We know we are saved by Grace through faith in Christ. Accordingly, we are not under the law but under grace.
“The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The question is how do we reconcile the two? Or since we are now under grace and no longer under the law, are the two mutually exclusive?
Over the years, I have heard some people say they only read the New Testament because we are under grace and the Old Testament Law does not apply to us. But such thinking is flawed on several levels. First of all, you can’t properly grasp the New Testament message without knowledge of the Old Testament.
Am I suggesting that obedience to the laws of the Old Testament is required for salvation? Absolutely not. For if it is, then grace is not grace.
But in this post, I want to focus on a more relevant relationship between the Old Testament law and the grace era. I am talking about something more important than obeying the do’s and don’ts of the Law. Jesus addressed this more relevant relationship during His public ministry.
What Jesus Says about the Old Testament Law
1. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:17). He must have known that some in His audience were thinking that way. Hence, He said “think not.”
This revelation must have been an eye opener to the crowd. Being Jews, they went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and heard the reading of the Scriptures. But they never saw the connection between Christ and the Old Testament law. Furthermore, the religious leaders were too spiritually blind to see Christ in the Scriptures.
Jesus was revealing to the people that the Law was about Him. Hence, He did not come to destroy it but Jesus came to fulfill the Law.
2. “Truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” Jesus continued (verse 18, NASB). Herein lies the reason why the Old Testament law is relevant to the Christian era. Not one iota shall be done away with until all has been fulfilled.
We know that some things written in the Law and in the Prophets will not be fulfilled until the return of Christ. His return will constitute the end of the Christian era. Until that time, not the smallest letter of the Old Testament law shall pass—though we are saved by grace and not by the works of the law.
The next thing Jesus says may startle some Christians today:
3. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven….” (verse 19)!
How do we reconcile these words of Jesus with the fact that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law? First of all, Jesus did not say that a true believer who disregards portions of the Law would not enter the Kingdom. Rather, He said such a person would be called least in the Kingdom.
So here is the bottom line. “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). But in the eyes of God, no one could be justified by the deeds of the Law. So He sent His Son to die on the cross to redeem us from the Law. Still, in this Christian era, Christ is calling on us to live for Him, to do those things that are holy, just and good.
Copyright © 2019 by Frank King. All rights reserved.