic Law must be obeyed in its entirety. It should be viewed as a unit versus a buffet:

[Those under the law] are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in (or obey) all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

Galatians 3:10

Paul quotes the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 27:26) to show that failure to keep any part of it brings divine judgment.

Every man who becomes circumcised is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Galatians 5:3

Parents can circumcise their sons out of preference, but if they’re doing so out of obedience to the Law they must keep the whole Law.

Circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

Romans 2:25

If you’re circumcised to keep the Law but you break any other part of it, it’s like you were never circumcised at all.

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

Romans 10:4-5

Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 to show that if you want to keep the Law, you must keep it perfectly. You have to live by it!

Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

James 2:10-11

If you break one command in the Mosaic Law, it’s like you’ve broken all 613 commands. People who claim to be under the Mosaic Law but neglect some commands:

  • Break a window and argue, “I broke part of the window, but there’s a lot of it that’s not broken.”
  • Are pulled over by a cop and argue, “Yeah, but what about all the other laws I haven’t broken?”

The Law of Christ Condensed the Mosaic Law

The Law of Christ is summarized in three New Testament passages:

  • Matthew 22:37-39—Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
  • Romans 13:8-10—He who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14—All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Law of Christ is a condensed version of the morality of the Mosaic Law. Rather than try to remember 613 commands, Christians can focus on loving God and loving others. In doing so we fulfill the Law of Christ.

The Law of Christ Sets a Higher Standard

Unfortunately, sometimes people think that since we’re not under the Mosaic Law we have license to sin. Nothing could be further from the truth, because when Jesus discussed the Law of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, He shared that it set a higher standard.

Six times Jesus quoted the Mosaic Law saying, “You have heard that it was said…”, then adds, “But I say to you…” In each instance He sets the bar higher:

  1. Matthew 5:21-22—“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder (Exo 20:13; Deut 5:17) But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.”
  2. Matthew 5:27-28—“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Exo 20:14; Deut 5:18) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
  3. Matthew 5:31-32—“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ (Deut 24:1) But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery.”
  4. Matthew 5:33-34—“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ (Lev 19:12; Num 30:2; Deut 23:21) But I say to you, do not swear at all.”
  5. Matthew 5:38-39—“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Exo 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21) But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
  6. Matthew 5:43-44—”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (Lev 19:18) and hate your enemy.’ (Deut 23:6) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

What was previously:

  • Sinful physically (murder and adultery) is now sinful when it takes place in the hearts
  • Allowed (divorce, oaths, and retribution) is now forbidden
  • Not commanded (loving enemies) is now commanded

We couldn’t keep the Mosaic Law. How much less can we keep the higher Law of Christ. Thank God for His love and mercy in providing a Savior. By grace through faith we receive forgiveness and righteousness we could never obtain on our own.

Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section:

  • Why do you think there’s so much confusion about the Christian’s relationship to the Law?
  • Do you agree or disagree with this post? Why?
  • Did you previously see yourself under the Law of Christ or the Mosaic Law? How do you see yourself now?

8 Responses

  1. Sorry….wasn’t notified of your response on Feb 9th.

    RE: Daniel 12:2…I *never* said Hell doesn’t exist. I said the version of Hell preached of in the Christo-Pagan tradition is derived from 1st-2nd Century AD pagan traditions of Hades and expounded upon by Dante’s inferno.

    Daniel 12:2 doesn’t refute that assertion. It speaks directly to what I believe….that we die and are asleep until raised to judgement (with some caveats like the appearance of Moses and Elijah to Jesus in Matt 17:3). Being destroyed in the lake of fire would definitely fall under the category of everlasting contempt; just as having one’s name written in the “Book of Life” would be an everlasting honor.

    The Bible also says there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth”….and I seriously doubt anyone convicted of their sin will argue that it was not just. As I said before, God’s justice is perfect….and I believe that it’s so perfect that one will not be able to even argue against the evidence that will be presented at judgement.

    It’s not a denial of punishment…it’s a denial of “eternal” punishment. As I said, it doesn’t comport with a loving or just God; anymore than cruel and unusual punishment is consistent with good government, which is why our Founders outlawed it via the 8th Amendment. The purpose of the death penalty isn’t recompense for the living, or atonement for the perpetrator….it’s removing the bad influence from society. No one will be resurrected from murder; injuries, once sustained, won’t be erased; nor will justice be served by sadistically torturing the accused unto death. In fact, torture and suffering on that scale would make the society or entity demanding such treatment to be no morally better than the evil doer who committed the act in the first place.

    Instead, I believe that those who are unsaved are judged, are cast into the lake of fire and their spirits/souls are eternally destroyed as would be just. Is there suffering involved commensurate with the suffering the person in question caused in their lifetime? I don’t know. I would think it would be a graduated scale and just if meted out in that fashion.

    I’m not rejecting the Gospel…I simply understand that many will think they are on the right path, and aren’t as evidenced by Matt 7: 13-14 & 21-23. I’m merely being honest with myself about what I deserve at judgement.

    I’m not a proponent of capital punishment either….for various reasons….not the least of which is the cost associated, the potential to execute dissidents on trumped up charges, the numerous cases of executions of innocent people through exculpatory DNA evidence, the prison for profit system, and a general malaise in the way our justice system is structured, the negligible deterrent effect, etc., etc..

    Thanks for the dialogue.

    Take care,
    Sean

    1. Sean,
      You provide some very rich comments; therefore, I’m responding below again so as not to miss anything…

      Sorry….wasn’t notified of your response on Feb 9th.

      No problem on the delay.

      RE: Daniel 12:2…I *never* said Hell doesn’t exist. I said the version of Hell preached of in the Christo-Pagan tradition is derived from 1st-2nd Century AD pagan traditions of Hades and expounded upon by Dante’s inferno.
      My point is simply that if Daniel wrote his book centuries before Dante’s Inferno was written, then Daniel (and other Bible writers prior to Dante) weren’t borrowing from Dante. Instead, it’s the other way around.

      Daniel 12:2 doesn’t refute that assertion. It speaks directly to what I believe….that we die and are asleep until raised to judgement (with some caveats like the appearance of Moses and Elijah to Jesus in Matt 17:3). Being destroyed in the lake of fire would definitely fall under the category of everlasting contempt; just as having one’s name written in the “Book of Life” would be an everlasting honor.

      Yes, you’re right that that if we’re annihilated in the lake of fire, then Daniel 12:2 could support that understanding; however, how do you reconcile annihilation with these verses:

      Revelation 14:9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

      Revelation 19:20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

      Revelation 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

      The Bible also says there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth”….and I seriously doubt anyone convicted of their sin will argue that it was not just. As I said before, God’s justice is perfect….and I believe that it’s so perfect that one will not be able to even argue against the evidence that will be presented at judgement.

      I agree.

      It’s not a denial of punishment…it’s a denial of “eternal” punishment. As I said, it doesn’t comport with a loving or just God; anymore than cruel and unusual punishment is consistent with good government, which is why our Founders outlawed it via the 8th Amendment. The purpose of the death penalty isn’t recompense for the living, or atonement for the perpetrator….it’s removing the bad influence from society. No one will be resurrected from murder; injuries, once sustained, won’t be erased; nor will justice be served by sadistically torturing the accused unto death. In fact, torture and suffering on that scale would make the society or entity demanding such treatment to be no morally better than the evil doer who committed the act in the first place.

      I don’t think we can determine what is and isn’t just. Justice is determined by God. For example, my child lies. What’s the just punishment? Stern warning? One spanking? Two or three? What about a lifetime rejection of Christ? What’s just for that and all the sins that have been committed.
      To be clear, I too struggle with the doctrine of eternal torment and experience the same tensions you do.

      Instead, I believe that those who are unsaved are judged, are cast into the lake of fire and their spirits/souls are eternally destroyed as would be just. Is there suffering involved commensurate with the suffering the person in question caused in their lifetime? I don’t know. I would think it would be a graduated scale and just if meted out in that fashion.

      Again, I’d defer to the verses I shared above. The question is not what do we think if right, just, and/or fair. The question is, “What does God’s Word say?” To me, eternal torment is clear, even if I struggle with it.

      I’m not rejecting the Gospel…I simply understand that many will think they are on the right path, and aren’t as evidenced by Matt 7: 13-14 & 21-23. I’m merely being honest with myself about what I deserve at judgement.

      Yes, I understand, thank you.

      I’m not a proponent of capital punishment either….for various reasons….not the least of which is the cost associated, the potential to execute dissidents on trumped up charges, the numerous cases of executions of innocent people through exculpatory DNA evidence, the prison for profit system, and a general malaise in the way our justice system is structured, the negligible deterrent effect, etc., etc..

      This logic would mean there should be no imprisonments at all, since many people have been innocently imprisoned. No lawsuits for the same reason. How many people have had to pay when they weren’t at fault?

      Thanks for the dialogue.
      Take care,
      Sean

      Yes, you as well. God bless!

  2. Hi Scott,

    I did mean prophecies and types….but I was also referring to the concept of his 1000 year reign mentioned repeatedly in Revelation.

    I might agree that my individual road is narrower…only b/c I cannot forgive myself for the sins I’ve engaged in, some of which I cannot truly repent of, b/c I’m simply not really sorry. It is not that I don’t believe Jesus’ sacrifice to be sufficient or that it was lacking in any way, shape or form….simply that God can see our hearts. I am fully aware of what I deserve in terms of judgement. Many people are not….but I also don’t believe in the version of Hell and/or Purgatory Christianity has peddled since appropriating it from the Pagan version of Hades in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD and solidifying and expounding upon in the 14th C from Dante’s Inferno. Yes, there’s a lake of fire where the unrighteous will meet justice. Do I believe it’s ‘eternal torment’ as described in Luke 16: 19-31 in the Lazarus and the rich man parable? Honestly, not really. That version doesn’t comport with a loving or just God. The preceding is enough to have me excommunicated and labeled a heretic from the Catholic church…and that’s just one of many areas in which I diverge with traditional dogma.

    All that said, I am firmly of the belief that if one believes Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, they truly repent and turn from their sins, they are saved. I’ve already mentioned why that may not necessarily apply to me, but I make no judgement of others’ salvation simply b/c I am not them. I do not know their hearts. God’s justice is perfect and He will judge righteously. The thing that gets lost in doctrine discussions is that the only truly important thing is contained in this paragraph, i.e.; what is required for salvation.

    Also, it should be noted…just b/c a majority or even 99% of people believe something to be true, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

    To answer your question: I definitely distinguish between apocrypha and canon. That said, certain apocryphal books shed light on various subjects to expand our understanding (the Book of Enoch, the Book of Yasher, etc.). Enoch is mentioned in both the OT & NT and it explains a lot about the war in heaven, time keeping and the intermingling of Fallen Angels with mankind which led to The Great Flood. The Book of the Upright/Yasher explains why Abraham actually leaves Ur after testing the idols of his father. If one reads the canonical account, frankly it seems like Abraham is a schizophrenic who hears a voice and just up and leaves. In short, the story is not well fleshed out. But, as I stated earlier, *I* believe the Bible we have today is not the literal, inerrant Word of God so I tend to read it critically, checking the oldest texts, manuscripts and fragments against a Greek or Hebrew Interlinear and Strong’s Concordance.

    As an example of additions to God’s Word, John 7:53-8:11 comes to mind. It’s always been a favorite passage of mine, but most accredited scholars don’t believe it was actually part of the original Bible. https://bible.org/article/my-favorite-passage-thats-not-bible (link if you’d like to read more). Even the oldest known manuscript that covers the vast majority of the book of John (Papyrus 66 circa 200 AD) doesn’t contain it, nor does Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete New Testament from around 400 AD.

    I’d agree with you for the most part on “applications” versus “interpretations”; poor word choice on my part. However, I recently had a very interesting discussion with a Catholic Apologist who said (and I verified) that the Catholic church “interprets” the Eucharist/Communion and canonical Biblical texts related to it to be *literal* in their meaning. In other words, when a Catholic (and many other Christian sects) takes communion, he believes the bread and wine are literally transfigured (transubstantiation) into the flesh and blood of Christ. Yet conversely, verses in John where Jesus says he is the “Bread of Life” are seen as metaphorical….and that he’s not actually made from unleavened bread. And there are plenty of Catholics and Protestants, laymen and clergy, who believe communion to be symbolic

    Honestly, I’m leaning towards the position that Jesus meant it literally, but not that the bread/wine at the Last Supper were *actually* made flesh/blood if only b/c of the text in John 6:47-66. Why would there have been such a falling out had the teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood been metaphorical? But I digress.

    The point is simply that even within the SAME religious sect there is disagreement among theologians about the interpretations of certain passages; whether they are literal or figurative and different interpretations are especially true when it comes to prophecy, particularly eschatology. Now, you are correct that there’s likely only ONE true interpretation, but in the case of prophecy regarding things in the future, only God knows what that truth may be. The rest of us are just guessing. The guesses may well be highly educated….but that again, doesn’t necessarily make them right.

    When I wrote about the same verse speaking to multiple situations in our lives, I wasn’t really talking about interpretations….I was talking about the Holy Spirit leading you to read a verse when prayerfully asking a sincere question of the Father. It may be a verse you’ve read before and taken literally within the context of the story line. For example, the fall of David when he seeks to kill Bathsheba’s husband and loses their child as a consequence. And you read it again after some tragic event and realize that much like David, you believed your prayer and supplication regarding your sin could forestall God’s justice and it did not, nor should it have. Not the best example, but hopefully you see the point.

    I don’t dispute that the NT also has proscriptions around certain activities that are worthy of a death sentence…here or in the judgement. I don’t necessarily agree with Romans 13:4. If the Founders had followed much of the advice regarding government found in the NT & OT, this country never would have been formed…though I recognize that pastors of the time preached from the pulpit on the issue of unrighteous government malfeasance thereby absolving themselves and their congregations of scripture that could be interpreted to contradict our yearning for independence.

    Freedom and free will are dangerous b/c inevitably *some* people will use that freedom to harm others; not necessarily that we will. One of my guiding principles from a secular viewpoint (since I also believe that to impose beliefs derived from faith on people who do not share them is as despotic as it is ineffectual) is that if something doesn’t violate the natural, negative rights of another, it should largely be permissible (there are obvious caveats relating to conspiracy, attempted crimes/violations, mens rea, etc.).

    Thanks for all your time, Scott. Much appreciated.

    1. Hi Sean,
      Since this is such a long comment, I decided to respond below your thoughts…

      Hi Scott,
      I did mean prophecies and types….but I was also referring to the concept of his 1000 year reign mentioned repeatedly in Revelation.

      Gotcha, thanks for clarifying about prophecies and types.

      I might agree that my individual road is narrower…only b/c I cannot forgive myself for the sins I’ve engaged in, some of which I cannot truly repent of, b/c I’m simply not really sorry. It is not that I don’t believe Jesus’ sacrifice to be sufficient or that it was lacking in any way, shape or form….simply that God can see our hearts. I am fully aware of what I deserve in terms of judgement. Many people are not….but I also don’t believe in the version of Hell and/or Purgatory Christianity has peddled since appropriating it from the Pagan version of Hades in the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD and solidifying and expounding upon in the 14th C from Dante’s Inferno.

      Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” This was written seven centuries before the New Testament was written, which is to say hell wasn’t adopted from Dante.

      Yes, there’s a lake of fire where the unrighteous will meet justice. Do I believe it’s ‘eternal torment’ as described in Luke 16: 19-31 in the Lazarus and the rich man parable? Honestly, not really. That version doesn’t comport with a loving or just God.

      Interestingly, Psalm 76:10 says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.” This means those in hell will acknowledge God’s justice. I struggle with the doctrine as well, but I embrace it because it’s taught in Scripture.

      The preceding is enough to have me excommunicated and labeled a heretic from the Catholic church…and that’s just one of many areas in which I diverge with traditional dogma.

      Yes, you’re right that a denial of eternal punishment would separate you from most mainstream evangelical churches.

      All that said, I am firmly of the belief that if one believes Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, they truly repent and turn from their sins, they are saved. I’ve already mentioned why that may not necessarily apply to me, but I make no judgement of others’ salvation simply b/c I am not them. I do not know their hearts. God’s justice is perfect and He will judge righteously. The thing that gets lost in doctrine discussions is that the only truly important thing is contained in this paragraph, i.e.; what is required for salvation.

      I am so surprised that you explain the gospel clearly (evidencing that you’re familiar with it), yet – what seems by you writing – to so casually acknowledge your rejection of it?

      #Also, it should be noted…just b/c a majority or even 99% of people believe something to be true, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

      I agree.

      To answer your question: I definitely distinguish between apocrypha and canon. That said, certain apocryphal books shed light on various subjects to expand our understanding (the Book of Enoch, the Book of Yasher, etc.). Enoch is mentioned in both the OT & NT and it explains a lot about the war in heaven, time keeping and the intermingling of Fallen Angels with mankind which led to The Great Flood. The Book of the Upright/Yasher explains why Abraham actually leaves Ur after testing the idols of his father. If one reads the canonical account, frankly it seems like Abraham is a schizophrenic who hears a voice and just up and leaves. In short, the story is not well fleshed out. But, as I stated earlier, *I* believe the Bible we have today is not the literal, inerrant Word of God so I tend to read it critically, checking the oldest texts, manuscripts and fragments against a Greek or Hebrew Interlinear and Strong’s Concordance.

      We don’t know exactly what it looked (or felt) like for Abraham when God spoke to him, but we can be sure he knew he was hearing from the Creator.

      As an example of additions to God’s Word, John 7:53-8:11 comes to mind. It’s always been a favorite passage of mine, but most accredited scholars don’t believe it was actually part of the original Bible. https://bible.org/article/my-favorite-passage-thats-not-bible (link if you’d like to read more). Even the oldest known manuscript that covers the vast majority of the book of John (Papyrus 66 circa 200 AD) doesn’t contain it, nor does Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete New Testament from around 400 AD.

      Yes, I agree.

      I’d agree with you for the most part on “applications” versus “interpretations”; poor word choice on my part. However, I recently had a very interesting discussion with a Catholic Apologist who said (and I verified) that the Catholic church “interprets” the Eucharist/Communion and canonical Biblical texts related to it to be *literal* in their meaning. In other words, when a Catholic (and many other Christian sects) takes communion, he believes the bread and wine are literally transfigured (transubstantiation) into the flesh and blood of Christ. Yet conversely, verses in John where Jesus says he is the “Bread of Life” are seen as metaphorical….and that he’s not actually made from unleavened bread. And there are plenty of Catholics and Protestants, laymen and clergy, who believe communion to be symbolic
      Honestly, I’m leaning towards the position that Jesus meant it literally, but not that the bread/wine at the Last Supper were *actually* made flesh/blood if only b/c of the text in John 6:47-66. Why would there have been such a falling out had the teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood been metaphorical? But I digress.

      I was raised Catholic. I believe communion is symbolic. Jesus was speaking as figuratively and spiritually in John 6 as He was in John 3 when He said we must be born again. He didn’t mean literally and physically. I’m not sure why the confusion in John 6.

      The point is simply that even within the SAME religious sect there is disagreement among theologians about the interpretations of certain passages; whether they are literal or figurative and different interpretations are especially true when it comes to prophecy, particularly eschatology. Now, you are correct that there’s likely only ONE true interpretation, but in the case of prophecy regarding things in the future, only God knows what that truth may be. The rest of us are just guessing. The guesses may well be highly educated….but that again, doesn’t necessarily make them right.

      Yes, you’re right there are different views of eschatology, but I would sale these are nonessentials and not causes for broken fellowship. In other words, people can have different views of eschatology and be in the same local church; however, this isn’t the case with essentials, such as the Gospel, deity of Christ, inspiration of Scripture, etc.

      When I wrote about the same verse speaking to multiple situations in our lives, I wasn’t really talking about interpretations….I was talking about the Holy Spirit leading you to read a verse when prayerfully asking a sincere question of the Father. It may be a verse you’ve read before and taken literally within the context of the story line. For example, the fall of David when he seeks to kill Bathsheba’s husband and loses their child as a consequence. And you read it again after some tragic event and realize that much like David, you believed your prayer and supplication regarding your sin could forestall God’s justice and it did not, nor should it have. Not the best example, but hopefully you see the point.

      This is pretty much what I was saying, that verses can have multiple applications.

      I don’t dispute that the NT also has proscriptions around certain activities that are worthy of a death sentence…here or in the judgement. I don’t necessarily agree with Romans 13:4. If the Founders had followed much of the advice regarding government found in the NT & OT, this country never would have been formed…though I recognize that pastors of the time preached from the pulpit on the issue of unrighteous government malfeasance thereby absolving themselves and their congregations of scripture that could be interpreted to contradict our yearning for independence.

      I agree with Romans 13:4 that the sword is given to the government for capital punishment.

      Freedom and free will are dangerous b/c inevitably *some* people will use that freedom to harm others; not necessarily that we will. One of my guiding principles from a secular viewpoint (since I also believe that to impose beliefs derived from faith on people who do not share them is as despotic as it is ineffectual) is that if something doesn’t violate the natural, negative rights of another, it should largely be permissible (there are obvious caveats relating to conspiracy, attempted crimes/violations, mens rea, etc.).

      Agreed. We use our free will to sin, which hurts others.

      Thanks for all your time, Scott. Much appreciated.

      You’re welcome. I’ve appreciated the dialogue. God bless you Sean!

  3. Hi Scott,

    I’m confused how this works…I don’t see my initial comment which alluded to an answer to your question, nor do I see your response to me.

    You asked, “Do you try to keep all the commandments?”. The short answer is: I can’t and frankly wouldn’t want to. My initial comment was, “They are our instructions for righteousness and many are designed for our own practical well being, but must be balanced against the “Law of Christ” that encompasses loving one another. ”

    And what I meant by that (without being overly wordy) was that while Mosaic Law would require me to stone a disobedient child (after taking them before our religious leaders and his continued disobedience), adulterers, sorcerers, homosexuals, etc. on the more extreme end of the punishment and judgement scale; and having me observe clothing ordinances, not “mingling seed”, and cleanliness/grooming/dietary restrictions & standards on the less extreme end……the New Covenant/Law of Christ supersedes those commands with the commandment to love one another and recognizes that it is not we who are to judge, but God.

    It’s almost akin to how I try to relate to the seemingly contradictory Biblical standards of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and “turn the other cheek” and “Forgive 70 times 7”. The first, is a societal standard necessary for order and justice (as imperfect as man’s “justice” is compared to that of God’s justice). The 2nd is a personal standard, one where we are repeatedly told that by the measure we judge others, we will be judged and that forgiveness is paramount.

    In a way, the Old Testament/Tanakh/Torah are societal standards meant for (as I said earlier) our own practical well being….but at the societal level. While I’m fairly liberal in my social beliefs, I am also very in tune with the Founder’s vision for a moral and religious people being necessary to our form of government in the United States being successful. That said, Torah is the foundation for our system of law and helps bring order from chaos when properly applied.

    I realize typing it out that the comment sounds a bit authoritarian in nature, but the Torah is more like instructions on life in general, a guide to help us recognize our transgression of the Torah and convict us of our sin, and a foreshadowing of Jesus and his eventual reign on Earth.

    LOL, I did warn you that I’d get overly wordy….but to continue:

    In my initial comment I ended with the statement that, “Your explanation of the concept and how it supersedes the Mosaic law was most helpful to my understanding of concepts with which I have struggled.”

    I am a very unorthodox believer. I don’t call myself a “Christian” b/c I’m unfit to carry the title. If I were alive just a few hundred years ago, I’d likely be burned at the stake as a heretic/blasphemer for my beliefs and the positions I take as well as for learning about other religions, their beliefs, reading apocrypha, rejecting traditional “Christo-pagan” beliefs and dogma/doctrine, studying history and archaeology as a means to gather a preponderance of evidence to reach the conclusion that Jesus/Yeshua was indeed the Son of YHWH/God.

    Particularly by studying historical records and archaeological finds (manuscripts, ancient civilizations/cities, etc.) and applying textural criticism and basic rules of historicity to both canonical and apocryphal works, I find scripture to be something that must be taken within context, but will often speak to a reader (if we ask, with the help of the Holy Spirit) in a different way at different times in their life. I truly believe we are all at different points in our spiritual walk, unable to accept a truth at one point and able to accept it later as our faith grows. That is one of the most beautiful things about the Word to me; it’s flexibility in our lives and how the same verse can speak to different situations as our lives change.

    At the same time, I don’t subscribe to the mantra that scripture is the inerrant, literal Word of God. There are too many instances of corruption of the text, omission and addition, for me to make that assertion, which is again why I believe it imperative that one pray before reading for guidance from the Holy Spirit for discernment of truth.

    Such was the case with the Torah or “Old Testament Law”. I believe Matthew 5:17-18 and Luke 16:17, (as the prerequisite 2 witnesses) so I do not believe that the Mosaic law is “done away with”…but still serves as a guide. Strict observance was were I struggled for many reasons, not the least of which was that as a sinner myself, I have no authority or right to judge another…to my mind, that is the place of the Christ/God.

    B/c I don’t believe the Biblical text is the inerrant, literal Word of God, I often attributed the commandments (for example) to kill those who don’t follow the “law”….as written by men to exercise control over others, in spite of recognizing on some level that the societal standard I mentioned before would be best served on the whole by the elimination of such acts and therefore, actors. However, that very much goes against my belief that we should judge others as individuals; that the ends rarely justify the means; and that the collective is NOT more important than the individual even if it makes for a more well ordered society. In short, freedom and free will are dangerous concepts, but are far preferred to tyranny, oppression and forced servitude. “There’s no fear in love”.

    I could go on for days here and much of it I’m sure you’d disagree with in terms of doctrine, but I just wanted you to know your simplified explanation of the concept of the Law of Christ circumcized my heart and I believe made me understand the true nature of the New Covenant. Your words spoke to me. Thank you sincerely.

    May the Lord bless and keep you and yours.

    Sean King

    1. Hi Sean,
      I decided the best approach is simply to respond below your comments…

      Hi Scott,
      I’m confused how this works…I don’t see my initial comment which alluded to an answer to your question, nor do I see your response to me.

      I see your comments, and I’ll be sure to respond to each of them.

      You asked, “Do you try to keep all the commandments?”. The short answer is: I can’t and frankly wouldn’t want to. My initial comment was, “They are our instructions for righteousness and many are designed for our own practical well being, but must be balanced against the “Law of Christ” that encompasses loving one another. ”
      And what I meant by that (without being overly wordy) was that while Mosaic Law would require me to stone a disobedient child (after taking them before our religious leaders and his continued disobedience), adulterers, sorcerers, homosexuals, etc. on the more extreme end of the punishment and judgement scale; and having me observe clothing ordinances, not “mingling seed”, and cleanliness/grooming/dietary restrictions & standards on the less extreme end……the New Covenant/Law of Christ supersedes those commands with the commandment to love one another and recognizes that it is not we who are to judge, but God.
      It’s almost akin to how I try to relate to the seemingly contradictory Biblical standards of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and “turn the other cheek” and “Forgive 70 times 7”. The first, is a societal standard necessary for order and justice (as imperfect as man’s “justice” is compared to that of God’s justice). The 2nd is a personal standard, one where we are repeatedly told that by the measure we judge others, we will be judged and that forgiveness is paramount.
      In a way, the Old Testament/Tanakh/Torah are societal standards meant for (as I said earlier) our own practical well being….but at the societal level. While I’m fairly liberal in my social beliefs, I am also very in tune with the Founder’s vision for a moral and religious people being necessary to our form of government in the United States being successful. That said, Torah is the foundation for our system of law and helps bring order from chaos when properly applied.

      Thanks for the lengthy explanation. I couldn’t help thinking about the New and Old Wineskins in Mark 2:21-22: “Mark 2:21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

      The wineskins represent the New and Old Covenants, and just as there are problems associated with combining the wineskins, there are problems with combining the covenants. Just as the wineskins don’t go together, the covenants don’t go together. You seem to be trying to see them together, which is why I think there’s some confusion.

      I realize typing it out that the comment sounds a bit authoritarian in nature, but the Torah is more like instructions on life in general, a guide to help us recognize our transgression of the Torah and convict us of our sin,

      I completely agree with this, which is what Paul said in Romans 3:20 that “through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

      and a foreshadowing of Jesus and his eventual reign on Earth. LOL, I did warn you that I’d get overly wordy….but to continue:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “foreshadowing.” If you mean prophecies and types (shadows) of His reign, then I completely agree. If you mean something else, you’d have to elaborate.

      In my initial comment I ended with the statement that, “Your explanation of the concept and how it supersedes the Mosaic law was most helpful to my understanding of concepts with which I have struggled.”
      I am a very unorthodox believer. I don’t call myself a “Christian” b/c I’m unfit to carry the title. If I were alive just a few hundred years ago, I’d likely be burned at the stake as a heretic/blasphemer for my beliefs and the positions I take as well as for learning about other religions, their beliefs, reading apocrypha, rejecting traditional “Christo-pagan” beliefs and dogma/doctrine, studying history and archaeology as a means to gather a preponderance of evidence to reach the conclusion that Jesus/Yeshua was indeed the Son of YHWH/God.

      While I appreciate your humility, and while I recognize that there’s only a remnant that believes and is saved, I am concerned that you’re on an even “narrower” road. By your own admission, it’s a road that would’ve gotten you labeled a heretic in a day when there were many wonderful Christians following the truth.

      Particularly by studying historical records and archaeological finds (manuscripts, ancient civilizations/cities, etc.) and applying textural criticism and basic rules of historicity to both canonical and apocryphal works,

      I can’t tell if you distinguish between canon and apocrypha. I hope you do. There’s an infinite chasm between them as the former is the Word of God and the latter is not.

      I find scripture to be something that must be taken within context, but will often speak to a reader (if we ask, with the help of the Holy Spirit) in a different way at different times in their life.

      While Scripture has multiple applications, it only has one correct interpretation. If that’s what you mean, then I agree ?. As soon as we say there are multiple interpretations, then we’re opening ourselves up to heresy.

      I truly believe we are all at different points in our spiritual walk, unable to accept a truth at one point and able to accept it later as our faith grows. That is one of the most beautiful things about the Word to me; it’s flexibility in our lives and how the same verse can speak to different situations as our lives change.

      Instead of “accept,” I might say “see.” We grow in our understanding of truth as we grow as Christians.

      At the same time, I don’t subscribe to the mantra that scripture is the inerrant, literal Word of God.

      This is where we disagree, as you’d probably guess. I believe the original autographs were inerrant, infallible, etc.

      There are too many instances of corruption of the text, omission and addition, for me to make that assertion, which is again why I believe it imperative that one pray before reading for guidance from the Holy Spirit for discernment of truth.
      Such was the case with the Torah or “Old Testament Law”. I believe Matthew 5:17-18 and Luke 16:17, (as the prerequisite 2 witnesses) so I do not believe that the Mosaic law is “done away with”…but still serves as a guide.

      I don’t believe it’s done away with either in the sense of no longer being profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). I just taught from Exodus 16 this past Sunday. Here’s the link if you’d like to listen!

      Strict observance was were I struggled for many reasons, not the least of which was that as a sinner myself, I have no authority or right to judge another…to my mind, that is the place of the Christ/God.
      B/c I don’t believe the Biblical text is the inerrant, literal Word of God, I often attributed the commandments (for example) to kill those who don’t follow the “law”….as written by men to exercise control over others, in spite of recognizing on some level that the societal standard I mentioned before would be best served on the whole by the elimination of such acts and therefore, actors.

      Okay, you can probably guess that we disagree here. There were sins that were punishable by death in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament (Romans 13:4).

      However, that very much goes against my belief that we should judge others as individuals; that the ends rarely justify the means; and that the collective is NOT more important than the individual even if it makes for a more well ordered society.

      I agree.

      In short, freedom and free will are dangerous concepts, but are far preferred to tyranny, oppression and forced servitude. “There’s no fear in love”.

      I agree, if by freedom and free will being dangerous you mean because we sin and hurt others and ourselves.

      I could go on for days here and much of it I’m sure you’d disagree with in terms of doctrine, but I just wanted you to know your simplified explanation of the concept of the Law of Christ circumcised my heart and I believe made me understand the true nature of the New Covenant. Your words spoke to me. Thank you sincerely.
      May the Lord bless and keep you and yours.
      Sean King

      Very good, thank you Sean. May the Lord bless you too. I’m glad my post encouraged you, and I’ve appreciated the dialogue.

  4. I wanted to say that it is absolutely one of the best laid out explanations of the concept of the “Law of Christ” in contrast to “Mosaic Law” or “Torah” I’ve ever read and I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

    As I said originally on the other site, I still believe we are to view Torah as the “teachings and instructions” it was meant to be; as a guide that leads us to Jesus/Yeshua and his sacrifice and his clarification of the Torah; i.e., the New Covenant/Law of Christ.

    I believe Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1:14); living Torah. He said he was the way, the truth and the life which corresponds to Psalm 119:1 “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the LORD!”

    Torah is not a means to be saved. We cannot keep all 613 commandments. They are our instructions for righteousness and many are designed for our own practical well being, but must be balanced against the “Law of Christ” that encompasses loving one another.

    Your explanation of the concept and how it supersedes the Mosaic law was most helpful to my understanding of concepts with which I have struggled.

    1. Hello Sean,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I found myself inwardly agreeing as I read your thoughts. There’s only one question I have (which I wrote below), that I hope you’ll answer.

      You said the Torah leads us to Jesus, and I definitely agree with you! I was going to type up a thorough response here, but it’s basically what I have in another post. Will you check it out? Simply scroll down to the section that says, “The Old Testament Serves as a Treasure Map to Jesus.” I think it makes the point you’re making.

      I recognize you don’t think we keep the Torah to be saved. With that said, if you don’t mind me asking, do you try to keep all the commandments? Including the ceremonial ones related to food, clothing, gardening, etc?

      Thank you again!

      In Christ,
      Scott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to my podcast
Subscribe to my newsletter

… and receive a free ebook. 
You can unsubscribe anytime.

Newsletter subscription for Scott LaPierre with Seven Biblical Insights