God’s Only Law—And How to Keep It
An expert in the Mosaic Law, God’s law for His people in Old Testament times, tested Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”—to which Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest 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” (Matthew 22:35-40).
Jesus summarized God’s Law of Love in general terms in the above passage. He expressed it again in His now famous Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 NIV), and, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
Saint Paul echoed Jesus when he said, “All the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
These biblical passages are the essence of all of God’s laws and should govern everything we think or say or do.
If a person’s actions are motivated by unselfish, sacrificial love—the love of God for our fellow man—and are not intentionally hurtful to others, such actions are in accordance with Scripture and are thus lawful in the eyes of God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love … against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Through the Lord’s salvation and His Law of Love, Christians are released from the hundreds of rules under the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament. “The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Of course, it’s common sense and part of love to practice some aspects of the Mosaic Law. For example, we shouldn’t kill, steal, covet our neighbor’s things, etc. If we love someone we’re not going to do things that would hurt them. We may also refrain from eating unclean foods or engaging in other unhealthy habits that the Mosaic Law warns against.
Not surprisingly, this radical doctrine of the Law of Love caused a raging controversy between Jesus and His followers and the religious leaders of the day, who lived under the Law. This controversy spilled over into the new Christian movement itself. From its very inception, a struggle took place between those who believed that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the fulfillment of the Law and released believers from the Old Testament laws, and the legalists, who believed that all the Old Testament laws and customs must still be observed.
As recorded in the book of Acts, the apostle Paul reached out to the Gentiles with the message of salvation in Jesus. Paul was of the firm opinion that the old Mosaic Law had been fulfilled by Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. He wrote: “Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4 NIV), “We have been released from the Law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6 NIV), and, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law” (Galatians 3:13).
While some continue to this day to promote the Old Testament style of Christianity, a prayerful study of the Scriptures illuminates the true intent of God’s Law of Love: “You are not under the Law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
In some ways, God’s Law of Love is a stricter code of ethics than the old Mosaic Laws. The Ten Commandments told people how to act in order to avoid God’s judgments. Under the Law of Love, much more is required—love and mercy.
You do not attain salvation by being good, but rather by asking Jesus Christ to forgive you for your sins. When you do, He comes into your life and loves others through you. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This godly love is actually a much higher ideal to aspire to. In the Mosaic Law, there was little forgiveness or mercy. It was “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20). But Jesus went so far as to say that we should love our enemies, pray for them, and forgive them! (Matthew 5:38-44.)
In fact, the Law of Love is so much more difficult to keep that it’s humanly impossible. This kind of love is only possible through the supernatural love of God, which we find in Jesus.
Love should be the main motivation for every Christian’s every action, with God’s love being manifested in loving deeds to help meet others’ physical and spiritual needs. “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
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