The Law Of Christ - Part III
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” —Galatians 6:2
Three Laws of the New Covenant
There are three great laws that attach themselves to the new covenant. Every believer should be aware of their existence, their meaning, and how they apply to God’s redemption plan under Christ. They are: (1) The law of faith, (2) The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, (3) The law of Christ
In months past, we focused on the first two laws. This month, we will take a closer look at the law of Christ.
The law of faith declares that the believer is to consistently approach his relationship with God by faith in Christ and Him crucified. Doing so allows for the supernatural power of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus to set believers free from the dominion of sin and empowers them to live holy. The law of Christ is the term that describes the moral actions and ethical attitudes that are to be displayed in the life of every new covenant believer.
The Law Of Christ
The first task to resolve before a study on the term law of Christ or Christ’s law can be accomplished is a definition of the term itself. It is very likely that most Christians have paid little attention to the term. Most, I fear, will have failed to recognize the significance of its meaning. Christ’s law or the law of Christ is referred to by the apostle Paul in two different locations in Scripture. The most obvious is in Galatians 6:2. The other is in I Corinthians 9:21. The term itself does not designate a list of rules that need to be slavishly followed. Instead, it revolves around the believer’s personal relationship with Jesus.
The content of the law of Christ is declared in the New Testament Scriptures; Jesus Himself being the primary teacher. But Christ’s law also includes concepts and truths regarding the new covenant as written by the apostles and contained in the canon of Scripture.
Thirdly, Christ’s law is taught by the ever-present influence of the Holy Spirit which lives inside every born-again believer. He is a consistent guide as to what is pleasing to Christ and what is not. In essence, the goal is that Christ’s very life rises within the heart of the believer and is displayed in his actions, attitudes, decisions, and responses. Paul declared, “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).
When the essence of Christ is enabled in the heart, rather than what is indigenous to the flesh, then one is truly participating in the law of Christ. The new covenant is really all about Jesus. The law of Christ has its fulfillment as a believer embraces the lifestyle expected of a saint and the means by which that lifestyle is to be accomplished.
The Word And The Holy Spirit
The law of Christ holds the moral teachings of Jesus as declared in the New Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is the premiere new covenant guide of moral law. If a believer had no availability of the New Testament (which was a basic reality for most of the first fifteen hundred years of the church) the Holy Spirit could more than adequately guide that believer toward the moral ethic of Christ’s law. Jeremiah spoke of this when he prophesied about the new covenant (Jer. 31:33-34).
Because most believers have the availability of the Scriptures today and all believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit, they can count on the coordination of these two heavenly gifts to properly guide them. The Holy Scriptures should reinforce and confirm that which one is sensing in his inner being. Both of these marvelous gifts are safeguards and, if yielded to, will confirm the truth of the morality that is required by Christ for those in His kingdom.
Christ’s Law And The Mosaic Law
It is important to recognize that Christ’s law is different and unique from the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law was the law given to Moses by the mediatorial agency of angels. Christ’s law was spoken by Jesus Christ Himself under the direction of the Holy Spirit. While there may be parts of Mosaic law that are included in Christ’s law, believers must understand that we have a different or new covenant that comes from a separate and distinct authoritative source. Any individual may be under only one contract with the same person or entity at any single moment in time.
God has granted three major covenants that reflect the responsibilities of his elect people. The first was the Abrahamic covenant. This was the covenant of promise that was regulated by faith. In it, God promised Abraham that a redeemer would come through his lineage to establish redemption for the whole world. The second was the Mosaic covenant given at Mount Sinai and applied to the Jewish people of Moses’ day. This covenant continued for approximately sixteen hundred years but has now been rendered obsolete (Heb. 8:13) as it has been completely fulfilled by Christ. The third covenant is the new covenant which was promised, prophesied, and established through the ministry of Christ by his death on Calvary.
The guidelines, responsibilities, and ethics of the Mosaic covenant have been rendered obsolete. Obsolete does not mean that something was ever wrong, improper, or evil. It means that the law of Moses no longer has authority over, or is the responsibility of, those in the new covenant. However, many of the moral and ethical demands that were a part of the Old Testament law are included in the instructions of Christ and His apostles. This makes them a part of the new covenant. We are responsible to abide by these instructions. In the Great Commission Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). The moral and ethical instructions of Christ are Christ’s law.
Works Of Righteousness Do Not Save
A demand for proper moral attitudes and actions cannot produce salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith alone! Christ’s law simply instructs believers as to the proper standard of holy living. Some of the ethical guidelines in Christ’s law are taken directly from the Mosaic law. But as is clear in Matthew 5:21-48, Christ’s teachings always supersede or completely change the content of the Mosaic law.
Jesus established a far higher ethical standard than anything ever before established. He not only demands a far greater standard of morality than the world has ever seen, but He also established the means by which it might be attained. His death on the cross made available the Holy Spirit to every believer. When the believer maintains faith in Christ and the cross, the Holy Spirit can equip a believer to meet the righteousness demands of Christ’s law.